We were driving along the I-90 W past Sioux Falls during our South Dakota road trip when we saw the billboards advertising the ‘World’s Only Corn Palace’ at Mitchell, SD.
We had to stop and take a look, after all, we were knee-deep in the corn belt and had been seeing only corn since we left Chicago and traveled through Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and now South Dakota.
So we took the exit at Mitchell to visit this unique roadside attraction.
This stretch of I-90 is incredibly scenic, so we recommend driving slow and checking out a couple of other roadside attractions as well – you can read more about them in our article South Dakota’s 16 Most Underrated Tourist Attractions.
Where Is The Corn Palace At Mitchell?
Located about a short hours drive from Sioux Falls, the Corn Palace is Mitchell’s top tourist attraction.
It makes a great quick stop on any Midwest / South Dakota road trip and is a great photo opportunity.
It is located just 2 miles off the I-90 and takes barely half an hour to see.
Also, did we mention, getting inside the Corn Palace is completely free?
The Corn Palace is open year-round from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. The exact address is 604 N Main St, Mitchell, SD.
The Corn Palace at Mitchell even has a basketball court located inside it. Corn murals on the wall decorate the inside as well as outside of the building.
What Is The Corn Palace?
The Corn Palace is just that, a palace made entirely from corn.
While it is not built with corn, per se, the exterior of the building is completely decorated with naturally colored corn, corn stalks of different sizes, other grains, and grasses.
A new display is created every year and is updated throughout the summer season.
The building has a basketball court located inside it and many regional, district, and state high school tournaments take place here.
Corn Palace also serves as a meeting venue and an auditorium for special events including trade exhibitions, dance shows, graduation ceremonies, etc.
About half a million visitors come to see the Corn Palace every year.
History Of The Corn Palace
The Mitchell Corn Palace was first created in 1892 as a gathering place to enjoy the local corn harvest. Since then the Corn Palace has been created every year.
In 1921, it was moved to a new, more prominent location on Main Street and since then it has been built at the same place for the better part of the past decade.
It has remained true to its roots by conducting an annual Corn Palace Harvest Festival towards the end of August.
The festival is one of the best times to see the Corn Palace and be in Mitchell; the whole town is in a festive mood and carnival rides, musical bands performances, produce competitions are some of the star attractions.
Things To Do At The Corn Palace
The Corn Palace makes for a quick fun stop on the road.
We recommend walking around the Corn Palace for a bit to see it from various angles and admire the artistic qualities of the unique monument.
A different themed design is depicted on the building every season and 13 different shades of naturally colored corn are used to create stunning murals.
During peak season (summer) they have free tours with guides explaining details of the corn murals, quantities of corns, glue, and staples used, etc.
Displays inside the Corn Palace. The Corn Palace is a tribute to American farmers.
Apart from viewing the Corn Palace from the outside, you can also walk inside to see the small museum narrating the history of the building.
The inside has murals made of corn including Mount Rushmore depicted in corn, photographs from previous years corn decorations, and a little bit of history of the corn belt and preparation of corn murals.
They also have great corn-growing information and corn palace souvenirs in a gift shop inside the building, including things like corn hats.
The snack shop is also worth a quick stop.
The popcorn was fresh and crunchy; I especially loved the caramel popcorn.
We also ate the hot corn on the cob and it was delicious.
Photographs of previous Corn Palaces adorn the walls. The display changes every year and is updated during summer.
If you want to spend more time here, Mitchell is a nice little town with friendly American heartland characteristics.
It has plenty of simple, rustic hotels and some great restaurants.
We had a really great breakfast at one of the small diners located outside of Mitchell.
One little tip we would like to give is to visit the strip mall opposite the Corn Palace.
There’s a cotton candy shop selling cotton candy in different flavors.
We tried some of them and it was really fluffy and delicious.
Corn Palace Nearby Attractions
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park is South Dakota’s top tourist attraction.
Visited by over a million people every year, the dramatic extremely eroded landscape at Badlands is unique and unearthly.
Badlands National Park has excellent scenic drives, miles of excellent hikes, and lots of wildlife.
Badlands National Park is a geological wonder perfect for exploration
Sioux Falls is named after the waterfalls created by the Big Sioux River and the Falls Park is a major attraction of the area.
The park is beautiful with hiking and biking trails, the opportunity to climb the surrounding rocks, and excellent fall viewing areas.
Sioux Falls downtown also has lots of other attractions, good hotels, and restaurants to cater to tourists.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
South Dakota is popularly known as the Mount Rushmore State and the sculptures of 4 US Presidents carved on the Black Hills of South Dakota are the state’s most renowned tourist attraction.
There are lots of things to do at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial including hiking the Presidential Trail and attending the evening sculpture lighting ceremony.
Read our detailed guide to visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial here.
We definitely recommend visiting this unique roadside attraction if you are in the area.
The detour will probably add just an hour to your trip and you will see an exceptional tribute to the corn belt and American farmers along with some really spectacular corn art.
Also Read Top 5 South Dakota Scenic Drives: Road Tripping with a View!