Travel Series: The Black Hills

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Travel Series: The Black Hills

While it can be exciting to travel far and wide for adventure, sometimes you don’t have to go very far at all for an amazing time.  Our President Paige Zutavern and her family recently hit the open road to travel to the vibrant Black Hills of South Dakota for a weekend getaway. As a popular destination attracting visitors from across the nation, there is plenty to see and do in the Black Hills, so we’ve provided a list of our favorite stops along with recommendations based on our experiences there.

Dakotah Steakhouse | (605) 791-1800 | www.dakotahsteakhouse.com
After completing the road trip to Black Hills we deservingly rewarded ourselves with delicious food at Dakotah Steakhouse. Every region in the country has one great steakhouse.  In the Black Hills, it’s Dakotah Steakhouse. The beautifully designed steakhouse is conveniently located on top of a hill on the edge of Rapid City with plenty of parking available.  Outside of the steakhouse stood a large iron buffalo statue, which welcomed you into the establishment. Once inside, we were overly impressed with the level of service we received as well as how knowledgeable and accommodating the staff were.  Celebrating their 5th anniversary, new menu items were available in addition to the regular menu selections.  From their rustic, comfortable cowboy atmosphere to special hi-temp, infrared broiler designed to sear in juices, Dakotah Steakhouse was built to serve you amazing steak that’s a must-try as far as we are concerned.

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Reptile Gardens  | (605) 342-5873 | www.reptilegardens.com
Photo-Prarie-Dog-Travel-SeriesThe next day we were excited to explore Reptile Gardens.  Located in the beautiful Black Hills on the road to Mt. Rushmore, Reptile Gardens has steadily grown to be one of the most popular attractions, drawing crowds from all over the Midwest and beyond.   We were fascinated to learn that they are the largest reptile zoo in the world, housing more species of reptiles than any other zoo or wild animal park! We loved how educational our visit was, which makes it great for kids and young adults alike!  The park was extremely clean and well kept.  We can’t say enough about the level of customer service and hospitality we received during our visit.  With a plethora of attractions for visitors to take in, we toured the Botanical Gardens, Prairie Dog Town, and Sky Dome.  Our favorite was the Alligator show, which was both entertaining and educational.

 

Bear Country USA | (605) 343-2290 | www.bearcountryusa.com
Photo-Bear-Country-travel-SeriesOur next stop on our adventure agenda was Bear Country U.S.A.  Transitioning from the world of reptiles to the Black Hills’ very own drive through wildlife park that is Bear Country U.S.A, we were eager  to check out this unique North American wildlife park.  We encountered bears, wolves, elk, and buffalo on the 3-mile drive through the park, just to name a few.  Over 20 species of mammals are housed in this huge, natural park with over 250 acres of space to roam.  The infamous Babyland allows visitors to get out of their car and take a leisurely stroll for an up close and personal view of bear cubs, playful otters and other park offspring! Although the weather was not cooperating with us during our visit, we are looking forward to coming back again to walk through Babyland when it’s not raining.  All in all, we had a great time, and highly recommend a visit to Bear Country U.S.A the next time you are in the Black Hills!

 

Rush Mountain Adventure Park | (605) 255-4384 | www.rushmtn.com
Photo-Cave-Travel-SeriesIf you are looking for fun on all levels make sure you plan a visit to Rush Mountain Adventure Park!  This family-friendly fun park and show cave in the Black Hills offers attractions to entertain all ages!  Our group did the bundled package, which included the cave tour plus two attractions, and we highly recommend going this route due to the cost savings and for optimal  experience of the park.  We started with the Rushmore Cave Tour which was around an hour in length and was not only fun but very educational.  Our expert tour guide, Trevor, had a vast knowledge of the cave and we were captivated by the beautiful and amazing carvings formed by nature and firsthand sights of the world that lies beneath us.  This is a total must-do attraction! Next up, we were brave enough to take on the Soaring Eagle Zipline.  Photo-Eagle-Zipline-Travel-SeriesWe underestimated how fast you really soar like an eagle down the mountainside! Our last thrills for the day were had at the interactive 7-D rides Rush Mountain has to offer.  We were fortunate to be able to experience three that the park offers visitors: The Zombies, Los Banditos, and Gigamon.  Each one with its own unique virtual reality theme, it was an experience like never before!  We had a riot with the interactive attractions, which makes you feel like you are right there in the midst of the action.  As our last destination for the day, we ended with a bang!

 

Botticelli’s Italian Ristorante | (605) 348-0089 | Facebook-Botticelli Ristorante
With all of the adventures of the Black Hills behind us, we were excited for an appetizing dining experience at Botticelli Ristorante Italiano.  Located in the heart of downtown Rapid City, they serve classic authentic Italian fare.  The restaurant is small and quaint so we would recommend making reservations before dining.  Overall, our service was superior and we were impressed with the fresh ingredients and quality of the food.  We thoroughly enjoyed our waiter, who was extremely knowledgeable of the menu and offered great recommendations to our group.   We ordered multiple entrees and shared plates with each being so diverse and flavorful. It was impossible to choose our favorite! We finished our dinner with a sweet treat that completed an all around astounding meal at Botticelli’s!

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As you can see,  there are plenty of good reasons to travel to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Whenever you find yourself traveling to the historic area next we highly recommend these venues as the best the Black Hills has to offer!  If you haven’t made plans to visit yet, you should definitely put it on your list!