Chuck Wagon Dinners
A decidedly Western phenomenon, the Circle-B Chuckwagon (22735 U.S. 385, 605/348-7358 or 800/403-7358, www.circle-b-ranch.com, Memorial Day–mid-Sept. Mon.–Sat., ticket office opens at 4:30 p.m., gunfight at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m., adult $19–26, child $10–17), which opened in 1976, is the oldest chuck wagon dinner outfit in the Hills. A traditional meal (chicken, beef, or buffalo served with beans, a baked potato, applesauce, ginger cake, coffee, and lemonade) is followed by an evening performance of Western music—think “Sons of the Pioneers.” Located 15 miles from Rapid City on Highway 44 headed west and then one mile north on U.S. 385, the facility also offers trail rides, gunfights, gold panning, a petting corral, and a gift shop.
The Flying-T Wranglers (8971 S. U.S. 16, 605/342-1905 or 888/256-1905, www.flyingt.com, mid-May–Sept., ticket office opens at 3 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m., adult $18–25, child $9–16), founded in 1979, haven’t been in the business quite as long as their competitors, but they come in at a close second. Dinner selections feature barbecued beef, chicken, buffalo, or a hot dog. Sides include potatoes, baked beans, biscuits and honey, applesauce, spice cake, coffee, and lemonade. The Flying-T Wranglers put on a one-hour show of cowboy ballads, country swing, and bluegrass right after dinner. The facility is located six miles south of Rapid City off of U.S. 16, the main route to Mount Rushmore.
Pubs and Nightlife
The Firehouse Brewing Company (610 Main St., 605/348-1915, www.firehousebrewing.com, Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–midnight, Sun. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., lunch $8–11, dinner $15–19) has been brewing its own ales since 1991. It is a large venue, with two floors and an outdoor patio dedicated to the lounge and restaurant. The third floor hosts a small theater. There is live music all summer. The cheesy artichoke dip is delicious, as are most of the items on the menu. It is a hot social spot in town and tends to the noisy side, which is not surprising when you mix ales, music, and food.
Another downtown favorite is the Dublin Square Irish Pub and Grill (504 Mt. Rushmore Rd., 605/791-1600, www.mydublinpub.com, Mon.–Tues. 3 p.m.–midnight, Wed.–Sat. 3 p.m.–2 a.m., closed Sun.), which specializes in Guinness, Irish whiskey, and scotch. With live music on weekends and a variety of menu items priced $8–9, this is a popular nightspot.
Paddy O’Neills Pub and Casino (523 Sixth St., 605/342-1210 ext. 1232, summer daily 2 p.m.–2 a.m., winter Mon.–Sat. 2 p.m.–2 a.m., Sun. 6 p.m.–2 a.m.) is one of the best-loved pubs in Rapid City. Part of Hotel Alex Johnson, Paddy O’Neills has a cozy ambiance, with a lot of brass and wood, and outside tables in the summer. Food is not the pub’s strong point, since popcorn and frozen pizza are the only snacks available.
Rushmore Plaza Civic Center
The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center (444 N. Mt. Rushmore Rd., 605/394-4115, www.gotmine.com) plays host to rodeos and music, sports, dance, and theater productions. It has an ice arena, and the Don Barnet arena, which can seat 10,000 and is a flexible space that can transform itself from a circus tent, to a rodeo to a concert.
The Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (1202 E. St. Francis St., 605/348-4676, www.bhsymphony.org, adult $12–28, student $8–21), established in the early 1930s, plays a concert series that runs from October through April at the Civic Center. Be sure to check with the center when you are traveling to the Hills to see if there are any special shows you wouldn’t want to miss.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition