We are planning a family driving vacation from Rochester to Mt. Rushmore and Black Hills. We have hotel reservations and that’s basically it. What tips do folks have? Good casual restaurants? Can’t miss sights? Let me know!
An interesting place to go is a place called Cosmos. It only takes about an hour or two to get through everything, and it isn’t fancy, but is full of optical illusions and is fun for all ages. May be worth considering.
If you are driving, stop in Mitchel, SD to see the Corn Palace (it’s half-way so a good time to get out and stretch) and then stop at “Wall Drug”. It is an eclectic place to visit and if you have little ones they will enjoy the “backyard”. In Rapid City there is the “Fort Hays Old West Town and Dinner Show”. Before or after the show you can explore the grounds as it is the former “Dances With Wolves” film set. The kids made their own genuine lassos. There are other hands on activities too. Plan your visit at Mount Rushmore for late afternoon/early evening and stay for the veterans ceremony and fireworks. I think we went during the day and then came back in the evening. Key Stone is at the base of Mount Rushmore – fun place to walk around and experience the wild west – there are cowboy with lassos walking around and some “fake shootouts” – it your kids are old enough and it won’t frighten them. This was one of our favorite family vacations – enjoy!
Be sure to take the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, also known as Alternate Route 14. Plan on at least an hour because it is a gorgeous drive and you might very well want to get out a few times along the way. Worth the drive for sure!
For food, go to the Badlands Saloon and Grill in Wall. We had a great meal there last summer!
We did this trip in 2016 – super fun! Highly recommend a stop at the Badlands National Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, and of course Mt. Rushmore. We also did a day trip out to Deadwood and Sturgis which were both neat to see. We stopped at Prairie Berry winery in Hill City for wine and food and loved it – beautiful outdoor seating!
Our kids enjoyed the Mammoth Site, an active paleontological dig site in Hot Springs, SD.
Check out bear country USA! You can get up close and personal with Bears and lots of other animals from the safety of your own vehicle
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I also recommend Badlands National Park and the Crazy Horse Memorial!
Our family is also going out to Black Hills this summer. Here are a couple of to do’s on our list. Drive through the Badlands National Park and after the drive stop in Wall, SD for some ice cream. Alpine Inn in Hill City for dinner…limited menu for dinner, but they have a great wedge salad and steak. Mount Rushmore is a must and the fireworks are pretty cool at night. Prairie Berry Winery is also in Hill City and a nice ‘adult’ spot, with still many kid friendly activities. If you are looking for a little entertainment they have a Circle B Ranch that offers a dinner and cowboy music show, reservations are required. Drive through Custer State Park to see the buffalo, it is a pretty amazing site. Needles Highway and Sylvan Lake is beautiful as well (was featured in Disney’s National Treasure: Book of Secrets film).
The options are endless. Have a great time!
Everyone’s suggestions are excellent! So the family leaves next Saturday morning with first stop Hot Springs SD to go to the wild horse sanctuary that was highly recommended. My 13 year old daughter is a huge foodie…. any other local spots not to miss along the way (basically anywhere rochester to rapid city – then turn south to keystone and hot Springs). I’ll give everyone the low down post trip.
Excellent South Dakota trip with all your suggestions. We did pretty much everything folks suggested. Highlights for us were 1) Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary (700 wild horses), 2) Custer National Park (buffalo “jam”), 3) Devil’s Tower (before I like Close Encounter of the Third Kind; 4) Mt. Rushmore (can you name the 4 presidents – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt); 5) Crazy Horse (but what a funding mess!); 6) Bear Country (had to be a hundred bears…. but separating the cubs in from their moms in the “zoo area” was sad); 8) Mammoth Site (a sinkhole!); 9) Wall Drug (but so touristy); 10) Deadwood “street arrest” (it was raining so we missed the trial) and 11) Badlands (this would had made it higher on the list, but we were just exhausted by the time we got there!). Let me know if you want details of any of these. Definitely a worthwhile family trip!
My favorite is Spearfish Canyon. If you missed it this trip, but sure to catch it next trip. It’s beautiful!
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