17 Fun Things To Do In Rapid City

We’ve been to Rapid City, South Dakota, twice with the kids – once pre-COVID and then again this summer. If you’re thinking about planning a Mount Rushmore visit this summer, read on, since I’ve got a lot of additional activities to round out your trip – and most are outdoors. 

Disclosure: We received complimentary passes to some of the attractions in this post so that I can review them. We paid admission to others. 

Making Rapid City, South Dakota, your homemade for exploring Mount Rushmore and the nearby towns? Here are some fun things to do in Rapid City when you're not seeing the monuments!

COVID-19 Update

The COVID-19 has had a relatively small impact on South Dakota (or so it will feel when you visit), so many places are open with some modifications. Check out Rapid City’s visitor’s bureau’s website to see what is open and what has a modified schedule prior to your visit.

We drove through Rapid City in June 2020, stopping for two nights. I probably would’ve not stopped had I known how little concern people showed for the global pandemic, especially considering how many travelers pass through the area.

Please be aware that most people you will encounter in Rapid City will not be wearing face masks, even at popular tourist attractions. It was a bit unsettling.

There were some signs at places we stopped, like Cosmos Mystery Area, but no one was following the social distancing request nor was anyone wearing a (including staff).

Even restaurant staff was at about 50/50 with wearing face masks, and even then, a few had them on incorrectly.

If all that concerns you, plan a visit when there isn’t a pandemic.

Downtown Rapid City

Where: The area between Omaha Street and Columbus Street (park near Main Street to be right in the heart of it), and between East and West boulevards in Rapid City, SD.

Cost: FREE

I remember our first visit to Rapid City, and we spent just a short time in downtown Rapid City. And I remember regretting not having more time.

Our second visit fixed that. We allowed enough time for dinner, dessert, running around, and Art Alley.

Evening at Main Street Square in downtown Rapid City, SD

I think the focal point of downtown is Main Street Square, a community gathering space with a stage, sprayground, and nearby shops and restaurants. It’s a great place for kids to run around.

You’ll also find statues of the presidents in downtown Rapid City. It’s one of the more interesting and well-done public art trails I’ve encountered.

Art Alley

Where: 599 Seventh St., Rapid City, SD

Cost: FREE

Art Alley is another downtown attraction to see. It’s definitely worth the short walk if you already plan to visit the plaza area. Different artists and taggers have decorated this block-long alley.

Girl at Art Alley in Rapid City, South Dakota

There are some social messages, some crazy creatures, and a few pop culture references. It’s all amazing. 

Side note: If you’ve been to the Art Alley in Lincoln, Neb., this is similar…and much better.

Storybook Island

Where: 1301 Sheridan Lake Road, Rapid City, SD

Cost: FREE

The fantastic free attraction is geared toward young kids. Picture a giant playground inspired by fairytales and cartoons, and then imagine amateur artists creating play areas about them, and you’ll get the sense of Storybook Land.

I thought it was well done, though my husband thought it was all a little creepy.

The kids, of course, loved it.

Reptile Gardens

Where: 8955 US-16, Rapid City, SD

Cost: $15, adults (16+); $13, seniors; $12, youth (ages 11-15); $10, children (ages 4-10); FREE for children ages 3 and younger.** These rates apply during the summer and fall season.

** Rates reduced in 2020 because several animal shows are not offered at this time.

The king of roadside attractions, Reptile Gardens is well worth a stop. We visited this attraction pre-COVID, but I do know it is open now (with, hopefully, some safety measures in place).

It’s a fun place for families, with safe animal encounters. When we went, there were animal shows and demonstrations, but they temporarily eliminated some shows in 2020.

Chapel in the Hills

Where: 3788 Chapel Lane, Rapid City, SD

Cost: FREE

After seeing pictures of Chapel in the Hills, I was intrigued enough to insist we drive out of our way to find it. I’m glad we did, since it was beautiful.

Exterior of Chapel in the Hills in Rapid City, SD

This chapel is an exact replica of Borgund stavkirke, which was built around 1150 in Laerdal, Norway.

The structure itself and the nearby museum were closed due to the pandemic, but you can still get a pretty good view of the wooden chapel with all its intricate carvings and peek inside. Details from signs to statues hint at the Norwegian inspiration for the chapel.

There’s also a nearby prayer trail. 

Dinosaur Park

Where: 940 Skyline Drive, Rapid City, SD

Cost: FREE

If your kids love dinosaurs or you just like fun photo opps, be sure to stop here. It’s free, so why not? The paved path takes you by the giant statues.

Indoor Water Park at Best Western Ramkota Hotel

Where: 2111 N. Lacrosse St., Rapid City, SD

Cost: 6 passes to the indoor waterpark included with each guest room.

While the hotel itself is nothing remarkable, its two pool areas put it above many other hotels in the area, especially if you’re traveling with kids. On one side are your typical pool (perhaps a little larger than the usual hotel pool), a hot tub, and a small kid pool. 

The indoor water park at the Best Western in Rapid City, South Dakota

But the other side is the big draw for kids. It has a zero-entry pool with small slides, a pirate ship, and a few climbable water creatures. Oh, and then there are the two, 135-foot water slides, which my kids went down about a dozen times.

We stayed at the hotel, so a trip to the pool was included with our stay. Beware: There are no lifeguards on duty in either area, though there was technically an attendant by the slide. She was on her phone and didn’t acknowledge anyone who approached the slides, but you know, she was there. I guess.

Cosmos Mystery Area

Where: 24040 Cosmos Road, Rapid City, SD

Cost: $11 for adults, $6 for children ages 5-11, FREE for children 4 and younger

You know how you can just tell a place is a tourist trap? That’s Cosmos Mystery Area for you. But you go because you know your kids will love it. And guess what? They will.

Kids at Cosmos Mystery Area in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Cosmos relies on optical illusions and messing with your sense of balance, while telling you some silly stories about hot spots causing the gravitational pull to change.

My kids’ minds were blown, so I suppose it was a success.

I was less impressed and also concerned about the extreme lack of concern for the global pandemic occurring all around us. Our tour group was large, and while we were mostly outdoors, we did have to crowd into little shacks for some demonstrations. Our family was the only one in masks.

You can also spend a few additional bucks for the kids to crack a geode. I’d say it’s totally skippable but your kids will beg to differ.

Getting on my soapbox: People are dying. Put on a mask. Yes, we’re all tired of the pandemic. Yes, we all want life to just go back to normal. Wear a mask so we can speed recovery up!

Go to a great Rapid City restaurant

I love finding unique restaurants in a city I visit, and Rapid City did not disappoint. The bonus was that these restaurants were great food foodies and for families.

A few that I recommend:

Harriet and Oak – A charming restaurant for breakfast and coffee in downtown Rapid City. The coffee is fresh and the pastries are tasty. Try the ham and cheese pasty (it’s kinda like a very tasty Hot Pocket).

Firehouse Brewing Co. – Yes, it’s a brewery, and yes, you can bring your kids. Go to the downtown location if you want a kid’s menu. This is pure pub food at its finest.

We’ve been to the downtown Rapid City location of Firehouse Brewing Co. (which has an excellent outdoor seating area), as well as the Firehouse SmokeJumper Station in Hill City (which has an even better outdoor seating area).

Armadillo’s Ice Cream Shop – You’ll likely find a line snaking around the block at this downtown Rapid City ice cream shop. Our waitress at Firehouse SmokeJumper recommended it to us, and it didn’t disappoint.

When we went to Armadillo’s this summer, there was no indoor seating permitted. There were A LOT of people enjoying their ice cream in front of the restaurant. No masks, obviously, while they ate, and no masks while waiting in line, either. The restaurant did, at least, mark off social distancing spots for everyone in line.

Things to do near Rapid City, South Dakota

Rapid City is a great home base for exploring Mount Rushmore and the nearby touristy areas. A few of the stops you might want to include:

  • Mount Rushmore (about 25 miles away) – The monument itself is free to visit, but parking is not.  We went on our first visit, getting ice cream and touring the visitor center in addition to walking a little closer to the monument. Given our luck at other national parks this summer (all visitor centers were closed), we decided to just drive by the monument instead of stopping.
  • Custer State Park (about 35 miles away) – I highly recommend visiting this park to see wildlife and to hike around the beautiful Sylvan Lake. There’s a gorgeous trail around the lake that’s pretty kid-friendly.
  • Crazy Horse Monument (about 40 miles away) – I just learned during our recent trip that there’s a free, nightly light show at Crazy Horse (weather permitting).
  • Wind Cave National Park (about 55 miles away) – My family took a guided tour of a cave pre-COVID. It gets pretty cold underground, so dress accordingly. 
  • Badlands National Park (about 60 miles away) – Explore the other-worldly landscape of Badlands National Park.
  • Hot Springs (about 60 miles away) – A day trip to Hot Springs means some time to splash around Evans Plunge, a long-running indoor water park build around a hot spring, and Mammoth Site, an active dig site.

Plan a South Dakota trip

Planning a trip to South Dakota? I wrote a series of posts and reviews of kid-friendly attractions, lodging and a photo-heavy trip recap. Check them out:

South Dakota Bucket List (Badlands Edition)

Nebraska and South Dakota Adventure With Kids

Comfort Suites and Convention Center (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Dakotah Steakhouse (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Evans Plunge (Hot Springs, South Dakota)

The Hills Inn (Hot Spring, South Dakota)

Evans Plunge (Hot Springs, South Dakota)

Mammoth Site (Hot Springs, South Dakota)

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Road trip to Mount Rushmore? Stop in Rapid City for family-friendly restaurants, attractions, and sights. Rapid City, South Dakota, is our home base for exploring nearby national parks, state parks, and landmarks.

20+ Awesome Road Trips From Omaha

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? You don’t have to go too far from Omaha to have a fun getaway. I’ve collected some of my favorite Midwest destinations for this post to give you a variety of options near and far. All road trips from Omaha on this list are within a day’s drive, and most are much closer than that. Happy travels!

COVID-19 update: Current CDC guidelines advise against all non-essential travel. But if you do decide to travel, please keep in mind things have changed. Double-check your destination to make sure 1) you’re not traveling to a hot spot; 2) it’s even open and what the new hours may be; and 3) the activities you want to do are still running.

Road Trips From Omaha

These getaways are just a car ride away. Read on for destinations to consider for your next overnight or weekend trip.

Find more inspiration for road trips

Sky’s the limit on these bucket list for Midwest destinations:

Nebraska Bucket List

Iowa Bucket List

Missouri Bucket List

South Dakota Bucket List

Kansas Bucket List

I pin a lot of road trip ideas so if you don’t already, please follow me on Pinterest! I have boards for each Midwestern state, plus a special board just for family trip tips.

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Inspiration for weekend getaways in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota and Kansas! All  trips are less than a day's drive from Omaha. Summer vacation is just a car ride away. #Midwest #FamilyTravel #RoadTrip

Visiting Mammoth Site With Kids

Disclosure: The Hot Springs tourism office provided complimentary admission to Mammoth Site of Hot Springs for me and my family. All opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own.

I’ve never had more than a passing interest in dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures. But ever since I read about Hudson-Meng Bison Kill site in Nebraska, my interest was piqued on major archeological digs in the Midwest. What would it be like to see a massive dig site in person?

The question leads to why I wanted to include a stop at Mammoth Site in Hot Springs during our South Dakota road trip. The answer: You’ll be impressed by the experience.

The number of bones uncovered at Mammoth Site is impressive.
The number of bones uncovered at Mammoth Site is impressive.

More than 60 Columbian and woolly mammoths have been identified there, as well as a number surprising (to me) fossils of camels, llamas and giant short-faced bears, to name just a couple here.

What to expect

Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief: It’s in a climate-controlled building (AKA air-conditioned).

A partial view of the excavation area at Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
A partial view of the excavation area at Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

You’ll want to take a tour, which includes a short film in the beginning and a guided walk around the “in-situ” exhibit (fancy talk for bones being on display as they were discovered).

You get headphones to wear so you can hear your guide. My 3-year-old hated them with a passion.

Photography is allowed, but you’re encouraged to wait until after the tour so that you don’t miss whatever the guide is showing next. It’s so tempting, though, to want to snap photos in the moment.

Tools used at Mammoth Site to uncover bones.
Tools used at Mammoth Site to uncover bones.

After the tour, you’re free to roam, then proceed to the next door. It’s full of interesting replicas, including a mammoth model and a walk-in mammoth bone hut. There’s a gift shop full of books, stuffed animals and apparel.

A replica of a hut made out of mammoth bones in Muller Exhibit Hall.
A replica of a hut made out of mammoth bones in Muller Exhibit Hall.

Tips

We lucked out and saw Mammoth Site Excavation Committee members at work during our visit. However, the people who timed their visit about 30 minutes after us missed them during their lunch break. Time your visit around the noon hour.

It's pretty fascinating to watch the work being done at Mammoth Site.
It’s pretty fascinating to watch the work being done at Mammoth Site.

There picnic tables for lunch time, if you packed accordingly. The tables aren’t far from an outdoor work site.

Near the picnic tables is a work space for the volunteers to sift through dirt to find tiny fossils.
Near the picnic tables is a work space for the volunteers to sift through dirt to find tiny fossils. You might luck out and catch someone at work.

Near Mammoth Site is the restaurant Woolly’s Western Grill. It’s a kid-friendly place to get a bite to eat.

Bringing little ones here

How did these two do at an active dig site?
How did these two do at an active dig site?

My kids are 3 and 5, so not exactly at the grade levels that have been studying any of this in school. That said, they’ve at least read “Magic Treehouse” books and know a thing or two about woolly Mammoths and other prehistoric creatures, so they’ve got that going.

There are items on display at Mammoth Site that encourage visitors to touch, which appeals to kids.
There are items on display at Mammoth Site that encourage visitors to touch, which appeals to kids.

My 3-year-old daughter, Mooch, lost interest early on in the tour; our 5-year-old fared better. The tour guide provides a lot of facts, but there’s very little hands-on things to keep the truly young interested.

I think one of the best options for families with little kids is to register them in one of the kids activities offered there – in the summer, there are two types of  junior paleontologist classes, which sound like the perfect hands-on learning my kids would like; unfortunately, it didn’t fit with our travel schedule. There’s also an Atlatl Throwing Experience that sounded intriguing.

Mammoth Site is one of those must-see road trip stops in South Dakota. Get details on taking kids to this active dig site in Hot Springs, South Dakota, USA.

If you go

Mammoth Site of Hot Springs

Where: 1800 US 18 Bypass, Hot Springs, South Dakota

Hours: Open year-round, hours vary depending on the time of year. Details

Cost: Adults (13+), $10.14; seniors (60+), $8.29; kids (4-12), $7.37; kids 3 and younger, FREE. Summer classes are $10-$20.

Website

* * * * *

Planning a trip to South Dakota and Western Nebraska? I wrote a series of posts and reviews of kid-friendly attractions, lodging and a photo-heavy trip recap. Check them out:

Nebraska and South Dakota Adventure With Kids

Canoeing the Niobrara River with Kids

Comfort Suites and Convention Center (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Firehouse Brewing Company (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Reptile Gardens (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Dakotah Steakhouse (Rapid City, South Dakota)

The Hills Inn (Hot Spring, South Dakota)

Evans Plunge (Hot Springs, South Dakota)

Chadron State Park (Chadron, Nebraska)

Fort Robinson State Park (Harrison, Nebraska)

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Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.

Hot Springs Hills Inn In The Southern Black Hills

Hot Springs, South Dakota, is one of the southernmost cities of the Black Hills, and one that attracts tourists for a couple reasons. The big draws are Mammoth Site and Evans Plunge.

It’s a small town that feels less touristy than many others in the region. Mr. Wonderful and I marveled at the castle-like appearance of some buildings, thanks to the interesting sandstone architecture throughout the town.

There’s also a neat waterfall along a trail that passes through town.

Hot Springs has a waterfall in the middle of town.
Hot Springs has a waterfall in the middle of town.

So if you have a budding paleontologist in the family or just want to cool off in a big pool, you may find yourself in Hot Springs.

Disclaimer: My family was provided a complimentary stay at Hills Inn in order for me to write this review. All opinions are my own.

Where to stay

Hot Springs Hills Inn invited my family to stay two nights while we explored the area. Hot Springs was a town I had on my itinerary on because I wanted to take the kids to Mammoth Site, and because it was close enough to Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. It was a nice homebase for exploring the southern region of the Black Hills.

About Hills Inn

The Hills Inn in Hot Springs, South Dakota
The Hills Inn in Hot Springs, South Dakota

If you search customer-rated sites on attractions or lodging, you’ll find The Hills Inn as one of the top ranked options in Hot Springs, if not the top one. The Hills Inn is a family-run motel with a small outdoor pool and a putt putt golf course connected on site (which is FREE to motel guests). Wally greets the guests at the front desk, he’s a friendly guy.

A view of the putt-putt golf course next to Hills Inn. Guests at the motel can play for free.
A view of the putt-putt golf course next to Hills Inn. Guests at the motel can play for free.

As far as motels go, this is as clean as I’ve ever seen them, with a few extra amenities I don’t expect from a motel, like the FREE breakfast. Running from 6:30 to 9 a.m., there is a small assortment of items from fresh fruit and cereal, to bagels and toast…and my kids’ favorite, chocolate donuts.

We took advantage of the breakfast during our stay, bringing our plates, orange juice and coffee to a table poolside. There’s a small dining room off the lobby, as well.

Breakfast poolside at The Hills Inn, located in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
Breakfast poolside at The Hills Inn, located in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

The other amenities I thought were nice touches: A 40-inch TV, a refrigerator and microwave. Plus FREE putt-putt which I mentioned earlier. Nice, huh?

The location

It’s super near Mammoth Site and Evans Plunge. Further afield is Wind Cave National Park (I’d guess about 10 minutes away) and Custer State Park (30 minutes).

Hot Springs’ Freedom Trail is near the motel, and if you walk it, you’re about a mile or so from that waterfall I mentioned earlier.

If you go

Hot Springs Hills Inn

Where: 640 S. Sixth St., Hot Springs, South Dakota

Website

More about Hot Springs

There is a coffee maker in the room at The Hills Inn and there’s some included with breakfast, but you may want to venture out for a cup of joe. Hot Springs Coffee Kiosk was a pleasant surprise for me – good stuff.

As far as dining goes in town, you don’t have a lot of choices, but we were happy with what we did pick. All places were pretty close to The Hills Inn. We had dinner at Woolly’s Western Grill (located near Mammoth Site) and a post-Evans Plunge breakfast at Dale’s Family Restaurant (right across the street from it).

* * * * *

Planning a trip to South Dakota and Western Nebraska? I wrote a series of posts and reviews of kid-friendly attractions, lodging and a photo-heavy trip recap. Check them out:

Nebraska and South Dakota Adventure With Kids

Canoeing the Niobrara River with Kids

Comfort Suites and Convention Center (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Firehouse Brewing Company (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Reptile Gardens (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Dakotah Steakhouse (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Evans Plunge (Hot Springs, South Dakota)

The Hills Inn (Hot Spring, South Dakota)

Mammoth Site (Hot Springs, South Dakota)

Chadron State Park (Chadron, Nebraska)

Fort Robinson State Park (Harrison, Nebraska)

Evans Plunge In Hot Springs, South Dakota

Updated: March 22, 2019

Evans Plunge is one of those attractions in the Black Hills that everyone seems to have been to as a kid. I mention it to several friends, and they each recalled a story from their childhood. Some remember the rocky bottom (the rocks are still there). Some mention how cool the waterslides were.

Disclosure: Evans Plunge provided a complimentary family pass for my family to visit. All opinions, thoughts and typos are my own.

My first visit was as a mom, so I don’t have that nostalgic recollection. My kids will someday.

I was invited to visit Evans Plunge on my recent family road trip through the Badlands and Black Hills. It’s located in Hot Springs, a small town in southern South Dakota known for nearby hot springs.

This location isn’t in a natural setting of a hot spring, just so you know.

The waterpark in Evans Plunge in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
The water park in Evans Plunge in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

We went early one weekday morning, so we didn’t contend with other tourists save for one other family. Everyone at the pool at that time was local – kids in swim lessons or adults in exercise classes. It meant no lines for the slides.

Evans Plunge is a spring-fed water park of sorts – it’s mostly a large swimming pool with some fun features like kid-friendly water slide, three larger slides and Tarzan swings. The water is warmer than most pools because of the spring water – 87 degrees.

OK, I did not capture this photo. I didn't dare bring my camera in with me to a pool. I know myself! Photo provided by South Dakota Tourism
OK, I did not capture this photo. I didn’t dare bring my camera in with me to a pool. I know myself! Photo provided by South Dakota Tourism

We got lifejackets at the check in for our beginner swimmers. They weren’t needed in the kid pool, which was 3 feet deep with a small frog slide. They were handy in the larger pool. There are also a couple tubes on deck to use.

The waterslides are definitely for big kids (and parents). I only went down one, and while it wasn’t scary fast or anything, I knew better than to ask my kids if they were interested in trying it out.

Since we were there early, I had to ask for the slides to be turned on. And because of the timing of our visit, the outdoor pool wasn’t open yet (it opens at 11 a.m.). But we enjoyed an uncrowded pool and no lines for anything.

You could easily spend an hour here, and likely more when you’re with kids. If you’re feeling the need for some strength training, there is a fitness center upstairs that’s included with admission. Need a snack or lunch? There is a small concession stand there, as well.

The great thing, I learned from one helpful lady at the pool, is that our wristbands are good for the whole day. You could leave to eat lunch, nap, whatever, and then return in the evening.

If you go

Evans Plunge

Where: 1145 N. River St., Hot Springs, South Dakota

Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 10 to 9 p.m.

Cost: $14 (ages 16+), $10 (ages 3-15), FREE (ages 2 and under). The 16+ price includes access to hot tubs, sauna and steam room.

Tips: Admission is 50% off if you visit within the last two hours of the day. You can get 10% off your admission if you bring a receipt showing that you’re staying at a hotel, motel or campground in Hot Springs.

Website

Evans Plunge has been a South Dakota attraction for decades. We stopped there on a Badlands road trip to see what it was all about. Read on to find out why it's still popular and what to expect if you take your family there. #USA #familtravel

* * * * *

Planning a trip to South Dakota and Western Nebraska? I wrote a series of posts and reviews of kid-friendly attractions, lodging and a photo-heavy trip recap. Check them out:

Nebraska and South Dakota Adventure With Kids

Canoeing the Niobrara River with Kids

Comfort Suites and Convention Center (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Firehouse Brewing Company (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Reptile Gardens (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Dakotah Steakhouse (Rapid City, South Dakota)

The Hills Inn (Hot Spring, South Dakota)

Mammoth Site (Hot Springs, South Dakota)

Chadron State Park (Chadron, Nebraska)

Fort Robinson State Park (Harrison, Nebraska)

Get Travel Inspiration Directly In Your Inbox

Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.

Try The Buffalo At Dakotah Steakhouse in Rapid City

Dakotah Steakhouse is one of those restaurants that gets high ratings on travel and food sites and you wonder, is it really that good?

Yes, yes it is.

Dakotah Steakhouse is in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Dakotah Steakhouse is in Rapid City, South Dakota.

This Rapid City, South Dakota, restaurant was located across the parking lot from our hotel during our recent stay. The city’s tourism office said it was a place I ought to check out, so they gave me a gift card and off I went with the family.

What to expect

Coolest restaurant art I've seen in a long: The Dakotah buffalo. Side note, order a buffalo dish here.
Coolest restaurant art I’ve seen in a long: The Dakotah buffalo. Side note, order a buffalo dish here.

This was the nicest place we dined at during our Western Nebraska/South Dakota road trip. While you may want to pack something a little nice to wear for dinner, it’s also in a city that attracts tourists, so you won’t be turned away if all you have are shorts, a clean shirt and flip flops. But, I felt more comfortable having changed out of my sweaty, touristy day clothes.

The restaurant has a lodge feel, with a huge fireplace and wood throughout. It was cozy though it actually was quite a spacious restaurant.

The view inside Dakotah Steakhouse. Not super dressy, right?
The view inside Dakotah Steakhouse. Not super dressy, right?

It’s the kind of place that you want to sit back and take your time, perhaps order a bottle of red. Which we did… but we couldn’t sit back and relax because the kids were with us. And it was taking too long for their food to get to the table and they were a ticking time bomb of impatience. Kids…

It is fairly kid-friendly. There is a kids menu and with some activities on it (for kids older than my own). However, it’s like any other steakhouse I’ve been to, in that it takes time to prepare the food.

It’s a great place for a date night, but come prepared to entertain your kids if you’re bringing them along.

What to order

Obviously, the steak is a big draw; it is a steakhouse. But we’re in South Dakota so you kinda have to try the buffalo, right? The buffalo served here is provided by local ranchers.

I was given great advice to try the buffalo skewers, which my whole family scarfed down. Get yourself some of that when you visit!

Buffalo skewers are so good you won't want to share.
Buffalo skewers are so good you won’t want to share.

Entrees: I got a few recommendations of great dishes, from the walleye dinner to the buffalo ribeye, to the elk ravioli. I went for something I couldn’t find in Omaha, and got the ravioli – it was so good!

Mr. Wonderful ordered a KC strip, which the kids ate half of.

For sides, we both got the Three Sisters Soup, and I recommend that one. To come with my dish, I ordered asparagus wrapped in bacon, which is as good as it sounds, and Mr. Wonderful got mashed sweet potatoes. We ordered an additional side to share with the kids, fried macaroni and cheese, and it was hands down, the favorite.

Stuffed, we had no room for dessert.

Cost?

It’s going to be more than most stops for a traveling family, that’s for certain, but most stops aren’t going to be at a steakhouse, amiright? If you splurge on one meal on your South Dakota vacation, you can’t go wrong here.

And get the buffalo.

If you go

Dakotah Steakhouse

Where: 1325 N. Elk Vale Road, Rapid City, South Dakota

Website

* * * * *

Planning a trip to South Dakota? I wrote a series of posts and reviews of kid-friendly attractions, lodging and a photo-heavy trip recap. Check them out:

Nebraska and South Dakota Adventure With Kids

17 Fun Things To Do In Rapid City

Comfort Suites and Convention Center (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Firehouse Brewing Company (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Reptile Gardens (Rapid City, South Dakota)

Evans Plunge (Hot Springs, South Dakota)

The Hills Inn (Hot Spring, South Dakota)

Evans Plunge (Hot Springs, South Dakota)

Mammoth Site (Hot Springs, South Dakota)

Button for more South Dakota archive stories

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