If you love winter, there’s one vacation destination you might have overlooked: Rapid City. You might think that South Dakota, with its famous national parks and monuments, is the perfect summer spot, but Rapid City is an ideal vacation spot for winter events and activities.
Here are attractions that will make Rapid City your perfect winter getaway.
A winter wonderland for outdoor sports
Multiple options in and around Rapid City offer all your favorite winter activities. For example, the fountains of Main Street Square are transformed into a charming ice rink where you can rent skates and enjoy an ice rink even larger than that at Rockefeller Center. Or you can try ice fishing at lakes in the area once they are frozen to at least 4 inches of ice. New to ice fishing or other winter sports? Visit the Outdoor Campus-West nature reserve for free courses.
With 416 miles of hiking trails, the Black Hills National Forest is one of the premier snowmobiling destinations in the country. Snowmobile season runs from December 15th to March 31st and you can rent one in the area or bring your own. Visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website for trail maps, conditions, rules and recommendations.
If you want to get around under your own power, you can explore areas in the city or through untouched wilderness on forest trails intended for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. You can also fat bike your way through the trails in the Skyline Wilderness Area or in Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park.
For visions of outdoor beauty, drive through Spearfish Canyon and the Black Hills to see frozen waterfalls that appear like breathtaking ice castles. The Badlands National Park hiking trails offer a great way to explore the park, or you can take a scenic winter wildlife drive. In the badlands you may encounter bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and more. Mountain goats also frequent the rocks surrounding Mount Rushmore and are exciting to encounter.
Remember: if you see wildlife, be respectful and stay safe by keeping a distance of at least 100 meters.
Entertainment options for everyone
For a winter vibe while eating and drinking, grab a bite on the patio at Que Pasa in Rapid City. You can also visit nearby Hill City to taste local vintages in an igloo at Prairie Berry Winery or sip ice-cold craft beers at Miner Brewing.
Places to eat, drink and warm up include perfectly crafted cocktails and good conversation at Tinder Box, Rapid City’s only cigar bar. Go underground and step back in time at Rapid City’s Prohibition-era speakeasy Blind Lion, or delight in sky-high city views and culinary delights at Alex Johnson Hotel’s rooftop Vertex. For a sophisticated cocktail, visit the newly opened Windsor Block Bar. For a wide selection of local and regional breweries, visit Pour 54 to sample a variety of flavors or enjoy the intimate atmosphere at the Independent Ale House.
From hockey games to concerts and shows, plan your visit around Rapid City Rush home games or other upcoming events at The Monument including:
* Zach Williams, I Don’t Want Christmas to End Tour, December 9
* Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo, Jan. 7-Feb. 4
* Visit TheMonument.live for the event schedule.
Fascinated by history and culture?
The Journey Museum and Learning Center’s exhibits take you through time, bringing together five major prehistoric and historical collections under one roof. Then walk through the bronze, life-size statues of the City of Presidents scattered throughout downtown to confront the President’s story—along with the scavenger hunt found on the back of the City of Presidents map.
Art lovers can explore a variety of artworks inspired by natural beauty, such as See the work of local Native American artists at galleries such as Dakota Drum Company and Prairie Edge Trading Company & Galleries. Local favorites Gallery Six13 and Dahl Arts Center feature rotating exhibitions by local and regional artists that make each visit a new experience.
Family-friendly games and fun
Rapid City is home to many family-friendly amusement and play centers for indoor fun. A favorite in the area is the WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort, the largest indoor park in the Dakotas, featuring 30,000 square feet of swimming pools and waterslides, plus restaurants and arcade games for endless family fun. Or find two tiers of arcade fun at Press Start in downtown Rapid City.
Discover something for everyone in Rapid City this winter. And you can also visit famous sites like Mount Rushmore – without all the crowds! Learn more at VisitRapidCity.com.