As you travel through South Dakota, there are some places you simply cannot miss: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial, the Black Hills National Forest, Custer State Park, and the historic town of Hot Springs. Wherever you go, you will find a cozy resort, inn, or lodge offering a warm welcome, comfortable bed, and a good meal.

1. Arrowwood Cedar Shore Resort

Arrowwood Cedar Shore Resort
© Arrowwood Cedar Shore Resort

Located near Chamberlain on the banks of the Missouri River, the 1995 Arrowwood Cedar Shore Resort offers fantastic views of the water and the surrounding nature. Guests can choose rooms in the main lodge building, in private cottages, or in the campgrounds. All guests enjoy access to the resort facilities, such as an on-site marina, free Wi-Fi, indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, games room, exercise room, cable TV, and iPod docking station. The resort has two restaurants: Bridges Restaurant & Lounge, which serves classic American fare, and Waterfront Grill & Tiki Bar, which is open in full season and offers wonderful waterfront views and live entertainment on weekends. The resort is very popular with fishermen and hunters because of its proximity to the Chamberlain Recreation Area.

1500 Shoreline Dr, Oacoma, SD 57365-6518, Phone: 888-697-6363

2. Bavarian Inn, Black Hills

Bavarian Inn, Black Hills
© Bavarian Inn, Black Hills

Surrounded by lush evergreen forest, Bavarian Inn is a cozy chalet-style hotel about 14 miles from the Jewel Cave National Monument, less than 20 miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and a short drive from the Crazy Horse Memorial. The rooms are comfortable and modern and have free Wi-Fi, mini-fridges, microwaves, flat-screen TVs, and luxury linen. Some rooms also have whirlpool tubs, while suites add pull-out sofas. Guests enjoy complimentary continental breakfast, afternoon cookies with milk, heated indoor and outdoor pools, a tennis court, two playgrounds, and a hot tub. There are also laundry facilities and a grill with stone fireplaces. Pets are welcome.

855 N 5th St, Custer, SD 57730, Phone: 605-673-2802

3. Canyon Lake Resort

Canyon Lake Resort
© Canyon Lake Resort

Canyon Lake Resort is a family-owned lodging on the shores of Canyon Lake, not far from Rapid City, about 4 miles from the Black Hills National Forest and 23 miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The resort has 11 modern motel rooms, six private two-bedroom cabins, three smaller cabins, one family-style three-bedroom cabin, a five-bedroom house, and a lodge with nine bedrooms. The rooms in the main building have external entrances, Wi-Fi, and cable TVs. The cabins have Wi-Fi access, cable TV, and fully equipped kitchenettes. Larger cabins have full kitchens and living rooms. Guests enjoy free use of paddleboats, a BBQ area with picnic tables and a firepit, and a seasonal outdoor pool.

2720 Chapel Ln, Rapid City, SD 57702, Phone: 605-343-0234

4. Creekside Lodge

Creekside Lodge
© Creekside Lodge

Located in Custer State Park in the scenic Black Hills of South Dakota, less than 15 minutes from Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park, Creekside Lodge is a charming hotel built in 2008 and located on the grounds of the historic State Game Lodge. The lodge is open year round and offers a range of activities in all seasons. It has 30 luxurious, modern, spacious rooms with a rustic decor and pillowtop beds and duvets. The lobby is a popular gathering area, with cozy fireside seating and a great room. The lodge is surrounded by green hills where guests can spot roaming buffalo, wild turkeys, deer, and bighorn sheep. There is a modern meeting room with a built-in sound system that can accommodate up to 75 people.

13389 U.S. Highway 16A, Custer, SD 57730, Phone: 605-255-4541

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5. Deadwood Gulch Gaming Resort

Deadwood Gulch Gaming Resort
© Deadwood Gulch Gaming Resort

Deadwood Gulch Gaming Resort is located in the Black Hills National Forest, about an hour from Mount Rushmore National Memorial and a short drive from downtown Deadwood. The resort has a 24-hour casino that includes blackjack and slots. The 87 resort rooms are modern and comfortable, with free Wi-Fi, soft colors, flat-screen TVs, and coffeemakers. If requested, microwaves and mini-fridges are available as well. The resort’s Creekside Restaurant offers home-style cuisine and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and has a waterside terrace. The fireside bar offers late-night pizzas, and there is a bakery in the lobby. It also has a hot tub and fitness center. Parking is free.

304 Cliff St, Deadwood, SD 57732, Phone: 605-578-1294

6. K Bar S Lodge

K Bar S Lodge
© K Bar S Lodge

Located high up in the Black Hills in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, the K Bar S Lodge is an Ascend Hotel Collection Member. This modern lodge in Keystone, South Dakota, is surrounded by scenic hiking trails and is only about 3 miles away from Mount Rushmore. It is also close to attractions such as the President’s Alpine Slide, Rushmore Cave, and Custer State Park. The rooms are relaxed and warm and feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, MP3 docks, fridges, and coffeemakers. Some rooms also have hot tubs and private decks. Many rooms have fantastic views of Mount Rushmore. The guests enjoy complimentary continental breakfast served in a glass gazebo, a lobby with a stone fireplace, and a spacious outdoor terrace with a firepit.

434 Old Hill City Rd, Keystone, SD 57751, Phone: 605-666-4545

7. Legion Lake Lodge

Legion Lake Lodge
© Legion Lake Lodge

Legion Lake Lodge is located on the banks of Legion Lake within Custer State Park, about 4 miles from Mount Coolidge and Custer’s Black Hills Playhouse. The lodge has 26 laidback cabins with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, microwaves, mini-fridges, and coffeemakers. Some cabins also have decks, kitchenettes, and/or living rooms with sleeper sofas. The lodge is surrounded by lush forest and is close to the famous Centennial Trail. There is a seasonal restaurant with wonderful outdoor terrace by the lake, a small beach with boat rentals, and a playground. Parking is free. There is also a small store where guests can buy a fishing license and supplies.

12967 US-16A, Custer, SD 57730, Phone: 605-255-4521

8. Red Rock River Resort

Red Rock River Resort
© Red Rock River Resort

Located in the four-story renovated 1891 sandstone Minnekahta Block in historic downtown Hot Springs, Red Rock River Resort is a luxury resort with nine beautifully and uniquely decorated rooms. All rooms have free internet, ceiling fans, cable TV, high ceilings, deep windowsills, luxury linen, and down pillows. Guests enjoy a full-service spa, a bar and lounge, massage rooms, concierge services, and free parking. The resort is only about a mile away from the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, 9 miles from Black Hills National Forest and Wind Cave National Park, and 11 miles from the J. H. Keith Cascade Falls Picnic Area.

603 N River St, Hot Springs, SD 57747, Phone: 605-745-4400

9. Rushmore Express Inn and Family Suites

Rushmore Express Inn and Family Suites
© Rushmore Express Inn and Family Suites

Located within a national park and a short distance from the Black Hills National Forest, the National Presidential Wax Museum, and Rushmore Tramway Adventures, Rushmore Express Inn is a family hotel about 2 miles from Mount Rushmore. The charming rustic decor combines with modern amenities such as cable TV, free Wi-Fi, pillowtop mattresses, microwaves, coffeemakers, and fridges. Suites also have fireplaces, sofas, and luxury bathrooms with granite floors. Some rooms have bunk beds and whirlpool baths. Guests enjoy complimentary continental breakfast, free parking, an exercise room, a whirlpool, a heated indoor pool, and a 24-hour business center.

320 Cemetery Rd, Keystone, SD 57751, Phone: 605-666-4483

10. State Game Lodge

State Game Lodge
© State Game Lodge

Located in Custer State Park off the Wildlife Loop Road, State Game Lodge is a stately stone and wood lodge built in 1920 in a large mountain valley, surrounded by old oaks, birches, ponderosa pines, and aspen trees. It is the largest lodge in Custer State Park and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The lodge served in 1927 as the Summer White House for President Calvin Coolidge and was visited in 1953 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The guests can choose between 104 rooms and cabins. All cabins have climate control, are fully furnished, and include daily housekeeping. All units have flat-screen TVs, fridges, and coffee pots. Some cabins have full kitchens and some are outsized; one can even fit 28 people. All cabins feature picnic tables and outdoor firepits. Pets are allowed in some cabins for an additional fee.

13389 US Highway 16a, Custer, SD 57730-8351, Phone: 605-255-4541

11. Sylvan Lake Lodge

Sylvan Lake Lodge
© Sylvan Lake Lodge

Sylvan Lake Lodge is an upscale stone and wood lodge with cabins on the banks of Sylvan Lake, within Custer State Park and about 12.4 miles from the Crazy Horse Memorial. The rooms are cozy and modern and can accommodate up to four people. All have coffeemakers and flat-screen TVs. Cabins, which can fit up to ten people, feature microwaves, mini-fridges, fireplaces, outdoor picnic tables, and firepits. Guests enjoy an upscale seasonal restaurant that serves locally sourced produce and meats and has a beautiful terrace overlooking the lake. The rugged landscape around the lodge is a beautiful backdrop to the stately lodge and is full of scenic trails.

24572 SD-87, Custer, SD 57730, Phone: 605-574-2561

12. The Lodge at Deadwood

The Lodge at Deadwood
© The Lodge at Deadwood

Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, The Lodge at Deadwood is an upscale hotel and casino about 2 miles from historic downtown Deadwood. The on-site casino has 270 slot machines and an indoor waterpark. Rooms are modern and nicely decorated in soft brown colors and have all modern conveniences such as free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations, desks, and coffeemakers. Some rooms have balconies, while some suites have fridges, microwaves, and fireplaces. Guests enjoy free parking, a 24/7 gym, and an indoor pool with geysers, waterslides, and a pirate ship. A casino has slot machines, poker, and table games. The lodge has a spa, the Deadwood Grille, Oggie’s Sports Bar & Emporium, four meeting rooms, and a ballroom that can fit up to 1,700 people.

100 Pine Crest Drive, Deadwood, SD 57732, Phone: 877-393-5634

13. The Roosevelt Inn

The Roosevelt Inn
© The Roosevelt Inn

The Roosevelt Inn is a small, family-run and owned hotel located in downtown Keystone, 2.2 miles from Mount Rushmore and 1.1 miles from the Keystone Museum. The rooms are understated and comfortable, featuring free Wi-Fi, coffeemakers, cable TVs, private baths, heating and air conditioning, direct-dial phones, hairdryers, queen or king-sized beds, refrigerators, and DVD players. Some suites have whirlpool tubs, sofas, and/or balconies. Guests enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast, a seasonal hot tub, a pool, an indoor/outdoor sundeck, a game room with a pool table and 53-inch TV, and a coin laundry. Parking is free and children under the age of 15 stay for free.

206 Cemetery Rd, Keystone, SD 57751, Phone: 605-666-4599

What are the 12 Best South Dakota Resorts?

The 12 Best South Dakota Resorts according to local experts are:

Attraction Spotlight in SD: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Known as the peaceful prairie with the power that could destroy the world, the national historic site South Dakota that housed the Minuteman Missile is an awe-inspiring place to visit for its historic impact alone. Visiting the site can bring home the seriousness of the Cold War and better understand the importance and danger of nuclear weapons.


The historic site is the only one operated by the national parks service that was designated specifically for the Cold War. It was established as an educational and historic site in 1999 to help people understand the arms race, the Cold War, and the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile system (ICBM). In fact, it houses the last standing Minuteman II system in the US. There are routinely around 50,000 visitors annually.

Permanent Exhibits

The site has three separate areas that are open for visitors to experience. It is open all year round

Visitor Center: Considered the best starting place for a visit to the historic site, the visitor center is home to a wealth of information about the story of the site (focusing on its impact on the Cold War) and the missile system located on site (known as the Minuteman, an intercontinental ballistic missile). There are staff located at the visitor center to help visitors find their way around as well as to answer any questions they may have. Also located in the visitor center are public restrooms, wi-fi, a film about the park, exhibits, and an on-site bookstore.

- Film: The park film, which lasts about thirty minutes, provides visitors with a deeper understanding of the importance of the missile defense system and its use as a nuclear weapon deterrent. It includes footage from the archives (interviews, recordings, images, etc).

- Exhibits: The exhibits located at the visitor center focus on the Cold War, and its challenges as well as its paradoxes. The outside showcases a sculpture that uses elements of bas-relief as a contrast to the symbolism of the two superpowers during the war. There are multiple exhibits located in the lobby as well as on the inside, with a variety of themes like meeting the men and women who handle the missiles, and split second decisions.

Launch Control: Visitors who wish to tour the facility that holds the launch controls for Delta-01 are required to make reservations in advance. This can be done either by email or by phone. The tours are led by park rangers and lead visitors through the groups as well as the topside support building. After that, visitors will take the 31 foot descent down the elevator into the underground portion of launch control. All guests must be able to climb at least two ladders that are 15 feet in length in the event of a failure of the elevator system,

Missile Silo: Another interesting place to visit is the missile silo for Delta-09. Operational from 1963 through the beginning of the 1990s, the aboveground portion of the facility is now open for tours (self guided for visitors who have the use of a cell phone).

Educational Opportunities

Field trips are always welcome at the historic site, as it can be a great way to teach students history with the use of an actual historic site. The ranger led field trips and educational tours depend on the size of the class visiting.

Classes that have 18 students or fewer can tour Launch Control for Delta-01. This field trip usually takes around two hours and gives students a general, basic intro to the Cold War and the way that the missiles helped prevent war and preserve peace. After the intro, the classes will break up into smaller groups of around six students who will take a tour of the facilities located both above and below ground. The tour also includes a visit to the missile silo

Classes with more than 18 students will meet directly at the missile silo. It lasts around 45 minutes and includes a discussion about the role of the missiles, a general introduction, and the future of nuclear weapons.

Tours must be booked at least two weeks prior. They are free and are offered from October through May.


The historic site is home to an incredible bookstore with many different books that focus on topics related to the missile, the Cold War, and the people who have spent time there. With other educational information and gift related items, purchases made at the bookstore go back into helping support the programming offered at the site.

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, 24545 Cottonwood Road, Philip, SD, 57567, Phone: 605-433-5552

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Attraction Spotlight in SD: South Dakota Air and Space Museum

Visiting the air and space museum in South Dakota is often inspirational, even for people who didn’t come to the museum with an interest or understanding of aviation and its history. Visitors should expect to spend a few hours here to take in all of the impressive aircraft and educational exhibits offered on-site.


Established just outside the front gate of the air force base in 1992, the air and space museum were the brainchild of the heritage foundation that was created in 1982 to help support and encourage the preservation of historic aircraft that were on display at Ellsworth. The mission of the museum is not only to continue to preserve the aircraft, but also to preserve the history of aviation in general, to help honor veterans (not only those that served at Ellsworth but all veterans across the nation), to help offer education for students, and (most of all) to provoke and inspire future generations to continue to innovate aviation.

Permanent Exhibits

The museum highlights aviation in its many different facets though a variety of galleries as well as exhibits not only about aviation but also featuring actual military aircraft and missiles. They are divided up between exhibits that are located inside the museum and those that are located outside the museum.

Indoor: The galleries located at the indoor portion of the exhibit focus on aerospace and aviation engineering, science, history, and innovation. Looking at them through the lens of military history, the gallery celebrates how much innovation has played a part in aviation as well as looking forward to what aviation may bring in the future. There is also a selection of aircraft located in the indoor section that show the rich history of aviation in the United States. This area also looks at the history of the Cold War as it relates to aviation, some of aviation’s pioneers, as well as the history of the Air Force Base the museum is located on (Ellsworth). It makes sure to return to the history of aviation in South Dakota as well, tying everything back to the state’s impact on the nation and even the world when it comes to aviation.

Outdoor: The outdoor galleries and exhibits number over 30, and add the beauty of the Black Hills in the background. Visitors should make sure to check out the actual aircraft on exhibit - like the H-13 helicopter or the B1B Lancer airplane. These aircraft have been restored with historical accuracy and each aircraft on display comes with information on their history and the impact it had on aviation in general.

Guests to the museum should also make sure to check out the Aviation Hall of Fame. This huge and inspiring wall the beautiful bronze plaques tell the story of some of aviation’s greatest characters. Learn about their history as well as how it impacted the legacy of aviation in America. Full of inspiration, innovation, and invention, the wall will show guests just how many people have had their hands in leading aviation to the prominent place it occupies in America.

Tours are offered at the museum free of charge and are first come, first serve.

Special Events

Although the museum does offer free tours, many visitors and groups to the air and space museum may be interested in taking a tour of the entire air force base as well. Available from the middle of May to the middle of September (although tour options are more limited toward the end of the season). This tour is offered by air-conditioned bus and takes about an hour. It is led by a tour guide and video equipment as well as cameras are permitted. No reservations are required, but tours are offered first come, first serve so guests should be aware that there may be a wait. There is a cost required for adult guests, as well as a discounted cost for children under the age of 12. Group discounts as well as student discounts are available. Student field trips are only available in May and September.


The air and space museum are home to a gift shop that focuses on one of a kind items related to aviation. Check out the apparel (the hoodie is a favorite, but they also offer t-shirts, hats, etc), the novelty items, educational resources for both children and adults, and other toys and gifts. The gift shop is open when the museum is, with the exception of January and February when it is closed.

South Dakota Air and Space Museum, 2890 Davis Drive Building #5208, Ellsworth AFB, SD 57706, Phone: 605-385-5189

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Attraction Spotlight in SD: Bear Country USA

Bear Country USA is one of the more unique and exciting, as well as educational, travel destinations in South Dakota. Guests can drive through in a car and see over 20 different species of animals in their natural habitat, all while learning about their conservation programs and little facts about each one.


Opened in August of 1972, the park was the brainchild of Dr. Dennis Casey (affectionately known as “Doc”) and Pauline, his wife. Started with 11 black bears, one wolf, one cougar, an elk, and three buffalo, the park has since ballooned to include over 200 black bears and many other animals on over 250 acres of land. The majority of the animals have been born in captivity, but all efforts have been made to maintain as close to a wild experience for them as possible. It is currently considered the biggest collection of black bears owned privately.

Permanent Attractions

Despite its name, Bear Country offers so much more to see and do than just bears. The open season runs from April through November, although they are occasionally closed during that time as well. Guests are strongly encouraged to check the website prior to a planned visit to verify that they are indeed open.

For the private vehicular tours of the park, the rates vary depending on age level, with a discount provided for seniors, children, and military. There is also a maximum cost per vehicle. Children ages four and under are admitted free. They also offer season passes for local guests who plan on visiting more than once - it ends up paying for itself in the long run!

There are also group tour rates available. A group is defined as an identifiable and designated group of 15 people or more. Children under the age of five are admitted free. If available, “step on” guides can be added without additional charge as long as there is 24-hour notice of desire to do so. Tours take around two hours.

Animals on site:

- Arctic wolf

- Badger

- Beaver

- Bighorn sheep

- Black Bear

- Bobcat

- Buffalo

- Canadian Lynx

- Coyote

- Elk

- Grizzly Bear

- Mountain Lion

- Porcupine

- Raccoon

- Red Fox

- Reindeer

- River Otter

- Rocky Mountain Goat

- Striped Skunk

- Timber Wolf

Other things to do while on site include making sure to catch all of the daily activities that happen in the wildlife walk part of the park. The majority of the time these activities are offered as a substitution for days when the wildlife doesn’t feel like hanging out with the general public, but they can also be enjoyed solo as they are included with admission to the park.

- Download and print off an activity page for children to color. There are available on the website.

- Talk to the resident keepers about the animals that live at the park and learn interesting facts about them, as well as watching demonstrations, talks, and other informative programs.

- Children can get temporary tattoos!

- Take a picture with the park mascot!

- Make use of the free strollers and stroll around the wildlife walk.

Educational Opportunities

Visiting the park with a classroom full of students is the perfect way to get them to literally interact with the subjects they have been studying. Great for homeschooled children as well as both private and public schools, the website offers a huge variety of activity pages for download both before and after a visit (with subjects like what bears eat, an animal behavior BINGO game, and a fun word find activity) as well as summer camps meant to help students develop that connection with nature that is so imperative to help children understand the importance of conservation and preservation. They also help students be able to identify animal habitats, signs of animal life, and overall just to have fun while learning! Price depends on the activity and the number of students, so it is required for teachers to contact the park prior to a visit for additional information and reservations.

Dining and Shopping

Stop by the Cub Grub (a small grill located on the grounds for a quick snack, some cotton candy, or just a cold drink (especially on the hot days). It is available for the majority of the season (with the exception of occasional days during both the early and the late parts of the season). Also make sure to visit the gift shop for a selection of apparel (hoodies, t-shirts, etc), blankets, toys, tote bags, and more! All purchases go back into helping Bear Country USA provide for the animals located there.

Bear Country USA, 13820 US-16, Rapid City, SD 57702, Phone: 605-343-2290