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