There is a calm about Watertown, South Dakota. Life here moves in a contented hum that’s audible to anyone who listens. It says, “Go slowly. There’s a lot to see.” This prairie town is a reprieve from the daily hustle — a place to unwind, visit and explore before returning to the world refreshed.
The aptly named city of Watertown sits on the edge of the prairie jewel known as Lake Kampeska. Wealthy with bike trails and parks, and spoiled with serenity, Kampeska’s the perfect tonic for a vitamin D deficiency. The lake is a popular walleye fishery, although a boat ride offers just as much excitement. On its shores, golfers of all skill levels love the wide fairways, watery backdrops and challenging-enough greens on two courses.
A stone’s throw from the lake, Watertown’s historic downtown is full of stories and surprises. The Goss Opera House has plenty of both. Built in 1888, The Goss’s purpose was originally kept a secret from the public, mostly because Watertown didn’t want a third opera house. The Goss has the last laugh now, as it’s the only one of the three still standing. Wrapping up this spring, a remodel will outfit this landmark with revamped spaces for in-house eateries and shops.
The Goss isn’t the only savory downtown destination. Enter Watertown Brewing Company, which can be found right down the block. The brewery lives in a 109-year-old building, yet there’s nothing old-fashioned about its meticulously crafted flavors. Start with the famous Kamepska Kold Press or the rich Codington Cream Ale before tucking into the gastropub menu.
Another stop for brilliant bites is Dempsey’s, an Irish-ish pub that serves some of the best pizza in the nation. That’s no exaggeration; the eatery’s pizza ranked #10 in America at the International Pizza Expo. Dempsey’s also serves acclaimed Austrian-style eats, specifically wiener schnitzel. Guten tag!
When’s the best time to visit Watertown? Anytime, but this town really shows out for Independence Day. If you’re feeling patriotic, get here before nightfall on July 3 for South Dakota’s biggest fireworks show. The display over the Redlin Art Center is a scene worth depicting in one of Terry Redlin’s Americana masterpieces. You’ll find quieter works of art inside the museum, where Redlin’s creative spirit lives on in 160 original oil paintings.
In Watertown, you can pick from a wide range of lodging options, including all your favorite hotel brands. See why summer is better when you take the time to enjoy it. Start planning your escape with the Watertown Visitors’ Guide.