Seattle to Louisville, via Billings & Sioux City, touristy stuff recs wanted

A couple friends and I are planning to drive to Louisville, KY for Wonderfest, the big sci-fi/fantasy model show and contest, in late May. I’m figuring on driving 12 hours a day, which ought to be doable, if we take it in shifts. Our route would be I-90 to Sioux Falls; I-29 to Kansas City; I-70 to St. louis; then I-64 to Louisville. That would put us at Billings, Montana the first night, and Sioux City, Iowa, the second.

  1. Is there anything, tourist-wise, that we shouldn’t miss in either of those towns? We’ll be arriving in the early evening, and leaving in the early morning, but if something Really Special was there, and was open at night, I think we could devote an hour or two to it.

  2. Suggestions for dinner spots in either of those towns? Regional food would be most interesting, and low cost would be a plus. :slight_smile:

  3. I figure we can also devote maybe an hour a day to making a detour to a tourist destination. Since we’re all technogeeks, sites related to technology or the movies would be best. We’re already planning to detour to Devil’s Tower, and possibly Mt Rushmore.

You could go to my old high school, Billings West High School, and sit on Jock Rock, which I did once when I was there for a reunion, but it wasn’t nearly as cool as I thought it would be when I was in high school.

I got pictures though.

I just did Victoria BC to St Louis. I made a stopover in Deadwood SD and I thought it was pretty neat. Montana in general is beautiful.

Apparently Captain Crunch french toast at Bernie’s Diner in Billings is to die for. If that doesn’t do it for you, they also just have good breakfast all around (according to my wife).

I was born in Belle Fourche, SD- so I know a ton about the entire region of the Black Hills. Devil’s Tower is cool to see in person, especially if you only have seen it in Close Encounters. Get some good pictures! If you have time to kill, Deadwood can be a lot of fun to walk around in. Visit Mt. Moriah cemetery (resting place of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane), the little museums in the town are neat, Kevin Costner’s casino and restaurant (the Midnight Star/Jake’s) has some great food; if scenery is your thing, take the Spearfish Canyon route to Deadwood; it’s gorgeous, has some cool little waterfalls to check out. And for a technogeek site to visit, the old Homestake gold mine in Lead/Deadwood is now the site of the Sanford Laboratory.

For natural attractions, there are plenty of cave tours in the area (Crystal Cave, Wonderland Cave, Rushmore Cave), and the Badlands area is always cool to check out, from a scenery and natural history perspective. You should probably hit Wall Drug for the quintessential kitschy roadside attraction vibe; then hit the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD for another level of pointless kitschiness (new word!). Sioux Falls has the Falls Park to check out, and by that point you are almost to Sioux City, at which point I know nothing, aside from DO NOT BREATHE TOO DEEPLY. Meat packing plants, it smells AWFUL.

Obviously too much random shit for an hour’s diversion, but there are some options to break up the monotony of driving through some of the most boring country on the planet!

While neither is in a stopover, two pauses come to mind: The Oxford in Missoula for general weirdness (although my father, on whom be peace, swore that it was never the same after they swept up the sawdust and started admitting women), and the American Computer & Robotics Museum in Bozeman for technogeekery.

Oh, and if you can, try to get a self-driving car for when you go through Butte. So you can all close your eyes. Trust me on this.

Mt. Rushmore is faces carved into a mountain. The Crazy Horse Monument is a mountain. It’s unfinished, but mind-boggling.

:smack: I can’t believe I didn’t even bring that up!

Mt. Rushmore was completely underwhelming. However, the roads in the area were a hoot to drive! Gotta get back there with my motorcycle!

Thanks for the suggestions; keep 'em coming. :slight_smile:

I was just reminded today of the Black Hills Institute, in Hill City, SD. Just a stone’s throw from Rushmore.

I’ll have to propose it to the guys. Of course, you do Devil’s Tower, Rushmore, and the Institute all three, you’ve used up a lot of time. :frowning:

If you have time for a quick stop in Rapid City I would recommend Dinosaur Park. Besides the retro dino statues it has a great view of the city.

If you are into technology, especially old technology, there is the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site at exit 131 east of Wall as well as the SD Air and Space Museum at Ellsworth AFB.

There isn’t much south of Sioux Falls but the drive over the Missouri River north of Sioux City is kind of pretty.

Very 1930s! I love it.

Those look interesting! I worked on Minuteman for a short time back when I was a summer intern at Boeing.

Depending on what kind of technogeek you mean, one worthy stop between Sioux Falls and Sioux City, about 8 miles west of I-29, is the National Music Musem. Their extensive collection of musical instruments shows some interesting technology, some of which was the most cutting-edge stuff of the time. I enjoyed seeing the portion of the collection that was on display.

Thats because west high sucks, you needed to go to Senior High.
Everyone knows that is where all the cool kids go.

Plus you get to avoid going to Will James as an added bonus

DOUBLE-YOU EYE DOUBLE ELL! JAY AY EM EEE ESSSS! Will James! Will James! Forever we will hold our banner high high high high! Come along and cheer with us and fight for Victory! DOUBLE-YOU EYE DOUBLE ELL! JAY AY EM EEE ESSSS!

Man, I cannot believe the useless junk my brain continues to store for me…

Are you into Dinosaurs? If so, screw Billings, and stay in Bozeman instead. is pretty cool.

Oh, yeah! I visited this maybe fifteen years ago, and had forgotten all about it, until somebody I was talking to just a couple days ago mentioned it–and then I forgot it again, so thanks for mentioning it!

Driving through Kansas City, of course, you need to stop for some barbecue.