Last summer I went to visit my nieces up in Wyoming. My original intentions were to bring them back down to Phoenix for a girls week, but the drive between Phoenix and Casper was one I did not want to have to make 4 times. Once I got there I thought, “I know, I’ll just look to see what I can do with them locally!” Turns out… there’s not very much to do locally in most of the Midwest… unless you make the drive to South Dakota! Rapid City, SD ended up being our vacation destination. It was only a 4-hour drive and there were plenty of things to do to keep the three of us occupied for a week!
What first caught my eye when looking for activities was actually the hotel we stayed at. It was attached to an indoor water park! Watiki Water Park is an indoor water park with an upstairs arcade, attached restaurant that will deliver to you in the park, and attached hotels. The girls had so much fun with this! We ended up going there for two of the days. It was perfect for the hotter days and so easy to just walk down the hallway from our hotel room to the entrance of the water park.
Another destination we made the trip to twice was Mount Rushmore (Or Mount Smushmore as the girls called it). Since it is a national park, you can buy a pass and go as many times as you want. There is a trail you can follow down to get right up next to the monument, with different viewpoints set up. The drive through the town on the way there was fun too. We stopped and walked around, window shopping and stopping for lunch.
The drive between Rapid City and Mount Rushmore is full of fun activities and sights to see. My favorite? Cosmos Mystery Area. It’s a very intriguing play on the mind. Is it real or is it a trick? I don’t know, but I do know it was a lot of fun and the whole tour group we were a part of loved it. One of the girls even got to be used in a demonstration! There were plenty of sights we didn’t get to see along that drive as well. A petting zoo, Bear Country, a lizard emporium, and more. Bear Country looked especially fun! It's a drive through range that allows you an up close look at bears!
We spent one afternoon just walking around downtown Rapid City. There are plenty of cute little shops and boutiques and historical landmarks to check out. I also took the girls to a salon to get their hair done. Just a short drive from downtown was Dinosaur Park. Several dinosaurs set up on a hill, perfect for climbing and taking pictures- free of charge! There is a gift shop across the street with a little restaurant inside so you can grab lunch as well. There was also the county fair in town that week, so we went over for a day filled with rides, funnel cake, animals, and balloon swords.
Overall, Rapid City was a surprising little nest of fun and activities in the heart of the Midwest. There’s plenty to do for a whole family to enjoy and fill up a fun summer vacation. If you’re wanting to plan a summer family trip, I would highly recommend adding a trip to Rapid City to your list!
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to eleven! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!