Rapid City is the biggest city in the western half of the US state of South Dakota. This part of the state is home to a scenic area known as the Black Hills. The Black Hills is known for iconic attractions including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park – all of which I just discussed in my previous post.
Rapid City is also close to the recently mentioned Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park. So, there is already plenty to do in the area. Even so, if you are still hungry for things to do in Rapid City, SD, you may want to check out some compelling museums that it has to offer.
Museum of Geology
The Museum of Geology is located on East St. Joseph Street on the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City. This museum is dedicated to ancient life and minerals. The museum houses mounted skeletons that once belonged to dinosaurs, mammals, marine reptiles, and fish. You can also check out rare fossils from the White River Badlands. These are arranged in time-specific dioramas.
As far as the minerals are concerned, this museum include showcases of gems, crystals, and the rocks that they form. If you have any young children with you, you may want to check out the museum’s The Kids’ Zone. There are hands-on showcases that will appeal to them in this section of the museum. There is free admission to the Museum of Geology for everyone. Also, there is an onsite gift shop if you want to buy souvenirs.
South Dakota Air and Space Museum
If you are fascinated by US military aircrafts, I would suggest you to check out the South Dakota Air and Space Museum. This museum is located right next to Ellsworth Air Force Base on Davis Drive just a few miles east of Rapid City. The museum is renowned for its remarkable collection of US military aircrafts. Most of these aircrafts are located outdoors in what is known as an air park.
There are over thirty aircrafts showcased at the museum. They span time periods ranging from World War Two to modern day. Some of the aircraft you can check out include Boeing B-29 Superfortress s/n 44-87779, Beechcraft C-45H Expeditor s/n 52-10866, Martin EB-57B Canberra s/n 52-1548, Republic F-84F Thunderjet s/n 52-8886, and Bell UH-1F Iroquois Huey s/n 65-7951.
Each of the aircrafts showcased at the museum had previously been used in US military operations, including into the heat of war. In addition to learning about the history of the aircrafts and the crews, you can learn about the engineering, innovation, and science that contributed to the development of the military aircrafts.
There are also a few missiles displayed at the museum like Bell Labs Nike Ajax MIM-3 and Boeing LGM-30F Minuteman II. The admission to the South Dakota Air and Space Museum is free for everyone. There is also a gift shop available onsite for you to check out.
The Journey Museum and Learning Center
The Journey Museum and Learning Center is located on New York Street just north of downtown Rapid City. This museum digs deep into the regional history of western South Dakota that stretch as far back as a couple billions years. In order to showcase the overall history of the region, the museum is divided into five major collections. The five major collections are Paleontology, Geology, Archaeology, Native American, and Pioneer.
Within the Paleontology collection, it is all about the dinosaurs. You will be able to see how the dinosaurs used to live and roam in this region. Moving on to the Geology collection, you will get a better sense of what the unique landscape of western South Dakota used to look like over 2.5 billion years ago.
You will also be able to see how the land of this region took form over these billions of years to the one that exists today. Rocks, gems, and minerals are on display in this collection to help with telling the story of the region’s land formation.
In the Archaeology collection, you will see how humans lived in the region as far as ten thousand years ago when society was made up of ancient hunters who had to hunt for their own food. You will be able to learn about things like what the early settlers used to drink with, how they spoke, how they hunted for food, and what type of clothing they wore daily.
The Native American collection is dedicated to the Sioux group of American Indian tribes that has been settled in the region since at least the early 19th century. You can find a variety of artwork beautifully handcrafted by artists and artisans from the Sioux. These include glass beadwork, porcupine quillwork, hide painting, feather working, wood and pipestone carving, and metalworking.
In addition to showcasing artwork, this collection also house items related to the Sioux way of life including decorated garments, ceremonial regalia, personal adornment, and containers like bags and parfleches. Lastly, the Pioneer collection focus on the lives of the European settlers who first moved to western South Dakota in order to seek a better life for themselves.
This collection also dig into the battles between the Sioux and the settlers for control of the land. The stories are told through illuminated story walls. The admission prices to this museum are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and military members, and $7 for students. Those who are aged under six get free admission.
These are some museums that are worth your time. If you are itching for more things to do in Rapid City, SD, I would suggest you to take on these museums.
Rapid City Hotels
Should you be in need of a place to lay your head overnight at, I am here to help you out. Here are the two hotels in Rapid City that I would suggest you to check out.
La Quinta by Wyndham Rapid City
This hotel is located on North Elk Vale Road in Rapid City. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews, Dakotah Steakhouse, and Marco’s Pizza. The hotel houses an indoor swimming pool and hot tub. There is also a fitness center available for your workouts.
All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers. The average rate for a standard room range from $53 to $210. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.
Best Western Plus Rapid City Rushmore
This hotel is located on Eglin Street in Rapid City. The hotel features complimentary breakfast. Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews, Dakotah Steakhouse, and Marco’s Pizza are just a few nearby options for dining. There is an onsite convenience store available should you want to buy something. This hotel is home to an indoor swimming pool and hot tub. A fitness center is also available at the hotel.
All of the hotel’s rooms and suites have WiFi, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $58 to $188. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.
What are your thoughts? Does any of these Rapid City museums sound like a place you would be interested into? Feel free to drop a comment below.