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Need advice for 3 days with kids

Crystal Lake...
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29 posts
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Need advice for 3 days with kids

Hi all - I'm planning on traveling to the area with my girls (17 & 11). We will be driving from Illinois (13 hrs) and staying for 4 nights. Can someone help with a somewhat aggressive itinerary? We will be arriving around dinnertime on a Wedneday night and leaving sometime on Sunday. I'd like to see as much as possible. Obviously Mt. Rushmore & Crazy Horse are on the list...but what else are the must do's ? I'm not familar with the area at all.

Chicago, Illinois
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683 posts
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1. Re: Need advice for 3 days with kids

Hi scrappinmomto3 - Your posting caught my eye being from Crystal Lake. We are from Algonquin and try to get out to the Black Hills twice a year. I would love to help you out. You don't have time to do all the Black Hills has to offer but 4 days will give you enough time to see some of the attractions and this gorgeous part of the country. What are you and your girls interests? Are you into hiking, biking, swimming, caving, wildlife, history, etc.? Knowing this will help me and other TA advisors advise you of your best options.

You stated a 13 hour drive from CL which is really pushing it. No stops, other than gas, and eating in the car MIGHT get you there 13 hours. It normally takes us 9 hours to Sioux Falls and another 4 1/2 hours to the Black Hills from there. We usually do stop to eat a late breakfast or lunch since my husband does not like to eat in the car. Do you plan on stopping to see the Badlands? If so, this will add some time to your trip but is something you can do on your way home also. The Badlands are a must see IMO.

Do you need advice for lodging or restaurants also?

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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2. Re: Need advice for 3 days with kids


Here's a short list of my must sees of the Black Hills:

Mt Rushmore

Crazy Horse

Custer State Park (Iron Mountain Rd., Wildlife Loop, Sylvan Lake & Needles Hwy.--be sure to drive Iron Mountain from south to north for the best views)

Badlands National Park

Jewel Cave.

Wind Cave

Devil's Tower

Many spend a day at Custer alone, and the Badlands will take another day. Many enjoy including the Minuteman Missile Site with this, along with Wall Drug. If you go out to Devil's Tower, that will probably take another day, particularly if you include Spearfish Canyon for some short hikes and Deadwood for its historical components. Deadwood is mainly a gambling town, but it does have some attractions worth checking out like the Adams House and Mt Moriah Cemetery. Let's see..so I've just blown through 3 of your five days. :) With the remaining 2 days, you can easily do Crazy Horse, Rushmore, and both cave tours. Rushmore and Crazy Horse will take 2-3 hours each..possibly a little more if you get wrapped up in the exhibits. You could also see the Badlands enroute from Illinois as Mt. Mama said, which might free up a day. Just things to consider.

Be sure to visit travelsd.com and order a SD travel guide. It will give you a great idea on the attractions of the area.

Also..lodging advice..IMO, the best places to base are Keystone/Hill City/or Custer. They are the most centralized to the sights.

Please let us know how else we can help. Enjoy the planning.

Saint Cloud...
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3. Re: Need advice for 3 days with kids

I'd carve out time for something special like a trail ride through Bluebell Lodge or a rock-climbing lesson at Sylvan Lake.


Author of The Dakotas Off the Beaten Path, Globe-Pequot Press July 2010


4. Re: Need advice for 3 days with kids

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