Rapid City (South Dakota)

Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States South Dakota Rapid City

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Introduction

Rapid City is the second largest city in South Dakota with over 60,000 inhabitants. It is located in the west of the state in the Badlands and Black Hills region of South Dakota and is a good base for trips to the Black Hills and further south to Mount Rushmore. 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.

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Sights and Activities

  • The Journey Museum & Learning Center. 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.
  • Hotel Alex Johnson. An old hotel.
  • Reptile Gardens, Mount Rushmore Rd (about 6 mi from downtown), ☎ +1-800-335-0275. 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. 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. $12.50 for adults, discounts apply.
  • Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper & Show, Dances with Wolves film set (4 miles S. of Rapid City on Hwy 16W), toll-free: +1-888-394-9653. 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.
  • South Dakota Air and Space Museum. The museum is open from 8:30AM to 4:30PM seven days a week and admission is always FREE! Witness the changes through time by experiencing the aircraft and technology that changed the world.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

Rapid City has a moderate continental climate with generally warm summers and cold winters. Summers from June to September generally have temperatures of around 25-30 °C during the day and 10-15 °C at night. Winters from December to March have highs around or slightly above zero while nights average around -10 °C. Precipitation is fairly low, with around 400mm a year, but winters can have severe snowfall. Most of the rain falls during late spring (May).

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Getting There

By Plane

Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) offers flights to/from Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Denver and Houston.

By Train

The Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad provides freight rail service to Rapid City.

By Car

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

Check Greyhound buses for options. Rapid City can be reached from almost anywhere in the US with two or less connections. There are daily services aboard Jefferson Lines 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.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

To reach other places, such as the Rushmore Mall, one can use the Rapid Ride System 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.

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Eat

  • Botticelli's Restorante Italiano, 523 Main St. Has the best selection of authentic Northern Italian dishes and pizzas.
  • Hana Korean Grill and Sushi Bar, 3550 Sturgis Rd, ☎ +1 605 348-0299. 10AM-9PM daily. Sushi and a wide variety of beverages, as well as Korean favorites such as Bulgogi (Barbecue) and Gal Bee (Barbecue Short Ribs). $10-$30.
  • Alternative Fuel, 620 Main St, ☎ +1 605 341-2202. 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.
  • Delmonico Grill, 609 Main St (across from the Fire House), ☎ +1 605 791-1664. 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.
  • Enigma Restaurant, 445 Mt Rushmore Rd (at Main St, inside the Radisson Hotel), ☎ +1 605 716-0600. 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.
  • 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 don't be surprised if there is a huge line. Totally worth the wait.
  • 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. 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. edit

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. 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 adviser. This restaurant is a must stop while enjoying your stay in Rapid City. $3-$30.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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Drink

  • Firehouse Brewing Company, 610 Main St. The Firehouse is a restaurant and brewery built in the old downtown firestation. There is a great variety of food offered from Mexican, to German, to traditional hotdogs and hamburgers. In the summer, the outdoor patio features a full menu and bar in addition to live music and plays. 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 IPA's and ales to dark rich beers and even a house favorite red brew. You will not be disappointed with the menu, although the service can be hit or miss. Plan on going early in the summer to get a spot outside for the entertainment. In the winter, you can enjoy dinner theatre with new performances monthly.
  • Prairie Berry. Just left Rapid City relocating to Hill City. They offer wines made from 100% South Dakota ingredients.
  • Wine Cellar Restaurant, 513 Sixth St, ☎ +1 605-718-2675. Tues - Wed: 3:30PM - 10PM; Thurs - Fri: 3:30PM - 11PM; Sat: 5PM - 11PM. Casual fine dining, extensive wine list & beer menu, late night menu weekends. Located in one of downtown's historic buildings in 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 the main dining room, enclosed back alley or the seasonal outdoor sidewalk patio. Extensive wine list & imported & domestic beer menu. Food Styles: American (New), Burgers, French, Greek and Mediterranean, Italian, Mexican, Pizza, Seafood, Spanish/Basque, Tapas Bars, Vegetarian. Takes Reservations, Walk-Ins Welcome, Take Out, Waiter Service, Outdoor Seating. $ (10-30).

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Sleep

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. Campgrounds are strewn all along Mount Rushmore Highway.

  • Microtel Inn & Suites Rapid City, 1740 Rapp St, ☎ +1 605 348-2523.
  • Econo Lodge, 625 E. Disk Dr, ☎ +1 605 342-6400. Nice hotel room, questionable pool, helpful employees.
  • The Price Motel, 401 East North St (next to Jolly Lane Floral), ☎ +1 605-343-1806. 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.
  • Radisson Hotel, 445 Mt. Rushmore Highway (corner of Mt. Rushmore and Main), ☎ +1 505 348-8300. A "hotel" rather than a motel/motor lodge, with several hotel-type amenities. Starbucks on site.
  • Radisson Hotel, 445 Mt. Rushmore Highway (corner of Mt. Rushmore and Main), ☎ +1 505 348-8300. A "hotel" rather than a motel/motor lodge, with several hotel-type amenities. Starbucks on site.
  • The Grand Gateway, 1721 N. La Crosse St (Just off of I-90 at exit 59), ☎ +1 605-342-8853. The Grand Gateway has a 130 foot waterslide, 132 guestrooms, meeting and banquet rooms, fitness center, the Cheers Sports Bar & Casino, and is connected to Perkins. $40-$120.
  • Hotel Alex Johnson, 523 6th St, ☎ +1 605 342-1210. Historical downtown hotel, built in 1927.
  • Comfort Inn and Suites, 1333 North ELK Vale Rd (Exit 61 Across from Watiki), ☎ +1 605 791-2345. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Clean hotel with friendly service and upscale rooms. Rooms can hold 6-10 people. Price depends on season.
  • River View Lodge, 18 miles north of New Underwood. Family-run rural getaway situated on a 100 year old working cattle ranch on the banks of the Belle Fourche River.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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as well as Sander (<1%)

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This is version 12. Last edited at 10:07 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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