From world-renowned features like Reptile Gardens to hidden gems, our backyard has more to see and do than any other American location—according to tourism expert Roger Brooks. Soak up the sun and experience these outdoor attractions together!
If you have children between the ages of three and nine, they are going to love Storybook Island. Filled with more than 100 storybook and fairytale sets, this attraction has been around for nearly 60 years and is the perfect place to let your child’s imagination soar. Equipped with easy, paved paths for a leisurely stroll and plenty of room to run, the magical nature of the park will leave you in awe.
Visit Storybook Island during their character days, and let your children meet Merida, Spiderman, Elsa, and more. Grab a treat at one of their concession stands—especially the frozen lemonade—and take a break by the benches before riding the train and the carousel. Before you leave, swing into their gift shoppe and choose a memento of the day.
“Everyone is invited,” says Executive Director Connie LeZotte. “Let your children use their imaginations as they board the pirate ship, talk to the three little pigs, and climb Winnie the Pooh’s treehouse. Experience the magic!”
Admission: Free Location: 1301 Sheridan Lake Rd., Rapid City Hours: Sun.-Sat: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Rush Mountain Adventure Park
Take the kids and get ready for a wild ride at Rush Mountain Adventure Park in Keystone! Long known for its centerpiece, Rushmore Cave, this venue has expanded its roster of adventures, and now offers a full day of fun and thrills—for everyone.
Take a tour of the natural limestone formations deep underground, then stop by the mining station by the Visitor Center. Next, head into the treetops on the zipline and mountain coaster for an adventure in the sky. Once you’re finished flying high, stop inside for the 7-D Gunslinger theatre—where you will be able to experience living inside of a movie while you shoot laser guns at the “bad guys.”
“It’s fun to watch a grandma and her grandchild ride on an attraction together, laugh out loud, and build lasting bonds,” smiles Ross Johnson, partner at Rush Mountain Adventure Park. “Rush Mountain is a special place where families can come, spend the day doing activities together, and create lasting memories.”
Grab your overalls and head out to the farm! Old MacDonald’s Petting Farm on Highway 16, just outside Rapid City, is a perfect place for kids. See your favorite farm animals, including chickens, goats, horses, and cows—along with some new furry faces that you might not see every day. Look for Hans & Frans the yaks, and Baby Girl the llama.
“The farm is a safe, fun, and relaxing environment for families,” agree Gina and Thane Rose, owners of Old MacDonald’s. “It is hands-on learning for the kids every time you come.”
Kids can hold chicks, stand inside pens with the goats, ride ponies, pet llamas, and so much more. It is a place you can spend hours letting your kids be kids and play in the dirt.
Admission: Adult: $13.50, Child: $10.50 Location: 23691 Busted Five Ct., Rapid City Hours: Sun.-Sat.: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Outdoor Campus – West
Opening its doors in 2011, the Game, Fish and Park’s Outdoor Campus – West, on Sturgis Road in Rapid City, is a great place for families of all ages. It features: hands-on exhibits that showcase area wildlife; a play area with room to run; and green space complete with 1.5 miles of easy trails and habitats along the lake, creeks, and ponds.
The campus also offers public programs for outdoor education and skills such as camping and fishing, learning about animals, kayaking, and more.
“A big part of what we do is intended to provide families with beginning experiences,” says Chad Tussing, Director of The Outdoor Campus – West. “They can try something new, or gain new skills that they can then do on their own together.”