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Planning on getting on the road with H and K and their dad and heading to South Dakota this summer. Flying to Sioux Falls or Rapid City, renting a car and seeing anything and everything around Rapid City; national parks, MtRushmore, Crazy Horse etc. 
Been reading and researching quite a bit but would love to hear from anyone who has been there.
 

Moderator Comment: This thread is mirrored to these forums: TRAVEL DISCUSSION, OFF TOPIC. — Mar. 24, 2017 @ 7:56am
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Visit kkh, that's his territory and you can have a whole H and K thing.

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  • At Rushmore, do the little trail thing at the base, it's short and gives you a different perspective. I've heard the laser show is dated, never seen it.
  • Needles Highway an awesome drive, not for those who get carsick.
  • One wacky things my kids really grooved on was Ft. Hays chuckwagon. 99 cents for ayce pancakes. You can get all the other usual stuff, but the prices are reasonable for those. At night they do shows, never done them, just the breakfast. They have an old west town with shops, craftsmen, demonstrations, etc. Very touristy, but like I say, the kids talked about it maybe the most after vaca.
  • Reptile Gardens is good for the price (Bird Show stupid; snake and gator show good, all included).
  • Harney Peak is a rewarding and scenic hike (3.5 miles, I think?)

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Did they ever finish the crazy horse memorial?

Visit Wall drugs. You'll see the signs.

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scrouds said:   Did they ever finish the crazy horse memorial?

Visit Wall drugs. You'll see the signs.

  No.  And, I've never been the zillions of times I've been to the Rapid area/Black Hills.  I really should go.  Here's the consensus from the many I've spoken to about it: "It's something, you should see it once. Admission is too much.  When you see the progress you leave with the impression that it will never be finished."  

Wall Drug is a like a super duper giant truck stop/dollar store.  

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Just watch out for little white cars with darkly tinted windows, and groups of squad cars following you around. You have no idea, they're everywhere, and they're watching you!

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Kandykornhead said:   scrouds said:   Did they ever finish the crazy horse memorial?

Visit Wall drugs. You'll see the signs.

  No.  And, I've never been the zillions of times I've been to the Rapid area/Black Hills.  I really should go.  Here's the consensus from the many I've spoken to about it: "It's something, you should see it once. Admission is too much.  When you see the progress you leave with the impression that it will never be finished."  

Wall Drug is a like a super duper giant truck stop/dollar store.  


As a teenager, I wasn't impressed. Then again I wasn't impressed with mt. Rushmore. Cool but so much further away than all the pictures would suggest.

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scrouds said:   
Kandykornhead said:   
scrouds said:   Did they ever finish the crazy horse memorial?

Visit Wall drugs. You'll see the signs.

  No.  And, I've never been the zillions of times I've been to the Rapid area/Black Hills.  I really should go.  Here's the consensus from the many I've spoken to about it: "It's something, you should see it once. Admission is too much.  When you see the progress you leave with the impression that it will never be finished."  

Wall Drug is a like a super duper giant truck stop/dollar store.  


As a teenager, I wasn't impressed. Then again I wasn't impressed with mt. Rushmore. Cool but so much further away than all the pictures would suggest.

  And it's not even finished.

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We stayed for a week last summer and these are a few places we enjoyed:

Gaslight Grill - It's in Rockerville just outside of Rapid City, the highway goes around the town but it's super easy to find. The food is really good!

Prairie Berry Winery - I know you're taking kids and not sure if you're into wine, but we sampled a ton of things (wine, jam, different relishes) and ate lunch. Super expensive lunch but the wine is great. My little loved the pretzels they had for sampling and we were able to play bags while we waited for lunch.

Harney Peak - this is an amazing hike, but it's a hike. I was prepared for a hike but depending on the ages of your kids you may not want to go. We carried our little in a Tula (baby carrier) so it made it a little harder than normal, gorgeous views when you make it to the top! If hiking isn't your thing, Sylvan lake is really pretty which is where you start the hike up to Harney Peak.

Reptile Gardens - I second this one! It was a ton of fun and we loved being able to see the turtles up close! It's not every day you can pet a turtle larger than your child. If you stop at a gas station before you go you can generally find a discount in one of those local attraction booklets.

Storybook Gardens - Depending on the age of your kids, I would say ages 0-5 this was a blast. It's free and it gave my little time to run around and play. It's just a giant park with characters from childhood stories, but it's free and when you've been cooped up in the car after a long drive it's a nice place to stretch your legs.

Wind Cave National Park - This was really neat, but probably not for everyone. It was neat to hear/see the history of the caves and it was fun walking around. It is super cold though so bring a light jacket. Also I'm not sure if they changed it but they didn't list the times that tours were available on the website so luckily we arrived 15 minutes before one started, but just to be sure you might want to call. There's a nice picnic area a few miles before the caves so we packed a picnic and ate before we went, it's kind of a long drive to get there but you get to see a ton of Custer if you're coming from Rapid City.

If you visit Mt. Rushmore and plan on going back (we went once to see the lights and once during the day) hang onto your parking pass/ticket. You can get back in for free if you have it. Same goes if you enter Custer, hang onto your pass because it's good for a decent amount of time.

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Deadwood is a lot of fun, especially if you've watched the HBO series.

I went to Mt. Rushmore on the 4th of July, and they had an orchestra playing at the base of the mountain. It was great (a program heavy on patriotic songs, obviously). I'm glad I went when they had an event, otherwise I may have been a touch disappointed.

I was shocked at how cool the Badlands were. Way more beautiful than I expected, and I spent an entire day hiking the area. I should have allotted more time, it was the highlight of the trip for me.

If you cross the border into Wyoming, you can easily visit Devil's Tower, most famous for 'Close Encounters'.

The Minuteman Missile site was an interesting look back at the Cold War; kids might find it cool or boring, not really sure.

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If you need to rent a call just use Hertz. Use code HERTZ10 and you will get 10% off your rate.

I use it all the time on my biz trips.

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We were disappointed with Rushmore as like one poster said, you cant get close enough to appreciate the enormity of it. Even on the tram. Wall Drug is a blast and we always stop there if passing thru and of course the badlands. I would not waste time with Crazy Horse.... Not finished and wont be in my lifetime if ever.

What we did like was going to Devils Tower in Wyoming and walking around it. That and the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody Wyoming. The Cody Firearms Museum there is something to see if you like all sorts of guns.

Be careful what time you go to Rapid City area. They have the Sturgis motorcycle rally in August and you wont get a room for 100 miles around if they are there. Look it up to find out when it is and if you are not a biker, then stay clear, wayyyy clear.

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We enjoyed the heck out of the Badlands, including a helicopter ride. Deadwood was a fun night for food and some light gambling.

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Thanks for all the posts so far. Changed some of our planned visits already based on the kind folks tips here.
(My kids are 16 and 12 and planning on going in the beginning of July)

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