The iconic roadside attraction serves up classic grub — like its homemade donoughts — alongside an art gallery.
It’s 6,964 miles from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan to Wall Drug in the small town of Wall in the western part of South Dakota. You can see a photo of the sign proclaiming as much on the Internet, where you can also find a photo of a Wall Drug sign in Antarctica. These are just some of the countless signs and billboards that have popped up all over the place advertising the renowned tourist stop that annually attracts some 2 million road-weary travelers who make their way to Wall Drug, pile out of their cars, stretch their legs, take pictures of themselves and their kids in the saddle on the giant jackalope in the Wall Drug Backyard, and enter the over-the-top (76,000-square-foot!) souvenir destination.
Wall Drug has been enticing travelers to stop in since 1936. That’s when the wife of owner Ted Hustead — a pharmacist from Nebraska who’d bought the then-drugstore in the middle of nowhere and was struggling to make a living — hit on the idea of advertising free ice water for thirsty travelers on their way to the newly opened Mount Rushmore, 60 miles west. The rest is free-ice-water and 5-cent-coffee history.
If that’s not enticement enough, there’s a Western art gallery in the 530-seat restaurant. So along with the buffalo burgers and hot beef sandwiches, you can enjoy 300 original oil paintings and illustrations that the Hustead family has collected.
But as much as this is an Interstate 90 must-stop for everything from a meal to a bathroom break to a bunch of photo-ops (enormous animatronic dinosaur!), it’s all about those homemade doughnuts, isn’t it?
From the October 2018 issue.
For more information on Wall Drug, visit the store’s website. Photography: Courtesy Wall Drug.
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