There are many ways to describe Downtown Rapid City. Some say it’s the classic small-town America feel, some say it’s vibrant with activities, but the best phrase is “it will surprise you”. Downtown Rapid City is home to some of the best things to do in Rapid City, so dedicate some time during your epic Black Hills vacation to experience it’s charm.
Downtown’s dining scene has treats for all tastebuds. From the flavor packed traditional Indian entrees at Kathmandu Bistro, to the soul-warming bowls of ramen with locally sourced ingredients at Bokujo – it’s all a flavor journey you should experience. Many of the downtown restaurants are the perfect place to taste iconic dishes of South Dakota like bison and chislic. Contemporary Irish watering hole, Murphy’s, serves a *Buffalo Meatloaf that’s wrapped in bacon, smothered in portobello mushrooms, sits on a bed of asparagus and mashed potatoes, then topped with fried onion and bourbon ketchup. My stomach just growled typing that sentence. One of the best views in the city can be found at the top of the Hotel Alex Johnson at the Vertex Sky Bar where they also serve the delicious local fish Walleye. Non-guests of the hotel will have to pay for a day pass.
*South Dakotan’s know the animal is a bison – but we often use the words bison and buffalo interchangeably.
Local caffeinated concoctions will have you excited to see the sun rise, and locally crafted cocktails or brews will have you ready to cheers to another beautiful day of vacation, and so many can be found downtown! Aussie owned and inspired, Essence of Coffee, is a local coffee roaster and café full of delicious things. If you don’t start at least one morning with an Aussie breakfast and cup of freshly roasted coffee from Essence, you are doing it wrong. Don’t forget about the sweet treats like Aussie Cream Buns! Rapid Breweries are constantly adding and creating unique flavors in their beverages. Woodland Republic Brewing & Blending is a modern brewery that takes on the unpredictable nature of wild and sour mixed-fermentation beer production in small batches and single barrels. The brewery offers a beautiful atmosphere and the tastiest beverages on their rotating taps. Expand your Rapid City breweries tour with the Grapes & Grains Trail to redeem great discounts and win prizes! If you want to savor a carefully crafted cocktail or sample a great selection of bourbon and whiskey, Windsor Block is calling your name. Its historic setting is amplified by the bar decorations that are intriguing to explore.
A a great trip should be celebrated with a one-of-a-kind souvenir to serve as a reminder for years to come. I personally collect fridge magnets from places I visit, but the stores in Downtown Rapid City carry so many fun options. Start your shopping at the tall, teal doors of Prairie Edge Trading Company. Inside you’ll find a vast selection of stunning Native American art, crafts, jewelry, books and other locally made products! Check out Who’s Hobby House, this is a local favorite and its been the region’s largest and best hobby store since 1950. Mitzi’s Bookstore is too cute to just pass by. This locally owned bookstore carries a great selection of reading material and fun other trinkets and toys. Mount Rushmore Memories Gift Shop located inside the Mount Rushmore Society is a great place to find those iconic souvenirs of four famous granite faces along with other locally inspired goodies.
Adding to the great food and awesome shops is the colorful and expressive downtown art scene. Make a stop at one of the galleries like the Dahl Arts Center which showcases rotating exhibits from local and regional artists, or the Suzie Cappa Art Center which supports and encourages artists of all abilities. Stroll down Art Alley and admire the youthful, passionate graffiti-style murals creating a colorful alleyway – most of which are created by local artists. Tusweca Gallery is Native American owned and filled with breathtaking artwork. One of their missions is to support the work of artists from the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Unique LOCAL ATTRACTIONS
Top off your experience of Rapid City’s Downtown district with a few must-see and must-do attractions. The City of Presidents is a self-guided walking tour that features the past Presidents of the United States placed on the corners of downtown. Pose with the iconic statues of John Adams or tip your hat to Calvin Coolidge who fun fact – enjoyed a summer vacation to Custer State Park originally planned for three weeks that he extended to three months. This fun and educational tour will lead you all around our walkable downtown district on the hunt to find the next famous face! Another big attraction to see is what is known as the heart of Downtown Rapid City called Main Street Square. A summer or winters day spent here will be forever cherished. Black Hills Escape Rooms takes on a fun local twist with puzzles themed to the area. See if you can solve the Murder of Salon #10 or the WWIII: Ellsworth Air Force Base and Aliens in under 60 minutes.
When you stay and play in Downtown Rapid City you’ll find all the components of a great vacation in walking distance. It’s a destination bursting with character, history, and charm. You’ll be surprised with everything you find.