A Day in Downtown Rapid City

Traveling to South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and all the natural beauty in the Black Hills and Badlands, you’ll most likely fly into or drive through Rapid City. The walkable downtown area of Rapid City itself is worth a visit, whether you spend a day at the beginning of your trip or take a break from Mother Nature mid-trip.


Start the day at Black Hills Bagels. Choose from 28 varieties of bagels and 18 blends of cream cheese. For a heartier breakfast order a bagel sandwich and add your favorite coffee beverage or a fruit smoothie.

Black Hills Bagels

Check Out the Art

Known as the City of Presidents because of its proximity to Mount Rushmore, all of the U.S. presidents are standing on downtown street corners in the form of bronze statues. Make a game out of hunting them all down. Make it easier by using the map provided by Downtown Rapid City.

George Washington

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The statue of George Washington, the first U.S. president, was strategically placed outside Rapid City’s first hotel, Hotel Alex Johnson, built in 1927. Step inside the hotel and look around at this historic beauty and make a note to come back later to the rooftop Vertex Sky Bar for a drink and a gorgeous view of the area.

Hotel Alex Johnson

Besides the presidents, other street art includes Native American pieces, like this piece by Dale Lamphere.

Native American sclpture

In Art Alley local artists express themselves with free-form graffiti murals.

Art Alley 140921_SD_RapidCity_Downtown-1

Visit the Prairie Edge store, filled with arts and crafts created by Native Americans and an art gallery on the upper level. The large store also sells supplies used in Native American arts.

Art gallery in Prairie Edge140921_SD_RapidCity_Downtown--15 Native American arts and craftsArt supplies in Prairie Edge


Have lunch in Rapid City’s first fire station, now Firehouse Brewing Company, with menu names like Hook and Ladder (homemade soup and half sandwich), Commissioner Cutlet (breaded pork cutlet sandwich) and Spontaneous Heating (spicy gumbo). Wash it down with a craft beer from the brewery that has been around for 20 years.

Firehouse Brewing CompanyFirehouse Brewing Company interior

Visit a Museum

Visit the Journey Museum for a good orientation to the Black Hills history and culture. Begin with the video and then work your way through the exhibits on area geology, archeology, Native Americans and pioneers.

Journey Museum

Visit Main Street Square

You’ll often find community events like concerts and movies under the stars at Main Street Square. Kids can romp in the splash pad in the summer. In the winter, skate on the ice rink.

Splash pad on Main Street Square

Sip Some Wine

Head back to the Firehouse for more adult beverages. Next door to the Firehouse Brewing Company the much newer (opened in 2014) Firehouse Wine Cellars offers wine tasting and winery tours. Sit an enjoy a glass of wine, if you prefer, along with a meat and cheese tray.

Firehouse Wine CellarsMeat and cheese trayWinery Tour, Firehouse Wine Cellars


Downtown Rapid City offers over twenty dining options, from burgers to fine dining. I chose another pub, Sanford’s Grub ‘n Pub, a regional chain. Filled with kitschy stuff everywhere, including hanging from the ceiling. I was surprised to see several pieces of Chicago memorabilia, so far from my home area. Be prepared for huge portions. I ordered a chicken salad, and it was more than I could finish.

Sanfords Grub n PubSanford's Pub n GrubSalad at Sanford's Grub n Pub

Calling it a Night
Stay at one of several hotels in the downtown area. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Rushmore Plaza (check rates here), just a short walk from downtown attractions and a short drive to other area attractions. Rooms include a microwave and refrigerator, and the lobby atrium with waterfall makes a relaxing backdrop for the hotel restaurant.

Holiday Inn Rushmore PlazaHoliday Inn Rushmore Plaza lobby


Disclosures: My visit to Rapid City was hosted by the South Dakota Department of Tourism and the Rapid City Convention and Visitors Bureau. However, all opinions in this article are my own.
This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a hotel room through this link, I will receive a small commission.

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18 thoughts on “A Day in Downtown Rapid City

  • June 6, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    This is one of the reasons I love road trips so much. You’d fly right by Rapid City, as you mention, if you were only fixated on getting from point A to B. Great local places. Colorful interiors, food and drink. I’ll be mentioning this to friends on their way to Mt. Rushmore this summer.

    • June 6, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      I agree. You see a lot more on road trips than when you fly.

  • June 6, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Connie, that looks like an amazing trip. I can see we will have to put US on our agenda soon. Thank you so much for linking up up with #TheWeeklyPostcard. Can I ask when you have a moment to please update to the new badge which includes our new co-host? You’ll find the code in the grey box on my latest post. Thanks again 🙂

  • June 7, 2015 at 1:46 am

    Beautiful trip. I visited Mount Rushmore many years ago but never spent time in Rapid City. Looks like a great place to spend a few days.

    • June 7, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Unbelievable how much there is to do in the area. And yes, 18 types pf cream cheese. I think brown sugar cinnamon would be my favorite.

  • June 7, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Oh my! We stayed 3 weeks in Rapid City and forgot to experience her. We just drove to all the nearby tourist attractions. Sigh.

    • June 7, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      It’s easy to miss the city with all the nearby attractions, but definitely worth spending at least a day there.

  • June 7, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Looks like you need a whole day for the Rapid City! Thank you for sharing photos and comment from your trip. The fountain looks like a lot of fun!

    • June 7, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Sometimes I wish I had a child with me so I’d have an excuse to do things like run through the fountain.

  • June 7, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Sounds like a fun trip, the Journey Museum sure seems interesting and that chicken salad looks delicious!

    • June 8, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      Western South Dakota was one of my favorite trips. I’d definitely recommend it.

  • June 7, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    WOW Connie! Love your new look! You inspire me to get started on my new blog…

    Happy trails…elaine j

    • June 8, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      Thanks, Elaine. I still have some tidying up to do, but so far, I’m happy with my new theme.

  • June 7, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Looks like an amazing trip. I want bagels now!

    • June 8, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Hey, Barb! It was an amazing trip. Bagels were a bonus.


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