Things to do Near Mount Rushmore with Kids
When I was little, my family made a cross-country trip from Arizona to Indiana each summer to visit family. On a long drive back, we decided to add Mount Rushmore into our stops. I will never forget my dad’s disappointment as we pulled up only to find Mount Rushmore covered in fog. We couldn’t see a thing. Luckily, there is so much more to do in the area in addition to the monument.
My family explored the Rapid City area on a recent trip, and we did get to see Mount Rushmore and so much more. Here are our favorite things to do with kids in the Rapid City area.
4 Fun Things to do in Rapid City, SD and Nearby
Mount Rushmore is the main attraction, no doubt. It is inspiring and a must-see. Located just 30 minutes outside of Rapid City, it is easily accessible. After parking, walk through the display of state flags. The kids will get an up close view of the monument by taking the Presidential Trail. Don’t miss the museum and movie below the viewing platform. They both share history about the building of Mount Rushmore.
At the monument there are gift shops, a restaurant, and an ice cream shop. Not that any kid would let you get away from the ice cream shop, but don’t miss it! Thomas Jefferson is credited as the first American to record a recipe for ice cream, which is served here. It’s delicious!
The City of Presidents
My kid’s favorite part of our trip was the City of Presidents in downtown Rapid City. Life-sized bronze statues of every president are located on each corner. Artists researched the lives of each president and created statues with personality and realistic features.
Stop at the Presidents Information Center first to get a walking tour map. The booklet not only contains a map, but also has information about each president. We learned so much! Did you know George Washington was incredibly tall for his time at 6’2″, while James Madison was only 5’2″ and 100 pounds? The walking tour map also includes a Presidential Scavenger Hunt to add more fun.
Custer State Park
Custer State Park is located by Mount Rushmore. Drive through mountain tunnels on the Needles Highway or Iron Mountain Road. Stop at the lookouts to get views of Mount Rushmore as well. We drove the Wildlife Loop and saw bison, deer, antelope, turkeys, and my kids favorite, prairie dogs. Stop at Prairie Dog Town to get a real show. We rented paddle boards and kayaks at Legion Lake Lodge at had a relaxing afternoon at the lake.
Our last stop on our tour of the Rapid City area was Badlands National Park. Badlands National Park is located about an hour outside of Rapid City. A short drive through the park will make you feel like you have landed on another planet.
On the drive to Badlands, don’t miss the famous Wall Drug. This popular roadside attraction started with free ice water and now serves over 20,000 visitors a day. Older kids will also enjoy a quick stop at Minuteman Missile National Park. My son was fascinated learning about the Cold War and nuclear weapons in South Dakota.
Where to Stay in Rapid City
The historic Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City, Curio Collection by Hilton is a sight to see in downtown Rapid City. The impressive lobby will make you feel like you have stepped back into the old west. The location is a great for experiencing everything in the Rapid City area. See all of the Hilton hotels in Rapid City, SD.
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Tricia lives in Phoenix with her husband, 12 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son. She is a special education teacher for elementary students. Her family’s favorite memories…