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Every time someone tells me they are planning a trip to see Mount Rushmore, I always tell them they have to stop in Rapid City while they are there. Rapid City is just a half-hour away from the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, so I have some recommendations of other things to do when you go to see this well-known National Monument.
Bear Country USA – Open from about May-October, this is a drive-thru experience where you won’t only be likely to see bears, but also other wildlife like elk, bobcat, bighorn sheep, buffalo, and more.
Old MacDonald’s Farm – If you’re looking for a hands-on experience with animals, this is the place. Bottle feed baby animals, take a pony or train ride, sit in the pen with the goats, watch some pig races… the list of fun goes on and on!
Robert’s Prarie Dog Town – This was one of those hidden gems we just happened upon as we approached Badlands National Park. We were amazed at how close we could get to the prairie dogs without having them run away. No need to touch them, but if you’re looking for something you don’t see every day, this is a great stop.
Canyon Lake Park – Rent a paddleboat, fish off the bridge, take a bike ride, or pack a picnic lunch. There is much to do in this 29-acre park. The park is open daily from 5:00 am until 10:00 pm.
City of Presidents Walking Tour – What started as a way to stretch our legs after a long drive quickly became one of my favorite surprise adventures during our trip. Rapid City is also known as the City of Presidents because on each street corner you will find a bronze statue of every US President. The City of Presidents Information Center has maps with a scavenger hunt (or you can also see and print HERE), which was enjoyed by our entire family. After we found everything, we returned the completed scavenger hunt and were presented with a Presidential Soda as our prize.
Black Hills Outdoor Fun – Experience the Black Hills of South Dakota in a new way: on an ATV! Take a 4-hour tour where the experienced & informative guides will lead you on a tour you will never forget. Many say it is the highlight of their trip!
Badlands National Park – This trip was my first time out west to see the landscape and learn about its history, and there is no better place to take it all in than Badlands National Park. From the geologic formations to the history of how something so beautiful could be named “Badlands” to the wildlife you see, exploring the area by climbing the formations and stopping at the many lookout points along the winding roads is truly amazing. Wear sturdy shoes, flip-flops are not recommended if you want to
Canyon Lake Resort – This resort offers a variety of amenities that appeal to many travelers. It’s dog-friendly, a variety of accommodation options ranging from traditional motel rooms to cabins and lodges, bbq grills located throughout the property, a heated outdoor pool, and free paddleboat rides.
Custer’s Gulch RV Park – Camp where General Custer camped in 1874! They offer 60 full-service RV sites, plus tent sites and cabins. The easy online reservation system makes it easy to book your stay, and you can enjoy a variety of activities like canoeing, fishing, swimming, and biking. Conveniently located to many local attractions like Crazy Horse Memorial (6 miles away), Custer State Park (1/2 mile away), and Mt. Rushmore (22 miles away).
Wall Drug – With more than 500 seats and famous for their 5 cent coffee and fresh donuts, this is a place to go. Not only will you have a great meal, but you can spend time exploring the “backyard” where you can ride a giant jackalope, cool off at the Train Station Water Show, find some great photo opps, and explore the many shops.
The Gaslight Restaurant and Saloon – Hearty portions, indoor and outdoor dining options, locally-made desserts and fun decor make this a great stop for travelers of all ages. If you’re lucky enough, you may even stop in when there is live music, ranging from country to bluegrass.
Click here to see a map with all the attractions, restaurants, and lodging options listed above.