1. Mount Rushmore/ Keystone
I think this is either on your bucket list or it’s not. The first time I went, I was amazed. It is such a feat of engineering. If you do go, plan to spend at least an hour in the museum below. It is interesting to see the tools and process used to create such a monument. During the summer months you can hike the trails around Mt. Rushmore. Every evening at sunset, a patriotic video and presentation takes place in the amphitheater.
We moved to Rapid City in August of 2010. That was the last year that fireworks were shot off from behind Mt. Rushmore on the 4th of July. Yeah…..While in Keystone, stop and check out the historic district. The “1880 Train” runs from Keystone to nearby Hill City. It is a scenic train ride through the Black Hills. Late August would make for the best scenery and nicest weather. It is a little expensive in my opinion and is a little too dull of a ride for small kids, even the ones who love trains.
If you are looking to do something a little more exciting, try the Rushmore Tramway and Alpine Slide. There are plenty of things to do for the more outdoorsy types and you can pay a la carte instead of one pricey entrance fee. For example, I went with my kids, ages 4, 5, and 17 and we only wanted to go down the slide so we could just pay for that and not even need to enter the ziplining area. My kids loved the slide, the Littles still talk about it! Before taking the slide down, be sure to explore the top of the Mountain, there are some nice trails and a little restaurant at the top ( I heard they have great burgers). You can see Mt. Rushmore in the distance from behind the restaurant.
Downtown Keystone is a little like going to Epcot if Epcot had an Old Western type attraction. Kitchy, but go anyways! Some of those little shops have things that cost a fortune elsewhere. Want some antlers? Maybe a set of agate coasters?