Roadside Attractions Along I-29 Hero
Attractions,  Routes

The 11 Best Roadside Attractions Along
I-29 in the Great Plains

While there are some 70 primary interstate highways within the United States, only a handful of those cross the Great Plains – and even fewer are entirely within the Great Plains. One such interstate – and the longest one within the Great Plains states, is Interstate 29 (or I-29), which runs from the North Dakota/Canada border near Pembina, North Dakota to Kansas City, Missouri.

I-29 is over 750 miles long, and passes through major cities including Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Fargo, North Dakota. (For comparison, the only longer interstate in the Great Plains is I-35, which runs 992 miles from Kansas City to the Texas/Mexico border.)

Roadside Attractions Along I-29 Map
Click to interact with the map.

You might not imagine that following the Missouri River – as I-29 does – would be a particularly stimulating road trip. In fact, there are a number of places worth stopping and roadside attractions along I-29. In this post, I’ll detail some of my favorites to help you plan your road trip stops.

From museums and historic sites to the largest catfish (sculpture) in North America and the continent’s horizontal divide, there’s plenty to explore and experience along Interstate 29. Ready to hit the road and see what this part of the Great Plains has to offer? Read on!

1. ​​Fargo Air Museum

Road Attractions along I 29
Photo Courtesy of Fargo Air Museum

Fargo Air Museum is the first of many roadside attractions along I 29 you can visit on your trip. Established in 2001, the Fargo Air Museum is full of everything avionics. Planes, jets, helicopters, and more. However, it is truly special that 90% of the historic aircraft they house are in flying condition.

The museum houses the exhibits in two hangars and has many informative boards to provide you with history and information about the planes. All in all, a great stop for anyone to enjoy learning about planes and history!

2. Fort Abercrombie State Historic State

Fort Abercrombie Historic site, established in 1857, was the first permanent military post in North Dakota, which led to its nickname, “The Gateway to the Dakotas.” The fort had a crucial role in guarding the Red River Trails, a popular route for the fur trade, military supply wagon trains, stagecoach routes, and steamboat traffic. 

During the Dakota War of 1862, Sioux Indians besieged Fort Abercrombie and became the only United States military post to be overtaken by Dakota American Indians during the war. The site is one of the most popular tourist attractions along I 29; it is open year-round and welcomes visitors to explore its grounds.

3. World’s Largest Catfish

It wouldn’t be a good list of roadside attractions if there weren’t at least one giant representation of an animal, right? Behold Wahpper, the world’s largest catfish sculpture. 

A dream catch of any enthusiastic fisher, Wahpper is a 40 feet long and 5,000 pounds catfish. It sits along the bank of the Red River, and visitors can easily access it from Exit 23. Besides offering excellent photo opportunities, the surrounding area is a perfect spot to stretch your legs, with picnic tables, restrooms, and a little pier nearby.

4. Historic Bagg Bonanza Farm 

If you are driving on I-29 near Mooreton, it would be a shame if you passed up the opportunity to see the Historic Bagg Bonanza Farm.

During the late nineteenth century, Bonanza farms were enormous wheat farms established in northern Dakota. They ranged from 3,000 acres to over 75,000 acres and generated huge profits. Today, the Historic Bagg Bonanza Farm is one of the last remaining bonanza farms in the U.S. 

A 15-acre farm is home to a fully restored 21-bedroom main house. Virginia, one of the main preservationists, is in charge of tours. She tells you about the history of the buildings, contents, and original owners. Don’t forget to try the homemade pie!

5. Continental Divide

The continental divide is one of the most interesting roadside attractions along I-29. Defining the continental divide is tricky as there’s no consensus regarding what constitutes it. To make it simple, the continental divide is a natural boundary or line that separates a continent’s river systems between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. 

Most people think that continental divides are on mountains, or at least somewhere with higher elevation. However, the continental divide along I-29, which is in South Dakota, is basically on flatland. It runs from Hudson Bay in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll find the continental divide sign near Lake Traverse, along the border between South Dakota and Minnesota.

6. Redlin Art Center

Things to do along I 29- Redlin Art Center
Photo Courtesy of Redlin Arts Center

Art lover or no, Redlin Art Center is a stop that never disappoints. This gem of a museum has three levels dedicated to the oil paintings and sculptures of Terry Redlin, an American artist popular for painting outdoor themes and wildlife. 

About 150 paintings and sculptures are on display; each artwork features a short description underneath detailing its inspiration. The museum also has a gift shop where you can purchase Terry Redlin’s works, cards, and prints. 

7. McCrory Gardens 

Things to do along I 29- McCrory Gardens
Photo Courtesy of SD State

Arguably one of the most beautiful stops along I–29, McCrory Gardens is a botanical garden and arboretum on South Dakota State University campus. The site is gorgeous. It is home to a whole gamut of trees, bushes, and plants native to South Dakota or that have adapted to the state’s climate. 

The garden also hosts events throughout the year, like the McCrory Gardens Insect Festival. Make sure to check out their website while you’re visiting.

8. Falls Park

Airbnbs in Sioux Falls Hero
Long exposure of water falls at Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Falls Park is the most popular attraction in Sioux Falls and for anyone who travels through the city. The Big Sioux River runs through the city of Sioux Falls, forming small waterfalls that the park surrounds. 

Visitors have numerous ways to enjoy the falls. They can get up close and personal by walking along the rocky shore, getting panoramic views from the Falls Overlook Café located across the river, or climbing the Observation tower. The park also has the remnants of an old mill, Queen Bee Mill, which operated in late 1881.

9. Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve

Things to do along I 29- Adams Homestead and nature preserve
Photo Courtesy of South Dakota GFP

Enjoyed and loved by locals, the Adams Homestead And Nature Preserve is a 1,500 acres state park in Union County, South Dakota. The homestead property dates to 1872 and used to be the home of the Adams family. In 1984, Mary and Maud Adams, granddaughters of original homesteader Stephen Searls Adams, donated the property so everyone could visit and learn about homesteads and their significance. The site features the Adams family house, a Lutheran church, a country school, and a cabin, plus over 10 miles of well-groomed trails. 

10. Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

Things to do along I 29 - Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center
Photo Courtesy of Sioux St. Louis

The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, South Dakota, is a time capsule that takes you to discover the journey of explorers Lewis and Clark in central North Dakota.

The interpretive center is home to numerous exhibitions that depict each stage of the expedition, from how they got started to their encounter with Indigenous people, like the Mandan and Hidatsa peoples. There are also permanent galleries focusing on life on the Great Plains and the lives of the Indigenous people and traders. The museum has another two galleries featuring rotating art and history exhibits. 

11. Glore Psychiatric Museum

Things to do along I 29 - Glore Psychiatric Museum
Photo Courtesy of Dean Hochman via Flickr

An unusual place, Glore Psychiatric Museum is the creepiest of roadside attractions along I-29. As the name suggests, the Glore is a museum devoted to unfolding and illustrating the history of mental health treatment through the ages.

The museum houses an enormous collection of artifacts. Some are reproductions, and others are originals from the mental hospital located adjacent to it – we’re talking about four floors of relics and stories from the history of psychiatric care! It is an excellent opportunity to see how mentally-ill people were treated previously and the long way the United States has come in treating mental illness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.