Thanksgiving in the Black Hills: Alternatives to the Black Friday Fray | Black Hills Travel Blog
  • Thanksgiving in the Black Hills: Alternatives to the Black Friday Fray
    Thanksgiving in the Black Hills: Alternatives to the Black Friday Fray

Ah, Thanksgiving: turkey, dressing, pie, family, and football. But you have the whole weekend—what else are you going to do? (Other than getting up at 4 a.m. to join the Black Friday throngs.) If that’s your jam, go for it, but for people who would rather have their toes amputated with a rusty knife than go Black Friday shopping, there are plenty of alternatives.

Thanksgiving weekend kicks off the festive season, so there are plenty of parades, holiday trains, ice skating, and outdoor rec opportunities. No need to wrestle anyone for an air-fryer.

Holiday Express Train – 1880 Train, Hill City. Friday, Nov. 24 – Dec. 23, 2017

Why not go to the North Pole? You can get there from Hill City on the 1880 Train starting the Friday after Thanksgiving. This a one-hour round trip from Hill City to the North Pole where Santa is waiting to visit with the kids. Plus, there’s hot cocoa and cookies. Pretty much the best day ever. The Holiday Express generally runs every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but click here to check their website for specific days and departure times

Old Tyme Hill City Christmas Parade. Friday, Nov. 24 at 6 p.m.

Get into the spirit of the holidays at Hill City’s old-fashioned Christmas parade and tree lighting. You can still literally roast chestnuts and drink hot cider and cocoa. Santa Claus will make an appearance as well. It’s a nostalgic, fun evening for the whole family.

Rapid City Holiday Celebration & Winter Market & Festival of Lights Parade – Main Street Square & downtown Rapid City. Saturday, Nov. 25 from 2 – 6 p.m. & Festival of Lights Parade, downtown Rapid City. Saturday, Nov. 25 at 6 p.m.

Spend a festive day the Holiday Celebration & Winter Market in Main Street Square. So much to do: shopping, music, tree lighting, and Santa Claus! Not only will the square have vendors for your shopping convenience, but you can shop the fantastic businesses in Rapid City's historic downtown. And, you can sleep in—even better!

Stick around for the biggest Christmas parade in the Black Hills—this year even marks the 20th anniversary! Officially kick off your holiday season with dazzling floats and horse-drawn carriages, plus music, food, and fun for all. Seriously, it’s the best Christmas party you’ll ever attend. The Festival of Lights Parade starts at 6 p.m. and includes Main Street and St. Joseph Street in the downtown area.

Get moving! Hit the open road or the trails.

Go ice skating! The ice rink at Main Street Square opens Nov. 18, and remains open for the season. The rink is open Thanksgiving Day afternoon from 4 – 8 p.m., and is open Friday from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Click here to check their site for daily ice rink schedules. No skates? No worries, they have rentals.

Take a drive through Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop Road. No crowds, no meltdowns, just peace. Buffalo don’t care about Black Friday.

Take a drive through Spearfish Canyon. The canyon is spectacular any time of year. Depending on weather, the waterfalls may have some freezing ice, which makes for great photos!

Explore hundreds of miles of trails throughout the Black Hills. It varies from season to season, but Thanksgiving is usually prior to the area having much snow, so you can find open trails for hiking. Of course, if there is snow, just strap on the snowshoes! You can find trail information at https://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/ and https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/blackhills/recreation.

About the Author

Robin EH. Bagley is a native South Dakotan who has lived in the Black Hills for more years than she cares to admit. She has spent the majority of her career in communications and marketing in the nonprofit sector. For the last eight years she has called Custer area home, living just minutes from Custer State Park and the Peter Norbeck Wildlife Refuge. When she’s not pursuing outdoor activities, she enjoys writing about the outdoors, reading and hanging out with her family and two dogs. Keep an eye out for her and her Rhodesian Ridgeback on the trails in the Southern Hills. And if you happen to need a Band-Aid or a granola bar, she’ll probably have one for you.

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