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7 BIG Ways to Spend Labor Day in Rapid City

For most people Labor Day weekend means packing away the white pants and barbecues in the backyard. If you’re looking to #DoBigThings for the three day weekend, why not hit the road and enjoy what Rapid City has to offer?

Here are 7 things you won’t want to miss this year:

1. Dueling Pianos at Main Street Square

176 keys dueling pianos at main street square 2015.jpg

This event is always a local favorite to attend! Whether you want a fun, unique date night following a fabulous dinner downtown (I’d also recommend a stroll through Art Alley as part of your downtown date), or want to reward the kids for surviving those first days of school, this is the perfect thing for you. BONUS TIP: I am a firm believer that no special event is complete without some ice cream; be sure to stop by the Silver Lining Creamery to get an ice cream cone while you’re at the Square. Whether you want a classic vanilla bean, or something more unique like maple candied bacon, sage or sweet potato dream (a potato is a vegetable, right?), you’ll be so glad you stopped in.

2. Crazy Horse Memorial Open House & Night Blast


What could be bigger than the worlds’ largest mountain carving currently in progress? I’m a huge fan of firework displays, so this event helps tide me over from the 4th of July until the big New Year’s Eve event. Ok, so it’s not fireworks, but it is bright exploding lights and thundering booms! The mountain will be a blaze as they honor the death of Crazy Horse and commemorate the 107th birthday of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. Admission to the memorial will be free after 5 p.m., but bring a food donation for our local food drive – giving back on your vacation makes the trip that much more rewarding, right?!

3. Lighting Ceremony at Mount Rushmore


Sunday evening may be spent at Crazy Horse Memorial, but you’ll also want to take an evening during the weekend to attend the lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore. Don’t tell the kids, but they’ll be learning something without even realizing it! This is another great spot you can get some ice cream, too! Call it historical research…it’s made from Thomas Jefferson’s original recipe. During the ceremony you’ll hear the history of Mount Rushmore, and then my favorite part happens when they recognize all the veterans in attendance as a thank you for their service to our country. The ceremony starts at 8 p.m. so eat a nice dinner in Rapid City, and then make the 25 minute drive up to Mount Rushmore.

4. Wine Tour


This one isn’t quite up my alley, as I prefer a great cup of coffee, but if vino or craft beers are your thing, why not visit all of the great spots in Rapid City and the Black Hills? We have an itinerary that will help you take advantage of not only all of the great wineries, but some of the can’t-miss attractions as well! You can go back to work bragging about how cultured you are on all things and flavors Rapid City.

5. Custer State Park

A triple threat of buffalo, begging burros and beautiful scenery combine for a relaxing afternoon in the southern Black Hills. Coming for Labor Day weekend means you still get to see the majestic buffalo, while avoiding the crowds streaming in for the 50th Annual Buffalo Roundup. Once you see them though, you’ll probably start planning your return trip for the Roundup, as it is one BIG event that needs to be on your bucket list.

6. Fall Hike


Personally, I prefer hiking in the fall over the summer. I’m not a fan of the heat, and the temperatures start cooling off enough in the fall to make your hike most enjoyable. Fill your backpack with water, snacks and other safety essentials and head out on the trail! My most recent hike was Grizzly Creek outside of Keystone; if you want a hike with lots of water crossings, this is for you! I’d rank it moderate to strenuous, but the effort is worth it when you end with a view like this.

7. Scenic Cruising


I know I already recommended you go cruise through Custer State Park, and you should, but there are so many other great cruises to enjoy too! Pack a picnic lunch (with fresh supplies from the Farmer’s Market on Saturday) and then enjoy a beautiful drive before stopping off and enjoying it. I love my smart phone and social media as much as the next millennial, but I find it really refreshing to be out in the Black Hills, putting my phone on airplane mode and really enjoying the sights, sounds and company without the distractions.

While a few of these events are only happening Labor Day weekend, fall in Rapid City is great every weekend. Check out this page for more of our fall recommendations, then stop planning and get here already!

Meet the Author

Shiloh Francis

With coffee in one hand, a camera in the other and her four-legged sidekick, Taz by her side, Shiloh loves getting out and exploring Rapid City. Her favorite things about Rapid City include the great dining scene, coffee shops and ease of access to the hiking trails within the city and the Black Hills.

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Shiloh Francis
Guest Blogger

With coffee in one hand, a camera in the other and her four-legged sidekick, Taz by her side, Shiloh loves getting out and exploring Rapid City. Her favorite things about Rapid City include the great dining scene, coffee shops and ease of access to the hiking trails within the city and the Black Hills.

Shiloh is a transplant to Rapid City, having fallen in love with the area during family vacations and deciding to make it her permanent vacation after graduating from college. Traveling and discovering new places has always been a passion for Shiloh, but she loves the site of coming home to Rapid City each time the plane lands at the end of one of her adventures. Despite now being considered a local, she doesn’t let that stop her from taking time to play “tourist” in her own backyard. Shiloh is your go-to source for pup-spiration (all things pet-friendly), the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee or great bite to eat, and helping you find those hidden gems on your next vacation.

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