Destination: Deadwood

For those from the Dakotas or surrounding areas (Montana, Wyoming, etc.), you've probably heard about Deadwood, South Dakota. This tiny "old west" town oftentimes gets the stereotype as a mini-Las Vegas attached to it. Rightfully so, this gambling town has a deep-rooted history with the gaming industry. This hotspot for partygoers can get overlooked by a wide array of other travelers. Those who may not realize what they're missing out on can include families, thrill-seekers, history buffs, shopaholics, retirees, and more. If you find yourself in any of these categories, I recommend sticking around to see why Deadwood, SD needs to be the next destination you roam to!


From the outside looking in, families may feel put off by Deadwood. I can admit, this is a fair perspective given the fact that gambling accounts for around $100 million of the city's revenue, but the reality is this: there is something for everyone in Deadwood. Between the restaurants and shops, attractions and outdoor activities, Deadwood can be an excellent destination for families to enjoy. Here are a few family-friendly things to do in this old west town.

  1. Activity #1 - Mini-golf: Not only are there a plethora of lodging options in Deadwood, but Deadwood Comfort Inn and Suites is even the host of its very own 18-hole miniature golf course! Open late-May through mid-November, this mini-golf course is nestled right in Deadwood Gulch. I've personally golfed this course numerous times, and I can honestly say it is a blast each and every time! 
  2. Activity #2 - Arcade: Deadwood doesn't just have games for adults; thanks to Kodiak's Arcade & Shooting Gallery, there's a place for the kiddos too! A few blocks from downtown Main Street, this arcade & gaming facility provides a nice, family-friendly activity for all ages.
  3. Snack Time - Ice cream; Regardless of age, who doesn't love ice cream? Deadwood is swarming with cute little ice cream shops all across town. If you're feeling something classic and familiar, there is even a Dairy Queen right on Main Street!
  4. Meal Time - Mustang Sally's: When it's finally time to refuel, Mustang Sally's is a great place to take the kids. With dining inside or out and a kid-friendly menu with burgers & fries, this 60's themed restaurant may even have the most unique architecture of any building on historic Main Street.
Bonus Activity - Nelson's Garage: If your family is a movie-watching bunch then head over to Nelson's Garage Car & Motorcycle Museum in the Celebrity Hotel. There you can find Hollywood memorabilia like "Herbie" from The Lovebug, Evel Knievel's motorcycle, and even a certain yellow car from Transformers!
* Note: Families be advised, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place during the early part of August each summer. This may change the outlook, availability, and prices of attractions, entertainment, and restaurants in the Deadwood area*


Aside from the thrill of striking it rich gambling, Deadwood is home to many attractions that the adventurous soul would find refuge in. Located in the beautiful Black Hills, Deadwood is a fantastic location for many thrilling experiences.

View from White Rocks summit looking down on Deadwood (shot with Samsung Galaxy S7 Active)

Herd of mountain goats on White Rocks trail
  1. Activity #1 - White Rocks: For those looking for the most spectacular view Deadwood has to offer, I highly suggest taking a hike up White Rocks. You won't have to travel far as the hike begins right in town. Drive up to Mount Moriah Cemetery and your journey up to White Rocks begins. Follow the trail up past Seth Bullock's grave and continue on until you reach the top (just be on the lookout for mountain goats!).
  2. Activity #2 - Snowmobiling: If you find yourself in the Deadwood area during the winter and are in need of a rush, check out Mad Mountain Snowmobile Adventures. Wind through the majestic winter landscape and see parts of the Black Hills that very few have access to! 
  3. Snack Time - Pack Horse Liquor & Convenience: Adventure-seekers alike tend to be on the go, so as you swing through town be sure to stop at Pack Horse for a protein bar, hot dog, etc. Located right next to the city's recreation and aquatics center, this is a great place to refuel yourself and your vehicle!
  4. Meal Time - Creekside Restaurant and Bakery: One of my favorite places to eat is at Deadwood Gulch Gaming Resort. When weather permits, I suggest dining out on the back patio where you have a beautiful view of the creek.
Bonus Activity - Bullock Ghost Tour: The Bullock Hotel, built in 1895, offers up a unique experience not found at traditional hotels. Weekend nights they offer ghost tours of the facility. Spots tend to fill up quickly during high season, so plan accordingly

History Buffs

For such a small town in western South Dakota to have the amount of history it does is truly remarkable. The colorful history of Deadwood is around every corner. From famous figures in history like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane to the amazing cultural artifacts found throughout the area, Deadwood is a history buff's dream!
  1. Activity #1 - Adams Museum: Deadwood's population-to-museum ratio is roughly 400:1. A town this small has three museums, and Deadwood History Inc. oversees them all. Of the three, Adams House, Days of 76 Museum, and Adams Museum, it is the Adams Museum that would be my personal favorite. Artifacts from Deadwood's most famous figures, oddities kept from locals past, gaming remnants from the early days, and more can all be found at this museum. With a freewill donation admission, be prepared to be surprised with some of the things you will find here. 
  2. Activity #2 - Mount Roosevelt: One of the most unique monuments in the Deadwood area
    Top of Mount Roosevelt
    helps tell a special story of friendship. Seth Bullock, Deadwood's first sheriff, and Theodore Roosevelt, our nation's 26th president, were good friends. As a symbol of this friendship, Roosevelt erected a lookout tower at what is now Mount Roosevelt just a couple of miles from town. It's been said that from the tower, one could look across and see Bullock's gravesite at the top of Mount Moriah. While I have been unable to find either from both locations, Mount Roosevelt is a neat little part of history that many may not often hear about. The views are well worth the trip. 
  3. Meal Time - Deadwood Dick's: Located within Deadwood Dick's is their bar/restaurant. Now what makes this stand out for history buffs is that it is also connected to their antique store. I have spent countless hours finding old pieces of history in this shoppable museum. Definitely worth the visit for the historians out there.


Sure there's no Rodeo Drive or 5th Avenue shopping oasis in this little town, but that doesn't mean serious shoppers should bypass the hidden gem that is Deadwood. Up and down Main Street you can wander into various shops. From clothing to jewelry, knickknacks, and souvenirs, the possibilities are endless in Deadwood. 
  1. Activity #1 - Days of 76 Museum Mercantile: While many of the shops downtown can carry your typical barrage of touristy items, check out the gift shop at the Days of 76 Museum. This country-style mercantile has plenty of out-of-the-box gifts. With a wide variety of items, you'll be sure to find the perfect gift for everyone on your shopping list!
  2. Activity #2 - Deadwood Harley Davidson: The motorcycle crowd might not be for everyone, but if you're anywhere close to Sturgis, you're in motorcycle country. Whether you're traveling across the world, across the country, or just across the state, why not take in all of that area's culture? Located right on Main Street, Deadwood Harley Davidson has all of the Harley apparel you could ever need.
  3. Snack Time - Chubby Chipmunk: Sugar addicts beware! One staple of the community in the Deadwood has got to be Chubby Chipmunk. This charming candy shop is located on the south end of town, is home to what many locals deem the best candy in the Hills. Chocolate bars, truffles, and even their unique "Calamity Patties" are all specially made here. Get your sugar levels replenished and get back to the shopping!
  4. Meal Time - Pump House: For you sandwich lovers out there, this is the place to unwind with some delicious food. Pump House at Mind Blown Studio is a trendy little sandwich shop/coffee shop/glassblowing studio! With dining inside and out, you can chow down while watching artists shape piping hot glass.


Having spent some time working in Deadwood during winter, retirees make up a considerable portion of the town's visitors and rightfully so. Lodging prices tend to go down compared to the summer season, casinos are a nice place to stay warm and entertained, and you don't get the stress that comes with larger cities. Here are some key stops, "platinum edition":
  1. Activity #1 - Boothill Tour: There are a few different bus tours available in Deadwood, Historic Boothill Tours being one of them. While they run from May to October, this is a nice laid back and fun experience. Roll through the streets of Deadwood and gain a look into the past to the days of the old west.
  2. Activity #2 - Adams House: If you find yourself in Deadwood during the winter months, stop by the Adams House Museum. This Queen Anne-styled home built in 1892 is furnished with original pieces from the time. Stick around close to Christmas and you can even go on a themed holiday tour! 
  3. Meal Time #1 - Hickok House: Tucked away from the busy downtown area is one of my favorite restaurants for breakfast foods, the Hickok House. With its old-school feel, this laidback diner has you thinking you stepped back in time. Sidenote, the caramel rolls are massive!
  4. Meal Time #2 - Gem: Steak, sandwiches, prime rib, if your mouth is watering at the very thought of a wholesome, filling meal then you'll have to eat a The Gem Steakhouse & Saloon. I'm personally fond of the country-fried steak, but the great thing is the number of options their menu provides!
So whether you're young or old, history-minded or bargain hunting, Deadwood is a travel destination for everyone! Plan on taking a trip? We'd love to hear your stories so reach out to us here or on social media @theroamingcolt!

As always,

Just wing it.