Rapid City is the second most populated city in South Dakota and the gateway to the Black Hills. Known as ‘The City of Presidents’, Rapid City is surrounded by monuments and National Parks. The city is rich with history and local culture.
Whether it’s sightseeing, adventuring or relaxing, you’ll want to know about these things to do in Rapid City, SD to help you plan for your visit.
1. Witness history at Mount Rushmore National Memorial
One of the most iconic images in America is of the presidential sculptures at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Carved into the side of the mountain are the 60 feet high faces of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Each year, over 2 million people visit the site to see the impressive sculptures. Bus tours are available from Rapid City and on-site parking is available for those with their own transport.
There are camp sites close to the memorial as well as restaurants and hiking trails.
2. Be amazed at Reptile Gardens
In 2014 Reptile Gardens was given the title of the ‘Worlds largest reptile zoo’ by The Guinness Book of World Records.
The Zoo has more reptile species than any other zoo in the world! There’s enough to keep the whole family entertained for hours with giant tortoises, deadly snakes and crocodiles amongst the creatures on display.
Reptile Gardens is packed full of fun things to do from exhibits and playgrounds, to botanical gardens.
3. Enjoy the nature at Custer State Park
Set amongst 71,000 acres, Custer State Park has an abundance of nature and wildlife to experience and something for everyone.
You can take your own car or hire a jeep to drive through the park and see wild buffalo, coyotes, deer, cougars and many other animals which inhabit the park.
There are a range of activities at the park suitable for all ages. The peaks offer climbing, hiking and camping, while the beautiful lakes are available for paddle boarding, fishing and swimming.
4. Grab a cold beer at Wobbly Bobbly Pub
The old English style pub, Wobbly Bobbly features 48 beers on tap and is a great place to kick back and chill.
The family-friendly pub serves draft beers from across the world, cocktails and offers great food, with the fish and chips being a highlight.
You can always find something to do at Wobbly Bobbly with each night hosting an event. Tuesdays are game nights and Wednesdays are trivia nights!
5. Take the kids to Storybook Island
Filled with storybook book characters, Storybook Island is an educational play park.
The park is a kid’s dream with 100’s of well-known characters from stories, movies and nursery rhymes. There are lots of playgrounds throughout the park and even a train running around.
Storybook Island has free entrance so is a great option whether you have kids or just want to relive some childhood memories.
6. Spend a few hours at Dinosaur Park
Set at the top of a hill, Dinosaur Park consists of life-size dinosaur sculptures with a spectacular view of Rapid City.
The dinosaurs have been around since the 1930’s but are still incredibly impressive and are great for Instagram snaps.
The park features a great gift shop for souvenirs and a visitor center.
7. See street art at Art Alley
Running between sixth and seventh street, Art Alley is a unique alleyway which has privately owned walls covered in murals and street art.
Absolutely everything from walls to dumpsters has been decorated by either local artists or professionals.
The alleyway is constantly being updated so you’ll see something new there every visit.
8. Get spooked at Hotel Alex Johnson
One of America’s spookiest hotels, Hotel Alex Johnson was once known as ‘The showpiece of the west’.
The setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, North by Northwest, is said to be haunted by ghosts. Visitors can book a Ghost Adventure package, which is an overnight stay in a haunted room with a ghost detector!
9. Hike in Black Hills National Forest
With 1.2 million acres of mountains and forested hills, Black Hills National Park is a breathtaking place.
Diverse plants and wildlife occupy the forests along with waterfalls, lakes and stunning hiking trails.
Activities in the forest include rock climbing, biking, hiking, horse riding and camping. Remember to pack some water for your trip!
10. Take a journey through time at The Journey Museum and Learning Center
Suitable for all ages, the center displays interactive exhibits as well as movies in their cinema.
Each day a different ‘Learn and Play’ group is held for children at the center. These are popular so book online in advance to secure a place.
11. Splash about at WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort
Set amongst 30,000 square feet of water slides and pools, WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort is a great day out for all ages.
Kids will love attractions such as the slides and Koko’s Kingdom, while adults can chill in the Oasis Hot Tub or take a slow ride along the Lazy River.
The largest water park in the Dakotas is also home to restaurants, arcades and five hotels.
12. Check out Dahl Arts Center
The Dahl Arts Center is South Dakota’s leading arts center for arts education, performing arts and contemporary visual art.
The center has 5 art galleries, an event center, a children’s gallery, performing space, classrooms and a shop.
The center holds regular exhibits and events, so check out their website to see what’s on during your trip!
13. Sip some wine at Firehouse Wine Cellars
Located in downtown Rapid City is the working winery, Firehouse Wine Cellars. All types of wine are crafted on the premises from crisp whites to aged reds.
Wine tasting is available here and is incredibly cheap at $5 for 6 drinks! The staff are highly knowledgeable and can help you choose your perfect drink.This trendy little bar also serves food and beer and is a great place to spend an evening.
14. Take the family to Flags & Wheels Indoor Amusement Park
A great day out for families, groups and couples, Flags & Wheels Indoor Amusement Park offers hours of entertainment.
The park has an indoor go-kart track, laser tag, bumper cars, paintball, batting cages, an arcade and activities suitable for all ages.
Set in an indoor space over 47,000 square feet, the park is huge. Special offers are available for families and group tickets through their website.
15. See some vintage vehicles at Motion Unlimited Museum and Classic Car Lot
One of the highlights of Rapid City since 1972, Motion Unlimited Museum and Classic Car Lot features a range of antique and classic cars restored by the owners.
The museum is packed full of vintage American vehicles, engines, custom cars and pedal cars. One of the stand-out exhibits is a 1921 Cadillac touring car in pristine condition, along with a 1924 Chevy touring car.
The museum is a must for car enthusiasts and is run by an enthusiastic couple who are more than happy to share their knowledge. Entrance is cheap at $5 and free for kids.
16. Relax at Memorial Park
Built to honor the lives of the tragic victims of the 1972 floods, Memorial Park is designed so that their memories are never forgotten.
The park is a beautiful spot with features such as the Memorial Lake, the Flood Memorial Fountain and a Berlin Wall exhibit.
The park is an ideal place to take a break and enjoy a picnic. There are exercise stations and scenic walking routes throughout.
17. Get on the greens at Pirate Cove Adventure Golf
A fun mini golf adventure suitable for all ages, Pirate Cove Adventure golf is 36 holes over 2 courses.
All holes are pirate themed and the courses are beautiful and well kept, set amongst waterfalls and caves. The 2 courses, the Smuggler’s route and the Pirate’s trial are appropriate for all age ranges.
Tickets can be booked in advance online, with discounts available for families and groups. There are over 50 places to eat at Pirate Cove and other activities available.
18. Experience the Museum of Geology
Featuring exhibits on minerals and ancient life, the Museum of Geology is a great way to spend a few hours in Rapid City.
The museum features skeletons of large mammals, dinosaurs, marine creatures and fish. There are mineral displays from South Dakota, along with rare fossils found in the White River Badlands. There is even a kid’s zone for children to experience a hands-on learning environment.
The museum offers free admission to all, making it a must-do while in the city!
19. Take in the scenery at The Outdoor Campus – West
A stunning nature preserve, The Outdoor Campus – West offers a great selection of educational and fun things to do.
The team at the campus offer free lessons on a variety of outdoor activities which are appropriate for all ages. In summer, you can learn kayaking, fly-fishing, archery and more. Whilst in the winter, there are classes involving cross-country skiing, ice fishing, small arms firing and predatory hunting amongst others.
As well as the great selection of activities, there is an animal reserve and walking trails, all of which are also free!
20. Have fun on the Black Hills Party Pedaler
Finally, a great way to see Rapid City is by taking a tour on the Black Hills Party Pedaler.
The Party Pedaler is a group bike which seats 11 people, 8 of whom can pedal. Groups of 4 can join with other groups to ride through the city. The Party Pedalar serves a range of alcoholic drinks and has LED lights and party music. During the ride, a range of games are played and the tour stops at different pubs and bars.
The Party bike is hugely popular in Rapid City so advance bookings are advised. This is a great way to see the city and get a little bit tipsy and have some fun in the process!
FAQs on Things to Do in Rapid City, SD
What is an interesting fact about Rapid City?
The notorious gangster, Al Capone was invited to live in Black Hills, Rapid City by the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce in the 1930’s. Capone later rejected the offer.
What’s the weather like in Rapid City, SD?
Summers in Rapid City are warm, with mostly beautiful clear days. Winters on the other hand are freezing cold with snowfall common.
What is the biggest sports team in Rapid City, SD?
The biggest sports team in Rapid City is the Rapid City Marshalls, an indoor football team. They play in the Champions Indoor Football league and their games are held at the Summit Arena at The Monument.
Enjoy your stay at Rapid City, SD
You should now have an idea of some of the great things you can do during your trip to Rapid City, SD. From museums and nature reserves, to pubs and amusement parks, Rapid City has it all and more.
A city with a great mix of history, culture and modern attractions, Rapid City has something for everyone. Those interested in history can visit museums, while nature lovers have an abundance of great options. Families are well catered for, with plenty of fun activities for ages of all ranges. Rapid City has a thriving bar scene and a great assortment of eating options.
If you’re spending time in South Dakota and looking to check out some other great things to do, please take a look at our other guides of the state!