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Best Things to Do in Rapid City, South Dakota

Welcome to Rapid City, South Dakota! This charming city, located at the foothills of the Black Hills, is a hidden gem of the Midwest. From stunning natural beauty to captivating history, Rapid City has something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or just looking for a fun family vacation, this city will not disappoint.

One of the best things about Rapid City is its proximity to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the country. The Black Hills National Forest, just a short drive away, boasts over 1.2 million acres of pristine wilderness. Here, you can hike through towering pine forests, fish in crystal-clear streams, and spot wildlife like elk, bison, and mountain goats.

But Rapid City isn’t just about outdoor adventures. The city is steeped in rich history and vibrant culture, with fascinating museums and historic sites to explore. Learn about the region’s Native American heritage at the Journey Museum, or visit the unique shops and galleries of the historic downtown area. And of course, no trip to Rapid City would be complete without a visit to the iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world.

If you’re looking for family-friendly fun, Rapid City has plenty to offer as well. Kids will love the Reptile Gardens, the largest reptile zoo in the world, or exploring the Dinosaur Park, where life-sized dinosaur sculptures roam the hillsides. And for a truly unforgettable experience, take a trip to Bear Country USA, where you can drive through miles of natural habitat and see black bears, grizzlies, and other wildlife up close.

Whether you’re a well-seasoned traveler or just looking for a fun weekend getaway, Rapid City is a destination you won’t want to miss. With so much to see and do, this charming city in the heart of South Dakota is sure to capture your heart and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. Join us as we take a tour of Rapid City while highlighting some of it’s must-see sights and attractions.

Viewcation Presents: Best Things to Do in Rapid City, South Dakota

Explore Historic Downtown

Located between Omaha and Columbus streets lies the bustling and dynamic Downtown Rapid City. This vibrant hub is the perfect starting point for any South Dakota adventure, with a plethora of activities and attractions suitable for people of all ages.

At the heart of downtown lies Main Street Square, a popular communal gathering space. Here, visitors can revel in open spaces and playgrounds for kids, and delight in shopping, delicious food, and entertainment on the stage. During the summer, music concerts fill the square with joyous tunes, making it the perfect spot for a fun family day out.

However, what makes Downtown Rapid City truly unique is its stunning public art display featuring 43 life-sized replicas of former presidents. Scattered across numerous street corners, these statues are a sight to behold and complement the city’s vast array of public art. Walking through the streets of downtown is like taking a journey through American history, with each statue offering a glimpse into the leadership and accomplishments of past presidents.

All in all, Downtown Rapid City is a lively and diverse area that caters to the interests of all visitors. With its charming Main Street Square and mesmerizing presidential statue collection, it’s an adventure you won’t want to miss!

Explore The South Dakota Air & Space Museum

Are you ready to take your Rapid City adventure to new heights? Then look no further than the South Dakota Air & Space Museum, a must-visit attraction for aviation enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Located on the outskirts of Rapid City, this museum is a treasure trove of fascinating artifacts and exhibits that showcase the history of flight in South Dakota and beyond. From vintage aircraft to state-of-the-art fighter jets, visitors can get up close and personal with some of the most iconic planes in history.

One of the many highlights of the museum is its collection of military aircraft, which includes planes from every branch of the armed forces. You can even take a peek inside a B-1B Lancer, one of the most powerful bombers in the Air Force fleet. And for those who have a passion for space travel, the museum also features exhibits on the history of space exploration, including a replica of the Apollo capsule.

But what really sets the South Dakota Air & Space Museum apart is its interactive exhibits. Here, visitors can experience what it’s like to fly a plane or pilot a space shuttle through simulators and interactive displays. And for the little ones, the museum offers a children’s play area where they can climb aboard a kid-sized plane and let their imaginations soar.

Visit Mount Rushmore

Every year, hordes of visitors from around the globe flock to witness the awe-inspiring sight of the four iconic granite faces that make up the Mount Rushmore National Memorial: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Nestled amidst the stunning natural beauty of the Black Hills National Forest, visitors can embark on a serene walk through nature on the Presidential Trail, which leads straight to the base of the memorial.

But that’s not all there is to see and do at Mount Rushmore. The memorial is also home to a fascinating museum that offers an in-depth look at the creation and history of this remarkable landmark. Visitors can learn all about the intricate carving process and listen to informative ranger talks that shed light on the incredible feat of engineering that went into bringing this masterpiece to life.

And what better way to cool off after a long day of exploring than with some delicious Thomas Jefferson ice cream on the Grand View Terrace? With sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding forest and the magnificent faces of the presidents, this is the perfect spot to sit back, relax, and soak up the awe-inspiring beauty of Mount Rushmore.

Experience Reptile Gardens

Looking for a unique and unforgettable experience in Rapid City? Look no further than Reptile Gardens, a one-of-a-kind destination that boasts more scaly and slithery species than any other zoo on the planet.

But what really sets this attraction apart are its star residents: Tank, Orville, and Samson, three gentle giants who just happen to be Aldabra Tortoises. These magnificent creatures are a firm favorite among visitors, who love nothing more than to pet and snap photos with these slow-moving yet fascinating beasts.

And it’s not just the tortoises that make Reptile Gardens such a hit with visitors. With an incredible array of reptilian species, from venomous snakes to colorful lizards, this zoo offers a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most fascinating and misunderstood creatures on earth.

Get Lost In Nature At The Blackhills National Forest

The Black Hills National Forest is a stunning natural wonder that’s simply a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Rapid City. This beautiful forest spans over 1.2 million acres and is home to an incredible array of wildlife and breathtaking scenery that’s sure to leave you in awe.

From rugged canyons and sparkling streams to towering peaks and pristine lakes, the Black Hills National Forest offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration. Visitors can hike through lush forests, camp beneath the stars, or hit the trails on horseback, mountain bike, or ATV. And with hundreds of miles of hiking trails to choose from, there’s something for every level of skill and experience.

But it’s not just the natural beauty that makes the Black Hills National Forest so amazing. This incredible destination is also steeped in history, with numerous sites and landmarks that offer a fascinating glimpse into the region’s past. Visitors can explore historic gold mines, tour ghost towns, or visit the iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which is located within the forest’s boundaries.

Take A Trip Back In Time At The Journey Museum

At the Journey Museum, visitors can delve into the rich history of the Black Hills and discover the fascinating stories that have shaped this region for thousands of years. From the formation of the iconic mountain range, which the Lakota people called Paha Sapa (or “hills that are black”), to the prehistoric era and beyond, this museum is a treasure trove of knowledge and insight.

The exhibits are thoughtfully arranged in chronological order, beginning with the geological history of the area and the formation of the Black Hills. Visitors can explore the region’s prehistoric past, including its fascinating array of fossils, before moving on to learn about the Native American cultures that have thrived here for centuries. From the Lakota and Sioux tribes to the pioneers who helped shape the region, the Journey Museum offers a comprehensive look at the diverse and fascinating history of the Black Hills. And with the Minnilusa Pioneer Museum also on site, visitors can delve even deeper into the rich history of this incredible region.

Bear Country USA

Bear Country USA is an exciting wildlife park that’s home to a wide range of animals, including black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, elk, and more. Visitors to Bear Country USA can drive through the park’s sprawling wilderness areas and observe these incredible creatures in their natural habitats.

One of the park’s main attractions is the black bear exhibit, which houses over 80 black bears in a sprawling 25-acre enclosure. Visitors can watch these playful animals as they roam, play, and forage for food, giving them a unique and unforgettable view of these majestic creatures.

In addition to the bear exhibit, visitors can also explore the park’s many other habitats and see a variety of wildlife up close. The park’s wolf exhibit, for example, is home to a pack of endangered gray wolves, while the elk exhibit is home to a herd of majestic elk that are sure to take your breath away.

Bear Country USA is also dedicated to education and conservation, with a range of programs designed to teach visitors about the importance of protecting these incredible animals and their natural habitats.

Get Your Grub On

Rapid City is not only a great place to enjoy nature and history, but also to savor some delicious food. Whether you’re craving steak, pizza, tacos, or curry, you’ll find a restaurant that suits your taste and budget.

If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, you can’t go wrong with Delmonico Grill. This upscale steakhouse serves prime cuts of beef, seafood, pasta, and salads in an elegant setting. You can also enjoy a glass of wine from their extensive list or a cocktail from their full bar. Some of the dishes that customers rave about are the filet mignon, the lobster mac and cheese, and the chocolate cake.

For a more casual and fun atmosphere, check out Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews. This restaurant offers 50 burgers and 50 beers to choose from, as well as wings, sandwiches, salads, and more. You can also play arcade games, watch sports on TV, or listen to live music. Some of the burgers that stand out are the Glazed Doughnut Burger, the Beer Cheese Burger, and the Jalapeño Popper Burger.

If you’re in the mood for some eclectic cuisine, you have plenty of options in Rapid City. You can try Everest Cuisine for some authentic Indian and Nepali dishes, such as chicken tikka masala, lamb vindaloo, and momos. You can also try Kathmandu Bistro for some more Indian and Nepali specialties, such as tandoori chicken, dal makhani, and naan bread. For some Mexican and Southwestern flavors, you can go to Que Pasa or El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant. Here, hungry travelers can enjoy nachos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, and more.

These are just some of the best restaurants in Rapid City that you can visit during your trip. There are many more to discover and enjoy in this city that has something for everyone.

So what do you think? Are you ready to take a trip out to Rapid City and see what all the hype is about? If you’ve already visited, share with us some of your favorite sights and attractions in and around town in the comments section down below. And as always, thanks for watching!