Rapid City, South Dakota
The state of South Dakota might not come immediately to mind when planning a vacation, but our family had a hard time leaving the Rapid City area with so many fun adventures to be had. Start with a visit to Mount Rushmore, then explore one of the many caves in the area. Visit Custer State Park to track a huge herd of buffalo and other wild animals. Younger kids will love Storybook Island and Dinosaur Park (free admission!). Learn about the Cold War by touring an underground missile silo at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Drive through the Badlands National Park in the late afternoon and stay for the Night Sky program to take advantage of the park’s telescopes. Rapid City has one of the best YMCA’s in the country with kid-sized weight machines and unicycle rentals. (Visitors can purchase day passes.) You can also enjoy the area’s museums, water parks (indoor and outdoor), a maze, Bear Country, Reptile Garden, and many more.