Things To Do In Rapid City
Rapid City, South Dakota
Things To Do In Rapid City Reviews
Sep 28, 2007
There are plenty of things to do in and around Rapid City. I'm almost tempted to keep them secret, as I believe it easily has the potential to become a tourist hotspot, but I'll share them anyways.
The first things you have to do in Rapid City is head into the Black Hills and check out Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is pretty familiar to most people, but you really don't get the awe inspired wonder unless you see it in person, and boy is it awesome. Just up the road, Crazy Horse Memorial is currently being constructed, and you might have the opportunity to see a dynamite blast. When completed, Crazy Horse will be the biggest sculpture in the world. Both memorials have world class information centers and gift shops.
Lots of little towns throughout the Hills are worth stopping in on the way back to Rapid City. They have unique restaurants where you can grab a bite and quaint little boutiques for souvenirs.
Back in Rapid City head up Skyline Drive and stop at Dinosaur Park. My friends and I used to hang out here at night when we were teenagers because the view of the city is quite pleasant. The lights at night seem stretch for miles up here as well. The gift shop has lots of Trinkets and snacks, which honestly, are kind of expensive. There are some good history books here though.
I would recommend that your next stop be Storybook Island. This free attraction is geared towards families. The park contains a myriad of playground equipment and interactive sculptures of popular characters from Children's stories. Pooh's tree house was always my favorite as a kid, and it took some courage before I could finally climb to the very top.
Forging onward to the School of Mines and Geology. I used to spend hours here playing with the exhibits as a kid, and although I'm grownup, I still get upset when I have to leave. The museum part contains fossils of the various prehistoric creatures that roamed South Dakota. They have a replica T-Rex fossil. There's also the fossil of a giant snapping turtle's head which could easily swallow a full grown person whole.
The mineral and gem exhibit is rather extensive, and easily comparable to the natural history museum in Denver. My favorite part was the room where the lights would shut off so you could view the luminescent minerals glow in the dark.
Kids will particularly enjoy the science center because it contains dozens of hands on activities. In one exhibit there is a swimming pool full of soapy water. You stand on a platform and pull a rope to make a huge bubble form completely around you. Excellent. Give the museum a few bucks donation if you can.
Downtown Rapid City contains shops, cafe's and perhaps best of all: art alley. I'm not sure, but I think if you're an artist, you're invited to contribute to the multitude of murals that extend throughout the alley, painted by random artists. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many unique downtown restaurants and be sure to check out the statues of Presidents on the street corners.
Just outside of Rapid City are two animal parks, Reptile Gardens and Bear Country USA. Reptile Gardens is home to the world's largest collection of venomous snakes, but they also have alligators, crocodiles, turtles, tortoises and a variety of birds. Some of the giant Galapagos tortoises are believed to be several hundred years old, and it's a lot of fun to watch them snack on watermelons. At their Raptor show you can get up close with some birds of prey like Falcons, Hawks and they even had a Bald Eagle the last time I was there. Watch one of the park staff wrestle an alligator or watch the snake show where you can get a good look at some poisonous snakes. There used to be a third animal park called Marine Life Aquarium which featured dolphins, seals, and sea lion shows, as well as other marine life, but was closed down about ten years ago. The cost of transporting dolphins to and from Rapid City every season along with other utilities proved to be to expensive to turn a profit.
Bear country has bears, of course and you can drive through the park where they live. Make sure to keep the windows up. The park is also home to other animals that call the Black Hills home such as Elk, Cougars (Mountain Lions), Wolves and Coyotes. In Bear Country's Babyland exhibit you can watch the otters play and see a bunch of baby bears as well as other little animals. I'm pretty sure they had a badger, too.
There's plenty more to do in Rapid City! I'll add stuff when I get the time! Meanwhile check out www.visitrapidcity.com as they have a bunch of good information on their site.
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