Rapid City was named after Rapid Creek and is also known as the Gateway to the Black Hills since it is located on the eastern side of the Black Hills mountain range.
Expect an abundance of historical and cultural attractions amidst the lively downtown scene and the lush landscape of the Black Hills.
In Rapid City, tourists can explore the Black Hills Caverns, Bear Country USA, Reptile Gardens, and many other beautiful attractions. There are also art galleries for art lovers, museums, and parks you can visit.
Some of the places about to be listed may be temporarily closed or require reservations. Their opening hours may also have changed, so make sure you check their websites. The links are already made available to make it easy for you.
There are lots of fun things and awesome places to visit in Rapid city, so you can expect to have the time of your life, whether with friends and family or alone. Here’s a list of the best things to do in Rapid City.
Things To Do In Rapid City
1. Reptile Gardens
Reptile Gardens is recognized around the world as the largest reptile zoo. They have been in operation since 1937. It is also a family-owned zoo.
This reptile zoo houses more species of reptiles than any other zoo in the world.
Some of its exhibits include giant tortoises, a prairie dog, a bald eagle, and a venomous snake collection.
Coupled with the species the zoo exhibits, it also has an oasis with beautiful and fresh vegetation, colorful flowers, and ornamental and tropical plants.
There are also live shows of snakes, birds, and alligators. An Old West ghost town experience known as Bewitched would be enjoyed by young ones, while adults would love the experience of seeing tribal crafts from around the world at the Jungle Outpost Gallery present at the Reptile garden.
Reptile Gardens is a great place to visit with kids as the zoo has charming, interactive exhibits for hands-on experiences with gentle animals.
Create awesome memories of meeting the many species of animals at the zoo and also visiting the spectacular Sky some.
Address: 8955 US-16, Rapid City, SD, 57702 USA
2. Storybook Island
Storybook Island is a family-oriented park that every open every summer from Memorial Day weekend to Labour Day weekend since 1959.
The park displays the culture of Rapid City and is a delight to everyone, especially young ones, each summer.
Storybook Island encourages imaginations to run free as it is decorated with characters from children’s tales and nursery rhymes. It features attractions related to places and characters from well-loved children’s books.
It also has a children’s theatre which offers several fun theater productions to visitors throughout the summer season.
Duane Laflin and The Great Magic Show are also presented three times each day for a nominal admission fee.
When looking for an exciting activity to do with your friend, spouse, or alone in Rapid city, Storybook Island offers ample attractions and family-friendly rides for you to engage in and get the excitement you desire!
Be sure not to miss out on the highlights of the park, such as the train that drives you around the Park, sculptures of your favorite storybook characters, and the amazing bounce house based on Tinkerbell’s castle.
It’s undoubtedly so much fun you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
In addition, you might need a place to stay over while here. We recommended the Hotel Nearby -Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City, Curio Collection by Hilton.
Address: 1301 Sheridan Lake Road, Rapid City, SD, 57702 USA
3. Downtown Rapid City
The bustling downtown of Rapid City is a cultural haven filled with various art galleries, theatres, and museums.
It can be described as the “happening place” of Rapid City, with its events, hotels, malls, and amazing restaurants.
Downtown Rapid city’s fashionable boutiques, amazing cuisines, beautiful art galleries, and live entertainment are some of the reasons why it should be on your list of places to visit in Rapid city.
Out of the neighborhood’s eight galleries, reflections of the South Dakota Art Gallery is a great highlight. It displays the art of various local artists and unique gift items.
The museums in downtown Rapid city generally focus on several things ranging from geology to Native American crafts. For lovers of history, these museums are surely going to be enjoyable.
There’s so much to do in this part of the city that you would definitely find it to be really fun and exciting.
Alternatively, you could see a movie or a play at the theatre, visit the dinosaur park, or feast on your favorite delicacies. Whatever you choose, your aim of having a nice time would be achieved.
Address: 512 Main Street, Suite 980, Rapid City, SD, 57709 USA
4. Museum of Geology
Rapid City’s Museum of Geology dates as far back as 1885 and is as old as South Dakota mines.
The Museum is one of the free places to visit in the city. It is a fun place to learn about geology through exhibits of paleontology and mineralogy.
The exhibits include rare fossils from the White River Badlands, skeletons of mammals, dinosaurs, and marine reptiles. These exhibits and more present at the museum are sure to leave you in jaw-dropping awe.
Rapid City’s museum of geology also has a zone for kids to have fun. You can also get special items from the museum’s gift shop.
For guided tours, you’ll have to call the museum ahead of time.
A visit to this museum of geology is something you should consider, as it will be totally worth your time. It’s indeed a wonderful attraction in this city.
Come enjoy the wonder of history as you view remnants of eras from thousands of years ago.
Address: 501 East Saint Joseph Street, Rapid City, SD, 57701 USA
5. Dinosaur Park, Rapid City
Dinosaur Park was built in 1936 and is one of the most visited places in Rapid City. It features seven replicas of dinosaurs created by Emmet Sullivan.
The dinosaur replicas include an apatosaurus, a Tyrannosaurus rex, triceratops, stegosaurus, Edmontosaurus annectens, protoceratops, and a dimetrodon.
Furthermore, each of the sculptures has some educational information (such as their weight and what they are) attached to them.
There are real dinosaur footprints and nature trails close to the park as well.
Visiting Dinosaur Park is one of the free things you can do with your family and it promises to be totally worth your time.
Don’t forget to get souvenirs from the park’s gift shop when you visit!
Address: 940 Skyline Drive, Rapid City, SD, 57701 USA
6. Bear Country USA
If you love animals and are fascinated by them, Bear Country USA is the place to visit in Rapid city. Here, you would get to see lots and lots of animals.
This awesome wildlife park covers more than 200 acres of land surrounded by pines and meadows.
It is a drive-through park that gives room for visitors to pass by the enclosures where the animals are kept.
Some animals found in Bear country USA include badgers, cougars, wolves, elk, renders, bobcats, black bears, coyotes, and many others.
Asides from driving through and seeing the animals, there are other activities you can engage in at the park.
You can visit the wildlife Walk area for chats with the animal keeper and demonstrations.
The breathtaking Bear Country wildlife park has a beautiful landscape that would make beautiful photos.
You could also tour the gift shop and get amazing souvenirs and also enjoy great meals at the restaurant.
There wouldn’t be any dull moments at this amazing wildlife park, you should add it to your list of things to do in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Address: 13820 South Highway 16, Rapid City, SD, 57702 USA
7. Prairie edge trading co. & galleries
For all things Native American, Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries is your go-to place. It is housed in a 19th-century building reminiscent of the Old West.
The galleries have beautiful fine art pieces which include ledger drawings of the Lakota artist, Donald Montileaux.
Not just displaying Native American culture and art, the galleries also boast of a commendable collection of Non-native American modern art such as the paper sculptures of Patty and Allen Eckman, and the insect art of Christopher Marley.
The bookstore at Prairie Edge does well in educating readers about the past and present culture of the Native Americans with its wide collection of Native American literature
At Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries you shop for the crafts, books, music, and jewelry of the native Americans.
To learn about the indigenous population of Rapid City and introduce yourself to the local native culture through interaction and art, you should add Prairie Edge to your list of places to visit in Rapid city.
Address: 606 Main Street, Rapid City, SD, 57701 USA
8. Old MacDonald’s Farm
Another Family-friendly place to visit in Rapid city is Old MacDonald’s farm. It’s a great environment for animal lovers to relax and have hands-on fun while interacting with the farm animals.
It houses over 100 different farm animals such as pigs, goats, ducks, geese, donkeys, cows, chickens, rabbits, sheep, and many others. Old MacDonald’s Farm also offers interesting experiences.
Bottle-feeding animals, pony rides, tractor train rides, watching pig races, and billy goats crossing a bridge are some of the fun activities you can do at the farm.
Address: 23691 Busted Five Court, Rapid City, SD, 57702 USA
Planning a trip outside of Rapid City? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Sioux Falls!
9. Mount Rushmore Tours
Though not in Rapid city, Mount Rushmore is a drive from Downtown and is one of the nice places to visit in Rapid city. Mount Rushmore Tours are offered through Fort Hays-the Wild West-themed estate.
A tour of Mount Rushmore begins with a tour of the “Dances with Wolves” set before touring offsite. This tour includes a cowboy music show, breakfast, and supper, so be sure to come with a huge appetite.
There’s also the Buffalo Roundup, which would be loved by lovers of animals, and the 1880 sightseeing tour for history lovers.
There are several breathtaking destinations to reach that a knowledgeable tour guide will take you to while on this tour.
These places include Mount Rushmore, Iron Mountain Road, Custer State Park, and many others!
Address: 2255 Fort Hayes Drive, Rapid City, SD, 57702 USA
10. South Dakota Air and Space Museum
Journey through aviation history with the exhibits at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum.
It was established in 1983 and is popular for its exhibits on local and national aviation history.
The Museum features over thirty military aircraft as well as missiles from the second world war till the present. The exhibits notably showcase innovation, science, and engineering.
Visitors of the museum learn about the pioneers of aviation and aerospace technology and their impact on the history of America.
In addition, tours around the museum are free. Seasonally, bus tours are also available at the Ellsworth Air Force Base for a stimulated fee.
Above all, enjoy the view of the museum’s aviation exhibits such as real aircraft, missiles, and cockpits.
If you’re adventurous enough, you could try sitting inside a cockpit or try operating a flight simulator.
Address: 2890 Davis Drive, (Building #5208), Ellsworth AFB, SD, 57706 USA
11. Black Hills Caverns, Rapid City
Lakota Indians had been drawing strength from Black Hills caverns’ calcite crystals for ages but officially, it was discovered in 1882 by miners in search of gold.
The underground cavern is about three thousand, four hundred (3,400) feet long and has more than twelve rock formations. It was formed from the limestone that encircles the central granite of the Black Hills.
At Black Hills Caverns, there are two options, the Adventure Tour and the Crystal tour.
The crystal Tour is generally an easy half-hour that covers the first level of the cave, which is about 1500 feet.
The other option, the adventure tour, explores three levels of the Black Hills Caverns.
Some of the interesting features of the Caverns include crystal walls, cave formations that look like animals, and a natural wishing well. All these will definitely leave you fascinated.
In summary, Touring Black Hills Caverns is one adventurous tour you should embark on while in Rapid City.
Address: 2600 Cavern Road, Highway 44 West, Rapid City, SD, 57702 USA
12. Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper & Show
At Fort Hays Chuckwagon supper & show, you’re guaranteed great entertainment and relaxation. Several activities sum up your day as exciting when you visit Fort Hays.
Explore the film set of “Dances with the wolves” and the Fort Hays workshops. You also get to enjoy the delightful meals for dinner.
Some of the delicacies on their menu include sliced beef simmered In Barbecue sauce, Chuckwagon potatoes, ranch biscuits, and many others. The Fort Hays Wranglers take the stage and blow the minds of the dining visitors with their music show.
Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper & Show is an interesting way to round up your visit to Rapid City with great entertainment.
A day at Fort Hays will be one with a lasting memory, especially if you’re with your loved one.
Address: 2255 Fort Hayes Drive, Rapid City, SD, 57702 USA
13. Crazy Horse Memorial, Rapid City
There are so many places to go and so many fun activities to do in Rapid City, so you can’t be bored.
Crazy Horse Memorial is one of such place. Its construction started in 1948, and it’s a monument sculpted out of Thunderhead Mountain. Notably, the Crazy horse memorial depicts the famous Native American warrior Crazy Horse.
The sculpture is particularly situated on one of the tallest granite mountains in the Black Hills.
As a matter of fact, the famous crazy horse memorial sculpted by Korczak Ziolkowski was initiated by the persistence of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear.
Enjoy the view as you gaze at the gigantic sculpture when you visit the Memorial.
In addition, you can also visit the museum here, and explore exhibits to learn more about Native American culture.
At the same time, an onsite restaurant is available to satisfy you with great-tasting delicacies.
Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to get some souvenirs before leaving Rapid City. Also, the Native American dancers do not fail in entertaining visitors, so you’ll definitely have a great time here.
In conclusion, Crazy Horse Memorial is one of the most notable attractions in Rapid City and should make your list of places to visit in the city.
Address: 12151 Avenue of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD, 57730 USA
14. The Journey Museum & Learning Center
This seven-acre museum was established to preserve and explore the heritage, cultures, and environment of the region of Black Hills.
A visit to Journey Museum and Learning Center literally takes you on a journey through the different eras the Black Hills have seen.
The historic and Prehistoric collections contribute to the Western Great Plains from the point of view of the Lakota people.
Visitors can explore the Museum of Geology, Sioux Indian museum, Minnilusa Pioneer Museum, and the South Archaeological Research center.
At this museum and learning center, interactive and interesting experiences are available for you.
You also get to touch fossils and exhibits of archeology, geology, and paleontology and do lots more.
Address: 222 New York Street, Rapid City, SD, 57701 USA
15. The Cosmos Mystery, Rapid City
This unique destination is a family-friendly one that has been in existence in Rapid city since 1952.
Cosmos Mystery is a fine mix of science, mystery, and fun. Particularly in the Mystery house, you get to see some really weird stuff.
Visitors to Cosmos Mystery can go on guided tours during which you see the power of the Cosmos force and things that startle the mind.
The tour guides make your tour enjoyable as they are specially trained to infuse comedy into science and mystery.
People of all ages will love this place, especially lovers of science, mysteries, and excitement surely will too.
Address: 24040 Cosmos Rd, Rapid City, SD, 57702 USA
16. Chapel in the Hills
What comes to mind at the sight of the word “chapel” is a church. However, Chapel in the Hills is more, and it is one sight you would absolutely love to see in Rapid City.
This exact replication of the Borgund stave church in Norway was built in the Norse medieval architectural style.
Chapel on the Hills is a wooden and ancient-looking building. It has a cabin which is now a museum and a trail that leads to the forest.
You can visit the museum and explore the exhibits and antiques. The church is also available for you to explore.
Meanwhile, meditation is something nice to do, so you can take some time out to meditate while taking a walk on the trail.
Address: 3788 Chapel Lane Rapid City, SD, 57702 USA
17. Badlands National Park, Rapid City
This area was named Badlands by the native Americans because of its rugged landscape, which makes it difficult to survive.
However, this rugged landscape is one of the most breathtaking places to see in Rapid City. Badlands National Park covers over 240, 000 acres in land area and is made of really spectacular geological formations.
At Badlands, there is so much to do and more; you could go hiking, camping, horseback riding, watch roaming animals, and many more.
To learn about the history of the park, you can visit the park’s visitors’ center and have the chance to chat with paleontologists.
Visiting Badlands National park is guaranteed fun. You shouldn’t miss out on it when you are in Rapid City.
Address: 25216 Ben Reifel Road Interior, SD, 57750 USA
18. Black Hills Symphony Orchestra
The Black Hills Symphony Orchestra whose mission is to provide the finest orchestral performance and symphonic music education for the people of the Black Hills region came about in the 1930s as a small group of string players.
Today it has grown to be an orchestra with over 90 musicians. Each year, they perform at the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City.
Their previous productions included performances like The Nutcracker and Mount Rushmore celebration.
To get an absolutely astounding musical performance, don’t miss The Black Hills Symphony Orchestra!
Address: 713 7th Street, Rapid City, SD, 57701 USA
19. The Golf Club at Red Rock
Golf is a sport loved and enjoyed by many and in Rapid City, the Golf club at Red Rock is where you can watch and possibly play the game of golf.
The Golf Club at Red Rock, which opened in 2003, is one of the top public golf courses in South Dakota.
The 7000-yard, par-62 championship golf course has the right specification of greens, dramatic elevation changes, and rolling fairways surrounded by tall pine trees.
At the Gold Club at Red club, you don’t have to worry about your stomach needs as there is a full-service bar and grill. A golf shop is available to obtain any equipment needed.
Professional players, amateurs as well as kids accompanied by an adult can all enjoy an interesting experience of golf at the golf club.
Address: 6520 Birkdale Rd, Rapid City, SD 57702
20. Dahl Arts Center, Rapid City
Art lovers!! Don’t sleep on this one!
What’s a visit to Rapid City without dropping by the largest art center in Western South Dakota?
Dahl Arts Center has five different visual art galleries and an interactive children’s gallery.
There’s also a huge mural of American history and a gift shop that features art pieces of both local and regional artists.
The purpose of this art center is to preserve the artworks of local artists.
At the Dahl, community events, as well as performances, are usually hosted in its 250-seater event center.
The entry fee to the art center is free, and it opens from Monday to Saturday. There’s nothing to lose! Go on and include a visit to Dahl art center in your list of places to visit in Rapid City.
Address: 713 7th St, Rapid City, SD 57701, USA
21. Art Alley
This is also for those who are intrigued by Art.
At the heart of Rapid City is this open-air gallery where artists showcase their beautiful art pieces.
Art alley is one of the cheap but most loved spots in Rapid city.
Here you can fix your eyes on the spectacular display of creativity and be completely left in awe.
You can be sure you would love the feeling that comes with seeing such magical creations.
Be sure to include art alley on your checklist of places to visit and you won’t regret it.
Address: 599 7th Street Rapid City, SD 57701, USA
22. Rapid City Main Street Square
At Downtown rapid, you would find Main Street Square, a beautiful place you would love.
The ambiance is simply welcoming and perfectly suitable for events and concerts that are usually being hosted there.
Main Street Square is the central area of downtown Rapid City. It is characterized by a waterfall, water fountain, beautiful sculptures, and well-trimmed lawns.
During summer, the waters are a breathtaking sight to behold, when it’s winter, it transforms into a nice spot for families to go ice-skating and have fun together.
Altogether, Main Street Square is a comfortable place to relax, feed your eyes with its beauty and have fun both for rapid city locals and tourists.
Address: 512 Main Street, Suite 980, Rapid City, SD, 57709, USA
23. City of Presidents Walking Tour
Another free yet fun stuff you could do in the rapid city taking the City of Presidents walking tour.
The self-guided tour is done among a series of presidential bronze statues in downtown Rapid City. As a visitor, you can download a walking guide that has the location of all the statues.
As these statues are lined in the city’s streets with shopping and dining centers, it allows you to do other nice things in the city, create memories, and take pictures while learning about the presidents as you visit their statues.
This tour is very educative, especially for children. It should make your list of things to do in rapid city.
Address: 444 Mount Rushmore Road North, Rapid City, SD, 57701 USA
24. WaTiki Indoor Waterpark
With over thirty thousand (30,000) square feet of water slides and swimming pools, WaTiki indoor waterpark is the largest in Dakota.
The nicely constructed water park is great for reunions and birthday parties and is open throughout.
It features about four hotels, so you do not have to worry about where to stay. It also has an arcade, a pizza place (Marco’s Pizza), and an activity pool where you can play watersports.
When it’s time to warm up and relax, visitors can head over to the Oasis Hot Tub.
When you think of vacationing with friends or family, think of WaTiki Indoor water park in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Address: 1314 North Elk Vale Road, Rapid City, SD, 57701, USA
A trip to Rapid City, South Dakota, promises to be fun and worth your time.
Learn about the history of Native Americans at the museums and learning centers. View the breathtaking creations of nature and that of the very creative artists.
Water parks, wildlife parks, sports centers, and many more promises to make your stay in Rapid City very enjoyable.
Go on and plan your trip to Rapid City!