The best Things to do in Rapid City South Dakota during the Summer

Rapid City, South Dakota has billed itself as “Gateway to the Black Hills” since being established as Hay Camp in 1876 two years following the discovery of gold. Today, it is about tourism. Back then, it was about gold. The location was ideal for a trade center being situated on the Rapid Creek and balanced between the eastern edge of the Black Hills and western side of the great plains. Rapid City became primary outfitter for miners and transportation railroad hub. Now Pennington County seat, Rapid City is South Dakota’s second largest city with a population of 67,956 according to the 2010 U.S. census.

Tourism is a major industry as Rapid City benefits from its close proximity to the Black Hills attractions. Summer will bring an influx of visitors to enjoy both outdoor and indoor activities.

The main event of summer is the Central States Fair and Rodeo August 19-28. There are the usual fair rides, exhibits and rodeo action by day and name concert acts at night.

Rapid City Summer Nights offers a variety of free family activities during summer.

For those wanting to cool off during the summer heat and keep the kids occupied, there is Watiki Indoor Waterpark Resort and its rides.

Bear Country U.S.A. is an ideal family excursion. This is a drive-through wildlife park presenting local animals like buffalo and bighorn sheep in their native surroundings. The main attraction is the black bear habitat.

More wildlife can be experienced at Black Hills Reptile Gardens. This is reportedly the world’s largest reptile collection which includes snakes, crocs, pythons and giant tortoises. There are also exotic birds, plants and flower plus various live entertainment shows.

Western buffs can partake of the several western dinner shows available. The best known are the Circle B Ranch Chuckwagon Suppers and Western Show and Flying T Chuckwagon Supper and Show. Each offers a chuckwagon barbecue dinner with western music entertainment. The Circle B has a western town with various activities.

The artistically minded will appreciate the Dahl Fine Arts Center featuring paintings, sculptures and crafts created by regional artists.

Rapid City’s best educational attraction is the Journey Museum which comprehensively covers Black Hills history from dinosaur bones to the gold rush and pioneers. There is major emphasis on native Americans particularly the Sioux with displays of historical items and arts and crafts.

“Gateway to the Black Hills” is an apt boast because Rapid City is within striking distance of the Black Hills National Forest whose environs include Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial and historic Deadwood. Badlands National Park is not too far away east off Interstate 90. For those enjoying the wonders underground, there are the Black Hills Caverns, Crystal Caverns and Crystal Cave and Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns. More natural wonders can be found at Petrified Forest of the Black Hills.