Location: 604 N Main St
Mitchell, SD 57301
Smashed Penny Machine: Yes – It was located in the gift shop when we were there.
I am a big fan of random and weird roadside attractions (seriously put up a sign about a giant ball of twine and I’ll make that detour). The Corn Palace fits that description accurately. Mitchell is about an hour West of Sioux Falls and about four hours East of Rapid City. We had spent the morning exploring the Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, SD so this made a good place to grab a quick lunch before heading on to Rapid City for the evening.
There isn’t food available at Corn Palace (I believe there was a snack bar but I’m not even sure if it was open). There were plenty of options in Mitchell especially along the interstate. We just grabbed some fast food because seating a party of 15 is serious business. The Corn Palace is just a little ways off the interstate probably about 10 minutes depending on how unlucky you are with traffic lights. There was a small parking lot adjacent to the building or one across the street.
I’m not sure what Corn Palace is normally used for but it was kinda set up like a concert hall. On the first floor there were bathrooms (big bathrooms, fairly clean for the number of people there). The second floor had access to the balcony, a hands on educational room about corn, pictures of the past murals and a gift shop.
The kids had a good time on the hands on exhibits. The played on pedal tractors, directed a remote control “tractor” and other various corn related activities. There was a lot of information. I learned something about corn and that’s amazing because I grew up surrounded by corn. Naturally the kids had to check out the gift shop which was fairly large and was priced as one would expect.
Outside there is a photo-op with the statue of the Corn Palace’s mascot, Cornelius the Corncob and you can check out the Corn Palace’s mural. The mural is what the Corn Palace is most known for. Each year they make a new set of murals on the outside of the building made completely out of grains. It was fairly neat to see a giant drawing of Willie Nelson done entirely out of corncobs and wheat.
Between the activities, a bathroom stop and taking a few pictures of the mural the whole stop will take you 30-60 minutes depending on how much you really want to learn about corn.
Overall impression: it was worth seeing once
A side note here. The lady working the gift shop register at the Corn Palace mentioned that since we were headed to Rapid City there was a nice rest area just East of Chamberlain, SD. What she should have said was: There is this really awesome rest area just before Chamberlain, SD. It has a huge statue in honor of our local Native Americans and amazing overlook of the Missouri River. Because that isn’t what she said the car I was in missed this awesome stop. Luckily we were the first car and a few miles ahead of the other two so they all knew to pull over and check it out. If you have a few spare moments, I’d highly suggest it.