(BPT) - If you love winter, there's a vacation destination you'd find amazing that you may have overlooked: Rapid City. You may think of South Dakota as the perfect summer locale, with its famed national parks and monuments, but Rapid City is an ideal vacation spot for winter events and activities.
Here are attractions that will make Rapid City your perfect winter getaway.
A winter wonderland of outdoor sports
Multiple options in and around Rapid City boast all your favorite winter activities. For example, the fountains of Main Street Square are transformed into a charming ice rink, where you can rent skates and enjoy a rink even larger than the one in Rockefeller Center. Or you can try ice fishing at area lakes, once they’re frozen to at least 4 inches of ice. New to ice-fishing or other winter sports? Visit The Outdoor Campus-West nature preserve for free classes.
With 416 miles of trails, Black Hills National Forest is one of the top snowmobiling destinations in the country. Snowmobile season runs from Dec. 15 through March 31, and you can rent one in the area or bring your own. For trail maps, conditions, rules and recommendations, visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website.
If self-powered motion is your thing, forest trails designated for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing let you explore areas in-city or through untouched wilderness. You can also ride your way through trails on a fat bike in the Skyline Wilderness Area or at Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park.
For visions of outdoor beauty, drive through Spearfish Canyon and the Black Hills to view frozen waterfalls, appearing like breathtaking ice castles. The hiking trails of Badlands National Park offer a great way to experience the park, or you can take a scenic drive for winter wildlife viewing. In the Badlands you could stumble upon bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and more. Mountain goats also frequent the rocks around Mount Rushmore and are thrilling to encounter.
Remember: If you see wildlife, be respectful and stay safe by maintaining a distance of at least 100 yards.
Entertainment options for everyone
For a winter vibe while wining and dining, grab a bite on Que Pasa's patio in Rapid City. You can also visit nearby Hill City to sample local vintages inside an igloo at Prairie Berry Winery or sip ice-cold craft beers at Miner Brewing.
Places to eat, drink and warm up include perfectly crafted cocktails and good conversation at Tinder Box, Rapid City’s only cigar bar. Head underground and back in time to Rapid City’s prohibition-era type speakeasy, Blind Lion, or thrill to sky-high city views and culinary delights at Vertex atop Hotel Alex Johnson. For an elevated cocktail, stop by the newly opened Windsor Block Bar. For a great selection from local and regional breweries, visit Pour 54 to sample a variety of flavors or enjoy the intimate atmosphere at Independent Ale House.
From hockey games to concerts and shows, you can plan your visit around Rapid City Rush home games or other upcoming events at The Monument, including:
Fascinated by history and culture?
Journey Museum and Learning Center's exhibits walk you through time, combining five major prehistoric and historic collections under one roof. Then walk through the bronze, life-sized statues of the City of Presidents sprinkled throughout downtown to challenge yourself on presidential history — along with the scavenger hunt found on the back of the City of Presidents map.
Art lovers can explore a variety of artworks inspired by natural beauty, such as the work of local Native American artists at galleries like Dakota Drum Company and Prairie Edge Trading Company & Galleries. Local favorites Gallery Six13 and Dahl Arts Center feature rotating exhibits from local and regional artists created, making each visit a new experience.
Family-friendly fun and games
Rapid City is home to many family-friendly amusements and gaming centers for indoor fun. One area favorite is the WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort, the largest indoor park in the Dakotas, with 30,000 square feet of swimming pools and waterslides, plus restaurants and arcade games for non-stop family fun. Or find two full levels of arcade gaming fun at Press Start in downtown Rapid City.
Discover something for everyone this winter in Rapid City. And you can visit famous sites like Mount Rushmore, too — without all the crowds! Learn more at VisitRapidCity.com.