What’s a teenager in Rapid City to do?

With summer approaching, Central students will be looking for places to spend their time. These are the well-worn and traditional endeavors.

By Dre Forst and Austin Lammers

As summer approaches, school hours will cease, work hours will decrease, and daylight hours will increase. This means that the Black Hills will once again come alive with tourism. The towns of Keystone, Hill City, Deadwood, and Custer are relevant while the South Dakota weather is warm, usually 35 days of the year, which is still longer than Sturgis, whose relevancy literally lasts one week. Go west, and you’re in Wyoming, which is worse than South Dakota and most third world countries. Go east, and you will see 200 miles of land occupied by cattle and Wall Drug advertisements.

Then, we have the centerpiece of it all, the West River capital: Rapid City. Rapid City, known for its year-round construction and flock of dinosaurs overlooking its population, is really a nice place with lots to do if you’re older than 21 and wealthy. For those who don’t fall under that category (most of Central’s population), here are some things to do to pass the time before you can move away:

1. Hang out at the L.

The L is a famous location right in the center of Rapid City. On the corner of Mount Rushmore and Omaha street, the L’s significance to the kiddos of the town is highly important (although it’s unfair to say “kids”, there are a few 18+ fellows who hang out with the CHS students). The L party never stops, and when I say never, I mean until 10:00 p.m. when all public parks close and the cops become a predator. The requirements to meet coolness levels of the L are simple: a pair of ripped blue jeans, a John Deere cap, and to be the god of all gods, a diesel truck. “The L Kids” are notorious for their trucks. These young boys love the things for unknown reasons. However, the Truck Rule is flexible. Whatever kind of truck you can get your hands, no matter how ugly or polluting, is accepted.

 2. Go Hiking.

“Hiking” is a more seasonal experience here in the Black Hills. Grab a pair of Chucks and an overpriced Patagonia sweatshirt, charge your phone completely and get prepared to be astonished by nature itself. The most popular destination is easily M-hill. Located in the middle of town, you can really grasp the reality of the beautiful world around. Filled with food trucks, volleyball courts, a dirt path to walk on and a couple pine trees, M-hill really compliments the beauty of the Black Hills. Typically, when people make it all the way to the giant M (hence the hill’s name) after their dreary, pro-longed, breathtaking power walk, they pop a squat on a rock and Snapchat their lives away.  Kids who hike happen to become top grade photographers. Clearly, our town is full of Mountain Men and Women.

 3. Refresh at Armadillo’s

After your photographical excursion on M-hill, standing in the long line at Armadillo’s is a great way to exhaust your hamstrings even more. Located in downtown Rapid, this cute structure on the corner of 2nd and Main St. attracts ice cream lovers from all around town, specifically the teenage kind. The wide range of ice cream for a decent price makes it similar to Dairy Queen, but the local business is always better. However, if you have social anxiety or don’t want to wait an hour for your ice cream, this may not be the place for you, especially after a high school sporting event.

4. Visit Empty Parking Lots.

I don’t know what it is about parking lots, but a big square slab of cement seems appealing to the bored eyes of a teenager. This area made specifically for cars is one of the most popular forms of social engagement. Packing a car full and rounding up in a parking lot seems to bring some type of awkward enjoyment. I say awkward because, when you think about it, meeting four other cars in a lot and trying to interact with one another is just loud and weird. Either everyone is talking to one another or they’re all staring at their phone screens trying to make plans. Realistically, hanging around in parking lots is a way to pass time while everyone is trying to find other things to do.

5. Walk around Canyon Lake

The sidewalks of Canyon Lake are a great place to go when there is absolutely nothing else to do. Abundant with goose feces and awkward couples, this short stroll can be very refreshing. You can even walk across the bridge to the romantic gazebo, where I once saw a Star Wars-themed wedding take place. And if that’s not enough, you can visit the parking lots adjacent to the lake, which are always filled with teenagers doing (not always) legal things.


We were willing to make the list longer, but after a kid grows too big for Storybook Island,  this is about it.


Photo IMG_7522_1 by Sam Klien on Flickr

Featured photo, Rapid City at Night by Antti on Flickr