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Filed under: Amusement & Theme Parks, Family Weekend Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, Kid-Friendly Trips, Kid-Friendly Trips, State & National Parks

Great destination for learning AND fun!!!

May 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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Traveling home last week, from the east coast to Montana, we decided to stop over in Rapid City, SD, for the main purpose of taking the kids to Mount Rushmore.  We planned a 2 day stop as we really were not expecting to find much else of interest.   While we had anticipated that a couple of days would suffice for exploring the surrounding attractions, we ended up coming across many more family friendly activities to enjoy than we had alloted time for. 
 
kids viewing Mount RushmoreSince our main priority was a visit to Mt. Rushmore, we tackled that destination first.  Arriving, the kids were tickled to spot mountain goats along the path to the visitor’s center.   After spending several hours exploring the visitor’s center, completing the park’s Jr. Ranger program, and watching a couple of films about the park and area, we then took a drive farther up the road to a pull-off where you can view George Washington’s profile.  (While we were at the park, we didn’t take the time to walk the Presidential Trail, which is a walking path that offers closer and varied view points of the sculpture, but we would like to do the trail on our next time through.)
 
After Mt. Rushmore, on our way back into Rapid City, we stopped by Reptile Gardens.

kids with snake

kids checking out an albino boa constrictor

  This was one tourist stop that I had been to multiple times as a child on family vacations.  It was great to be able to revisit it with my own children!  We spent the afternoon learning about the different lizards and reptiles, birds, and tropical flowers on display.  We also were able to attend one of their Snake Shows – very interesting and informative, and a great opportunity for the kids to ask some of their reptile related questions.
If you are considering a visit, be sure to check out the Reptile Garden’s website- I was able to download a half-off kid’s admission coupon that saved us $14! 
 
The next day, we checked out a few shops, and then in the afternoon we headed over to Watiki Water Park.  Watiki is located between 2 hotels; you have to pay to get into the waterpark whether or not you stay at the hotel, so we just tripped it from the 5er.  Staying at the hotel would have saved us $4 on tickets (total!), but would have cost us over $250 in rooms for one night – that savings was a vivid reminder of one of the reasons I am so fond of our RV!  Watiki was a great break for us from our regular travel schedule, was affordable and family friendly (and the kids were thrilled that we happened to go on ‘free hot dog’ night!)LOL!

watiki water park

Watiki Water Park

 
While we didn’t get to do some of the other tourist destinations that Rapid City has to offer, we did note a few that we would like to do next time that we come through.  Near Reptile Gardens is a drive-thru animal park called Bear Country – while we didn’t get to drive through here as it is seasonal, my sister had mentioned that her family really enjoyed it last summer.  We would also like to drive through Custer State Park – the wildlife loop is rumored to be a must do, and the Crazy Horse monument is also nearby.  There are multiple caves to explore, like the Wind Caves, and The Jewel Cave National Monument.  We would also like to visit the outdoor Rushmore Waterslide Park, where I have fond memories of cooling off during my childhood vacations (also seasonal).  Being pressed for time, we didn’t stop at the Badlands National Monument, but will if we get another chance at it!   
We really didn’t expect to find much to do besides Mt. Rushmore when we got to Rapid City, but ended up finding so many interesting activities that we would like to go back!  The area offers so much to see and do, you may want to consider a visit there yourself!  You can even start planning now by checking out the local campgrounds compliments of Woodall’s campground search

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