10 attractions you cannot miss when in Rapid City
Now that I’ve told you all about the Alex Johnson Hotel, we can talk about what you can do and see in Rapid City! You’ll find plenty of art galleries and museums as well as shops and restaurants. I don’t know about you but I enjoy walking around, whether it’s in my hometown or elsewhere. I feel like walking is the best way to get to know your surrounding and it often leads to discovering hidden gems: whether it’s a shop, a restaurant, a museum or just a pretty corner you would have missed otherwise.
Here’s my top 10 of things to do and see in Rapid City, South Dakota (not necessarily in this order!):
- Rapid City Visitor Information Center
I strongly suggest a stopover at the Visitor Center to pick up brochures of the different attractions in the area, ask questions and organize your stay.
- Hop on the City View Trolley
Since some sights were not easy to reach on foot, I decided to take advantage of the city trolley. For only $2.00 the trolley takes you on a narrated tour to about 15 attractions: Berlin Wall/Memorial Park, the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn, the Journey Museum, Main Street Square, 7th & Main St. / The City of Presidents, the Rushmore Hotel, Founders Park, Sioux Park Formal Gardens, Storybook Island Children’s Park, Stavkirke Chapel, Canyon Lake Park, Dinosaur Park, Dahl Arts Center, 6th & St Joe St. / Hotel Alex Johnson, 6th & Main St. and the Milo Barber Transportation Center. The cool thing about this trolley tour is that it’s extremely cheap, it’s very informative and it allows you to get on/off whenever you like. To avoid surprises, make sure to check out the timetable on the website before you plan your trolley tour and don’t forget that the service is available from June to the end of August.
- Journey Museum
This museum focuses on the history of the Black Hills and Native American culture through four art collections: Geology and Paleontology, Archaeology, Native American Culture and Pioneer History. Its mission is to preserve and explore the heritage and cultures of the Black Hills region.
- Berlin Wall Exhibit
At Memorial Park, you’ll find a Berlin wall exhibit. The wall serves as a memorial to the Cold War. The memorial itself was dedicated in 1996 after three years of work to bring a couple of the remaining wall segments over to South Dakota. The exhibit consists of two wall segments and two tank traps. Around them there are several panels illustrating the history of the Berlin wall, including its demolition, with over 30 photos.
- Chapel in the Hills
Set in a natural setting, Chapel in the Hills is an exact replica of the Borgan Stavkirke of Laerdal in Norway (on their website you can see a picture of the two chapels). The chapel was built in 1969 as the home for the Lutheran Vespers radio ministry. Today its doors are open from May to September, welcoming visitors from all over the world. The site includes a visitor center, a gift shop selling Scandinavian items and a meditation trail.
- Prairie Edge: Native American Art & Crafts
Located on the corner of 6th Street and Main in downtown Rapid City, Prairie Edge stands two stories high and stretches out for half a block. The brick, wood, and glass storefront have been restored to its original 19th century glory. Inside, the hardwood floors and polished cabinetry bring to mind the spirit of the Old West, while the distinct smell of sweet grass and soft sound of a Lakota flute evoke the mystique of the Great Plains Indian. Prairie Edge features a showcase of traditional and contemporary Native American art, crafts and music, as well as craft supplies and dried herbs.
- Walking tour of the City of Presidents
Rapid City is also known as the City of Presidents: around town you’ll find a series of life-size bronze statues of president that have made the history of the USA. You can take the tour on your own (it’s completely free): it will be a great opportunity to discover the town along with all the statues! The City of Presidents project began in 2000 to honor the legacy of the American presidency. Each sculpture is privately funded. The website has lots of information concerning the location of each statue, info on the presidents portrayed and of course, the name of the artist who sculpted them.
- Firehouse Brewing
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 Firehouse Brewing Company, South Dakota’s first brew pub, is the creation of a group of Rapid City locals who developed the idea of creating an onsite microbrewery after frequenting one of Denver’s downtown pubs. The idea was to return the building’s interior to its original fire-hall glory with the added feature of a brewery visible from behind glass enclosures. The Firehouse Brewing Company opened its doors to an eager throng of patrons on December 5th, 1991. Today the Firehouse is a favorite with locals and tourists alike and features a brewery, an indoor restaurant and bar, an outdoor patio complete with band-shell for live music, a Theatre, a winery and mercantile. In 2008 President Obama ordered wings and rings at the Firehouse but you won’t find any trace of his visit inside the restaurant.
- Art alley
Rapid City has a very creative community: you’ll find the expression of this creativity in Art Alley, situated between 6th and 7th The public art project started in 2005 and became a living tribute to freedom of expression. Free-form graffiti murals intermingle with pop art, abstract and cultural works in a constantly changing display of local and visiting talent. Artists with big reputations and bigger dreams have made their mark on Rapid City. Today, artists are required to ask for a permit to be able to leave their art work on the walls of Art Alley.
- Dahl Art Center
The Dahl was constructed in 1974 to house the Cyclorama, a 200-foot mural of American History, one of only five and third largest in the US. The facility includes three formal galleries, Lobby Gallery, gift shop, Emerging Artists Gallery, children’s interactive gallery, the Cyclorama, 280-seat event center, classrooms, conference room and meeting spaces. It is indeed worth the visit!
Of course the area offers plenty more things to do and see in and around town so don’t forget to do your reasearch and select the ones you’d like to visit!
On another note, you can keep up with my travels by clicking here.