Let me guess! You were on a road trip in South Dakota and you started seeing signs for Wall Drug Store. What the heck is Wall Drug Store?
This post is going to inform you about every-thing you need to know to decide if you want to make a stop at this iconic location, and know what the heck it is.
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Where the Heck is Wall Drug Store?
Wall Drug store is located in Wall, South Dakota. It is located about 7 miles (about 11 minutes) from the west entrance of Badlands National Park. Wall Drug Store is a 50,000 square foot shopping center, eatery, and recreation area. Browse the cowboy boots and hats. There is also the jewelry, art and clothing. And you won’t want to miss the candy and fudge and donuts. Plus, there is an animatronic T-Rex. Yes, that last part may seem random, but you won’t think so once you’re there.
You can find out where that “there” is on your way to or from Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park.
510 Main Street • PO Box 401
Wall, SD • 57790-0401
What the Heck is Wall Drug Store?
Wall Drug Store is a roadside attraction that brings in over 2 million people each year. There are about 20,000 that visit daily.
If you really want to know what Wall Drug Store is, you need to know about the history behind it and why it became so famous.
History of Wall Drug Store
The founder of Wall Drug Store was no stranger to misfortune. Physical injuries derailed his medical education. When he finally went back to school and received a pharmacy degree, the only job he could find was in grain elevator construction.
But he persevered, and finally obtained pharmacy jobs working for others, first in Dell Rapids, then Canova, followed by Sioux Falls, and finally Oldham. But when the pharmacy in Oldham did not work out, it was time for Ted to move again. This time was different. This time he had some cash from his father, and along with his savings, he could start his own pharmacy. But where?
Wall South Dakota
He and his wife Dorothy were not to picky. They only wanted two things: a small town and a catholic church so that they could attend mass everyday.
Wall South Dakota checked both boxes. But when they started, business was very slow! So slow that Ted and Dorothy began to wonder if they made a mistake. But they told each other that they would give the business 5 years, and if it did not succeed by then, they would need to move on.
And it’s a good thing they stuck to their full five-year commitment. A mere few months before their 5th year in Wall, their fortunes began to change for the better. Dorothy went to take a nap. As she listened to the cars rushing by on the highway, she started thinking about how to get those cars to stop in Wall.
She had an impression that they should offer “free ice water,” and even came up with a jingle to put on a sign. Ted felt a little silly putting the sign out on the highway at first, but boy was he excited when more people came to his store on the first day than ever before.
Pretty soon more signs went up and more people came. They came from all over the World. Some of these folks were headed to Yellowstone. Others on different road trips across the United States. The signs worked and brought so many customers that they had to hire eight new people the second year after putting up the signs.
Wall Drug decided to put up as many signs as possible so that everyone would know about Wall Drug Store. Signs could once be seen in all fifty states, and in places around the world. That’s not the case today, mostly as a result of highway beautification limitations on billboards. But there are currently 250 signs in South Dakota, 30 in Minnesota, and 20 in Wyoming.
While vacationing in London Ted put a sign in a London Underground station. It said that Wall Drug Store was 5,160 miles away and if they wrote he would tell them all about South Dakota. He would get 12-20 letters a day! His sign captured the attention of local newspapers and ultimately landing him an interview on BBC.
When Should I Visit Wall Drug Store
Hours of Operation are:
8:00 am – 8:00 pm
8:00 am – 7:15 pm
8:30 am – 7:30 pm
What the Heck Do You Do at Wall Drug Store?
To keep it simple you can eat, shop, and have a lot of fun in the process.
Western Art Gallery Restaurant
There is a restaurant located inside of Wall Drug Store. It has the ability to seat 500 people! Wall Drug Store is famous for their homemade donuts, pies, rolls, ice cream, buffalo burgers, mashed potatoes, and 5 cent coffee.
We had the opportunity to sit down and try out a variety of food. You can get a variety of burgers, including buffalo burgers! There are other options, such as fish and chips, chicken strips and chicken salad, hot dogs, and sandwiches.
We found the food decent, but very pricey. The doughnuts were old fashioned style, and not my kids’ favorite. But of course they liked the ice cream.
Once you drive into Wall, you will no longer have to ask, what the heck is Wall Drug Store but now I bet you are wondering where the heck is Wall Drug Store? It’s so big, it’s hard to miss! There is parking all along the street, and lots further down from the store. You have an RV or bigger vehicle. No problem. There is parking for you.
Many stores are located within the building but they are all part of Wall Drug Store. There is a toy store, leather store, pharmacy, convenience store, fudge shop, and many more. It is fun to take a step back into time. All of the stores are designed in a cowboy 1800 decor.
There are so many fun shops to spend your time exploring.
You can also see a replica signage of the original drug store, take time to mediate in the chapel, or stop for one of many photo ops.
Wall Drug Backyard
Wall Drug Store hasn’t forgot that in catering to tourists, that means keeping the kiddos entertained. Of course there are the tantalizing suckers by entrances, and yummy desserts to order at the restaurant, but there is an area behind the main strip of stores called Wall Drug Backyard, an outdoor area things to climb on, and a splash pad. The kids can climb on the jackalope. There’s also a stallion, a stagecoach, a wagon, and a mini replica of Mt. Rushmore.
And if you go in the building in back, you see the animatronic T-Rex that puts on a show every ten minutes. There is also a place where you can pan for gold in this building.
Should I Stop at Wall Drug Store?
Absolutely! I have been twice. The first time we actually went the same time as the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Wall was so busy with motorcycles. You could barely get into the building!
We did not have to deal with crowds on our most recent trip. We had traveled to Mount Rushmore on the way to be with family, and decided to stop at the Badlands and in Wall. But with COVID-19, there were not too many people.
How Long Should I Stay?
My husband, I, and our four kids stayed for about 3 hours. Since we had hiked in the Badlands earlier that day, it was nice to sit down, to eat, enjoy a little shopping, and have the kids go outside and play.
It helped us break up our road trip!
Where the Heck is Wall Drug
So when you see a Wall Drug Store bumper sticker that says, “Where the heck is Wall Drug?,” you can say you know where, and what it is too.
Road Trip in South Dakota
One of the best road trips in the USA is right near Wall Drug Store. There are two National Parks in this area: The Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore. Also Crazy Horse Monument and Custer State Park are down the road from Wall.
If you have any questions join my Facebook Travel Community. You can ask any questions you have about upcoming trips and everyone is happy to help you plan your trip. I also try to give exclusive travel deals that companies send me. It is a great group to join!