From a simple promise of free water to worldwide notoriety, Wall Drug Store in South Dakota is still one of the best roadside attractions in the entire United States. Here’s why…
Chances are, you’ve heard of Wall Drug Store even if you’ve never been to South Dakota. For the past several decades, the folks at Wall Drug Store have been recruiting travelers into their massive guerrilla marketing campaign… The campaign is pretty simple: free bumper stickers.
Of course, it’s not just the bumper stickers that have made this place a household name. How about the signs? Anyone traveling toward Wall Drug is going to notice signs for it… Like hundreds, even thousands of them. They’re everywhere.
The founders of Wall Drug, Ted & Dorothy Hustead, tried at first to create as many signs as they could think of, but the whole sign thing really took off as customers started participating. Today, the family offers a free sign or billboard to anyone who wants one… to the tune of 22,000 per year.
Perhaps their most famous sign, however, hung in the London Underground and advertised 5,160 miles to Wall Drug. The billboard became a hit, and today the walls of the store are covered with “How many miles to Wall Drug” snapshots from around the world.
The end result of all these signs and bumper stickers? Stopping at Wall Drug Store has become a rite of passage for any hardcore traveler.
We’re proud to say we finally got our bumper sticker this year, and Wall Drug lived up to every bit of its hype.
First of all, Wall Drug is considerably bigger than we’d imagined. Don’t know why, but we’d pictured a small, and crowded shack drug store. That’s not what this place is today.
It’s massive. It’s impressive. It’s like the road traveler’s version of Mall of America.
From a pharmacy museum to several places to eat to a charming chapel, Wall Drug has it all. Kids starting to drive you a little batty in the car? There’s plenty to wear them out while you blissfully relax on a bench nearby.
Wall Drug is also the obvious place to eat along I-90. The Western Art Gallery Restaurant somehow manages to seat a whopping 520 while still showing off beautiful western art.
The struggle of eating here? What to order. After all, you’ve been reading billboards for everything from coffee to pie to donuts to Buffalo Burgers. Good luck making your mind up.
Somehow, in what founder Ted Hustead’s father-in-law referred to as a town as “Godforsaken as you can get,” the Husteads have managed to create an enduring roadside attraction sure to live on for as long as folks take to the road each summer.
Wall Drug Store
510 Main Street, Wall, SD 57790-0401
Our South Dakota adventures were part of a crazy, awesome road trip called MINI Takes the States. For 2 weeks, MINI owners rallied across the country hitting up cities like Green Bay, race tracks, and everything in between. We had the pleasure of driving both a MINI S convertible and a MINI John Cooper Works, both with 6-speed manual transmissions. It’s pretty much the most fun you’ll ever have.
The best part? The whole trip raised over 1,000,000 meals in partnership with Feeding America. Learn more here.
More from 2016 MTTS: