Written on August 20th, 2020
Rapid City was founded in 1876 by a group of miners unable to find gold. They set up camp in a large river valley midway between the Black Hills and plains and sold supplies to miners and homesteaders. Rapid City soon became an important transportation hub and tourist destination. Today, the "City of Presidents" offers a wide variety of attractions.
With such an abundance of opportunities available, it's best to explore Rapid City on your own—but there are certain spots you should definitely seek out, depending on your interests. Main Street Square is the city's unofficial "living room" and hosts many popular year-round events. Surrounded by specialty shops and restaurants, the interactive fountains will keep kids cool during the summer months; in the winter, the square is transformed into an all-ages ice-skating rink. After skating, take the chill off with a hot cup of coffee or cocoa from Alternative Fuel or one of the city's other coffee shops; Dunn Brothers, Essence of Coffee, and Harriet & Oak all feature your favorite caffeinated creations and tasty treats.
Dinosaur Park is one of the city's most popular destinations, with great views of the Black Hills and Badlands. It features seven life-size concrete replicas of dinosaurs that make great photo opportunities with the kids. The park opened in 1936 and includes a gift shop and ice cream parlor. When the weather's hot (and even when it's not), WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort is a great place for splashing around. It's open year-round and features water slides, an activity pool, hot tub, lazy river float, arcade, snack shop, and bar & grill. Old MacDonald's Farm offers kids (and grownups) a chance to interact with more than 100 farm animals. Don't miss the sight of intrepid goats crossing the wooden Billy Goat Bridge overhead.
Rapid City's restaurant and bar scene is thriving. Dickey's Barbecue Pit offers BBQ classics like pulled pork, brisket, and ribs, while Firehouse Brewing Company has soups, salads, burgers, tacos, and more—including an extensive selection of craft beers on tap. Shipwrecks Bar and Grill features all your pub favorites, as well as live entertainment and a private patio. The margaritas at Que Pasa Cantina are legendary—no surprise given the selection of over 50 different tequilas. Minerva's Restaurant & Bar offers something for everybody, making it a favorite for families and those who want a large variety of choices.
In the mood to go shopping? Every day is Christmas at Christmas Village, where you'll find a huge selection of ornaments, decorations, and gifts, including snow villages, rock 'n roll memorabilia, and NFL collectibles. Gold Diggers features a large selection of rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets, and more, made from authentic Black Hills Gold. Kicks & Giggles carries quality products for babies and toddlers, while Karma Boutique offers clothing and accessories for women of all ages. Looking for gently used, practical fashions? Wear It Again, Sam is a consignment shop featuring clothing and accessories for men, women, and children. Treat your skin and look your best with tanning, red light therapy, body sculpting, and more at Bella Tan.
There are many great lodging choices in Rapid City; for a unique experience, Rushmore Shadows Resort offers everything from tents and cabins to full hookup RV sites—all nestled amongst tall Ponderosa pine trees just minutes from town. The resort features a pool, miniature golf, playground, and sports courts, so there's always plenty to do.
We've barely scratched the surface. Every time you visit Rapid City, you're bound to discover a new favorite!