Rapid City has to be one of the most well advertised tourist spots on the Interstate. No matter which direction you coming from, you will see billboards for attractions, restaurants and other things to do. If that isn’t enough, nearly every hotel and restaurant has a wall of brochures available, so you won’t miss anything. That being said, if you just stick with the heavily advertised sites, you will miss out on some truly great Hidden Gems.
Fun Off The Beaten Path
First up is Flags & Wheels, and indoor amusement park. I found this gem while looking for a batting cage. Whether you want to just hit a few balls or take the kiddos to burn off some energy on a rainy day, this is your place. They actually have an indoor arcade, including Skee-ball, as well as Bumper Cars, Paintball, Laser Tag, and Go Cart Racing. Flags & Wheels is budget friendly fun for the whole family. I took my 20 yo kids, for an afternoon of fun, we spent about $25 and had a blast!
Next up is Fort Hays. The Fort is just outside of Rapid City, off of Mt. Rushmore Road. Here, you can partake in a Chuck Wagon Dinner, with a Live Show. The food served is simple, but good. The show is good, down to earth fun for folks of all ages. If a Chuck Wagon Dinner isn’t your style, stop by in the morning for 99 cent Pancakes 🙂
Also at the Fort, is part of the movie set from Dances With Wolves. Here you can walk through some of the old town buildings, then mosey on down to the workshops. At the work shops you might get to participate in demonstrations at the Tin Shop, Rope Shop, Blacksmith Shop, Sawmill, or the Penny Press. The Movie Set and Workshops are Free.
If you like going to the movies, check out the historic Elks Theatre in downtown Rapid City. The Elks Theatre is over 100 years old. It has been beautifully renovated, and is very clean. Plus, tickets are inexpensive, and they have weekly specials.
Eating Out – Hidden Gems For The Appetite
Whether you are just passing through, or making Rapid City your vacation destination, make your way into the heart of downtown and check out the restaurants. There is something here for every appetite. From burgers at the Fire House Brewery to the coal fired menu at Kōl, you are sure to find something to please your palate.
Save some room for dessert. Just four blocks to the East, on Main St., is Armadillo’s Ice Cream Shoppe. Armadillo’s has some of the best Ice Cream I’ve ever had. Stop by on any hot summer day, and there will be a line of folks clear to the street waiting to get their’s. The Armadillo’s Ice Cream Menu is insane. You can choose anything from a simple cone, to a fancy sundae. They also have frozen coffee creations, slushies and smoothies. If you want something a little more substantial than just ice cream, they also serve food.
This next Hidden Gem was not something I thought I would find in Rapid City. Everest is a locally owned restaurant, that serves up authentic food from India and Nepal. It is located on Main St., on the west end of Rapid City. Everest has won the Trip Advisor certificate of excellence at least twice. If you are looking to spice up your stay, head over to Everest and enjoy their fantastic food and hospitality.
Shopping & Souvenirs
When you come to Rapid City, set aside an afternoon to stroll through the shops of down town. Here you will find treasures at Prairie Edge and Reflections of South Dakota. Wander around and look at the life size statues of our Presidents, or just kick back with a coffee at the Main Street Square.
If you are looking for a little bit different kind of Souvenir, drive south down Mt. Rushmore Road. Just past Bear Country, is the House of Scandinavia. This quaint little shop is full of items imported goods from Scandinavia. Here you can find everything from books to trinkets, as well as home decor and specialty foods. It is well worth the few minutes of driving to explore the House of Scandinavia, as well as other Hidden Gems on this stretch of highway.
With so many of us trying to eat healthy, it is nice to know that there is a place in town where you can get your favorite organic goods, as well as some great local produce. Bread Root co-op is that place. Conveniently located just off of Omaha on East Blvd., Bread Root is easy to get to. They are a small shop, but they carry a large variety of local and organic produce, dairy, bulk and dry goods.
Explore Rapid City and Find your Favorite Hidden Gems
This is just a small sample of what is available to see and do in Rapid City, and the surrounding areas. I hope when you come to visit, you will take a little time, get off the beaten path and explore some of these Hidden Gems.
*Please note that none of the above recommendations have paid for any advertising in this article. These are all my opinions and places that I have enjoyed.*