Explore the Life-Size Statues of all our American Presidents at City of Presidents Walk in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Rapid City, South Dakota is known as the gateway to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills. It’s a quaint small city with lots of charming restaurants, boutiques, and galleries. It’s also about a 90-minute drive to Badlands National Park. (I wrote a blog post about my active trip in the Black Hills and Badlands last year and you can read it here.) If you find yourself in Rapid City though and have about an hour or two, the City of Presidents Walk is a fun and interesting thing to do. The 40+ life size bronze statues of our former presidents are spread out over about five blocks in the historic downtown area. The figures, sculpted by about a half-dozen South Dakota artists are designed to showcase the personalities of each president, and they stand on the sidewalks so you can get right up next to them.
It almost feels like a real meet and greet when you get near them, and they are all very life-ike.
Download the Map
The statues are placed randomly and in no particular order so if you’re looking for specific presidents you can cross reference where they are located with the official walking map. You can download the map here or stop in at the Rapid City Visitor Center for a map. It’s also fun to google some facts about each president on your smartphone as you view them and learn more about that particular era in American politics. There is no favoritism shown for any of the political parties and it takes about a year after a president is out of office for a statue to be created. Each sculpture is privately funded.
Where to Stay
If you are looking to stay overnight in the heart of downtown Rapid City, I’d suggest The Hotel Alex Johnson. It’s a historic hotel and decorated with period furnishings. Over the years it’s hosted six U.S. presidents (Coolidge, FDR, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and Reagan). In the lobby Is a magnificent teepee shaped chandelier with interesting Lakota Sioux patterns. (I learned the swastikas on it actually were symbols the Native Americans used since prehistoric times to represent the revolving sun, fire, or life and have nothing to do with the Nazis.) The ceiling features large wooden rafters with bright colors and patterns in between them also inspired by the Sioux. They have a really cool rooftop bar and restaurant called Vertex Sky Bar that has amazing views of downtown and the Black Hills.
Beware though that The Hotel Alex Johnson is also known to be one of the most haunted hotels in South Dakota!