BLACK HILLS, SD FAMILY ATTRACTIONS

 

Plenty To Do For Everyone

 

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  Reptile Gardens - Rapid City, SD

6 miles south of Rapid City on US 16 (Mt. Rushmore Road)

Reptile Gardens is another one of those attractions that youíll see advertised on the highway signs. Claiming the worldís largest reptile collection, Reptile Gardens is a offers both scheduled programs and self-guided attractions. There are numerous animal shows scheduled throughout the day... the Alligator Show, the Birds Of Prey Show, the Snake Show, the Parrot Show and the Trained Animal Show. During the peak season, it is very crowded... VERY crowded. The centerpiece of Reptile Gardens (and my favorite part) is its 2-tiered Sky Dome, an indoor walk-through jungle teeming with birds, lizards and snakes as well as tropical plants and beautiful orchids and other flowers. The upper level of the Sky Dome features a large portion of their snake, reptile and amphibian collection... and it is a large and impressive collection, with many dangerous, unusual and weird scaly creatures, amphibians and insects. They have tic-tac-toe and basketball-playing chickens. Also of note are their herd of friendly giant tortoises which visitors may touch. They also have a prairie dog colony. Iíve tried to visualize Reptile Gardens without the huge crowds, and unquestionably it would have been much more enjoyable. The one show we watched was entertaining... we saw a guy "wrestling" an alligator, which he chose from a herd of about a hundred alligators, crocs, and caimans (they donít call it "wrestling" anymore). The other exhibits were clean and well-presented. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, but visitors could easily spend most of the day to see all of the shows and exhibits. Parking seems to be adequate, but the crowds are way too big for such a small park. Admission is $10.00 for adults, $9.25 for seniors over 62 and $6.00 for kids 6-12. (605) 342-5873

 

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Reptile Gardens Photos (Click on thumbnails for larger image):

 

 

 

 

LOUNGING LIZARD

 

INSIDE THE SKY DOME

 

FROGS

           
 

 

 

 

FRIENDLY TORTOISE

 

ALLIGATOR "WRESTLER"

 

HOLDING THE SNAKE

           
 

 

 

   
 

ORCHIDS

       
           
 

1880 Train - Keystone, SD and Hill City, SD

Stations are located on the north end of each of the small towns of Keystone and Hill City.

One of the countryís last steam trains in service, riders are transported aboard restored late 1800's coaches through rugged Black Hills terrain. The tour is about 3 hours round trip. At no point is Mt. Rushmore visible from the train. They will sell you a tour guide / pamphlet for an extra two bucks. The return trip is along the same route, so you see the same things twice. The 1880 Train is ideal for rainy days and railroad buffs won't want to miss it. Parking in downtown Keystone is hard to come by, and youíll probably have a significant walk from your car to the train station. Riders may board in either Keystone or Hill City. There is a 1-hour layover at the opposite end of your trip for shopping and/or lunch. 2002 fare is $18 for adults, $10 for kids 4-14. Reservations are recommended. (605) 574-2222

   
 

1880 Train Photos (Click on thumbnails for larger image):

 

 

 

           
  Flintstones Bedrock City, Custer, SD

On US 16 about 1 mile west of town center.

This nice little touristy place is a 3-dimensional concrete recreation of the 2-dimension TV cartoon town of Bedrock... home to Fred and Wilma Flintstone. Hanna-Barbera characters roam the grounds. Visitors can take a ride in the "Flintmobile" and Iron Horse Train, visit with Fred and Barney and cap the day off with a Bronto Burger or Dino Dog at the Drive-In. Bedrock City is also home to a campground. As you might imagine, Flintstones Bedrock City is appealing mostly to young kids (~10 and under). Bedrock City is not that expensive and itís fun for the little ones and itís not hard to get in and out. Admission is $6.00, kids under 5 are free. (605) 673-4079

Weather: Sunny, hot afternoon

 

 

.Flintstones Bedrock City Photos (Click on thumbnails for larger image):

 

 

   
           
  BJís Grinder King - 902 Main Street, Rapid City, SD 57701 - GREAT PIZZA!!!

Downtown. Turn off Mt. Rushmore Rd. onto Main St. (1 way). BJís is on the right ~ 1 Ĺ blks

BJís Grinder King is a delightful mom and pop pizza and grinder restaurant with booths, tables and a jukebox. What is a "grinder"? Itís a New England term for a sub sandwich, only with a twist... they use shredded cabbage instead of lettuce and theyíre toasted. They have ham, roast beef, turkey, meatball and several other varieties of grinder (including eggplant). We had capicolla (Italian ham), tuna and Italian grinders along with a small cheese pizza. Bruce, the friendly owner of 20 years, has dubbed it "New England style pizza", though he confesses that he coined the term himself. New England style pizza has a thick (but not chewy or doughy) crust. It also has an insane amount of cheese. This pizza is outstanding and unique, but donít even try to add up the fat grams! Diners may want to consider using a fork. The menu also contains an eggplant pizza, but I was not feeling that brave. Prices are extremely reasonable, especially when the huge portion sizes are considered. BJís Grinder King is in downtown Rapid City, but they have their own parking lot and itís very easy to reach. (605) 348-3166

   
 

 

   
           
  Please see separate pages for Mt. Rushmore, Black Hills Scenic Drives and the Pheasant Dining Room. These are the attractions that we visited. Of course, the Black Hills has much more to offer all tourists... families or otherwise. Here is a link to the Black Hills and Badlands Vacation Guide.

Read my South Dakota Reviews on epinions.com:

Corn Palace, Wall Drug, Shrine to Music Museum

The Black Hills / Mt. Rushmore

The Great Plains Zoo - Sioux Falls

Badlands National Park