We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Custer or Hill City?

Jersey City, New...
Level Contributor
4 posts
46 reviews
Save Topic
Custer or Hill City?

We'll be taking a late August trip to the Black Hills area and are trying to decide whether to spend 3 nights in Custer or Hill City. While we're there we'll be visiting Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Jewel Cave, and spending some time in Custer State Park. What are the pros and cons of each town? Which is more interesting? More convenient? Offers more/tastier food options?

Thanks for any insight!

Mentioned in this post
Hill City
Hill City
South Dakota
Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse
South Dakota
Custer State Park
Custer State Park
4,698 Reviews
Custer, SD
Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
6,137 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Custer or Hill City?

While I didn't stay in either town, we did visit both. I personally preferred Hill City. Hill City has an excellent restaurant called the Alpine Inn. It has delicious German fare for lunch and excellent desserts. For dinner, they serve only filet mignon, so if that's not your taste, you might only like the lunches. Hill City is a bit closer to Rushmore, Rapid City, and the Badlands. Both towns are pretty convenient to Custer SP. Custer had a more western flair to it, and to me, the motels didn't look quite as nice..more Mom and Pop. Some looked a bit run down. Custer is closer to the caves and Crazy Horse, but imo, Hill City is worth the slightly longer drive.

Mentioned in this post
Hill City
Hill City
South Dakota
Rapid City
Rapid City
South Dakota
Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse
South Dakota
Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
32,665 posts
448 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Custer or Hill City?

I like Keystone and they have nice restaurants and a nice lodge- K Bar S Lodge. It is very convenient.

Mentioned in this post
Keystone
Keystone
South Dakota
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
Level Contributor
21,870 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Custer or Hill City?

And to make this even more difficult, we liked the town of Custer the best. I liked the location and it did not seem as full of touristy shops and restaurants. We spent a lot of time in Custer State Park, but could easily get to Mt Rushmore.

Mentioned in this post
Custer State Park
Custer State Park
4,698 Reviews
Custer, SD
Rapid City, SD
Level Contributor
893 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: Custer or Hill City?

I'll throw in Keystone for my comparisons as it is mentioned above.

Hill City is smaller than Custer. There are several art galleries downtown. The 1880 Train yard is there. It's a close comparison, but I'd say the downtown of Hill City is a little more tourist friendly in Hill City. The Alpine Inn is certainly the most popular restaurant--it's hard to go wrong eating there.

Being a little bigger, Custer has more fast food and a little bigger downtown. There are a couple of pretty good places to eat downtown. The Sage Creek Grille is a pretty good wine bar/bistro.

Keystone is a great place for families and for a quick overnight stay to see Mount Rushmore. But it's certainly got a tacky tourist trap atmosphere. As far as the above comment of "good restaurants"--I really wouldn't say "good". There is a good number of restaurants and while some of them are pretty good, Keystone has a reputation for run-em-in, run-em-out tourist trap food. That reputation isn't completely justified but you can see how it got to be if you stay there for a while.

You really can't go wrong with either Hill City or Custer as you'll have driving to do get to your attractions anyway. And Keystone is a good place to stay for the right situation.

The Custer State Park lodges have pretty good food. Check out Sylvan Lake or the Game Lodge.

Mentioned in this post
Keystone
Keystone
South Dakota
Hill City
Hill City
South Dakota
Sage Creek Grille
Sage Creek Grille
627 Reviews
Custer, SD
Custer State Park
Custer State Park
4,698 Reviews
Custer, SD
Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake
1,443 Reviews
Custer, SD
Endless Mountains...
Level Contributor
1,673 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Custer or Hill City?

Hands down...Hill city and dining at the Alpine Inn.....

Keystone not bad, but too Touristy and not many good eating places.

Custer nice, but a little run down and not central like Hill City...

Mentioned in this post
Keystone
Keystone
South Dakota
Hill City
Hill City
South Dakota
Minneapolis
Level Contributor
81 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Custer or Hill City?

Have stayed in Keystone (Kelly Inn)and Hill City (Best Western). Liked them both. I enjoyed watching the monuments light up at night from Keystone. It is touristy, but fun to walk through. You can stay in Hill City and take the 1880's train to Keystone, visit there a while and take it back to Hill City. It's a tad pricey, but the scenery in between is really lovely. If you take the train, wear a hat. Hill City is nice and because I have always been there during the rally in August, trying to get in to eat at the Alpine is challenging at best. But everyone I know who has eaten there really enjoyed the cuisine. I have been to Custer a couple of times but never stayed there.

Mentioned in this post
Keystone
Keystone
South Dakota
Hill City
Hill City
South Dakota
South Dakota
Level Contributor
20 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Custer or Hill City?

I would shoot for Hill City. Like everybody has pointed out Alpine is excellent and well worth the wait. (lunch also)There are plenty of great shops to browse through right downtown while you wait. If the wait is too long there is also (Rico's Mexican Restaurant-authentic mexican cusine), Route 16 Diner, and a Cowby Grill something downtown. Not much for fast food. Lots of lodging options and very clean town, art galleries, a couple of tourist shops. 1880 Train. Bike rentals on the mickelson trail,

Mentioned in this post
Hill City
Hill City
South Dakota
Nebo, NC
Level Contributor
235 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Custer or Hill City?

We stayed four nights in Custer this past September at the Custer Comfort Inn & Suites. The Inn was very comfortable, continental breakfast, no congestion, easy access, and the Dakota Cowboy Restaurant nearby afforded us good dinner options. Custer turned out to be a good hub for us to launch our day trips from. And it doesn't hurt that the towns has a broad street with plenty of parking and 'buffalo' at each corner. The National Museum of Woodcarving is just up the road and certainly worth a visit while you're there. We visited Crazy Horse, Alpine Inn, and the 1880 Train in Hill City; the Wildlife Loop drive, Needles, Iron Mountain Hwy.; Rushmore and the Presidential Wax Museum in Keystone; the Mammoth Site at Hot Springs; plus Bear Country, USA, and a chuckwagon supper/show on the highway to Rapid City--all easy drives back to Custer. When returning at night from Rapid City or Keystone, be sure to stay on Hwy. 16/385 and not the Alt. 16.

Mentioned in this post
Comfort Inn & Suites Custer
Comfort Inn & Suites...
511 Reviews
Custer, SD
Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse
South Dakota
Hill City
Hill City
South Dakota
Keystone
Keystone
South Dakota
Hot Springs
Hot Springs
South Dakota
Rapid City
Rapid City
South Dakota
9. Re: Custer or Hill City?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 10:20 am, September 30, 2009