Great Escapes: Our guide to Rapid City, SD

Planning a getaway? Check out Rapid City, South Dakota, a destination for hikers, historians, and everything in between.

A view from the summit of Black Elk Peak in South Dakota

The hike is worth the view from the top.

Photo via LALtoday

City Editor Rilee here. These days I’m all about Swan City (aka, Lakeland, FL), but growing up I was more concerned with bison than swans.

My family spent time visiting relatives in Rapid City, SD, taking drives through Badlands National Park, hiking in the Black Hills, and drinking Shirley Temples around the Saloon No. 10 table where Wild Bill Hickok met his end. Add this spot to your bucket list to experience a bit of the Old West, the outdoors, and everything in between.

City Editor Rilee outside Mt. Rushmore

City Editor Rilee and her brother near Mt. Rushmore, circa 2007.

Photo via LALtoday

Why go?

A bear on a fallen tree

Bear Country is a must-see destination for animal lovers and kids, just leave your windows rolled up.

Photo by LALtoday

Act like a local:

  • Outdoors: Take Needles Highway in Custer State Park to the Sylvan Lake Shore Trailhead. From there, embark on the 6.4-mile out-and-back Black Elk Peak trail.
  • Experience: Ride the 1880 Train through the Black Hills Forest for views of Black Elk Peak, old mining encampments, and more — the two-hour, 20-mile ride is narrated by local historians.
  • Food: Head to Tally’s Silver Spoon for upscale dining and a South Dakota classic dish, chislic.
  • Drink: You’ll need to book a table ahead of time, but the effort is worth the specialty cocktails at Vertex Sky Bar.
  • Coffee: Fuel your vacay with a stop in Harriet & Oak, Essence of Coffee, or one of these spots.
  • Explore: View wildlife from the safety of your car at Bear Country.
  • Shop: Use this list of local shops, Native American-owned stores, and outdoor gear suppliers to plan your shopping trip.
An exterior shot of Hotel Alex Johnson

Book the Ghost Adventure Package to stay in a reported haunted room — it even comes with a K2 meter.

Image via Google Maps

Where to stay:

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