Rapid City, South Dakota, should not just be a place to lay your head while you visit the Black Hills. When researching cities to stay in for our visit to Mount Rushmore, Rapid City seemed to be the best option. I truly thought that Rapid City would be our base as we visited all of the attractions on our list but I was pleasantly surprised by the city.
The Perfect Base for the Black Hills
Rapid City is centrally located to many of the activities and attractions in the Black Hills. From our hotel in Rapid City, the Mainstay Suites, we drove to Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park. We drove to Hot Springs, SD, as well as Wall, SD. Most everything was about 30-40 minutes away, with Rapid City being a central location.
The City of Presidents and Downtown Rapid City
The City of Presidents is an art installation in the downtown area. They are life-sized bronze statues of the past presidents stationed at almost every street corner. Print off the list of presidents or the map of their locations and create your own scavenger hunt. We just wandered around and looked at each of the presidents. If we had more time, I know my kids would have loved to check off each president as we found the statue.
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Geology Museum
This was by far our favorite stop of the entire trip. My son is quite the geologist–he loves rocks and minerals, so a visit to the geology museum was right up his alley. This museum is one of the largest collections of rocks and minerals. You can also see fossils and skeletons. There is a small interactive section for children and we learned something new in every corner. The best part of this museum is that it is free but do consider a donation, no matter how small, to help keep it open and free to the public.
Rapid City Museums and Parks
Rapid City offers a number of museums and parks. Learn about the geography and people of the area at the Journey Museum. Storybook Island is a free park that will give the kids plenty to look at and room to expend some of the energy they built up driving around. See life-size concrete replicas of dinosaurs at Dinosaur Park, which is free to visit.