The Black Hills are a premier destination for families seeking a relaxing vacation in an area of South Dakota with stunning scenery steeped in history. Stay in a Black Hills vacation rental, like a cabin nestled in the woods, and watch wildlife from the comfort of your own front porch. Enjoy easy access to hiking or biking trails through forests and creeks, and fishing and boating in nearby rivers and reservoirs. Stock up on provisions at quaint local stores, or call into some of the larger towns and cities for a range of cultural activities and restaurants.

1. Belle Fourche

The city of Belle Fourche enjoys the prestige of being the official geographic center of the nation and home to the Black Hills Roundup, one of America’s major rodeos. Choose a vacation rental in the city’s downtown area to have instant access to antique shops, museums, and restaurants and the pretty River Walk. Relax in one of the nine local parks or take the short trip out to the Rocky Point Recreation Area at the Belle Fourche Dam for fishing, boating, and swimming.

2. Rapid City

A vacation rental in Rapid City provides a perfect base to explore the Black Hills region and lets you combine cultural activities with outdoor fun in a wildlife haven. Visit art galleries, shop in boutiques, pose with the life-size bronze statues of presidents on the City of Presidents walk, and have fun watching the kids dodge the fountains in Main Street Square. Head out to Bear Country to spot elk, bison and bighorn sheep. End the day by calling in at popular Murphy’s Pub & Grill for tasty pulled pork and mac n’ cheese.

3. Keystone

Nestled in the Black Hills, the town of Keystone is closest to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Along with excellent shopping and dining facilities, this town houses the Rushmore Borglum Story where you can learn about the sculptor responsible for the iconic mountain sculpture and see a giant scale model of Lincoln’s eye that helps your kids realize the enormity of the originals. Dine at the Carver’s Café which provides a spectacular view of the mountain and its famous presidents.

4. Hill City

Take on a vacation rental in Hill City and keep the family entertained with numerous local attractions. This cute town occupies a central location just 8 minutes from the famous Crazy Horse mountain carving. Pay a visit to Teddy Bear Town, the world’s largest collection of Teddy Bears with more than 9,000 bears, before calling in for some hands-on experience with real furry and feathered creatures at Old MacDonald’s Farm. Be sure to take the 1880 train pulled by historic engines for a two-hour narrated trip between Hill City and Keystone.

5. Custer

Many of the vacation rental homes in the Custer area place you close to nature. Wake up to fresh mountain air, pack a picnic in your backpacks and get the family to enjoy hiking or biking along nearby trails. The Custer State Park Loop around Sylvan Lake is one of the prettiest trails and also one of the easiest for youngsters to enjoy. Head out on the Wildlife Loop to see herds of bison, prairie dogs and the infamous bold begging burros that are keen to share your food.

6. Spearfish

Spearfish is a friendly community in the center of the Black Hills. Many rental cabins in this area enjoy gorgeous locations with spectacular views across Spearfish Canyon and the creek. The family’s golfing enthusiasts can tee off at Spearfish Canyon Country Club, considered one of the nicest golf courses in the Black Hills. Downtown has all the facilities you need for a comfortable vacation. After a day out in the open visiting local monuments or hiking the trails, settle down for a tasty meal of warm onion walnut bread, locally grown veggies, and the fresh Black Hills trout at the Bay Leaf Café at Flannigan’s Irish Barpub or a “craveable burger” at Applebee’s Grill and Bar.

7. Hot Springs

Outdoor enthusiasts find plenty to do at Hot Springs where a vacation rental gives easy access to the Fall River and the Freedom Trail. The city’s name comes from the area’s natural spring-fed waters that average 87 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Evans Plunge, built over some of the springs has slides for family water fun. If you prefer a more natural environment, head out to the swimming hole at nearby Cascade Falls. For a bigger splash, pack up the car with inflatables and a picnic and head 10 miles southwest to the beautiful clean beaches at the Recreation Area on the Angostura Reservoir.

8. Sundance

Located south of the Black Hills and over the border in Wyoming, Sundance is also known as the gateway to the iconic Devils Tower. This extraordinary natural wonder rises 1,200 feet up above the forests and grassland. If you have a vacation rental in this area be sure to take the mile-long walk around the tower. This friendly community offers plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking and fishing. It is also home to the original “Sundance Kid,” Harry Longabaugh, forever immortalized on film with his buddy Butch Cassidy. You can pose with a life-size bronze statue of the kid.

9. Deadwood

Step back in time to the days of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane when you take a historic home in Deadwood as your vacation rental. This notorious city has earned its place in history as an entire national historic landmark. Take a trip to Mount Moriah Cemetery to see Wild Bill’s grave, and then stroll downtown to visit Wild Bill’s Trading Post to see Saloon #10 where he met his untimely end.

10. Nemo

Staying in this tiny mountain town on the edge of Paradise Valley places you between Rapid City and Deadwood. There’s a general store for your basic needs, and you’re close to trail rides, horseback riding, mountain biking, trout fishing and backcountry treks. The Centennial Trail, suitable for hiking, biking, and horses, is close by.

11. Rochford

The historic gold mining town of Rochford sits amidst beautiful scenery. Rent here and you’re likely to find wildlife wandering through the backyard on the way to the creek where you and the kids can have fun panning for gold. This rural location is close to the Mickelson Trail and home to the Moonshine Gulch – a traditional western saloon with great character that runs jam sessions on Sundays. Among the handful of buildings in this tiny town is the Rochford Mall that sells everything from fresh fruit to antiques.