We have had a few fun times exploring Rapid City, South Dakota and the area since living here in CO. Of course we had to do the big attractions like Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse, but we also look forward to doing some more historical and local attractions on our next trip in May of 2022. With a budget in mind, I also wanted to do a few free things while in the area. Thus I did some research and found 7 free things around Rapid City that I think would be fun to do. Here is my list (alphabetically):
Air and Space Museum
Experience your American Journey at the Sout Dakota Air & Space Museum located just outside the main gate at Ellsworth Air Force Base in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. Their legendary exhibits showcase our American journey and celebrate the military personnel who have sacrificed so much for our country, and tell stories of not only past aviation but inspire the future of aerospace. The museum is filled with treasured artifacts that showcase the wonderful journey of America and the history of those who risked it all for the innovation of aviation and sacrificed for the science of aerospace.
2890 Rushmore Rd. Ellsworth AFB, SD 57706
Thanks to a loophole in the property ownership this alleyway has become a cacophonous street gallery. Art Alley is covered with the works of street artists, from amateur to professional, on every surface. The walls, telephone pools, pipes, dumpsters, and anything else that happens to be a part of the urban landscape are subject to redecoration in the tight alleyway. With artists constantly adding to and covering up each other’s works, the alley remains a dynamic, ever-changing landscape with something different to see each time you go.
No phone available
City of Presidents Self Guided Tour
Lining the streets of Downtown Rapid City are the famous faces of past presidents recreated in bronze. Known as the City of Presidents, this free, self-guided walking tour takes you around the downtown area for a face-to-face greeting. Each statue is a life-size replica of the president, showcasing their height and weight, except for William Henry Harrison. His weight was too expensive to replicate in bronze. Each statue pose was selected by the sculptor and features a characteristic of the president or representation of something they accomplished in office. Here is a link to the self-guided brochure- City of Presidents Walking Tour Guide.
Multiple Locations – See Map Above
Chapel in the Hills
Nestled at the foot of the Black Hills, on the western edge of Rapid City, South Dakota the Chapel in the Hills is a quiet retreat open to all visitors. The chapel itself is an exact reproduction of the famous Borgund Stavkirke of Laerdal, Norway. It was built in 1969 as the home for the Lutheran Vespers radio ministry. Today, visitors from all around the world find the chapel to be a place of beauty and inspiration. Visitors are welcome and encouraged to wander the chapel grounds, taking their time as they experience the presence of God in this beautiful natural setting. The most recent addition to the grounds is the Meditation Trail. This leisurely path winds its way into the hillside behind the chapel. Complete with benches and statuary, the trail provides an additional place for reflection, prayer, and meditation. Sounds like a wonderful place to spend some time reflecting on things.
3788 Chapel Land Rapid City, SD 57702
The chapel, gift shop, and museum are open from 8:00 AM until dusk, seven days a week, from May 1st through September 30th. The grounds are open on a limited basis during April and October depending on the weather.
Open to the public since 1936, Dinosaur Park is located on a ridge of sandstone that encircles the Black Hills. The dinosaurs featured have all been discovered in the Midwest, and not far from the park dinosaur footprints have been found. Walk the park to find all seven life-size concrete replicas of monstrous prehistoric reptiles. At the top with the Brontosaurus you can experience spectacular 100-mile views, to the east you’ll view the South Dakota Badlands, and to the west the beautiful Black Hills. The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a trailhead for hiking and biking on the Skyline Wilderness Trail. The Visitor Center features a wide variety of gifts, books, fossils, and rocks. They also have some food service which includes 12 flavors of ice cream and light lunch items.
940 Skyline Dr. Rapid City, SD 57701
Memorial Park / Berlin Wall Exhibit
Here you will find two 12 feet (4 meters) segments of the original Berlin Wall and some WWII tank traps, accompanied by interpretative placards are located in Rapid City’s Memorial Park in South Dakota. These Berlin Wall sections are part of one of the most unique displays of its kind. There are only about 40 locations in the U.S where original sections of the wall are displayed. According to the board near the wall, from 1961 to 1989, this segment was located between the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie (distance between two of them: less than one mile or 1.5 km). The coordinates of the original location are approximate.
444 Mt. Rushmore Rd. N Rapid City, SD 57701
Open Daily – 5:00am – 10:00pm
Museum of Geology
The Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology provides artifacts and information for patrons to better understand the timeline. Along with the geology section, is the paleontology section with fossils, much of which is on loan from the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, South Dakota. A model of an on-site dig with a tent provides patrons with a sense of fieldwork. A model of a T-Rex and a Triceratops accompanied by a roaring soundtrack are also included in the exhibit. That sounds so amazing. Definitely want to see this museum.
501 E. Saint Joseph St. Rapid City, SD 57701
Summer Hours – (beginning Memorial Day)
Monday-Saturday: 9 AM – 6 PM
Closed: Sundays and Independence Day
Winter Hours – (beginning Labor Day)
Monday-Saturday: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Closed: Sundays and Federal Holidays
So that is my list of the top 7 things we hope to do the next time we are in Rapid City, SD. We are hoping that will happen sometime in 2022 but not sure as some other plans are still coming together. I will come back and update you with more info, pics, etc once we do visit again. In the meantime, if there is something I missed that we should see, please feel free to share and I will add it to our list. Happy travels.
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