Top Ten {Tuesday} The Black Hills of South Dakota offer an array of activities for people of every age, but since we were taking the two little guys along, that was obviously our focus!

Because of those short little legs – and even shorter attention spans – we did not explore any caves or do much hiking while we there, but I know that is something we would love to do as they get older.

Today’s post is about the fabulous things to do with the younger ones – I even made it into a little top ten list for you!

Time constraints and weather {yes, it snowed while we were there!} didn’t allow us to make it to all of these locations, but several I have been to in the past and the others came highly recommended by other good friends who have made the trip with kiddos!

Here is our…

Top Ten Things to Do with Young Children in the Black Hills

1. 1880 Train {Hill City} – Probably the highlight of the trip for the boys because, hello, it was a train ride! {more tomorrow}

2. Storybook Island {Rapid City} – This FREE family fun park in Rapid City is a living fairy tale land! Storybook Island is a wonderful place to let the kids play and run off that energy from being stuck in a car so long! Oh, and did I mention it’s free? Just wanted to make sure.

3. Reptile Gardens {Rapid City} – We were so bummed to not make it here because I KNOW the boys would have been in love with the place! I remember well visiting Reptile Gardens as a child and it has only gotten better since then. The wild animal park hosts 225 species and subspecies of reptiles! Can you say boy heaven?!

4. Bear Country USA {Rapid City} – If mammals are more your thing, then a drive through Bear Country USA needs to be on your schedule. This park has over 20 species of animals, including buffalo, bighorn sheep, reindeer, timber wolf and mountain lions. It is also the only place in the Black Hills that you will find bears – found that tidbit out on our 1880 Train ride!

5. Evan’s Plunge {Hot Springs} – Had it not been so far from our cabin near Lead, the hubby would have INSISTED we drive down to this indoor waterpark in Hot Springs. Evan’s Plunge boasts the world’s largest natural warm water indoor swimming pool – a lovely 87 degrees! – but is equally popular for the waterslides and kiddie pools. Evan’s Plunge has been around for over 100 years! That is some serious staying power!

6. Custer State Park – read all about our adventures in Custer State Park on Thursday! Here is a little hint…

7. Dinosaur Park {Rapid City} – Concrete dinosaurs built in 1936 – need I say more? Dinosaur Park in Rapid City is actually listed on the US National Register of Historic Places, but your kiddos won’t care about that – they’ll just love climbing the stairs and exploring these giant statues. Doesn’t cost any money, won’t take up too much time – perfect stop to please the little ones!

8. Old MacDonald’s Farm {9 miles south of Rapid City} – What kid doesn’t love a petting zoo?! You can bottle feed baby animals, watch pig races, feed goats and sheep, and ride ponies! This family-friendly attraction even allows you to bring in your own picnic lunches, which is great for your travel budget!

9. Big Thunder Gold Mine {Keystone} – This was on our schedule, until a few other stops ran late and we couldn’t make it in time for the last tour of the day. So goes the family vacation… Anyways, visiting a gold mine was a memorable experience in the Black Hills when I was a child. The hands-on opportunities they provide for kiddos – panning for gold, wearing hard hats, exploring an actual former working gold mine from the late 1800s – are unique experiences you can’t find many other places!

10. Mount Rushmore {near Keystone} – This is THE most recognizable site in the Black Hills. I’ll share more on Friday, but PLEASE make sure to add this to your itinerary!

And one extra tip for the sake of the kids – well, everyone really…

Stay near the attractions you are planning to see! We stayed at the most gorgeous cabin near Lead, but it was a LONG drive on winding roads to the Hill City, Keystone and Custer areas. The Black Hills area may not look very big on the map, but proximity will help your whole family on your trip! Stay in Rapid City a few nights and cover everything there, then find somewhere to stay in Hill City or Keystone and see the sights there!


Come back tomorrow for part 3 in the Head for the Hills series: Hill City!


Disclaimer: Head for the Hills is a sponsored series with the South Dakota Department of Tourism. We were compensated for portions of our trip, but all opinions in this series are 100% our own!

You can connect with the friendly and helpful people at the South Dakota Department of Tourism on Twitter and Facebook! Tell them Home with the Boys sent you!