Perfect Weekend Built By Locals
No one knows our area, and the activities to do here, better than the people who call it home. That’s why we had locals help us build the ultimate weekend itinerary! They answered a series of questions selecting the option they would recommend, and we put them together to create a full weekend experience. When you’re ready to travel, you’ll have all the information you need to plan a great vacation, and it was built with love from Rapid City.
Where To Stay: Downtown or Somewhere With a Pool
Downtown is the heart of Rapid City - home to Main Street Square, popular attractions like the City of Presidents, amazing places to eat, great places to stay, ma and pa shops, and one of a kind events happening all year-round.
Explore: Local Shops or Local Parks
Local Rapid City shops offer more than unique souvenirs - they also offer memorable experiences to go with them! Discover the world’s only Pawnseum, Presidential Pawn, in Downtown Rapid City. Wondering what you’d find in a Pawnseum? Everything from musical instruments to Black Hills Gold, all the way to Michael Jackson’s sequence glove. And everything is for sale – for the right price. Shop a great music selection at Black Hills Vinyl! Here you’ll find a collection of new and vintage records, CDs, cassette tapes, music literature, and accessories. Check out the iconic posters and album covers spanning generations and decorating the walls. Looking for some great reading materials to sit back and relax with during your vacation? Check out the cutest bookstore in town, Mitzi’s. Located at The Shops at Main Street Square, this quaint atmosphere will steal every book-lovers heart.
Grab a Bite: Local Cuisine or Live Entertainment
Who is hungry for great tasting local food? Our locals wanted to make sure you got a real taste of the area by visiting restaurants that serve up local cuisine! A trip to South Dakota wouldn’t be complete without trying Chislic, the unofficial entrée of South Dakota! These mouthwatering cubed pieces of beef (or lamb) are deep fried, served up with a ranch infused dip and are quite frankly – delicious. Experience Chislic or try buffalo from local buffalo ranchers at Dakota Steakhouse. Another great stop to taste local cuisine is at Juniper! Located near downtown, this newly renovated restaurant serves up a small and diverse menu sourced by local and fresh ingredients.
Evening Plans: Try a Local Beverage or Grab a Drink With a View
Grab A Drink With A View
Rapid City offers several locations where you can sip and soak up the view. Grab a table at the Que Pasa Rooftop Cantina where you can enjoy ice-cold margaritas and a casual atmosphere! While it’s not a rooftop it does offer beautiful views – Lost Cabin Beer! Located across the street from Founders Park and M Hill, the view from their patio is easy on the eyes.
Next Morning: Sleep in or Sunrise Views
Our locals are go-getters, and for good reasons. Sunrise views in our area might actually knock your socks off. If you head east before the sun is up (give yourself about an hour and half drive time) you’ll be able to witness a legendary Badlands National Park sunrise. While this national park is breathtaking all the time – sunrise and sunset bring the colors of the sediment layers to life. Looking for great sunrise views close by? Head to Skyline Drive! This road climbs a ridge located in the center of Rapid City. From here you can see 100 miles in each direction making it an ideal spot to watch the morning sun illuminate the sky. One last sunrise recommendation and we consider this one to be pretty monumental: Mount Rushmore. Early mornings at the memorial means less people and more photo worthy moments as the sun paints the granite with spectacular early morning light.
What Next: Go For a Hike or Go For a Drive
Go For A Hike
No matter where you ended up catching your sunrise views from, hiking opportunities aren’t far. If you found yourself in the Badlands, consider Notch Trail. This fun hike is only 1.3 miles and leads to an overlook of Badlands National Park. There is also a great photo opportunity as you climb the rope ladder! If you found yourself at Skyline Drive for some great in-town sunrise views, you’re right next to the trails of Skyline Wilderness Area! This 150-acre park offers incredible views of the city from numerous hiking and biking trails. If you’ve started off your day at Mount Rushmore, consider hiking Horsethief Lake Trail. Located about 13 minutes away from the memorial, Horsethief Lake Trail is a 5.3 mile out and back trail and is surrounded by beautiful Black Hills views.
Lunch: Peaceful Patio or Off the Beaten Path
Off The Beaten Path
Our locals love to give visitors the inside scoop – so here are some off the beaten path places you could enjoy a delicious lunch! For those heading back from the Badlands, check out Harry’s Hideaway Restaurant and Family Dining located in New Underwood. They serve up delicious home-cooked meals in a relaxing family-friendly environment. ¬For a great off the beaten path restaurant in Rapid City, treat your taste buds to lunch at Piesano’s Piacchia. Located on Canyon Lake Drive, this little restaurant creates mouthwatering pizza and Italian sandwiches that you won’t be able to stop thinking about. If you started your morning off exploring the Black Hills consider the Powder House for your off the beaten path lunch spot! Located outside of Keystone, you can enjoy great views while indulging in a great meal.
Take a Walk: Through History or Through Art
Sunrise viewers from the Badlands - it’s time to head back to Rapid City. You’re going to walk through history at the Journey Museum & Learning Center. Watch as the museum changes around you as you stroll through 2.5 billion years of geological, paleontological and archeological history with hands-on activities throughout. Those that enjoyed a Skyline Drive sunrise, your next destination is Fort Hayes Chuck Wagon on Highway 16! Here you can walk through the old west, tour the film set of Dances with Wolves and more! Rushmore sunrise viewers, we’re keeping it presidential and leading you back to Rapid City to walk among the City of Presidents. Each statue is an exact replica of the president (excluding our largest president William Howard Taft) so you can see how your height compares to the men who led America and get to know them on a face-to-face basis.
Cool Off: In the Fountains or With a Sweet Treat
With A Sweet Treat
Our locals know the best way to wind down from a day full of adventures is with a sweet treat. Here are some great options! Mary’s Mountain Cookies – a hot cookie might not be exactly what you had in mind. But, hear us out. They can take two delicious cookies, add a scoop of ice cream in the middle, and turn it into an ice cream sandwich! The Silver Lining Creamery is home to rich, creamy, small batch ice cream we know you’ll love. They offer a rotating line up of flavors so each visit you’ll discover a new favorite (happens to us every time). Last, but definitely not least, is Armadillos Ice Cream Shoppe. A favorite spot for many locals, this ice cream is worth waiting in line for. Expert advice: get the flavor of the day twisted with their vanilla ice cream for a truly magical flavor balance.
Grab Breakfast: In a Quirky Coffee Shop or at a Hometown Diner
In A Quirky Coffee Shop
Rapid City has no shortage of quirky coffee shops. All of which serve up some tasty morning nutrition alongside a great cup of joe. Pure Bean Coffeehouse is located in The Fairmont Creamery, a historically registered building that oozes old time charm and character. Find yourself at Harriet & Oak and you could enjoy your morning brew and breakfast comfortably seated inside or next to a vintage VW van.
Discover: Native American Culture or Norwegian Ties
Native American Culture
Native American culture is deeply rooted into Rapid City and the Black Hills. For those who have never experienced the beauty of this culture, there are many places in the area that showcase it exceptionally. First stop would be Prairie Edge Trading Company and Galleries. Located downtown, this two-story store is brimming with hand-crafted Native American artwork for purchase. Certain times throughout the week you can even witness live painting in the store by area artists. Another great stop in Downtown Rapid City is the Dakota Drum Company. Shop their collection of traditional buffalo hide drums, Powwow Drums and Native American art all hand painted by Lakota Artist Sonja Holy Eagle. Head to Crazy Horse Memorial and you’ll discover a lot more than just the world’s largest mountain carving in progress. Tour the grounds and witness Native American Dancer performances, learn through the Talking Circle Series, and visit with Native America Artisans.
Witness: Famous Faces or Wild Ones
A visit to Rapid City and the Black Hills isn’t complete without some wildlife! Great options close to town are Bear Country USA and Reptile Gardens. Bear Country is the largest privately owned collection of Black Bears in the United States. This drive-through park allows you front seat views to North American wildlife as it freely roams around your vehicle. Don’t let the name Reptile Gardens repel you. While they do hold the Guinness Book of World Records for the World’s Largest Reptile Zoo, they are home to some cute critters, giant Alberta tortoises and a breathtaking botanical garden. Another great, in town, option for wildlife education is the Outdoor Campus – West. They offer great indoor exhibits showcasing a variety of western South Dakota wildlife and their habitats along with a 4,600 galloon freshwater aquarium!