Top

Stay in the loop!

Want to know when we share big things? Subscribe today & keep up-to-date with our posts.


A Vacation That Won’t Break The Bank

Vacations have a habit of putting quite the dent in your bank account, but getting away and experiencing a new beautiful destination is important for all generations. The solution? Finding somewhere that’s abundant in free activities and experiences that fit your budget. Allow me to present you with an affordable vacation destination: Rapid City, South Dakota.

Finding fun free activities these days can be a challenge, but Rapid City is an exception to this. The following is not a complete list of all the free activities in our area, but it’s a pretty great start.

Affordable Family Attractions:

  • Dinosaur Park

On a hilltop above Rapid City, you’ll find seven cement dinosaurs. These guys/gals were built in 1936 to draw visitors coming to see Mount Rushmore into Rapid City. Dinosaur Park is free and fun for all ages - you don’t have to be a lover of Dinosaurs. This park overlooks the city and offers 100-mile views so visitors can take in the Black Hills and Badlands in the distance.

  • Storybook Island

Discover a magical place filled with characters from your childhood when you visit Storybook Island. Kids can climb through a treehouse and find Winnie the Pooh and his friends or sit in Cinderella’s carriage. Admission is free but the memories made are priceless.

  • Main Street Square

The heart of Downtown Rapid City also serves as a place for endless entertainment. Whether you are sipping on an iced coffee and enjoying the sweet sounds of summer, or running through the interactive fountains, you could spend hours enjoying everything the square has to offer. Main Street Square also offers free events throughout the year like live music, movies and more!

Affordable Adventures:

  • Outdoor Campus West

Expand your outdoor knowledge with a visit to Outdoor Campus West. Learn more, or start at the very beginning to master skills in hunting, fishing, kayaking and more! They’ll meet you at your experience level to help you succeed, all for free. You can also explore the hands-on exhibits showcasing Black Hills wildlife along with a 4,600 gallon freshwater aquarium.

  • Black Hills Outdoor Adventures

For me, it’s hard to beat a hike in the beautiful Black Hills. There are hikes for all experience levels here and all you have to pay for is the gas to get there. Best deal out here. A couple of my favorite options are: Little Elk Creek (pleasant walk alongside a creek, 5 miles), Buzzards Roost (incline hike to a stunning view, 2.2 miles) and Crow Peak (if you’re looking for great views and a little bit of a workout, 5.9 miles).

Affordable Historical Attractions:

  • South Dakota Air & Space Museum

Walk through America’s history of innovation in aviation. The South Dakota Air & Space Museum showcases over 30 vintage military aircraft, different military missiles and fascinating stories about American history. And you can’t beat the admission price of…free. 

  • City of Presidents

Finding famous faces is easy in Downtown Rapid City. Forty-three American presidents stand (and sit) on sidewalk corners as part of a free, self-guided walking tour called the City of Presidents. Pick up a map at the Visit Rapid City office and find them all - and don’t forget about the scavenger hunt on the back!

  • Mount Rushmore

While entrance to the memorial is free, you still do have to pay for parking. A small price to pay for the amount of time you can spend exploring the grounds. Take time to tour the Sculptor’s Studio which holds fascinating history of the carving of Mount Rushmore and the people who made it happen, walk Presidential Trail to find unique angles of these iconic faces and end it all with some delicious ice cream that was Thomas Jefferson’s original recipe!

Affordable Hotels:

  • Holiday Inn Express I-90

Affordable doesn’t mean it’s lacking any of the amenities you want and need while away from home. The Holiday Inn Express I-90 offers a complimentary breakfast to help start your day off right, black out shades and comfortable beds so you can get the rest needed for a full day of adventures, along with an indoor pool with fun water features! Discover all the amenities and great location of the Holiday Inn Express I-90 by visiting their website.

Let Rapid City be your affordable getaway so you can start making the vacation memories you deserve! Follow us on social media to learn more about awesome offerings our area has and don’t forget to check out our deals page - because who doesn’t love a money saving deal.

Meet the Author

Kelsy Peterson

Raised in Rapid City and lucky to call it home, this outdoor enthusiast loves to explore the Black Hills with her husband and two dogs. When she’s not at work you’ll find her out hiking, at a local ice cream shop, or perhaps home taking a nap.

latest blog posts

Kelsy Peterson
Social Media and Content Manager

Raised in Rapid City and lucky to call it home, this outdoor enthusiast loves to explore the Black Hills with her husband and two dogs. When she’s not at work you’ll find her out hiking, at a local ice cream shop, or perhaps home taking a nap.

View More

Latest Blog Post

  • Shine Bright Like A Diamond…Crown Cigar Lounge
    February 21, 2020 - Cody
  • The Most Unique Souvenir From The Black Hills
    January 21, 2020 - Cody
  • The Best Of Both Worlds
    November 5, 2019 - Cody
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The Mount Rushmore of Summer Vacations
    February 13, 2020 - Ginny
  • It's Time For A Getaway Together
    February 3, 2020 - Ginny
  • 8 Great Reasons to Love Spring in the Black Hills
    January 29, 2018 - Ginny
  • Latest Blog Post

  • A Vacation That Won’t Break The Bank
    January 28, 2020 - Kelsy
  • Winter Fun In Custer State Park
    January 16, 2020 - Kelsy
  • Top Visitor Questions from 2019
    January 8, 2020 - Kelsy
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Hibernation Is Overrated For The Critters Of The Black Hills
    December 5, 2019 - Anne
  • 5 Reasons I Love Downtown Rapid City
    May 31, 2019 - Anne
  • A Day At Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
    March 25, 2019 - Anne
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City's "Little Secret"
    November 20, 2019 - Chris
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Planning A Meeting In Rapid City Is Easy - And Adventurous
    November 13, 2019 - Tyson
  • 5 Reasons Meeting Planners Love Rapid City
    February 6, 2019 - Tyson
  • Amazing Rush Season 2: Day One Adventures
    October 27, 2017 - Tyson
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The 7 Wonders In and Around Rapid City, SD
    October 10, 2019 - Allie Bast
  • Latest Blog Post

  • IN HISTORY: 1st Custer State Park Buffalo Auction, Feb. 12, 1966
    August 23, 2019 - Black Hills Knowledge Network
  • In History: First Blast On Crazy Horse Memorial, June 3, 1948
    April 5, 2019 - Black Hills Knowledge Network
  • IN HISTORY: Rapid City Founded, Feb. 24, 1876
    February 22, 2018 - Black Hills Knowledge Network
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Summer In Rapid City
    August 1, 2019 - Stephanie
  • Latest Blog Post

  • An Oz Experience: Flying With The Oldest Balloon Company In The USA
    July 26, 2019 - Danielle
  • My Daughter's First Time At Storybook Island
    June 7, 2019 - Danielle
  • Big, Bold Flavors Where The Buffalo Roam
    December 8, 2017 - Danielle
  • Latest Blog Post

  • 10 Must-Do Adventures In And Around Rapid City
    July 3, 2019 - Chris Brinlee Jr.
  • How To Get The Most Out Of A Black Hills Adventure
    August 17, 2017 - Chris Brinlee Jr.
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The Most Exciting Social Event Of The Summer
    May 10, 2019 - Jennifer
  • Get Lost, Play Tag…Be Brave
    May 8, 2019 - Jennifer
  • Make Unbearably Perfect Memories at Bear Country USA
    March 2, 2018 - Jennifer
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Outdoor Campus West: Free Family Fun!
    April 24, 2019 - Shiloh
  • Experience the Magic at Storybook Island
    December 5, 2018 - Shiloh
  • Add Some Color to Your Life
    April 25, 2018 - Shiloh
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Mount Rushmore Questions You’ve Been Dying to Ask
    February 8, 2019 - Michaela
  • Top 5 Trails Within 30 Minutes of Rapid City
    March 8, 2018 - Michaela
  • Rapid City from Michaela’s point of view.
    October 17, 2016 - Michaela
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City Myth Busting
    January 25, 2019 - Sarah
  • Downtown Shopping
    January 3, 2019 - Sarah
  • My Favorite Parks and Monuments
    January 29, 2016 - Sarah
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The Custer State Park Trail Challenge
    October 26, 2018 - Amy
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Our Family Vacation To South Dakota
    September 21, 2018 - Liz Beatty
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Black Hills Powwow: A Kaleidoscope of Color
    September 5, 2018 - Kris Monroe
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Wild Adventures Out West
    July 12, 2018 - Kevin Stinehart
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City Blog: Spearfish Canyon
    June 25, 2018 - Aiden Lynn-Klimenko & Madison Perrins
  • Rapid City Blog: Trail System
    November 14, 2016 - Aiden Lynn-Klimenko & Madison Perrins
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Top Picks For Outdoor Adventure At 9 Parks & Monuments
    April 11, 2018 - Lisa
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Refresh Your Adventure At Rapid City Microbreweries
    January 16, 2018 - Stephen Sebestyen
  • Latest Blog Post

  • In The Spirit Of The Season: The Story Of Devils Tower National Monument
    October 10, 2017 - Amanda Hitchcock
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City's Wildside
    October 5, 2017 - Adrian Munoz
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Rapid City - Reptile Gardens, Bear Country USA, Watiki Water Park, Outdoor Campus West
    July 7, 2017 - Heather & Pete Reese
  • Rapid City Day 3 - Mount Rushmore, Adventure Park, Cave Exploring!
    July 6, 2017 - Heather & Pete Reese
  • Rapid City South Dakota - We Made It!
    July 6, 2017 - Heather & Pete Reese
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Beginners Guide: Being A Tourist In Your Backyard
    June 2, 2017 - Tessa
  • Latest Blog Post

  • The adventure of a lifetime in Rapid City
    March 20, 2017 - Ellen and Mike
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Basil, Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Wine…Just A Few Of My Favs
    January 27, 2017 - Stacie
  • 1,200 Degrees of Taste Bud Paradise
    January 15, 2017 - Stacie
  • Latest Blog Post

  • A Black Hills Winter
    December 23, 2016 - Jesse
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Travelin with Tiff: Rush Mountain Adventure Park
    December 13, 2016 - Tiffany
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Downtown Trails and Recreation
    July 5, 2016 - Lisa
  • Latest Blog Post

  • 3 Mountain Bike Rides to Jump Start Your Black Hills Adventures
    May 20, 2016 - Craig
  • Latest Blog Post

  • Shredding in the Black Hills
    March 10, 2016 - Bill