Hotel Alex Johnson
This is a historic hotel, with a great restaurant, in downtown Rapid City. I didn't actually stay there, but it's well worth a visit just to view the lobby.
It was built in 1928 by Alex Carlton Johnson (1861-1938), Vice President of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. He combined German and native styles to create a unique ambiance. This is the grandest hotel in Rapid City. Room rates depend upon the season, but they're generally quite high.
Personally, I found Rapid City...
Personally, I found Rapid City much more enjoyable than Sioux Falls. Though SF has much more in the way of commercial industry, Rapid City definitely has much more in the way of character. You can almost feel the presence of the settlers as they searched out a place to rest on their way across American, searching for gold. The Old West has left its imprint on Rapid City, as well as an ever-present Native American influence. The two are parallel; joined by a shared history, yet never touching.
To get a flavor of the area, visit the Alex Johnson hotel on 5th and Saint Joseph's Street. It's the oldest hotel in town and has a long, prestigious history. It's plop in the middle of Rapid City, near all the shops and restaurants, about a 20 minute drive from Mt. Rushmore. Even if you don't stay at the Alex Johnson, visit the vestibule area full of Indian artifacts, and bursting with information on the history of Rapid City.
Also in Rapid, shop at the Prairie Edge on 5th and Main. Spend hours searching through Tribal beadwork, ritual materials, traditional Native clothing, paintings, ceramics, rugs, books, music, incense, etc. The shop is two levels and includes an expansive gallery displaying works of local artists. There is always something incredible on display. Local Kat Deuter is a Lakhota artist who does especially beautiful and delicate paintings of Native American children which are very popular in town. What I love most about South Dakota is the sky. In the three years I lived there, I never tired of the expanse of blue from horizon to horizon. Admittedly, upon arrival, I found myself actually intimidated by it's size; a city girl at heart! But after returning to the city from South Dakota, I found myself suffocated by large buildings, and even trees! The sight of the prairie touching the sky, grasses gently blowing in the breeze, fills me with calm and a sense of connectedness. It's like you can't be touched by outside forces when you are in South Dakota; you are protected by that amazing sky.
A Must-Add: My son was born in Rapid City, so I have a particular fondness for it. In fact, I went into labor in the Journey Museum and had to rush to the hospital from there (thanks to my friends at Rapid City Regional Hospital!).
The Journey Museum has been a huge undertaking for the city and I will address it more in the section on Museums : )
The Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City