Tag Archive: black hills vacation

  1. 48 HOURS IN THE BLACK HILLS

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    FROM THE DESK OF KEELY

    48 HOURS IN THE BLACK HILLS – For the Outdoor Adventurer

    Damien and I often joke that we “traded in our 9 to 5, for a 5 to 9”, but it’s not entirely wrong. Before purchasing Black Hills Balloons in 2015, we often dreamed of owning our own business and creating a better life for ourselves; one that allowed us to enjoy the outdoors, be a bit healthier and spend more time with each other. It’s hard to believe we’re prepping for our 6th season, doing what we love and living that dream of ours.

    We’re often asked about our favorite restaurants, hikes and day trips here in the Black Hills. It’s such a beautiful place full of hidden gems, its easy to get overwhelmed by all there is to do. And there’s SO MUCH TO DO, for everyone… how lucky we are to live in a place with something for everyone.

    When we host a houseguest, we gear their visit to what they like most; fine-tuning itineraries for friends from different backgrounds. It’s so fun to share our favorite spots with friends and family, we just had to share it with all of you. Here is our take on “48 hours in the Black Hills”, for the outdoor adventurer; a person who wants to get out and experience nature and the Black Hills in all her glory.

    48 Hours in the Black Hills – For the Outdoor Adventurer

    Day 1:

    A balloon flight with Black Hills Balloons, of course! You can’t miss an opportunity to soar over the Black Hills in a hot air balloon. Flying over the areas unique landscapes, valleys and granite formations is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the area. Paired with a serene sunrise, wildlife, and a celebratory toast of champagne, the experience is once in a lifetime.  We always recommend you schedule your flight on your first day of vacation. That way, if Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, we have plenty of backup opportunities during your stay.

    After your flight, rent a paddleboard or kayak from the South Dakota Outdoor Shop. Located next door to our passenger meeting location, the SD Outdoor Shop is not only convenient but offers fantastic advice and rentals for the adventurer looking to explore our beautiful area. Visit Custer State Parks Sylvan Lake for a picturesque paddle or Legion Lake for a relaxing day in the sun.

    If you’re looking for something a little more unique to the area, try rock climbing with Sylvan Rocks Climbing Guides. Ranging from 3 hours to full-day adventures for first-timers or experienced climbers, the guides at Sylvan Rocks will ensure you are safe while climbing some of the nation’s most recognized rock formations. They even offer a day of climbing Devils Tower, if you’re up for it!

    Outdoor rentals, gear and advice for the South Dakota Black Hills

    Day 2:

    Rent an ATV from Adventure Rentals! Offering full or half-day rentals, Adventure Rentals is an official Polaris outfitter, so you know they’ll always have the best machines. The Black Hills have nearly 4,000 miles of off-road trails to explore and the team at Adventure Rentals are regularly praised for their personalized approach to planning a guest’s perfect day.

    Stop along your ATV travels for a hike to round out your day. Custer State Park offers hikes requiring a variety of skill levels. Just make sure you take plenty of water, and your camera to take full advantage of the amazing views. And while you’re at it, drive the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park for an up-close-and-personal visit with our area’s famous bison herd before you return your ATV.

    If an ATV isn’t your style, tour the Badlands on a bicycle with Black Hills Tour Company. The private day tours can manage up to 8 guests, includes local transportation, your gear, a guide, and a picnic lunch. Catch stunning views of Badlands while you peddle 30 miles through the pinnacles and lower shale formations that make up the historic national park.

    Black Hills Tour Company custom VW limo bus

    But who are we kidding? With so much adventure in the Black Hills, you’ll likely need more than 48 hours. Try yoga, biking our famous 100+ mile Mickelson trail, fly in a helicopter over Mount Rushmore, explore underground at Wind Cave National Park or Jewel Cave National Monument, which are recognized as being two of the largest cave systems in the world, or just spend a day wildlife watching along the miles and miles of trails offered in Custer State Park and surrounding Black Hills National Forest. And once you’ve done it all, you need to come back when the snow falls for fat biking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing and more… It’s so overwhelming you’ll likely want to visit again and again. We encourage it!

    View Custer State Park and the Needles from the air.

    A best-kept secret, we’re not only lucky to live here in the Black Hills, but we’re also happy to share it and recommend our favorite things to do. Let us know if you’d like some advice on enjoying our beautiful Black Hills. And let us know if you’ve enjoyed any of the activities shared here.

     

  2. 48 HOURS IN THE BLACK HILLS

    Comments Off on 48 HOURS IN THE BLACK HILLS
    From the desk of Keely

    48 HOURS IN THE BLACK HILLS – For the Foodie

    Quite often when customers call to book a hot air balloon flight with Black Hills Balloons, Damien And I are asked about our favorite restaurants, hikes and day trips here in the Black Hills.  It’s such a beautiful place full of hidden gems, its easy to get overwhelmed by all there is to do.  And there’s SO MUCH TO DO, for everyone really… how lucky we are to live in a place with something for everyone.

    We also find that when we host a houseguest, we try to gear their visit to what they like most; fine-tuning itineraries for friends from different backgrounds.  It’s so much fun to share our favorite spots with friends and family and make suggestions to those that inquire over the phone, we just had to share it with all of you.  Here is our take on “48 hours in the Black Hills”, geared towards The Foodie; a person who not only loves food but considers it a hobby.

    48 Hours in the Black Hills – The Foodie

    Day 1:
    Breakfast

    Try Skogen Kitchen in Custer.  Focusing on breakfast and dinner, this restaurant could compete with any high-end restaurant in NYC, and yet it’s located in Custer SD, population 2000.  Choose the Morning Walleye with potato-bacon hash, mint emulsion and sunny side up egg, the Ma & Paul Pancakes topped with fried chicken, franks hot sauce and maple syrup, or the Avocado Toast featuring 9-grain bread, avocado, shaved red onion, chopped eggs, sprouts, and lemon pepper.  Just make sure you make reservations (they only serve breakfast on Saturday and Sunday) and be prepared to be blown away.

    Walleye breakfast skogen kitchen
    Lunch

    Your 48 hours in the Black Hills wouldn’t be complete without a brewery tour with Black Hills Tour Company. Allow them to escort you to multiple Black Hills breweries in their custom VW limo bus.  Along the way, skip lunch while sampling brews at Lost Cabin, Miner Brewing, Mount Rushmore Brewing Company and more.  Most of the breweries have food available via full kitchen or visiting food truck to tide you over until dinner.

    Black Hills Tour Company custom VW limo bus
    Dinner

    South Dakota might not be known for its curries, but maybe it should be.  For dinner, we recommend Everest Cuisine in Rapid City for some of the best lamb curries you can find in the states… it’s true!  The cozy restaurant greets you at the door with that delicious smell of curry, friendly smiles and a menu full of all your favorites.  It’s almost impossible to stick to one item, so bring friends and share to get the best variety on your plate.

    Day 2:
    Breakfast

    Start traditional with Jerry’s Cakes and Donuts or modern with Harriet and Oak, either way, you’ll need to save room for lunch and dinner.  Jerry’s is one of those neat old donut shops that has stood the test of time.  Get there early because they sell out almost daily and enjoy a traditional donut and cup of joe.  Or, Harriet and Oak for a house-roasted coffee drink and a sweet potato breakfast burrito, acai bowl or organic oatmeal.  If you are vegan or gluten-free, they can accommodate, and they do it well.

    Lunch

    No visit to the Black Hills is complete without a visit to Mt Rushmore’s Carvers Cafe for a bowl of bison chili.  The monument’s restaurant is full of delicious items but it’s the homemade chili featuring locally sourced bison, that continually keeps us coming back for more.  The view isn’t so bad either and if you can manage it, their famous Monumental Scoops of ice cream makes for the perfect presidential selfie.  Did you know Thomas Jefferson brought the first recipe to the states?  Mount Rushmore is the only place you can get a scoop.

    The Custer Wolf Pub Sandwich
    Dinner

    For dinner, head to The Custer Wolf.  Named after a legendary wolf who tormented the area in the 1920s, the restaurant is anything but scary.  A local hotspot full of craft beer and fresh-made menu items, the Wolf is known for its wall of beer steins, each assigned to a regular customer.  Stop in for Walleye Ceviche, added to the menu after the owners traveled to Belize, it’s a fresh South Dakota take on the popular seafood dish, the Shredded Buffalo Sandwich or their signature Bread Pudding topped with Whiskey Caramel Sauce.  You won’t be disappointed.  Grab a board game and a pint for a fun evening in this cozy spot.  The friendly place will treat you like family.  It’s the perfect spot to wrap up your 48 hours of the Black Hills.

    The Custer Wolf - food and drink in Custer South Dakota

    Of course, speaking of wrapping up.  If you’re looking for a nightcap, check out The Custer Beacon.  The new Custer venue regularly hosts touring and local musicians, serves wine and beer and has a fun late night menu.  A mix of comfy couches and tall wooden tables, you’re guaranteed to find a good spot to absorb some local tunes, digest and reminisce.

    Between meals, we recommend touring the beautiful area.  The Black Hills area is perfect for hiking, kayaking, hot air ballooning (obviously) and visiting local wildlife, but we’ll save specifics for our next “48 Hours in the Black Hills” list.  Have you checked out any of the restaurants we mentioned?  Any tips or locations we missed?  Please share, there’s just too much good food in the Hills for 48 hours, wouldn’t you agree?