Rapid City Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Rapid City Trip Guide

Life-size bronze statues of presidents and a hotel where six presidents slept seem appropriate for a city that’s 23 miles from the monument to presidents Mount Rushmore. Attractions that explore natural history, geology and flight round out a stay.


Bear Country USA A 3-mile drive takes visitors past bears, wolves, reindeer, elk, bison and 15 other species of North American mammals. Bear cubs frolic at a wildlife center. bearcountryusa.com

Chapel in the Hills Attend an evening vesper service or come during the day to look around this intricately carved stave church, a replica of the Borgund Stavkirke built in 1150 outside Lærdal, Norway. chapel-in-the-hills.org

City of Presidents Forty-two bronze statues of U.S. presidents line downtown streets; pick up a map at visitor information centers. downtownrapidcity.com

The Journey Museum and Learning Center A big-screen movie sets up your walk through time. Progress through exhibits that show how the area changed from the dinosaur period to Wild West days to the devastating flood of 1972. journeymuseum.org

Museum of Geology The fossils on display span the history of South Dakota and include dinosaurs, marine reptiles and plants. If mineralogy intrigues, check out agates and other finds in the Hall of South Dakota Minerals. sdsmt.edu

Prairie Edge Trading Company and Galleries Native American art, beaded dolls, drums, pottery, tribal regalia, jewelry and more fill the shop downstairs. An art gallery and bead library occupy the upstairs. prairieedge.com

Prairie Edge Trading Company and Galleries

Prairie Edge Trading Company and Galleries

Reptile Gardens The world’s largest reptile zoo houses more than 225 types of reptiles and amphibians, plus prairie dogs, birds and insects. Shows and kids’ activities like gemstone-panning add to the fun. reptilegardens.com

The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water Twenty-one granite pieces reflect the natural and cultural history of the region. Artist Masayuki Nagase started carving four years ago, but you can watch the pieces continue to take shape in Main Street Square over the summer. rcsculptureproject.com

South Dakota Air and Space Museum Get up close to 29 aircraft and four missiles at an indoor-outdoor space next to Ellsworth Air Force Base. Base tours available by request. sdairandspacemuseum.com


The Blind Lion Speakeasy “I have a ticket to see the blind lion.” Remember that phrase after owner Tony DeMaro texts you instructions for accessing the speakeasy below Murphy’s Pub and Grill. (How to get that text? Search the pub’s Facebook feed or ask staff.) Blind Lion on Facebook

Firehouse Brewing Company The restaurant celebrates its firehouse heritage with brass-and-red decor, Firehouse Red ale and the gumbo Spontaneous Heating. firehousebrewing.com

Firehouse Brewing Company

Firehouse Brewing Company

Kol A nearly 10-foot-wide coal-fired oven cooks pizzas with names like Notorious P.I.G. (bacon, mustard pork belly, pork sausage, sweet potato pudding and arugula).  Pair your pizza with a kicky cocktail like the Spicy Fifty, flavored with red chili pepper. Kol on Facebook



Tally’s Silver Spoon Diner-style breakfasts segue to a mix of comfort food and upscale fare for lunch and dinner, when curried mussels and bison might be on the menu along with chicken-fried steak. tallyssilverspoon.com

Vertex Sky Bar Guests at the Hotel Alex Johnson can sip craft cocktails or eat dinner while viewing the Black Hills, buttes and prairies from the 10th and 11th floors. Fire pits enhance the setting. vertexskybar.com 

Vertex Sky Bar

Vertex Sky Bar

Wobbly Bobby British Pub It’s like a quick trip across the pond when you can linger over Scotch eggs and toast the wobbly bobby—British slang for a drunken police officer—with any of 48 on-tap beers and ciders. wobblybobby.com


Hotel Alex Johnson Brick flooring embedded with Native American symbols and a lobby chandelier of war spears hint at Native American and Germanic Tudor architectural influences. Six presidents have stayed at the 143-room downtown hotel, which opened in 1928. A renovation wrapped up last year. alexjohnson.com

Hotel Alex Johnson

Hotel Alex Johnson

More information: visitrapidcity.com

Black Hills and Badlands

For a trip guide to the Black Hills and Badlands area around Rapid City, click or tap here

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