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The best way to see Rapid City in one day is to start with a walk around downtown, which most visitors eschew in their rush to the area’s more popular attractions. However, the area is filled with some hidden gems, like great shopping along Main, Sixth and St. Joseph’s streets, plus grand old homes along West Boulevard. Along the way, see how many American presidents you can spot — Rapid City is erecting a statue of every single chief executive along its downtown streets. Even if you’re not staying at the Alex Johnson Hotel, the lobby of the historic hotel is worth a visit to check out its furnishings and display of Western items.
Then, head to the kid-friendly Dinosaur Park, where kids can awe at the towering concrete dinosaurs. Many fossils have been found in the earth near Rapid City, and this park celebrates that legacy. Just north of downtown, adjacent to the Rapid City Civic Center are the Memorial Park Rose Gardens that were built in memory of the victims of a devastating 1972 flood.
Next, pop into one of Rapid City’s many dining options for lunch before heading out to one of the area’s museums, such as The Journey or the Museum of Geology. On a rainy day, spend your afternoon catching a movie at the downtown Elks Theatre, a century-old, wonderfully restored opera house.