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Rapid City

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Rapid City is in the Badlands and Black Hills region of South Dakota. It is a convenient base for travel on to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial, the Badlands, and the Black Hills National Forest.


Rapid City is often referred to as just "Rapid" by the locals, and the name Rapid City originated from Rapid Creek.

It is known for its convenient tourist attractions located near city services. Reptile Gardens, Bear Country, and Cosmos are just a few.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Rapid City is served by Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) [13]. This modern regional airport offers fee-based long-term and hourly parking and free WiFi.

Non-stop services offered:

  • American Airlines [14] (operated by American Eagle) Weekly flights to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
  • United Airlines [15] (operated by SkyWest) Multiple daily flights to Denver, Colorado and multiple weekly flights to Chicago (O'Hare), Illinois.
  • Delta Air Lines [16] (operated by SkyWest) Multiple daily flights to Salt Lake City, Utah and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Allegiant Air [17] (Budget airline) 2x weekly to Las Vegas, Nevada; nonstop only, no one-stop flights or connections.

Connecting an overseas flight to Rapid City is often relatively cheap. Flights to Amsterdam start at $500.

By train[edit]

  • The Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad [18] provides freight rail service to Rapid City.

By car[edit]

I-90 is the main highway that passes through Rapid City, South Dakota. The highway is more scenic coming from the west, however the Badlands lies east of Rapid City, which has a scenic highway for more aesthetic appeal.

By bus[edit]

Rapid City can be reached from almost anywhere in the US with two or less connections. There are daily services aboard Jefferson Lines [19] from the Twin Cities, Sioux Falls and on to Wyoming. Jefferson lines contracts with Greyhound, while offering a superior service to Greyhound one can book them in connection with Greyhound quite economically. Powder River Lines (Operated by Coach USA) offers service to Wyoming and on to Denver and the West Coast.

Get around[edit]

Many people choose to use a personal vehicle, but it is not necessary. All of downtown Rapid City's attractions are walkable.

To reach other places, such as the Rushmore Mall, one can use the Rapid Ride System [20] from the Milo Barber Transit Center. There are four loop routes featuring buses going in both directions about every 70 min around each loop. Fare is $1 and includes a transfer.

If you want to travel before 6 a.m. or after 6 p.m., you will have to take a rideshare service (Lyft or Uber), or a taxi. Also, there are several travel services that are available for the "night life" to ensure a safe and inexpensive ride home, Scooters and Jonesy's Party Bus.

See[edit][add listing]

  • City of Presidents Life-sized sculptures of the Presidents installed at intersections downtown.
  • The Journey Museum Interesting exhibits about Native American History.
  • Dinosaur Park Concrete Dinosaurs on hill overlooking the city.
  • Art Alley, between 6th and 7th Street Downtown Rapid City. Graffiti, Paintings, Sculpture, Poetry, and even profile photos fill this alley that is always changing.
    Art Alley in Rapid City
  • Storybook Island, a kids' park
  • Hotel Alex Johnson, an old hotel
  • Reptile Gardens,
    Reptile Gardens
    Mount Rushmore Road (about 6 mi from downtown), +1 800 335-0275, [21]. Daily 8-7 during summer, 9-4 April-May and Labor Day-day before Thanksgiving, limited hours from day after Thanksgiving through December, closed in winter. Admission $12.50 for adults, discounts apply. This is a serious herpetological park (as well as a "fun" place) with one of the best collections of lizards, gators and snakes in the country--quite possibly the best. "Gus" (short for "humongous"), the resident 14-foot-long American alligator, is a favorite.
  • Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper & Show, Dances with Wolves film set, Located 4 miles S. of Rapid City on Hwy 16W, 1-888-394-9653, [22]. Open mid-May thru mid-Sept. Movie-set buildings from Dances With Wolves are part of the fun of this traditional cowboy supper with music and comedy show. All you can eat 99¢ pancakes 6:30AM-11AM. Supper bell rings at 6:30PM nightly for a hearty meal of BBQ beef, chuckwagon potatoes, spice cake, baked beans, biscuits, applesauce and coffee or lemonade. Then is time for our foot-stomping music/comedy show by the Ft. Hays Wranglers.
  • Rushmore Water Slides plenty of "rapid rides" with plenty of seating. Convenient food vendor on site.
  • South Dakota Air and Space Museum The museum is open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM seven days a week and admission is always FREE! Witness the changes through time by experiencing the aircrafts and technology that changed the world.
  • watiki water park, 1314 north elk view (I-90 exit 61), 1-866-watikifun, [1].  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Art Alley, 6th. & 7th. Between St. Joseph & Main (Right by the Alex Johnson). 24. Art Alley is an unusual art gallery in downtown Rapid. Art Alley and the area around it are where the Black Hill's under thirty locals hang out. The alley is always changing. Artists paint on the building walls with the owner's permission. Free.  edit
  • Take in a movie at the Elks Theater [23]. A converted traditional theater, featuring the largest screen in South Dakota, the lowest prices in Rapid City, first run movies and a lot of fun kids--all right downtown.
  • Go antiquing.
    Downtown Rapid City
  • Cool off at one of the water parks.
  • Talk to the locals.
  • Taste the wonderful coffee at any local coffee shop
  • Ifrits Hookah Lounge, 725 Saint Joseph St. Rapid City, South Dakota 57701 ((605)-716-6986), [2]. Vary. A hookah bar where customers can sample many different variety's of flavored tobacco. They also serve beer & wine. Price depends on products purchased.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Prarie Edge, 6th and Main, American Indian goods at [24].
  • The Rushmore Mall [25] is the only indoor mall within a 350 mile radius. It features many typical suburban stores. It is surrounded by Lowes, Borders, Kohls, Best Buy, Hobby Lobby, Toys'R'Us, Chuckie Cheese, two multiplex cinemas, and other fine retailers.
  • Rushmore Crossing newly developed strip mall containing major brand stores; i.e.) Furniture Row, Scheel's, Sam's Club, Target.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Rapid City is one of South Dakota's culinary centers.

  • Mount Rushmore Road
    • There is a Gelato stand with the best Italian ice cream in the west.
    • Hunan Restaurant, [26]. Offers such Chinese cuisine.
  • Downtown
    • Botticelli's Restorante Italiano, 523 Main Street. Has the best selection of authentic Northern Italian dishes and pizzas.
    • The Corn Exchange Restaurant & Bistro, [27]. Offers top end dining. If you're a foodie, this is a must.727 Main Street, Rapid City, SD.One door off Mt. Rushmore Rd., diagonal from The Radisson Hotel(605) 343-5070
    • Firehouse Brewing Company 610 Main Street, [28] South Dakota's oldest operating brewery - "The Firehouse" as it is called by locals, is one of Rapid City's most unique and interesting landmarks. Housed in the original Rapid City firehouse, a structure built in 1915, it is listed on the National Historic Register. The bar is adorned with authentic South Dakota firefighting memorabilia from the days of Rapid City's first fire brigades - including the original fire pole, ladders, patches and more. The Restaurant is open daily and offers a diverse selection of specialties including locally sourced buffalo burgers, Rancher's Pie, barbecue with home-made sauces and more. Families love the kid's menu, root beer and free firehats! Sit inside, or under the heated outdoor patio - complete with beautiful views of downtown Rapid City, fire-pits and live music during summer months.
  • Baken Park (at the intersection of W Main St. and Mountain View Rd.) offer several fast-food chains.
  • North Rapid, the area around Rushmore Mall, offers several sit-down chain restaurants as well.
  • Hana Korean Grill and Sushi Bar, 2328 W Main St (on main st across from west side MCD), +1 605 348-0299, [3]. 10AM-9PM daily. Rapid City's Finest Korean Grill and Sushi Restaurant. Bringing the finest Korea and Japan has to offer to Rapid City. Has the finest selection of Sushi and a wide variety of beverages straight from Japan. Combined with our amazing Korean favorites, such as Bulgogi (Barbecue) and Gal Bee (Barbecue Short Ribs), Hana offers a little of everything. $10-$30.  edit
  • Alternative Fuel, 620 Main St, +1 605 341-2202, [4]. M-Th 7AM-9PM, F 7AM-10PM, Sa 7AM-6PM. Best coffee shop in Rapid City. Wonderful Staff, environment, and coffee. They also serve breakfast items, sandwiches, soups, and deserts.  edit
  • Delmonico Grill, 609 Main St (across from the Fire House), +1 605 791-1664, [5]. Delmonico Grill is one of several great choices for dining in Downtown Rapid City. This is where locals and visitors will find whatever cuisine they are craving and will be fascinated by our unique and evolving city center! $15-$50.  edit
  • Enigma Restaurant, 445 Mt Rushmore Rd (at Main St, inside the Radisson Hotel), +1 605 716-0600, [6]. 6AM-2PM,5PM-10PM daily. An upscale restaurant where you will experience a unique fashion of service with delicious foods that are the passion of fusion cuisine. $10-$50 for 1-2 people respectively.  edit
  • Armadillo's Ice Cream Shoppe, 202 Main St, +1 605 355-0507. Many different flavors of delicious ice cream. Great place to eat and relax dont be surprised if there is a huge line. Totally worth the wait.  edit
  • Great Wall Chinese Restaurant located in Rapid City for over 15 years, it is one of the premiere oriental restaurants with authentic food that will tantalize taste-buds.
  • Ichiban Sushi Bar & Japanese Cuisine the only restaurant serving Japanese food in Rapid City, South Dakota. Watch the chef use the most freshest ingredients while they create your perfect dish.
  • Fireside Inn located close to Rapid City, but nestled in the black hills. An up-scale restaurant with affordable food, a place very worth the experience.
  • Alpine Inn The warm atmosphere (which Wally refers to as Gemutlichkeit) of the Alpine extends beyond the surface Wally's kitchen and arms have always been open to those in need of a good ear and good advice. Several of her original employees have remained with her through the years out of the sense of "Family" that Wally and the Alpine have brought to them.
  • Colonial House, 2501 Mt Rushmore Rd, +1 605 342-4640, [7]. 7AM-9PM daily. Good down home cooking. The C house serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. when you go for breakfast make sure to get the caramel rolls, they are homemade and to die for. All deserts are made in house by Master pastry chef Jeff Slather. Voted number 3 in all of Rapid City by trip advisor. This restaurant is a must stop while enjoying your stay in Rapid City. $3-$30.  edit
  • Sanford's Grub & Pub, 306 7th St (at Omaha St), +1 605 721-1463. Great food and drinks are served in a unique atmosphere. Don't be surprised if there is a wait if going on a weekend or during the Stock Show.  edit
  • Shooters Steakhouse & Sports Grill, 2424 W Main St, +1 605 348-3348. Broad variety menu from Mexican cuisine to steaks and pastas, but best known for their buffalo chicken wings. With their multiple television screens, Shooters is a great place to watch the Monday Night Football Game or any other sporting event.  edit
  • Sabor a Mexico, 208 E North St, 605 343-1581. Small family owned restaurant that has the best Mexican food in Rapid City.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Firehouse Brewing Company 610 Main Street, [29]. The Firehouse is a restaurant and brewery built in the old downtown firestation. There is a great variety of food offered from BBQ, to buffalo burgers. In the summer, the outdoor patio features a full menu and bar in addition to live music. They have large windows where you can view the brewing process. The beer menu changes seasonally to offer a variety of brews throughout the year. The options range from very light lagers, IPA's and ales to dark rich beers and even a house favorite red ale. You will not be disappointed with the menu.

  • Prairie Berry, [30]. Just left Rapid City relocating to Hill City. They offer wines made from 100% South Dakota ingredients.
  • Wine Cellar Restaurant, 513 Sixth Street, Rapid City, SD 57701, 605-718-2675, [8]. Tues - Wed: 3:30 pm - 10:00 pm Thurs - Fri: 3:30 pm - 11:00 pm Sat: 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm. Casual fine dining, extensive wine list & beer menu, late night menu weekends Located in one of downtown's historic buildings right in the heart of the newly renovated 6th Street District. European and Californian cuisine made to order with the freshest ingredients. Enjoy casual fine dining amongst candles and fresh flowers in our main dining room, our intmate enclosed back alley or our seasonal outdoor sidewalk patio. Extensive wine list & imported & domestic beer menu. Price Range $$ (10-30) $ (10-30).  edit
  • Colonel House, 2501 mt Rushmore Road, 605-342-4640, [9]. 7am-9pm. Good down home cooking. The C house serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. when you go for breakfast make sure to get the caramel rolls, they are homemade and to die for. All deserts are made in house by Master pastry chef Jeff Slather. Voted number 3 in all of Rapid City by trip advisor. This restaurant is a must stop while enjoying your stay in Rapid City. $3-$30.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

For easy access to I-90, look up the many hotels off LaCrosse St in North Rapid. Hotels and motels in Rapid City tend to have substantial seasonal variations in room rates, as Rapid City is a busy jumping-off point for the Black Hills in summer but frozen into torpor in the winter.

  • Howard Johnson Inn & Suites, 950 North St., "+1 605" 737-4656., [31]. Close to Rushmore Plaza Civic Center and Downtown Rapid City.
  • Alex Johnson Hotel, 523 6th St., +1 605 342-1210. Downtown; convenient to I-90.
  • Best Western Town and Country Inn, 2505 Mt. Rushmore Highway, +1 605 343-5383, [32]. On the way to Mount Rushmore and other attractions in the Black Hills. Internet access; continental breakfast included, but a good restaurant for hot breakfasts, etc., is nearby. Large seasonal variations in room rates (from $109 mid-summer, $59 in winter).
  • Microtel Inn & Suites Rapid City, 1740 Rapp Street, +1 605 348-2523, [33].
  • Radisson Hotel, 445 Mt. Rushmore Highway (corner of Mt. Rushmore and Main), +1 505 348-8300, [34]. A "hotel" rather than a motel/motor lodge, with several hotel-type amenities. Starbucks on site.

Campgrounds are strewn all along Mount Rushmore Highway.

  • River View Lodge, 18 miles north of New Underwood, [10]. Family-run rural getaway situated on a 100 year old working cattle ranch on the banks of the Belle Fourche River.  edit
  • Comfort Inn and Suites, 1333 North ELK Vale Road, Rapid City, SD, US, 57703 (Exit 61 Across from Watiki), (605) 791-2345, [11]. checkin: 3:00; checkout: 11:00. Clean hotel with friendly service and upscale rooms. Rooms can hold 6-10 people. Price depends on season.  edit
  • Radisson, 445 Mount Rushmore Road. A more classic hotel in downtown Rapid City. Being a resident of Rapid City, I have not stayed in this hotel however it is considered one of the more luxury locations in the Black Hills. I do frequent the restaurant, Enigma, which is a fabulous 5 star facility. There are numerous courses and wonderful service. Also, the Radisson is home to the 445 Martini Lounge. Service here is marginal and prices are high. However, the drinks are fabulous and they have a list of house recipe martinis from sweet to spicy to classic to bizarre. The live music in this bar is also great, although loud.  edit
  • Econo Lodge, 625 E. Disk Dr, (605) 342-6400. Nice hotel room. Didn't like how loud the pool area was, or the location of it. It was right in the middle of the pool. Front desk employees were very nice and helpful.  edit
  • The Grand Gateway, 1721 N. La Crosse Street (Just off of I-90 at exit 59), 605-342-8853, [12]. The Grand Gateway has a 130 foot waterslide, 132 guestrooms, meeting and banquet rooms, fitness center, the Cheers Sports Bar & Casino, and is convenientlly connected to Perkins. $40-$120.  edit
  • The Price Motel, 401 East North St, (next to Jolly Lane Floral), 605-343-1806. An older motel that supplies you with the basic necessities. It holds a simple relaxed atmosphere. It also has a great location close to restaurants, shopping, gas stations, as well as the interstate.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

Rapid City is the gateway to all the attractions and beauty of the Badlands and Black Hills. Simply start driving south.

  • Black Hills National Forest
  • Deadwood is possibly America's most storied small town from the wild frontier days.
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a short drive away, and so is the even larger Crazy Horse Memorial [35].
  • Sturgis, roughly 12 miles to the East of Deadwood, is the home of the famed Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August.
  • Wall (South Dakota) has Wall Drug, whose ubiquitous signs will be more than familiar to any visitor driving on Interstate 90.
  • Keystone, SD if you love "trinket" shopping, or looking that perfect piece of jewelry, visit Keystone, SD. Close to all the Black Hills attractions, a town that you cannot pass by without wanting to stop.
Routes through Rapid City
SheridanSturgis  W noframenoframe E  WallSioux Falls
BuffaloKeystone  W noframe E  END

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