Paid PostPosted on Feb 16, 201711 Fun And Secretly Educational Activities Near Mount RushmoreHitting up Mount Rushmore with your family for spring break? Stay in Rapid City and squeeze in some learning along with the fun.by Rapid CityBrand PublisherFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink 1. Honor your favorite leader at the City of Presidents. Courtesy of Visit Rapid City In downtown Rapid City, check out the life-size bronze statues of every single president we’ve ever had in this great nation. Snap a few selfies with your favorite U.S. president. Don’t pretend you don’t have one. 2. Learn how to nature at Outdoor Campus West. Courtesy of Outdoor Campus West This center, run by the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department, offers family and child-friendly outdoors classes, including one-offs on hunting, fishing, paddling, survival basics, and even soap carving or dutch-oven cooking. Checking out all their awesome trails for hiking and biking is also a must. 3. Pay a visit to prehistoric beasts at Dinosaur Park. Courtesy of South Dakota State Tourism Seven life-size concrete dinosaur replicas stand on this ridge of sandstone encircling the Black Hills. The fossils of their real-life counterparts have been unearthed along this very ridge. Now, you'll find friendly (read: climbable) and smiling depictions of all the favorites, including brontosaurus, triceratops, stegosaurus, and T-rex. 4. Take a trip back in time at The Journey Museum & Learning Center. Courtesy of the Journey Museum & Learning Center The Journey Museum is much more than a museum. More accurately, it is four museums showcasing the heritage of the Black Hills region: the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Museum of Geology (SDSM&T), the State of South Dakota Archaeological Research Center, the Sioux Indian Museum, and the Minnilusa Pioneer Museum. Handle real fossils and 10,000-year-old artifacts or admire the traditional and contemporary art of the Sioux Indians at the museums. 5. Learn about Native American culture at the Crazy Horse Memorial. Courtesy of ©Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation This enormous monument in the Black Hills depicts Lakota leader and warrior Crazy Horse, who defeated General Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. It is the world's largest sculpture in progress. His face alone is nearly 9 stories tall, while the entire carving is 641 feet long and 563 feet high. Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota chief, conceived of the idea to honor and preserve the culture and heritage of North American Indians, and construction has been ongoing since 1948. 6. Be dazzled by flora and fauna at Reptile Gardens for their 80th anniversary. Courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tourism Besides owning one of largest reptile collections in the world, Reptile Gardens is also home to exotic birds, amphibians, insects, and 40,000 flowers and perennials. Of course, they also have a baby gator named Fluffy, interactive snake shows featuring constrictors and cobras, and endangered giant Aldabra Tortoises you can sidle up to. 7. Get your fill of adrenaline underground or above ground at Rush Mountain. Courtesy of Rush Mountain Adventure Park Go for the rush — soaring above the trees on a 630-foot-long zipline or zooming through them on a mountain coaster at nearly 30 mph with steep drops and pigtail turns. Stay to learn about the limestone caves dripping with stalactites or to get down and dirty with a serious spelunking adventure. 8. Dig up some bones at The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs. Courtesy of Bethany Cook, The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs Aside from a museum and paleontology laboratory, the Mammoth Site is also an active dig site with the largest concentration of mammoths in the world. So far, they've unearthed an impressive 61 mammoths from what used to be a spring-fed pond 26,000 years ago. Oh, and did we mention you can take a 360-degree virtual tour online and get a sneak peek at Mammoth Site's lab, grounds and more before visiting? 9. Get up close and personal with bison at Custer State Park. Courtesy of South Dakota Tourism Driving along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop in South Dakota's first state park will get you mighty close to the herd of 1,300 free-roaming bison, or what the Lakota (Sioux) call "tatanka." Take your time spotting the variety of other hoofed herbivores; antelope, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and burros abound in one of the largest state parks in the U.S. 10. Marvel at speleothems at Jewel Cave National Monument. Courtesy of Jewel Cave National Monument The monument is one piece of the third-longest cave in the world. Its moniker comes from the dazzling calcite crystals, known as nailhead spar and dogtooth spar. Take a tour to view these spectacular natural formations and other speleothems (or cave formations) like boxwork, cave popcorn, flowstone, stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, and even a long ribbon drapery called the Cave Bacon. YUM! 11. Enter the splash zone at WaTiki Indoor Waterpark. Courtesy of Watiki Indoor Waterpark OK, so more than 30,000 square feet of swimming pools, waterslides, lazy river, and hot tubs doesn't exactly qualify as an educational endeavor. But think of WaTiki as a lesson in fun to reward your kids for their good behavior and all the great new knowledge they’ve gained. Heading to Mount Rushmore with your family for spring break? Make Rapid City your headquarters to be near all the best attractions.