The Black Hills of South Dakota is a beautiful place to behold. Located in the southwestern section of this US state, the Black Hills stand out like an island that is surrounded by sweeping plains. The area is home to notable attractions like Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park, all of which I just recently mentioned.
In addition to these attractions, the Black Hills is also dotted with a few charming towns that are worth checking out. For what to do in South Dakota, you will want to head to these towns.
Keystone, South Dakota
The town of Keystone is located to the northeast of Mount Rushmore National Memorial at the intersection of US Route 16A and South Dakota 40. This is the closest town to Mount Rushmore, only being around 3.7 miles away. So, if you have ever visited Mount Rushmore, chances are high that you have at least passed through Keystone on your scenic drive to and from there.
One attraction you can visit during your time in Keystone is the National Presidential Wax Museum. Located on US Route 16A, this museum is known for its lifelike wax figures of US presidents. All of the 45 US presidents are represented at this museum from George Washington, the nation’s first president, all the way to Donald Trump, the current president.
The museum is home to a total of 100 wax figures in scenes that depicts some of the most iconic moments in US presidential history. If you are looking for something more presidential than the iconic granite sculptures of four of the US presidents at nearby Mount Rushmore National Memorial, you will want to visit this museum. Another Keystone attraction you will want to check out is Big Thunder Gold Mine.
This attraction is located on Blair Street. Keystone had its storied origins as a gold rush-era gold mining town and Big Thunder Gold Mine is a reflection of that. This attraction has a museum where you can learn about gold mining. There are also guided tours that will take you to a gold mine so that you can get a better feel for what a gold mine looks like.
This attraction also offers you the opportunity to participate in a fun and easy activity called panning. It is basically a gold mining technique in which you scoop sand and/or gravel in the hopes that you will find pieces of gold. You can keep whatever gold and/or other gemstones you found during the panning process. Panning lessons are also offered if you are not familiar with the process.
Deadwood, South Dakota
The town of Deadwood is located on US Route 85 just a few miles south of its interchange with Interstate 90. Deadwood is renowned for its storied history as a gold mining boomtown. During its gold mining heydays in the late 19th century, Deadwood was notorious for its lawlessness nature in which it attracted outlaws, illicit gamblers, and gunslingers.
That includes Wild Bill Hickok. He arrived in Deadwood during the late 19th century hoping to strike it rich via illicit gambling, only to be gunned down just a few short weeks later while he was playing poker. When he was shot dead, he was holding a pair of aces and eights which became known as the Dead Man’s Hand.
He was the most famous resident in Deadwood at the time because of his status as a legendary gunslinger who participated in many shootouts before his arrival in Deadwood. Today, Deadwood is renowned for its historic Old West gold mining boomtown architecture going up against the Black Hills scenery. Main Street is the town’s main drag with its concentration of casinos, bars, restaurants, and shops.
Every month of the year, Main Street is also bustling with outdoor activities. These include concerts, wine and food, rodeo action, parades, costume contests, car shows, and amateur and professional competitions. Also, during the summer months, there are live performances on Main Street that depict the shootouts that happened in Deadwood during its notorious Wild West days in the late 19th century.
You also may want to check out Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood. This is where the gravesite of Wild Bill Hickok is found.
Sturgis, South Dakota
The town of Sturgis is located on Interstate 90 about 28 miles northwest of Rapid City, the Black Hills’ big city. Motorcycle enthusiasts will instantly recognize Sturgis. This is because the town is noted for being the host to one of the world’s largest motorcycle events known as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. This motorcycle event starts on the first Friday of August every year and lasts for ten days.
During the motorcycle event, a massive parade of motorcycles are parked on Main Street throughout downtown Sturgis as motorcycle enthusiasts wander the street in a festive atmosphere. In addition to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the town is home to a museum that is dedicated to the world of motorcycling. It is called the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.
The museum is located on Main Street in downtown Sturgis. You can learn about the history of motorcycling and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally at the museum. It is also home to a collection of motorcycles and motorcycle-related antiques.
These are the towns that are dotted throughout the Black Hills. If you are looking for what to do in South Dakota, you will want to visit these charming towns in the Black Hills area of the state.
Black Hills Hotels
If you are in search of a hotel to stay in on your visit to the Black Hills of South Dakota, I have got your back. Here are the two hotels I would suggest you to book a stay at.
Baymont Inn & Suites by Wyndham Sturgis
This hotel is located on Lazelle Street in Sturgis. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. There are also barbeque facilities available onsite for you to have a cookout. If you are looking for a place to eat nearby, a few options include The Knuckle Saloon, Jambonz Grill & Pub, and Loud American Roadhouse. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel.
A fitness center is also available for you to use at the hotel. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, and coffee makers. The average rate for a standard room range from $60 to $194. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Mt. Rushmore/Keystone
This hotel is located on Swanzey Street in Keystone. This hotel has a unique architectural style that blends itself with the surrounding Black Hills. The hotel is renowned for its three-sided fireplace and antler chandelier located in what the hotel calls Great Room. This space of the hotel has a Western/Native American feel to it.
Free breakfast is available at the hotel at the hotel’s new Express Start Breakfast Bar. If you get hungry, a few nearby options include Janes Boardwalk Pizza, Himalayan Indian Cuisine, and Cruizzers. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. If you are looking for a workout, you can do so at the hotel’s fitness center.
All of the rooms and suites at the hotel come with WiFi, microwaves, mini refrigerators, and coffee makers. The average rate for a standard room range from $76 to $293. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.
What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of these towns before? Feel free to leave a comment below.