Anyone who has been on a roadtrip of the American Midwest has surely seen the billboards advertising free iced water at Wall Drug and after a few dozen signs, one can’t help but wonder- what’s that all about?
Originally purchased in 1931, the Wall Drug Store made its claim to fame when the owner’s wife had the brilliant idea to offer free iced water for visitors making their way to the newly opened Mount Rushmore. Billboards advertising this marketing scheme listing the distance to the store were scattered throughout South Dakota and spread into neighboring states on the I-90, becoming a bit of an early form meme.
As time progressed, Wall Drug was turned into a cowboy-themed mall and one of my favorite American roadside attractions- and it still offers free iced water to this day!
There are dozens of stores to browse through with delights for people of all ages! One must be strong willed to leave without purchasing souvenirs here! With 50,000 square feet os space, the shop sells quite literally anything you could ask for- from electronics to t-shirts to hand tooled leather, they’ve got a bit of everything.
While I love souvenir shopping as much as the next tourist, I was particularly drawn to the Western Art Gallery Dining Rooms which inexplicably hosts one of the world’s largest private collection of western art right next the dining tables where I was happily consuming my homemade donuts and 5-cents coffee (another must).
Wall Drug is located directly next to the entrance for Badlands National Park, so it’s a good idea to scratch these two icons of American tourist off the list at once.