While Yankton is South Dakota’s most historic town, it’s also a must-see for the Missouri River. Creating endless recreational activities, and inspiring events like Riverboat Days (August 17-19), it’s the perfect place for a ride on a boat, fishing, or hanging on the beach. Though it’s hard to choose from all of the classic and new hot spots, here are four must-see stops.
VISITED BY LEWIS & CLARK IN 1804
River City Relics
109 Capitol St.
Shop for high quality redesigned furniture and tastefully curated home décor at River City Relics.
Owners Drew Delvaux and Zeke Matthews started the business out as a hobby.
“I was doing this as I was working as a counselor, and I just kind of fell in love with it,” said Delvaux. “I’ve always loved vintage furniture, and it always bummed me out when I would see it kind of neglected. So I just wanted to bring them back to life so people could enjoy them and give them a new life.”
Now owning a showroom in the former WNAX Fuel Station from the 1920s, customers can make appointments or stop by at limited hours over the weekend.
The duo specialize in revitalizing antique and vintage furniture, including buffets, hutches, dressers, and more. But they don’t exclude other styles.
“We generally do vintage furniture, but we do some modern stuff as well,” said Delvaux. “We do a wide variety of things.”
Custom orders are also welcome.
Along with their designs, River City Relics also carries lines like the Dixie Belle paint line and gifts, including Grace candles with scents like Comforts of Home, Front Porch, Morning Cafe, and Sunday Brunch.
As a lot of the inventory are custom or unique pieces, the showroom never looks the same.
Delvaux explained, “Everything is hand-painted, so it’s different when you come in every weekend because we’re always moving around furniture.”
While the showroom is beautiful, it’s not the main source of income for the business. Delvaux and Matthews take professional images of their work and post them on Facebook.
“Our showroom is secondary to our Facebook page,” said Delveaux.
Follow River City Relics on for the latest items on sale, and also for events like painting classes and other workshops.
Open Friday 4-6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
JACK MCCALL, MURDERER OF WILD BILL HICKOK, WAS TRIED IN YANKTON FOR HICKOK’S MURDER, AND WAS HANGED ON MARCH 1, 1877.
Charlie’s Pizza House
804 Summit St.
It’s hard to talk about Yankton and not hear about Charlie’s Pizza House.
The oldest pizzeria in South Dakota opened in 1959 by original owner, Charlie Chato.
A couple owned it for decades, and the most recent owner is Chuck Rezac, who purchased Charlie’s two years ago.
“The first night we bought the place and took over, there was this couple that went straight to that corner booth and said, ‘Well you guys can’t change anything. This is our 40th wedding anniversary and we had our first date in this booth,’” said Rezac with a laugh.
That was also the opinion of many others, says Rezac, and thus he didn’t make too many changes. The mural filled with famous faces, like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, stayed untouched, and even Bartholomew the 6-year-old piranha made the cut.
It was obvious nothing would change with the pizzas. Charlie’s has consistently made the list of 50 States 50 Pizzas by Food Network for the Festus, with Pepper-Jack covered meatballs, jalapeño, and sauerkraut.
Try Charlie’s Family Night Special with a large single topping pizza and a pitcher of soda for $30 (or sub soda for a domestic draft beer).
Most of the specialty pizzas are named after celebrities and famous characters, like the Bette Davis with chicken, tomato, onion, and Alfredo sauce, or the Three Stooges with beef, bacon, and cheddar cheese, topped with dill pickles.
Other highlights include salads, garlic bread, and wings.
Take control of your destiny by creating your own pizza with hand-tossed crust, sauce options (marinara, Alfredo, and BBQ), and toppings (artichoke, shrimp, crab, bacon, pineapple, anchovies, sauerkraut, sausage, etc.).
However delicious the food is, Charlie’s in itself is a South Dakota staple.
“The oven is 60-70 years old, it just, I don’t know, it’s just special,” said Rezac. “The pizza tastes different. Especially if you’re from Yankton, there’s nothing like it.”
Open Monday – Thursday 5-10 p.m., and Friday – Sunday 4-10 p.m.
YANKTON IS DERIVED FROM THE LAKOTA WORD I-HANK-TON-WAN (“THE END VILLAGE”)
Ben’s Brewing Co.
222 W. 3rd St.
Open 365 days a year, owner Ben Hanten started Ben’s Brewing Co. in his early 20s, hoping to create “something for everyone.”
“I started this when I was 23, I knew nothing, and we have slowly figured out how to become a very busy place over the last 13 years,” he said.
Hanten started a brewery in the basement of the historical building, which used to be a bomb shelter in the 1950s.
On the main level is the main business with sports packages, beers on tap, and appetizers, like Egg Rolls, Nachos, a Soft Pretzel with Cheddar Cheese, and a Cream Cheese-Filled Soft Pretzel. Ben’s also serves pizza, with options like Beef, Cheese, and Meat Lover’s.
“I think a lot of breweries would say we don’t want you to have a Bud Light, for instance, but we are happy with that.” – Ben Hanten
There are 10 home-brewed beers on tap, like Ben’s Walshtown, Ben’s Apricot Genius, and Ben’s West Side Park. Also available on tap are 20 varieties of domestic and craft beers.
Take home some of Ben’s brews in a crowler or growler. Want just a taste? Order a flight.
If beer is not in the cards, order a wine or a cocktail, like the Dark & Stormy with Cruzan Aged Rum and Gosling’s Ginger Beer served in a tin mug, and garnished with a lime.
Mix it up by going upstairs to the The Copper Room. Speakeasy-inspired, the ambiance is reminiscent of Casablanca. Try classic cocktails, like the Tom Collins, or featured cocktails like the Trinidad Smoke (Pyat Rum, House Aromatic tobacco syrup, House Cinnamon Clove syrup, served smoked with aromatic pipe tobacco) or the Bee’s Knees (Hendrick’s Gin, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and honey syrup shaken over ice and served in a cocktail glass).
One of the most popular drinks is the Pineapple Jalapeño Margarita.
“Up here is going to be a little bit easier of a place to have a conversation,” said Hanten. “Downstairs can fit 120 people, and there is a game on and everybody is yelling. Up here is a different world.”
Feeling adventurous? Try the Absinthe Fountain with Lucid Absinthe traditionally served with a sugar cube and a fountain of ice-cold water.
Open daily Monday through Friday 2 p.m. – 2 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. – 2 a.m. The Copper Room is open Thursday through Saturday 5:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.
YANKTON WAS DESIGNATED AS THE TERRITORIAL CAPITAL IN 1861
101 Capital St.
Don’t miss out on a true Yankton tradition.
Built in 1928 by John Keller, the Ice House was the first artificial ice plant in the area. Unfortunately the individuals who were supposed to purchase the business lost financing due to the Great Depression, and then fell into the hands of Keller’s son-in-law, Iner Anderson.
After Prohibition, beer was sold there, and it became a fixture of Yankton. It is one of the only bars in the country with carhop service.
“People pull up and honk their horn, and we’ll come serve them,” said owner Carla Anderson.
The business has been in the family for 90 years, and has become known for patrons sitting on the “dock” in front of the establishment.
But that’s not the best part. After finishing your beer, you are encouraged to partake in the tradition of smashing the empty bottle against the brick wall beneath the dock.
“I think people were just too lazy to get off the dock when they were done,” said Anderson.
Ice House has made Thrillist.com’s “Best Dive Bars in America.”
There is still plenty of ice left at ice house, but it’s filling buckets filled with domestic beers, waiting to be consumed by locals and visitors sharing stories and smashing glass.
Open Monday-Sunday 11-12 a.m.
The Can Smasher
Remember that one viral video?
Jim Anderson is also in the family business, and is known for his ability to smash cans with his feet at “an unprecedented pace.” He once appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman to display his talents.