South Dakota’s Rapid City was named for the Rapid Creek and is situated along the eastern slope of the majestic Black Hills mountain range. The city's colorful history dates back to before the Gold Rush days. The discovery of gold in the Black Hills in 1874 brought many people and began what is now an entertaining and thriving destination. The beautiful landscape combined with local history and a wealth of activities to be enjoyed make the community an exciting prospect for relocation.
Reptile Gardens was established in 1937 and was the dream of reptile lover Earl Brockelsby. Since the gates first opened, the facility has grown tremendously and is now one of the most popular attractions in the state. The venue is renowned for being the largest reptile zoo on the planet and takes pride in caring for more reptile species than any other facility. Along with the amazing array of creatures, the property is landscaped to resemble a tropical garden in which many of the animal inhabitants might live in the wild. Colorful flowers, tropical plants, trees and water features help give the location a unique atmosphere. Guests thoroughly enjoy viewing the various creatures and attending the many shows presented by the gardens. By attending the different shows, guests have the chance to learn more about predatory birds, alligators and snakes. (Photo Credit: http://www.reptilegardens.com/)
Bear Country USA
Bear Country is a wonderful location to view native animals exhibiting normal behavior without the confines of cages. The facility features 250 acres where visitors can follow a designated route in order to see the more than 20 species of mammals that call this park their home. From the comfort of your vehicle, you have the chance to watch buffalo, cougars, elk, mountain goats and sheep along with a population of more than 100 black bears. There is also a resident grizzly bear. Park your vehicle and meander through Babyland where cubs frolic and other young animals enjoy each other's company and the warmth of the sun. You can visit with the caretakers and grab a snack at the Cub Grub Grill. Feel free to take all the pictures you desire and stop in at the gift shop for a memento of your visit.
Downtown Rapid City
Historic Downtown Rapid City is the ideal location for stretching your legs and doing some exploring. When in the mood for shopping, you will find 80 unique shops and stores where you are bound to find what you need or simply buy something for fun. When hunger strikes, you have a choice between 30 different restaurants that represent many ethnic cuisines along with fast food favorites. Visit the art galleries, explore one of the museums or venture to Main Street Square and play in the fountain on a hot summer's day. If you get tired of walking, consider renting a bike from one of the Rapid City Bicycle stations. In the evening, you might take in a movie or venture to the theater for a live performance. Downtown is also the place to be for many of the city's festivals.
Museum of Geology
The fascinating Museum of Geology is located on the third floor of the O'Harra Building on the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology campus. Admission is free to all visitors interested in learning more about mineralogy or paleontology. A variety of minerals is on display, including meteorites and rocks that glow in the dark. Dinosaur fans have the chance to see the collection of fossils and mounted skeletons of fish, mammals and reptiles from millions of years past. A special Kids' Zone enables young guests to enjoy a hands-on experience, and the gift shop offers books, models, toys and other unique items to take home.
Black Hills Adventure Tour
Take the time to see the Black Hills from a different perspective by embarking on one of these sightseeing or adventure tours. Each excursion lasts up to seven hours and includes beverages and snacks. The family-friendly journeys allow as many as 100 people to get up close and personal with some of the best sights in the area. Enjoy a drive through the scenic Badlands with stops at the famous Wall Drug. Perhaps you prefer seeing the Adams Museum, historic Deadwood and the Mt. Moriah Cemetery. Spend the better part of the day visiting the Crazy Horse monument, Custer State Park and Mt. Rushmore with a shopping stop in Keystone. Adventure tours include hikes through the Badlands, Devil's Tower or Spearfish Canyon. You can even go cycling on the Mickelson Trail or go kayaking on Pactola Lake. (Photo Credit: http://blackhillsadventuretours.com/)
The Journey Museum & Learning Center
The Journey Museum & Learning Center is located near the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn. The facility houses exhibits spanning a variety of disciplines. The SDSM&T Museum of Geology collection explores the planet's deepest secrets and includes a selection of dinosaurs and rock formations. The SD Archaeological Research Center collection invites guests to witness the lives of prehistoric people and the settlers who arrived in the 19th century. The Sioux Indian Museum gives guests the chance to explore Sioux culture through exhibits that include native art, costumes, tools and weaponry. Learn about the fur trappers, mountain men, miners and explorers who were the first to arrive in Rapid City by browsing through the Minnilusa Pioneer Museum collection. See constellations and learn more about the vastness of space during the Journey into Space trip presented by the Digital Universe Program provided by NASA. Younger guests especially enjoy the activities, crafts and experiments in the Discovery Expedition exhibits.
Fort Hays Old West Town & Dinner Show
Step back in time to the days of the Old West at Fort Hays. You can see the authentic Dances with Wolves film set where Kevin Costner played John Dunbar. Venture down the boardwalk to explore the many turn-of-the-century shops and see live demonstrations of how things were done during yesteryear. The many workshops include the blacksmith shop, the Penny Press, the rope shop, the sawmill and the supply house. When the 6 p.m. dinner bell rings, get in line for a down-home traditional Western meal. While feasting on your freshly cooked meal, you can enjoy the live entertainment provided by the house performers. The variety show is appropriate for guests of all ages. The venue also offers a $0.99 all-you-can-eat breakfast and lunches complete with a visit from Wild Bill Hickok. There is no admission fee to tour the exhibits.
Tally's Silver Spoon
Tally's Silver Spoon began as a mom-and-pop diner in the 1930s and continued being a family-owned and -operated enterprise until Chef Benjamin Klinkel purchased the establishment. Although a bit more modern and sophisticated now, the restaurant interior continues exuding an informal, relaxed atmosphere. Today, the restaurant is considered a fine diner that offers a variety of popular American favorites with an upscale twist. The venue serves breakfast and lunch daily along with dinner on the weekends, where guests can enjoy live musical entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. The ingredients that go into all of the freshly made meals are locally sourced. The menu also includes healthy alternatives and gluten-free options, and Tally's boasts a fine selection of wines to complement your meal.
This popular pizzeria bases its reputation on making, baking and serving each pizza in three minutes. Every pie is crafted with handmade dough and a list of healthy, artisan ingredients. Blaze Pizza dishes can also be made gluten-free upon request. Diners have the option of choosing from nine different house specialties or building their own from a selection of meats, vegetables, sauces and cheeses. Blaze Pizza also offers a variety of salads and homemade desserts. Along with different soft drinks, customers may also order a variety of beers or wines with their meal.