10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Rapid City
Rapid City lies on the eastern edge of the Black Hills, near Mount Rushmore. It is a good center from which to explore Badlands National Park. The Museum of Geology, in the grounds of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, has large geological and mineralogical collections. To the east of the town is the Air and Space Museum. Another popular attraction is Bear Country USA, located along the road to Mount Rushmore.
See also: Where to Stay in Rapid City
1 Reptile Gardens
The Reptile Gardens is home to lizards, snakes, crocodiles, parrots, Komodo dragons, insects and amphibians. Many of the animals are featured in entertainment such as the Gator Show, Snake Show, and Birds Show. The floral gardens have thousands of flowering plants.
Address: 8955 South Highway 16
2 Storybook Island
Storybook Island is accessed by way of "London Bridge," a native stone bridge, and complete with castle turrets. The enchanted land depicts themes and characters from Fairyland, Mother Goose and other children's nursery rhymes and stories.
Address: 1301 Sheridan Lake Road
3 Chapel in the Hills
Chapel in the Hills is a replica of a famous 12th C Borgund Stave Church in Norway. This unique looking building features intricate woodcarving, Norse dragonheads, Christian symbols, and pegged construction. The building of this church was the idea of Rev Conrad Thompson, who had seen such churches in Norway. The chapel, dedicated in 1969, was used as the location of the Lutheran Vespers radio hour until 1975, when the program moved locations. It was then taken over by a non-profit corporation who currently operates the chapel.
Address: 3788 Chapel Lane, Rapid City, SD 57702, United States
4 Journey Museum
The exhibits at the Journey Museum begin with the history of the formation of the Black Hills more than 2.5 billion years ago. They then go on to showcase prehistoric finds in the area, with displays of dinosaur bones and marine reptiles, and eventually traces the cultural history of the Great Plains.
The museum is divided into individual sections. The Archeological Research Center has ancient artifacts including ancient pottery. The culture of the Sioux Indians is featured in the Sioux Indian Museum. The Minnilusa Pioneer Museum Collection presents the people and events, from the fur trade to present day.
Address: 222 New York Street, Rapid City, SD 57701-1199, United States
5 Bear Country USA
Bear Country USA is located south of Rapid City. It is a drive-through wildlife park. The landscape of meadows and pines allows visitors to see North American Black Bear, wolves, mountain lions, elk, buffalo, deer, bighorn and Dall sheep, and Rocky Mountain goats. They are particularly well known for their large collection of black bears.
6 Flying T Chuckwagon Supper Show
The Flying T Chuckwagon provides the authentic chuckwagon experience. Dinner is served on tin plates and offers a variety of dishes. After dinner the Flying T Wranglers entertain with cowboy, country, and bluegrass music, with family comedy intermixed. Folks are welcome to take pictures with the band. This is a seasonal attraction that is only open during the summer months.
Address: 8971 S Hwy 16, Rapid City, SD 57702, United States
7 Museum of Geology
The Museum of Geology in Rapid City is a teaching and research facility with a large collection of vertebrate fossils and minerals. The collections feature mammalian fossils, marine and non-marine Jurassic and Cretaceous reptiles and mammals, and Black Hills pegmatite minerals.
Address: 501 East St Joseph Street
8 Black Hills Caverns
The Black Hills Caverns offer a look at unique cave formations, including logomites, stalagmites, helictites, purple amethyst, boxwork, and popcorn crystal. Visitors can take a one hour, 3/4 of a mile long tour. Historically the caves were used by the Lakota Indians and also by gold prospectors.
Address: Highway 44, 4 miles west of Rapid City
9 South Dakota Air and Space Museum
The South Dakota Air and Space Museum is located outside the Main Gate of Ellsworth Air Force Base. Highlights include a Honda stealth bomber, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's Mitchell B-25 bomber, and other fighter, cargo, and utility aircraft.
Address: 2890 Rushmore Drive
10 Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns
The Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns has hexagonal calcite crystals called dogtooth spar. The water of Diamond Lake reflects the massive crystal ceiling like a giant mirror. Another natural formation includes the Petrified Fish Crevasse, a 110-foot long natural rock wall with fossilized prehistoric marine life.
Address: 13745 South Highway 16
Where to Stay in Rapid City for Sightseeing
We recommend these conveniently located hotels in Rapid City with easy access to the top sights:
- Hilton Garden Inn Rapid City: 3-star hotel, modern room decor, indoor pool and fitness center.
- Holiday Inn Rapid City - Rushmore Plaza: mid-range pricing, spacious rooms, heated indoor pool and hot tubs, buffet breakfast.
- Howard Johnson Rapid City: affordable rates, helpful staff, heated pool, fitness room.
- Comfort Suites Hotel & Convention Center Rapid City: budget hotel, friendly front desk staff, indoor pool, free breakfast.