24 Hours in… Rapid City

Who knew Rapid City was so awesome? If we had known how much we would enjoy it, I totally would have planned more time there on out Epic Road trip. But twenty four hours was enough time to get a taste of Rapid City life.

travel rapid city

Rapid City is the home base for most Mount Rushmore visitors. But this city has a ton to offer on its own. With a charming downtown and several city parks, it’s a haven for families. Start your visit with the presidential statues. You can visit and pose with your favorite. Be sure to visit the visitor center and get a list. If you visit all of them, you get a presidential soda.

President Statues Rapid City

Before sundown, head to Dinosaur Park. This Public Works project built in 1936 boasts seven life-size concrete dinosaur statues and stunning views of the city from its hillside perch. The visitor center’s porch is the perfect place to have an ice cream and watch the sun go down.

Due to all those Mount Rushmore visitors, Rapid City has almost every chain motel and hotel you can think of (some of them even have their own water parks) but if you’re looking for something a little more local, the Hotel Johnson is right in the heart of downtown. Across the street is a restored movie house, The Elks.

End your trip to Rapid City with a magical morning on Storybook Island. This vintage kiddie park is a must see, even if you don’t have children. Did I mention that it’s totally free?

Storybook Island

Where else can you ride in Cinderella’s carriage, enter the home of the three little pigs, and slide down an ice cream cone? Entrance and play are free but you might want to bring some cash for the train ride and gift shop. Plus a donation to keep this gem up and running!


  1. Rapid City sounds like a fun place to visit! I love the picture of the sign you posted. It is so full of truth!

  2. South Dakota is an incredible state. Our car broke down on the other side of South Dakota (Souix Falls) and we were *stuck* for five days. I fell in love. Such a great place with great people. Now I want to go back to Rapid City and see all I missed there! Brava!

  3. I’ve been there but had no idea there was more then mount Rushmore! Thanks for the info!

  4. I haven’t been in this area since I was a kid. Quite a loooooooooong trip for us from North Carolina, but these all sound like fun things. Fun post!

  5. Rapid City sounds so fun! I love doing want locals would usually do. So, thanks for the tip on the local hotel to get more of the town feel. This trip won’t be until further down the road, but I’m excited to go one day!

  6. Mount Rushmore is on my husband’s bucket list and you’ve just made me want to go even more. And I would love to slide down an ice cream cone =)

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