Three days in Keystone, South Dakota

8 years
6 years
4 years
2013-07-13 to 2013-07-15

On our summer road trip, we visited South Dakota and spent several days in the Rapid City/Keystone area. There's not a lot to do in South Dakota with kids unless you're in this area and they sure made it a good tourist trap! There were so many things to see and do in Keystone! 

Here were our favorites:

alpine slides in Keystone South DakotaMt Rushmore Tramway/Alpine Slides:

Located at 203 Cemetery Road ~ Keystone, SD 57751

Open daily during the summer months, weather permitting

Closed during the winter and harsh weather months

Free parking is available in the adjacent lot

We rode the tram (aka ski lift) up the mountain and walked around for a bit up there. There was a great view of Mt Rushmore and they even had a little cafe where you could order lunch. To get back down the mountain, you either take the tramway back OR you can ride down the Alpine Slide (known here as the President's Slide). We definitely were stoked for the slides, so that's what we did!

You basically ride alone or with a child on a wheeled sled down a 2000 foot slide! If you're not super adventurous, you can choose the slow lane and take the scenic route down. If you love high speeds, you can zip down quickly! They also have an aerial/zipline course that we really wanted to do, but our kids weren't quite old enough. Kids must be 7 years old and up to participate in the aerial course, but there's no listed minimum age for the slides.

Big Time Pizza:

Located at 206 Cemetery Rd - Keystone, SD 57751

Open daily for lunch and dinner

Free parking is available in the adjacent lot

We loved this pizza place so much that we ate there two days in a row! Our kids are pretty picky and ALL THREE of them loved the pizza! They have some neat specials if you're adventurous with your food. The pizza was great, the service was excellent, and the prices were very reasonable. Service was quick and we were in and out and back to adventuring quickly both days!

things to do in South Dakota visit Mt Rushmore

Mt Rushmore:

Located at 13000 S Dakota 244 - Keystone, SD 57751

Open daily except for Christmas day

Parking is $11 per car for an annual pass (cash only)

Free admission

Mt Rushmore is a national landmark and the key reason we visited South Dakota. The faces of four famous American presidents (Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt) were carved into the side of a granite mountain. It's an iconic US landmark and breathtakingly incredible when seeing it in person.

There are many viewing platforms available to see the mountain carvings from different angles. We hiked the entire Presidential Trail, which is a 1/2 mile loop around the property that provides many beautiful views of the famous landmark. Don't be fooled though... while it's only a 1/2 mile in length, it will take you a solid hour to make the hike, maybe longer with kids! There are many stairs on the hike, but the trip is well worth it!

Along the Presidential Trail, you'll find the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center, which has lots of great info and history, as well as the Sculptor's Studio, which holds all the original tools used to create Mt Rushmore. If you're up for it, guided tours are available, as well as audio tours for an extra fee. We didn't find out about the audio tour until we were leaving. I think it would have been really fun for the kids.

Before we headed out, we stopped off in several of the gift shops and the bookstore and were able to pick up tons of awesome kids books about American history, landmarks, and Mt Rushmore itself, as well as several activity books. It's definitely worth a stop at the bookstore on your way out!

tourist trap Big Thunder Gold MineBig Thunder Gold Mine:

Located at Blair Street - Keystone, SD 57751

Open daily May through October

Free parking is available in the adjacent lot

Offering gold mine tours and gold panning (admission required)

We spent about an hour and a half at the Big Thunder Gold Mine panning for gold. We decided to share one pan since it was kinda pricey to get each kid their own pan. I didn't think it would hold their attention too long anyway. I will say that it was shockingly hard to find any actual gold. The kids found tons of fool's gold and that was good enough for them, but I'm uncertain if we foung any actual real gold. They did have a few gold miner guys out buy the panning area to help out as needed. Overall the kids had fun, but I was glad we only spent $9.25 to do this activity.

They also have gold mine tours available. We didn't have enough time to do the tour, but it was also long and I wasn't certain our kids would dig it. I think it would be ideal for older kids who prefer guided tours.

Mt Rushmore Mirror Maze:

Located at 221 Swanzey St - Keystone, SD 57751

Open daily

Admission required

Parking is available in nearby lots

We spent about 30 minutes running around the mirror maze and our kids just LOVED it! They have you wear plastic gloves so you don't get fingerprints on the mirrors and then you get to spend as much time as you want walking (you're not supposed to run!) around trying to find your way through the maze. We went together as a family a few times, then split up and tried to find each other, then we let the kids go through on their own. They have blacklights on inside and it's really quite fun. Just make sure your kids don't run into the mirrors!

Teddy's Deli:

Located at 236 Winter St. - Keystone, SD 57751

We ate a quick dinner at Teddy's Deli one evening when we couldn't find anything else to agree on eating and we'd already had Big Time Pizza twice. We were pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed this place! The food was great, the service was great, and the prices were great! And all three of our kids found something they wanted to eat, which is always tough to find. Highly recommend the Papa Bear burger and the Caesar salad.

Other Keystone attractions we loved:

Dahl's Chainsaw Art

Mt. Rushmore Taffy Shop

alpine slides in Keystone South Dakota
things to do in Keystone South Dakota alpine slides
honk the horn at Big Time Pizza
best pizza in South Dakota at Big Time Pizza
Mt Rushmore view from the binoculars
kids visiting national landmark Mt Rushmore
family picture at Mt Rushmore
things to do in South Dakota visit Mt Rushmore
unique view of Mt Rushmore from the Presidential Trail
girl on the rocks at Mt Rushmore
kids climbing the stairs on the Presidential Trail
exploring how Mt Rushmore was created
kids panning for gold in Keystone South Dakota
tourist trap Big Thunder Gold Mine
little girl looking for gold flakes
kids panning for gold at Big Thunder Gold Mine in South Dakota
girl panning for gold
awesome mirror maze in Keystone South Dakota
fun things to do with kids in South Dakota
family fun at the mirror maze
kids playing in the mirror maze
Article Type: 
In-Person Impressions


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