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A family vacation to South Dakota offers history, fun, and adventure. Mount Rushmore’s larger-than-life images fascinate visitors of all ages, and the nearby Black Hills area offers many free activities to keep families busy without making a dent in the budget.

Dinosaurs and more

Dinosaur fans? The Black Hills are the place to be! Dinosaur Park is located high atop a hill overlooking Rapid City at 940 Skyline Drive. Kids will be thrilled to learn that dinosaur remains from the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous periods have been found here. Keep the dinosaur theme going: See some real dinosaur bones at the South Dakota Museum of Geology on the campus of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 501 East Saint Joseph Street.


Children who love a good story will be captivated by Story Book Island. This free attraction is open seasonally and is a great place to bring a picnic lunch and spend a day playing. Location: 1301 Sheridan Lake Road in Rapid City.

Presidential attractions

Rapid City is also known as the City of Presidents. You might think this is just because of several large faces carved in stone in the hills south of the city, but that isn’t so! Drive through the downtown area, and you will see life-sized bronze statues on many corners. Take a walking tour to visit 41 of our great nation’s presidents (President Obama is scheduled to be added in the near future). The City of Presidents project began in 2000 and is part of the downtown area’s historic district tour. The City of Presidents information center is located at 631 Main Street.

Main Street fun

While in the Rapid City downtown, don’t miss a stop to Main Street Square! Summer or winter, there is something fun to do! In the warmer months, the square boasts a fun fountain that is designed to be experienced. Beautiful by day, it becomes an amazing sculpture of water and light at night. Kids wearing swimsuits fill the fountain area in the summer, and during the winter, it is a popular location for ice skating.

Urban art

Here’s a local secret: There is an area between Main Street and Saint Joseph Street known as Art Alley that is filled with art created by area artists. Walk through that area to admire this unique, open-air art gallery filled with the work of anonymous artists. If you are lucky enough, you might encounter an artist intent on making their mark on the alley!

Natural beauty

Check out the Cleghorn Springs fish hatchery and listen to children giggle and squeal as they feed the trout and other local species of fish. The hatchery is located at 4725 Jackson Boulevard. Then visit Outdoor Campus West, a youth and family education center funded by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks division, to explore 32 acres of trails and habitats seven days a week (located at 4130 Adventure Trail).

This has been a guest post by Kim from South Dakota
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Free Tourist Attractions in Black Hills SD