South Dakota's second largest town, RAPID CITY, is swamped with family-fun, and even if you aren't interested in its myriad rated G attractions, the city makes a convenient starting point exploring the charms of the Black Hills. In town, the Journey Museum, 222 New York St (daily 9am–5pm; $7), leads you through time, beginning with the geologic evolution of the Plains and the era of dinosaurs, right through the life of the Plains Indians to the pioneers who invaded their territory.
Greyhound pulls into town at 333 Sixth St. The visitor center is in the Civic Center, 444 Mount Rushmore Rd N (Mon– Fri 8am–5pm; Tel:605/343-1744 or 1-800/487-3223, Web: www.rapidcitycvb.com ). Well-worn wood trimmings and soft Sioux furnishings of the delightful Hotel Alex Johnson, 523 Sixth St (Tel:605/342-1210 or 1-800/888-2539; Price: $101–160), provide a great escape from the dull corporate decor prevalent in Rapid City, Both the food and hand-crafted beer at Firehouse Brewing Co., 610 Main St (Tel:605/348-1915) – which has plenty of outdoor seating – are worth sampling.