Hi all. I'm doing some fun pre-planning for our Summer 2014 family vacation to the Black Hills. We are coming from extreme Southeast MN. We are close to Interstate 90 and will take that all the way across. We are going for nearly 2 weeks and will be spending 9 nights in the Black Hills. We have 3 children who will be 3, 7 and 10 at the time and unfortunately, they aren't the most patient travelers, so we'll be breaking up the trip on the way there and back in Sioux Falls. We've never been there before, so excited to spend some time there! We're ones to spend a fair amount of time (2-4 hrs.) at various attractions, so I hope I'm not packing too much in. That's where I might need your help. While our kids are not good travelers, they make up for it by being superb during the day, lots of stamina and they don't need much for daytime "down" time. We should be able to go, go, go! We're not ones to vacation the same place twice very often so I' would like to see as much as possible. We will do a good mix of dining out and packing stuff. Will likely have at least 1 meal out a day. Here's what I've come up with so far....
Day 1- Leave home at 1pm, pit stop at the Green Giant statue /DQ in Blue Earth, MN, continue to Sioux Falls/Falls Park. Considering staying at the Brimark Inn.
Day 2- Great Plains Zoo, Sertoma Butterfly House/The Outdoor Campus, get on the road to Porter Sculpture Park .... continue to Mitchell for the night. Considering staying at the Comfort Suites being they have a small waterpark.
Day 3- Corn Palace, Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, get on the road to 1880 Town in Murdo.... continue to (or hoping to stay at) Cedar Pass Lodge/Badlands for the night.
Day 4- Explore the Badlands most of the day and Wall Drug.... continue to Hill City and check into cabin for the next 9 nights
Day 5- Bear Country, Old MacDonalds Farm, Reptile Gardens (curious about lunchtime fare during this day... go into Rapid City? Are there quick restaurants close?
Day 6- (Rapid City day) Museum of Geology, Journey Museum, downtown Rapid city (art alley/fountains/presidential statues, etc.), Storybook Island and finish the night at Dinosaur Park
Day 7- (Hill City day) 10am 1880 Train Ride round trip, Black Hills Institute Museum, Teddy Bear Town, rock shops (Dakota Stone Rock Shop/Things That Rock?), end the day at Fort Hays Old West Town & Dinner show.
Day 8- (Keystone day) Wax museum, Rushmore Cave/Eagle Zipline, etc., Alpine slide (late lunch at the top), Red Garter Saloon show, explore downtown Keystone (have a friend that lives there so we'll spend time with them this day), end the day at Cosmos.
Day 9- Needles Hwy/Iron Mountain Rd drive, Sylvan Lake swim/hike, Hike Harney Peak (or attempt it!), end the day driving Wildlife Loop and Mt. Coolidge Drive.
Day 10- Jewel Cave Tour, Crazy Horse and the scenic way to Mt. Rushmore/Presidential Trail....staying for the evening lighting ceremony
Day 11- (day trip to Spearfish/Devils Tower) Drive up Spearfish Canyon to the 10am tour at Spirit of the Wildlife animal sanctuary, the Fish Hatchery (if open, rumors it's closing?), continue to Devils Tower and spend most of the day, head back down Spearfish Canyon to be back to the cabin in Hill City before dark. Anything else that we should do this day? What are the best/most obvious stops along Spearfish byway?
Day 12- Another trip to the Wildlife Loop (this time, up and at 'em early!), Wind Cave National Park tour, Mammoth Site, maybe find Cascade Falls/Springs?, end the day at Evan's Plunge since it's open until 9pm (or is that something to skip? My kids love swimming and we aren't doing much swimming this vacation like they are used to, so it might be a really fun thing for them. Unless it's just simply really bad, like several reviews) ...
Day 13- Check out of cabin and start the journey home. Stop at Call of the Wild/Gas station, Visit the Air and Space museum, thinking of the Minuteman Missile site?, stop at the Chamberlain Lewis & Clark rest stop, continue to Sioux Falls for the night.
Day 14- Head home! Hit the SPAM museum in Austin.
I should note that one evening we want to see the Grand Magic Show located at Bedrock City, but unsure if they'll be running weekend or weeknight shows at that time. And maybe spending some time AT Bedrock City? Unsure about the quality vs. $ spent on that attraction yet.
One more thing... Circle B Ranch Chuckwagon event. Going back and forth on that one as well. Is that one better than Fort Hays in anyone's opinion? Or is another one better? Looking for the most things for the kids to do. My boys will be 3 and 7 so definitely into all things cowboy.
What do you think?