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Rapid City, USA: Gateway to the Black Hills
Rapid City, South Dakota sits just east of the famous Black Hills and in one of the more history-filled areas of the United States. While the city only has just over 70,000 inhabitants, its desirable location means that the actual number of people in the town at one time is always much higher.
Visitors to this region will always find some history to explore and some surprising attractions around the city, as tourism is one of the industries that has allowed Rapid City to flourish. Guests are encouraged to interact with the locals because there is always a hidden gem to explore in this famous city.
Get Close With Nature
No holiday in Rapid City is complete without a visit to Reptile Gardens, a large zoo-type park that features snakes, alligators, and lizards. It is sometimes possible to find a discount coupon for admission to the park, so ask at the front desk of the hotels in town if they know of any. Bear Country USA is an enclosed park that is 250 acres in size and is full of bears, elk, buffalo, and wolves. Visitors drive their cars through the park and can get up close and personal with these animals. There are also spots where guests can safely get out of their vehicles along the route.
Black Hills National Forest is just outside of Rapid City and is one of the most famous parks in the entire country. Inside this park, visitors will find plenty of hiking and sightseeing opportunities. Attractions like Devils Tower National Monument, Spearfish Canyon, the historic town of Deadwood, and the Crazy Horse Memorial are nearby, as well.
Experience American History
The area that surrounds Rapid City, South Dakota is full of more American history than perhaps any other part of the country. The city's downtown core features the City of Presidents, which is a series of life-size statues that depict each president in the history of the United States. With plenty of hotels in the area, most visitors will come across at least some of these statues. Rapid City is also home to America's Founding Fathers Exhibit. This attraction features a full-size sculpture of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and is set inside a replica of Independence Hall.
Just outside of Rapid City is Mount Rushmore, perhaps the nation's most famous monument. Mount Rushmore is where the busts of American presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt are carved into the side of a mountain. The area also has an interactive museum and plenty of other activities for visitors.
Parks and Amusement
Various parks sit just outside of downtown Rapid City, starting with Dinosaur Park, which is made up of a series of giant concrete dinosaurs that overlook the city. Visitors of all ages will appreciate the size of these dinosaurs and children will enjoy being able to climb on them. Canyon Lake Park is in a quiet area and features a duck pond, a golf course, a lake, and picnic areas, making it the perfect location for a relaxing day.
Storybook Island is a free amusement park in Rapid City that has the characters from famous nursery rhymes and stories interacting with the kids throughout the day. It also has a large playground and a green space. WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort is close to numerous hotels in the city and is 30,000 square feet in size, making it one of the largest in SD. It also has an on-site arcade.
Stores and Shopping
Since Rapid City, SD has so many people passing through each year, it makes sense that it has become a bit of a shopping hotspot, as well. Prairie Edge Trading Company sits right downtown and is an art gallery, museum, and shopping destination in one. The store sits inside an old building and is set up as a trading post, allowing visitors to experience some of the real American West while in town. Prairie Edge is also close to numerous hotels in the downtown area.
Rushmore Mall is the only indoor mall in the area and serves people from northern Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, as well. The mall is quite large, featuring over 100 stores, and also has a variety of restaurants. Quite simply, this mall offers the best shopping in the entire region. Another option is Rushmore Crossing, a large strip mall that has name brand stores and many restaurants on-site.
Theatres and Culture
With so much else going on in Rapid City, it's easy to forget about the area's cultural relevance. Art Alley is one venue that attempts to remedy this, as it is an outdoor art gallery that allows artists to paint on the exterior walls of the building. The alley changes from day to day and provides visitors with the opportunity to see something that is uniquely local after stepping out of their hotels.
The Fort Hays Old West Town and Dinner Show only runs between May and October but is well worth the effort to get to for those in the area at that time. This show and dinner take place on the set of the film Dances with Wolves, with many of the buildings used still standing. There is a museum on-site that guests can explore before the show, as well.