TOP 10 FREE ATTRACTIONS
A vacation full of fun, free activities is hard to beat! We’ve rounded up the top Rapid City attractions that are available to all and free of charge based off of ratings and reviews on Tripadvisor. At these attractions, you’ll take in 100-mile views next to depression era cement statues, discover alley walls that have been converted into a creative canvas, and so much more!
1 - South Dakota Air & Space Museum
Stroll amongst America’s aviation history at the South Dakota Air & Space Museum! This indoor and outdoor museum showcases over 30 vintage military planes, ranging from World War II bombers up to the B-1 bomber. As you tour the grounds you can read fascinating stories about past military missions, view military missiles on display and more. It’s a great free and educational stop for all ages to enjoy!
2 - Dinosaur Park
Since the 1930’s, seven cement dinosaurs have stood on a sandstone ridge overlooking Rapid City and the Black Hills. These dinosaurs were created to draw visitors coming to the area to see Mount Rushmore into Rapid City. Hike the stairs and visit each dinosaur and learn a little about them! A free visit to this beautiful park offers one of kind selfies with a T-rex, climbing on a Triceratops, and 360-degree views of the surrounding city next to a Brontosaurus.
*Starting October 1, Dinosaur Park will be closed for construction to create accessible pedestrian routes, update safety features, and upgrade visitor amenities including site interpretation. The project is expected to last approximately seven months. You can explore more stunning views of Rapid City from Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park or see actual dinosaur fossils at the Museum of Geology.
3 - Storybook Island
This admissions free, children’s theme park is a must-see if you are visiting the area with kids. Across a castle bridge, past Humpty Dumpty toppling off his wall, and under Rapunzel throwing down her hair to prince charming, you will enter the magical world of Storybook Island. Discover some of your favorite characters spread across this eight-acre park and enjoy the sounds of Disney music mingled with the sounds of pure amusement. Cherished memories will be made, and they will last a lifetime for your whole family.
4 - Chapel In The Hills
Most would not expect to find a reproduction of the of the famous Borgund Stavkirke of Laerdal, Norway in South Dakota. In the 1960’s, the Norwegian Department of Antiquities provided a set of blueprints so the Chapel in the Hills could be an exact replica of the original. The chapel is constructed completely of wood except for the metal ornaments on the door. Visitors can admire the Viking style architecture, walk the peaceful grounds, explore the authentic log cabin museum and shop in the Stabbur gift shop.
5 - Prairie Edge Trading Company And Galleries
Prairie Edge Trading Co. was started with two primary purposes: to educate the public and preserve the heritage and culture of the Northern Plains Indians, and to provide Northern Plains Indian artists an outlet for their artwork. Located in Downtown Rapid City, Prairie Edge is a two-story shop and gallery that spans for half a block. Upon entrance, visitors will be swept away by spectacular local products, beadwork, Native American regalia and outstanding artwork. During certain hours, there are also local artists painting in the store.
6 - Museum of Geology
Located on the campus of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, this museum holds many fascinating exhibits focusing on Paleontology and Mineralogy. Explore their mounted skeleton collection, learn about rare fossils found in the White River Badlands, and walk through the captivating Hall of South Dakota Minerals! The walls of this museum are packed full intriguing history that’s also fun to learn.
7- Art Alley
Creative freedom finds its home in Art Alley. Artists who obtain a permit can add their work to these ever-changing walls. It’s an outlet for creativity, a place to express oneself, a site for murals and countless messages, and makes for one impressive stroll through an arrangement of street art styles. Art Alley is located between 6th and 7th in Downtown Rapid City.
8 - Memorial Park | Berlin Wall Exhibit
Across the road from Downtown Rapid City, running alongside a portion of Rapid Creek, extends the wonderful features of Memorial Park. The Berlin Wall exhibit is one of many memorials found in the park. This exhibit features two segments of the wall and two tank traps along with informational plaques about its history. Memorial Park also features a beautiful walking path, a playground for kids, a peaceful pond, as well as the Flood of 1972 Memorial fountain and several other statues.
9 - City of Presidents
Lining the streets of Downtown Rapid City are the famous faces of past presidents recreated in bronze. Known as the City of Presidents, this free, self-guided walking tour takes you around the downtown area for a face-to-face greeting. Each statue is a life size replica of the president, showcasing their height and weight, except for William Howard Taft. His weight was too expensive to replicate in bronze. Each statue pose was selected by the sculptor and features a characteristic of the president or representation of something they accomplished in office.
10 - Pawnseum
The world’s only Pawnseum, pawnshop and museum combined, can be found in Downtown Rapid City. Amongst stunning Black Hills Gold jewelry, an array of musical instruments and more, visitors can also find historical artifacts such as Michael Jackson’s early concert glove and authentic Native American antiques.