Full-sized bronze statues of presidents and a hotel where six presidents slept make sense in a city that is 23 miles from Mount Rushmore. Attractions that explore natural history, geology, and flight round out a stay. Rapid City, which sits on the eastern slope of the Black Hills mountain range in western South Dakota, has been dubbed “The Gateway to the Black Hills.” Visitors here can travel the Black Hills and Badlands, Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Bear Country USA, and the Black Hills Caverns, among other nearby spots. The city also has a number of museums and galleries, both theme and water parks, and even a chuckwagon dinner show. CDC information for travelers.
Due to possible coronavirus-related travel restrictions, please check destinations’ websites for the current status of attractions, events, restaurants, and lodgings.
1. Mount Rushmore Tours
Mount Rushmore Tours are obtainable through Fort Hays – the Wild West-themed estate, the former set of Dances with Wolves, and existing cowboy and cowgirl retreat. Off-property they offer 4 distinct tour packages to Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Guests can take three of these sightseeing tours by Motorcoach. The Mount Rushmore Sightseeing Tour Only begins at Fort Hays with a tour of the Dances with Wolves set before exploring offsite. An extended version of this tour includes breakfast, supper, and a cowboy music show. Wildlife fans will relish the Buffalo Roundup Tour, while past buffs will delight in the 1880 Train Sightseeing Tour.
Address: 2255 Fort Hayes Drive, Rapid City, SD, Phone: 888-343-3113
2. America’s Founding Fathers Exhibit
America’s Founding Father Exhibit offers travelers a chance to go back in the past and experience the Declaration of Independence. This 20-minute show fuses history and art with an exquisite sculpture installation of the renowned “Declaration of Independence” painting by John Trumbull. Guests will listen to the tale of how the 56 patriots recognized the American Revolution and formed a country, culminating with each visitor signing the Declaration of Independence just like their forefathers. To top it off, guests can head down to the musket range and test their skills shooting a Kentucky long rifle, the same type used during the Revolutionary War.
Address: 9815 South Highway 16, Rapid City, SD, Phone: 605-877-6043
3. South Dakota Air and Space Museum
The South Dakota Air and Space Museum permits visitors to take a walk-through aviation history with their exhibits and galleries. They showcase over 30 classic military aircraft from World War II to the present as well as various military missiles. Indoor and outdoor displays highlight modernization, engineering, and science and feature aircraft like the B-1B Lancer and the H-13 Sioux helicopter. Guests get to know about everything from aerospace technology to who the pioneers of aviation were and their impact on American history. Free docent-led tours are available at the museum. Bus tours of Ellsworth Air Force Base are presented seasonally for a nominal fee.
Address: 2890 Davis Drive, (Building #5208), Ellsworth AFB, SD, Phone: 605-385-5189
4. Museum of Geology
The Museum of Geology is exciting and free of cost place to study geology through exhibitions in both paleontology and mineralogy. These eye-catching exhibits feature mounted skeletons of mammals, fish, marine reptiles, and dinosaurs as well as rare fossils from the White River Badlands. Mineral displays comprise of the Hall of South Dakota Minerals, meteorites, and even a fluorescent mineral room with a serious wow factor. There is a kids’ zone with hands-on fun for the little ones, and a museum gift shop with toys, books, and unique items to round out the experience. The museum provides guided tours for those who call ahead.
Address: 501 East Saint Joseph Street, Rapid City, SD, Phone: 605-394-2467
5. Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial is located on one of the highest pegmatite granite mountains in the Black Hills. The renowned sculpture is the greatest in the world and was originated by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear’s insistent appeals to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. Campus highlights include the Nature Gates, the Welcome Center, the Indian Museum of North America, the sculptor’s home studio, and the Native American Educational & Culture Center. Visitors study the memorial, explore exhibits, and enjoy performances by Native American dancers. There are a restaurant and gift store, too. Optional bus rides to the base of the mountain allow guests to see the carving up close.
Address: 12151 Avenue of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD, Phone: 605-673-4681
6. Reptile Gardens
Since 1937, Reptile Gardens has been family owned and is the greatest reptile zoo in the world. It is house to more species of reptiles than any other animal park or zoo. The lovely garden oasis has luxurious vegetation, primeval lawns, lively flowers, tropical plants, and decorative trees sprinkled with 15 exhibits and displays. Few exhibits comprise of a poisonous snake assortment, a bald eagle exhibit, a prairie dog exhibit, and huge tortoises. Live exhibits include snakes, gators, and birds. Children will also love Bewitched, an Old West ghost town experience, while parents will appreciate Jungle Outpost Gallery with tribal crafts from around the world.
Address: 8955 US-16, Rapid City, SD, Phone: 605-342-5873
7. Black Hills Outdoor Fun
Black Hills Outdoor Fun is an amazing choice for travelers who don’t want to pore over a map of the Black Hills National Forest trying to gauge which trails to ride only to miss out on some of the most remarkable sights. Edelweiss Mountain Lodging hosts a four-hour roundtrip ATV directed tour that takes travelers on easy-to-ride and well-maintained trails along with old service and logging roads with a few mud holes thrown in for good measure. Riders are sure to see all the best spots. The trip also consists of a quick hike on Deerfield Trail, showcasing picturesque views and old homesteads.
Address: 12780 Black Forest Road, Rapid City, SD, Phone: 605-574-2430
8. The Golf Club at Red Rock
Since its inception in 2003, the Golf Club at Red Rock has been rated the top public golf course in South Dakota which is on the edge of the Black Hills National Forest, minutes from Rapid City. This 7,000-yard, par-72 championship golf course is categorized by rolling fairways enclosed by tall ponderosa pine trees, links-style bunkers, dramatic changes in elevation, and USGA specification greens. The club has a practice facility, golf shop, and full-service bar and grill. At the Golf Club at Red Rock, players of all levels can have a demanding and enthralling world-class golf experience, and children under 12 play free when escorted by an adult.
Address: 6520 Birkdale Rd, Rapid City, SD 57702, Phone: 605-718-4710
9. Black Hills Symphony Orchestra
The Black Hills Symphony Orchestra was amassed in the 1930s with a tiny set of string players. Now, after more than 80 years it has risen to include over ninety musicians. Their agenda is simple, “to provide the finest orchestral performance and symphonic music education for the people of the Black Hills region.” They provide numerous seasonal constructions each year at the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City. Historical productions have consisted of performances like The Nutcracker and the Mount Rushmore Celebration.
Address: 713 7th Street, Rapid City, SD, Phone: 605-394-2674
10. Storybook Island
Since 1959, Storybook Island is free of cost kid’s theme park that has been open each summer from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. The theme park is a cultural icon in Rapid City, relishing kids and the energetic adults with each new season. Storybook Island is ornamented with quirky characters from a number of tales, nursery rhymes, and kids’ fables, reassuring imaginations to run free. The Storybook Island Children’s Theatre offers visitors several fun summer theater productions throughout the season. Duane Laflin and The Great Magic Show are also offered three times each day for a nominal admission fee.
Address: 1301 Sheridan Lake Road, Rapid City, SD, Phone: 605-342-6357
We hope we are successful in putting out the best things here that you should do while being in Rapid City. We hope you find what you are looking for.
We wish you the best, happy traveling!
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