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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.

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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.

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