Updated on May 4, 2023
Rapid City is a tourist-friendly city in western South Dakota near the Black Mountains and Mount Rushmore. With a friendly community and a variety of comfortable hotel options, it's an ideal base for exploring the nearby Black Hills National Forest and its many monuments, natural spaces and attractions.
Rapid City is also a great base for exploring the more remote Badlands National Park, about an hour's drive to the east. This inspiring place lives up to its name with its barren yet beautiful landscape. The park also offers several hiking trails and scenic roadside attractions.
Other popular attractions in the city include the Geological Museum and the Reptile Garden. These family-friendly attractions are just some of the fun Rapid City has to offer. Use our list of top attractions in Rapid City, South Dakota to plan your visit.
1. Reptile Garden
The reptile garden is home to lizards, snakes, crocodiles, parrots, Komodo dragons, insects and amphibians. Many animals are featured in entertainment such as crocodile shows, snake shows and bird shows. These animal displays are held regularly throughout the summer months.
There are thousands of flowering plants in the gardens, including several rare and exotic species. The hotel's dramatic sky dome is home to a variety of tropical plants interspersed with live animals such as lizards and frogs.
A giant tortoise on site is perfect for kids, offering hands-on interaction and photo opportunities. At the facility's Prairie Dog Town, visitors can bury their heads in their burrows and watch the furry inhabitants play.
reptile garden istOpen 7 days a weekannual. Admission to the gardens varies by season, with summer (May-September) being the most expensive time to visit. Summer peak rates are still under $25 per person with some discounts.
Address: 8955 South Highway 16, Rapid City, South Dakota
2. Badlands National Park
Rapid City is a great home basebadlands national park. it takes more than an hour to drive thereBen Rachel Visitor CenterAt the east end of the park, pass several entrances along the way. This welcoming city is an excellent retreat after a day of exploring the barren sandstone formations and stunning sights of the National Park.
There are many ways to visit Badlands National Park.Driving the Badlands LoopBetween the visitor center and the entrance to Pinnacles is one of the most popular things to do. There are several short hiking trails along this popular road.
Despite the heat in summer, the route is always very busy. Low season is the best time to visit the Badlands.
Badlands National Park offers camping. It's a great way to watch the incredible universe unfold across the sky at night. The Badlands presents a clear black sky with many stars. During the extended summer season (May-September), the campsite hosts nightly stargazing events.
3. American Bear Country
American Bear CountryLocated south of Rapid City. This is a navigable safari. Amid the meadow and pine-tree landscape, visitors can spot black bears, wolves, mountain lions, moose, buffalo, deer, bighorn sheep, bighorn sheep, and Rocky Mountain goats. They are known for their large population of black bears.
The facility offers special events and other seasonal events, including critter camp and the annual CubFest. The park welcomes motorcyclists as well, as the park offers free courtesy cars or open-air buses for visitors to explore.
Bear Country USA is open spring through late October. During low season, the facility is closed due to inclement weather. Motorists on icy roads should call ahead. Entrance fees are based on the number of passengers per vehicle. Children under four enter free.
Feeding animals is strictly prohibited in the safari park and windows must remain closed throughout the tour.
Address: 13820 US-16, Rapid City, South Dakota
4. The Church on the Hill
The Church on the Hill is a replica of a famous 12th-century churchNorway Borgun Stave Church. The unique looking building features intricate wood carvings, Norse dragon heads, Christian symbols and nail structures.
Today, the church is run by a non-profit organization and is free for the public to visit. Tourists appreciate the beautiful architecture and beautiful surroundings. Guided tours and evening services are available daily at 7:30 pm.
Admission to the Church on the Hill is free, but donations are welcome to help support this self-sustaining attraction. There is also a visitor center and museum on site within the grass-roofed "stabbur". Spend some time here and learn about the interesting history of this stave church's arrival in Rapid City.
Address: 3788 Chapel Lane, Rapid City, South Dakota
5. Storybook Island
picture book islandIt is a children's paradise with more than eight hectares of classic fairy tale scenery. This charming family attraction is free to enter via 'London Bridge', an indigenous stone bridge with castle towers.
At the park, children can play with more than 100 different playsets featuring themes and characters from Mother Goose, Mother Goose, Mother Goose and Mother Goose. Seuss and other storybook collections. The paid attractions at this amusement park are:Bippity Boppity Bouncy CastleandFairy Tale Island Train。
Storybook Island operates from May to September only. The season is open 7 days a week and celebrates the end of summer with a carnival-style Fairytale Festival.
Address: 1301 Sheridan Lake Road, Rapid City, South Dakota
6. Geological Museum
The Rapid City Geological Museum is part ofSouth Dakota School of Mines and Technology. It is a teaching and research facility with a large collection of vertebrate fossils and minerals. The collections include mammal fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, marine and non-marine reptiles and mammals, and pegmatite minerals from the Black Mountains.
the facility isOpen to the public, admission is free. Suitable for all ages, the museum offers exciting exhibits, tours and a children's area with hands-on experiences. Plan to spend at least an hour between all the eye-catching exhibits.
The Geology Museum also hosts annual spring and fall events designed to connect with children. The museum also hosts field camps for high school students in the summer.
Address: 501 East St. Joseph Street, Rapid City, South Dakota
7. Journey Museum and Learning Center
Exhibits are located inmuseumBeginning with the formation of Montenegro more than 2.5 billion years ago. They continue to showcase prehistoric finds from the region, showcasing dinosaur bones and marine reptiles, and tracing the cultural history of the Great Plains.
The museum is divided into several sections: The Archaeological Research Center displays ancient artifacts, including ancient pottery. The Sioux Indian Museum showcases Sioux Indian culture. The Minnilusa Pioneer Museum's collection showcases people and events from the fur trade to the present.
The Journey Museum is open Thursday through Sunday, with limited hours on Sunday. There is a reduced entrance fee for young and old. All exhibits in the museum can be visited in a full day, but most visits are between 1 and 2 hours.
Address: 222 New York Street, Rapid City, South Dakota
8. Dinosaur Park
Rapid City is home to many parks and playgrounds, perhaps none more unique than Dinosaur Park. In addition to the city views from Skyline Drive, this 1930s park has a variety of dinosaurs to pose and photograph.
An iconic city landmark overlooking the horizon, these massive dinosaur statues give you a fun reason to get outside and enjoy the view. around thereSkyline Wilderness Regional ParkThere are numerous hiking and biking trails offering even more opportunities to explore.
Address: 940 Skyline Drive, Rapid City, South Dakota
9. Black Mountain Caverns
thisblack hill caveThere is a view of the Black Hills at the foot of the visitor. Historically, these caves were used by Lakota Indians and prospectors. Today, visitors can take one-hour, 0.75-mile tours or the more modest half-hour "Crystal Tour." You can also spend your time hunting for gems.
Black Hills Caverns' unique cave formations include logostones, stalagmites, spiral stones, amethysts, boxes and popcorn crystals. Knowledgeable guides leading cave explorations describe the significance of these formations and show where they can be seen on the tour.
Cave tours are available from May to September. All cave visits require moderate walking. Guests can visit the hotel's gift shop to purchase rare gems, special crystals and other souvenirs.
Address: 2600 Cavern Road, Rapid City, South Dakota
10. South Dakota Air and Space Museum
thisSouth Dakota Air and Space MuseumLocated outside the main entrance of Ellsworth Air Force Base. Aviation exhibits and galleries are located within the museum and on the grounds. Highlights include the Honda Stealth bomber; General Dwight Eisenhower's Mitchell B-25 bomber; and other fighter jets, cargo planes, and utility aircraft.
The museum's Aviation Hall of Fame honors some of South Dakota's most influential pilots and engineers. There are more than 30 outdoor exhibits in the museum, allowing visitors to enjoy the beautiful summer and autumn weather during their visit. The museum is free and open to the public.
Address: 2890 Davis Drive, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota
11. Artificial gas
art streetOne of South Dakota's more unique art installations. Interested observers can find the graffiti storefront in downtown Rapid between Sixth and Seventh Streets. It's a working lane with dumpsters, deliveries and utilities, and a community gallery that's often painted and repainted with murals, messages and brightly colored spray paint.
Everyone is welcome to put their own sign on the alley, but this requires permission from the city. Many tourists are happy to find this treasured alley and snap a few photos. It's an ever-evolving place, and every visit brings something new.