Do Big Things at Rapid City's Main Street Square | Black Hills Travel Blog

Do Big Things at Rapid City's Main Street Square

  • Do Big Things at Rapid City's Main Street Square
    Do Big Things at Rapid City's Main Street Square
  • Do Big Things at Rapid City's Main Street Square
    Do Big Things at Rapid City's Main Street Square
  • Do Big Things at Rapid City's Main Street Square
    Do Big Things at Rapid City's Main Street Square
Updated: 
Thursday, July 22, 2021
By : 
Alyssa

Growing up and working in the Black Hills and Badlands, one of the most popular questions in shops and hotel lobbies we got was, “What’s the best way to wind down our day in the Hills?” My favorite answer to give? “You can’t go wrong with an evening in Downtown Rapid City.” And as the years have gone on, it’s only become more and more true.

 

Free Black Hills Fun, Art & Culture

 

Once just another parking lot, Main Street Square’s presence has undeniably transformed the landscape of Downtown and the overall Rapid City experience. Elegantly stretching to the sky and surrounding the Square is one of the city’s major art displays, The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water. Made up of 21 large pieces of ancient granite that were tediously carved and sculpted by Masayuki Nagase, the abstract design frames the Square and honors the unique beauty of the region. If you have an eye for art, the sculpture alone is one to put on your bucket list.

 

 

Now the Heart of Rapid City, Main Street Square serves as a central location to an abundance of free fun and an incredible shared outdoor space for families to bond and have a blast in town. As a local, I have a lot of great memories exploring downtown with friends and watching first-hand how the area lit up visitors’ faces, and it’s no surprise why.

 

Despite its location in the “city,” Downtown Rapid keeps its charming, small-town ambiance and is flush with local gifts and goods at every turn. Not to mention, there’s something for all interests just a short walk away and a million ways to keep yourself entertained!

 

Thursday Nights on the Square

My most recent romp through Downtown Rapid City was to join the triumphant return of the Summer Nights concert series that takes place every Thursday night throughout the summer. After a brief hiatus in 2020, the series was starting up once again with the Rapid City-based singer Brandon Jones and a gaggle of folks eager to enjoy live music and have a great time together outside.

 

 

Since the parking can get packed quickly in the evening, I made sure to get there early, knowing great fun, food, sights and the joyful sounds of summer would be waiting well before the concert began. The beer garden was open and full of people laughing and taking in the scene, the patios of the restaurants and bars were full, Art Alley was bustling with people admiring the transformative art, and, further down the way, Main Street Square was a ray of bright, cheerful celebration.

 

 

The interactive fountains were open and full of kids and adults happy to cool off in the water spouts while families watched on from the sidelines, enjoying delicious smoothies and ice cream from the Square’s shops.

 

A great perk of the Square is that it is a dedicated space where you can sit down and relax in the shade while your little ones run free and work off any extra energy. At the end of a long day in the Black Hills, it’s an option that’ll give the hotel pool a run for its money. If you’d rather stay out of the water, but you want to pass the time while you soak up the sun, there is also corn hole sets and hula hoops for all to enjoy every Thursday in the summer.

 

On Thursdays, the Square’s Splash Patio also offers a variety of ice cold brews, seltzers, ciders, sparkling wines & sodas to sip, as well as a Kidz Zone. The event draws in local food trucks and is an excellent way to enjoy some of the region’s great eats without trekking across the city.

 

 

I sat down to cool off with a tasty scoop of mocha chip ice cream from Silver Lining Creamery and reminded myself that, despite the heat, it was great to feel the summer sun once again. I listened to the great talent of young blues artist Bodhi Linde while he performed live for the crowd and took in the sights, sounds and smells before I took off to explore the area and see what was new.

 

Exploring Downtown Rapid City

 

I toured many of the favorite stops that both visitors and locals enjoy exploring, like Prairie Edge Trading Company and Galleries, located just across from the Square and home to an incredible collection of traditional and contemporary Native American art, jewelry, crafts, books and music. If you’re hoping to stretch your legs a bit more, meander along the City of Presidents walking tour to see all 43 bronze statues and make sure to enjoy the city’s unique utility boxes which are wrapped in local art and photography.

 

There’s also many downtown art galleries to tour and admire, like the Dahl Arts Center and Suzie Cappa Art Center, or you can try your hand at one of the challenging puzzles at Black Hills Escape Rooms. For a drink with a view, enjoy a cold one at the rooftop cantina of Que Pasa Cantina.

 

 

As you walk around and explore the area, you’ll notice there’s something for every interest; comic book stores, toy stores and arcades are ready to please kids of all ages, boutique shopping offers curated outfits and accessories, and options for local flavors and outdoor dining is fantastic. Shops are stacked with fresh-baked goodies and candy, and pubs of all variety give a taste of the best brews in the region. Outside of the incredible restaurant experience downtown, Rapid City also has a food truck scene at the Square on Thursdays or Food Truck Fridays to satisfy all your cravings and round out your Rapid City experience.

 

 

After checking in on the bronze presidents, window shopping antiques and wandering through the crowd, I made a cut through Art Alley to make my way to the concert stage and check in on the newest works. The always changing display is located between 6th and 7th streets, only just a short walk away from Main Street Square, and is host to dynamic street art, musicians, artisans and a buzzing community. The best part of this electric slice of Rapid City? All you need is a permit from the Rapid City Arts Council and you can make your own mark in Art Alley.

 

The Summer Nights Experience

 

Walking through, I spotted several of my current favorite murals that were still up (including the Visit Rapid City photo spot) and caught bits of excitement from everyone’s conversations. Admission is always free, so it was easy to join the crowd of families, friends and visitors directly from the alley.

 

 

The collective excitement of the crowd was palpable. The road was blocked off, people were set-up with their chairs and picnic blankets and yearly traditions were kicking back into gear once the band stepped on stage and beckoned everyone closer.

 

 

For opening the 2021 season, Brandon Jones was an apt choice. A Rapid City based singer, Jones’ warm vocals and excitable energy got the crowd going right away. While the band deals mostly in Country, they dipped in and out of genres throughout the night, keeping the sound fresh and entertaining the entire downtown area while the sun went down.

 

 

The band gave it their all, toasting to summer in the Black Hills and lighting the streets up with their amazing performance. A line dance group formed, kids wiggled on their parents’ shoulders and couples dusted off their best moves for the occasion. For everyone, it was a perfect end to an already perfect summer day in Rapid City.

 

Do Big Things® All Year Long

 

If you’re visiting the Black Hills and Badlands and want to experience some of the magic of Main Street Square and Downtown Rapid City, there’s a wide variety of events to enjoy all year long, no matter the season. For more live music, the Summer Nights Concert Series will continue throughout the summer, up until September 2. The Square will host Eve 6, June 19, and Thunderstruck, August 7 in addition to their regular Splash Patio entertainment every Thursday through the summer.

 

 

Coming up in the fall, join in for pumpkin chuckin’ fun at the Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival, September 25, ooh and ahh at classic automobiles at the Cruiser Car show, October 2, or watch the Bier Olympics at the Bierbörse Festival, October 9. If the cooler weather is more your style, catch the Holiday Celebration and Winter Market, November 27, to start the winter season with a tree lighting, locally made gifts and the opening of the Square’s ice skating rink.

 

For more info, make a stop at the Visit Rapid City office at Main Street Square, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. for visitor information. Pick up brochures and travel materials, including the popular City of Presidents Scavenger Hunt pamphlet, or stop by their offices on the 2nd floor to speak with area experts.

 

Whatever you’re looking for to wind down your day in the Hills, it’s waiting for you and the whole family at Main Street Square, so you can get back to exploring the world and Do Big Things®. Discover more at VisitRapidCity.com.

 

Sponsored by Visit Rapid City

 

 

 

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