While traveling throughout the United States this past summer, I knew there were certain iconic destinations that couldn’t be passed up. One of those destinations was this historic landmark, Mount Rushmore. But what was most fascinating about traveling there, was finding unexpected destinations that I knew nothing about. One of which, was the noteworthy destination of Rapid City.
Just 30 minutes away from Mount Rushmore and looking for a place to stay for the night, I decided on Rapid City, South Dakota. I found it to be a unique destination worth a visit on its own. The city is South Dakota’s second largest city and is on the far west side of the state within the Black Hills. It may be a destination for tourists, but more than 70,000 people call it home. Rapid City combines an outdoorsy, western feel with the energy and activity of city life. A bit of history, a bit of Native American Culture, an appreciation of nature, beautiful scenery, and good food all make up this underestimated city and make it a place to be seen.
Downtown Rapid City
Suitably referred to as “The City of Presidents”, the city is literally filled with statues of past presidents. Dozens of life-sized bronze statues line the streets and depict various presidents giving speeches, smiling, or sitting on a bench. There are maps available for you to visit each president.
Besides the presidential history, there is much more to see in the energetic downtown. What was so unique about the city, is that despite it being a destination filled with tourists, it just didn’t have that touristy feel. Instead of being bombarded with gimmicked activities and souvenir shops, the downtown streets are lined with art galleries, music and book stores, a brewery, and a plethora of shops and even some with a Native American flare line the streets as well. There is also a playhouse and a theatre.
Brews and Bites
If you have read anything I have ever written, you know that my favorite thing about traveling is eating local foods and drinking local beers. And Rapid City did not disappoint me. Firehouse Brewing is South Dakota’s first brewpub, and what was once the city’s firehouse, was transformed into a successful brewery serving not only great beers but good food, too. Patio style seating allows diners to still get a good view of those passing by and the rest of the city. As far as the beers go, they have a handful of beers readily available including an India Pale Ale that is robust but still refreshing. They also make a robust tasting Smoke Jumper Stout, which has a distinct flavor of roast coffee.