Written on August 10th, 2020
Founded in 1876, Hill City originally attracted gold miners, but most of the action was to the north. Tin mining was more profitable by the 1880s, and the railroad industry gained traction. Once notorious for the boisterous antics of its tin miners—some citizens dubbed it “a town with a church on each end and a mile of Hell in between”—Hill City eventually settled down. Today, it attracts arts lovers and adventure seekers from throughout the region.
The Black Hills Central Railroad 1880 Train is one of the town's most popular attractions. Guests embark upon two-hour narrated tours to Keystone and back aboard restored railroad passenger cars. Special events include a Wine Express, Old West shootouts, and Holiday Express. The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research is committed to leading paleontological excavations in the area and houses a collection of dinosaur fossils, minerals, and collectibles in its natural history museum. Their onsite gift shop, Everything Prehistoric, features a wide selection of gifts, ranging from books and toys to jewelry and housewares. Specialty shops abound in Hill City; The Handbag Store carries an extensive curated collection of handbags and accessories in a variety of shapes and sizes. One of the most unique items you'll find on your visit is authentic Black Hills Gold jewelry; known for its grape and leaf designs, it has been sold throughout the region since the 1870s. Gold Diggers offers a large selection of rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets, and more—any of which would make perfect souvenirs or gifts.
All that exploring is bound to make you work up an appetite. The historic Alpine Inn serves authentic German fare for lunch and what many locals proclaim the area's best steaks for dinner, while the Bumpin' Buffalo Bar and Grill offers South Dakota favorites like buffalo burgers and chislic. The Beef Jerky Outlet is a great to-go option; you'll find over 100 different sizes and varieties of jerky, with many exotic choices such as alligator, elk, and kangaroo. Hill City is also an important stop on the Black Hills Wine Loop, with a number of wineries offering reds, whites, and blushes. Twisted Pine Winery has the largest selection of South Dakota made wine, as well as beer on tap, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, jams, dips, sauces, and more. Prairie Berry Winery has been using South Dakota-grown fruits and other ingredients to craft wine for five generations; their one-of-a-kind wines have won over 1,000 awards. Naked Winery serves more traditional grape wines in a cozy, romantic atmosphere. They've also got over 100 revolving micro brews, with 34 on tap at any given moment.
Looking for a fun place to stay? There's no better way to enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills than by booking a cabin. Pine Rest Cabins has operated as a small family business since 1911. Their well-appointed cabins come with modern amenities such as cable TV and WiFi, but are minutes away from many of the area's most popular attractions. Guests have access to a hot tub and sauna, and can grab a delicious cup of coffee or tea at Perky Pine Cafe. Specialty drinks include espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, and frappés. All coffee drinks are made using locally roasted beans.