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Have you ever visited a strange land, and not known the first thing about this said strange land? You just wanted to get the scoop from a local, like… where are the best mom and pop restaurants?… where are the amazing hiking trails that tourists don’t know about?… what is a tourist trap, and what is a must-see?

Well, I am here to help answer all those questions for you, er… that is, if you happen to be planning a visit to the beautiful Rapid City, South Dakota. I will be doing a four post series on what’s hot in Rapid City and surrounding areas. I’ve done a bit of research to put together a list for you; I even rallied my fellow SD facebook friends to help write this inclusive post on what there is to do in Rapid City. Why? Because Rapid City is my hometown, and I LOVE IT. Of course, what’s awesome to me might not be so awesome to someone else, so these opinions are my own. If there is something you feel I may have missed, please leave it in the comments section for future readers who are planning their visit to the greatest place on Earth! (I’m sure there’s someone out there who would dispute that statement, but I can’t help it. I love my hometown)!

When I talk about Rapid City, I’ll be referring to it as the Black Hills. It is the largest city (population: 70,000) in the gorgeous hills of South Dakota. Really, I should ask myself why I am compiling this list and sharing such a well-kept secret with all of you. Well the Black Hills are so amazing, they are a secret worth sharing. Of course, you do have to brave the cold if you live there during the winter….
Let’s begin with my first list. 
10 Fun FREE Things to do in the Black Hills.
{Check back every Wednesday in June, I’ll be posting:
More Things to do in the Black Hills,
Seasonal Things to do in the Black Hills,
Places to Eat in the Black Hills, and possibly more}
*Click on all the links to go directly to the websites where you’ll find more info on hours, address, etc. Remember, all these things are free to do!

1. Storybook Island
I loved this place when I was a kid. It was almost as good as Disney World! Little kids will be entertained for hours. They’ve got a ton of story-book themed playground equipment, a petting zoo, a childrens theater, and a little train going through the park.

{I painted Mary Had A Little Lanb’s house when I was in high school for a service project!}

2. Dinosaur Hill
For a really pretty view of the city, drive to the top of Skyline Drive and take some fun pictures with these cement dinos.

3. Art Alley
An amazing display of tagging, and a perfect photography location. I’m kind of obsessed. I took my little sister’s prom pictures here.

4. Black Hills Gold Tour
One of the most characteristic things about the Black Hills is the gold. It is also one of South Dakota’s biggest industries. You can see how it is made, what makes it special, and buy some jewelry. My wedding ring is Black Hills Gold. Love!

{not my ring}

5. Canyon Lake
I adore this place. It’s a really fun walk, place to feed the ducks, has lots of pavilions for picnics, playgrounds, just relaxing and fun.

{engagement session I did with some friends}

6. Fish hatchery 
I took my daughters here once, and they had the best time! We called ahead and were given permission to feed the fish, buckets and buckets of fish food. We took a behind the scenes tour. It was really exciting for me and the kids!

7. Civic Center
I love checking out what’s going on at the civic center. They’ve got anything from rodeos to craft shows, hockey games to dance recitals, concerts, broadway shows, etc. My husband and I saw Brian Reagan perform last winter.

8. Downtown
It is not huge, but Main Street and St. Joseph are so incredibly charming, with a lot of neat shops and great places to eat. Take the President’s Walk, a tour featuring several of our nation’s presidents in bronze statues.

{my sister’s friend Kevin}

9. Ellsworth Air Force Base Air and Space Museum
Free. Interesting. Awesome.

10. Outdoors- hiking, camping, fishing, boating, climbing, caving, mountain biking, wakeboarding, hunting, skiing
(Um, sheesh, maybe I should do an entirely separate post just on the outdoors. I’ll add that to my list. Until then, here’s a few pictures of us having fun in the great wide open).

 (Sorry if this grosses you out! We process and eat all our meat if that makes you feel better!)

***There are obviously a lot of important things left out of this list (Mt. Rushmore!). This list is just about free things to do. Check out my other Black Hills vacation posts here below!

Other Related Posts:

Useful Websites:

One last thing…
Everyone Wins!
I hunted, for years, for a beautiful picture of a sunflower field. When I was driving across South Dakota one summer, I literally gasped when I saw this. I got out of my car and spent nearly half an hour taking pictures of this breathtaking sight.
I want all of you to have a copy of this picture if you like sunflowers!
All you need to do is:
1. Become a Follower of my blog
2. Leave a comment with your email address, or email me (familyeverafter at gmail dot com).
I will email the image to you!
Once upon a time…

I started a blog. This is a tale of my projects, goals, and dreams. Thank you for taking a moment to stop by. I hope you have a beautiful day.

xoxo, Rach H.