Storybook Island in Rapid City, South Dakota is one of the best parks for families I’ve ever seen. If your family is planning a trip to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, consider making time for this fun family attraction.
Here is what you need to know about visiting Storybook Island:
1. Why it’s called “Storybook Island”
This charming park strives to inspire imaginations. Nearly every toy at Storybook Island honors a classic children’s book or nursery rhyme. Our family recognized characters or scenes from Humpty Dumpty, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Wizard of Oz, The Cat in the Hat, Winnie the Pooh, Bambi, Peter Pan, and more.
2. Storybook Island is FREE!
Storybook Island was one of my kids’ favorite attractions during our Black Hills road trip, and it didn’t cost us a cent. The Rapid City Rotary Clubs opened the park in 1959 and it has been operating as a free, non-profit park ever since. If you would like to help the park continue its mission, make purchases at the gift shop or concession stand, or make a donation.
3. Plan about half a day
Expect to spend at least two hours exploring the park’s 8.5 acres. The park’s website recommends half a day, and that is about how much time we spent there, including our picnic lunch afterward.
4. Storybook Island is best for children under the age of 12
Storybook Island is a play park geared toward younger children. Expect slides of various sizes, little houses to explore, and photo ops with statues of characters from children’s literature. There is only one ride – a train (see below).
The “young-at-heart” who are visiting the Black Hills without children may appreciate the old-fashioned, low-tech charm of this whimsical attraction. However, what most adults and teens will enjoy most about Storybook Island is watching the enjoyment of their young children and siblings.
As I look at my photos from our visit to Storybook Island, I notice a lot more wear and chipped paint on the toys than I remember. Children are allowed to climb on just about everything at this park, and that’s one of the things that make it special.
6. Storybook Island is only open during the summer
Summer is the peak tourist season in Rapid City, and it is the season with the most reliably warm weather. Storybook Island opens Memorial Day Weekend at the end of May and closes Labor Day Weekend at the beginning of September each year.
7. Bring a picnic
Food and drinks are not allowed inside the gates, but there is a shaded grassy area with picnic tables outside the gates. Eat your picnic before you go in, or keep it in a cooler in your car for afterward. This was a pleasant way for us to finish our morning at Storybook Island. The park also has a full-service concession stand inside the gates.
8. About the train
We didn’t ride the train during our visit, and honestly, I don’t remember seeing it. It may not have been operating on the day we were there. If you have the opportunity to ride the train, there is a small charge of $1.50 per ride.
9. Check out the Children’s Theater
This was another part of the park we didn’t get to experience, but our family enjoyed Storybook Island so much that we considered returning for a second visit to see the Children’s Theater during our week in the Black Hills.
Admission to Children’s Theater productions is $1 per person. Check the park’s website for information or try calling 605-342-6357 for additional information.
Good to Know
Where: 1301 Sheridan Lake Road, Rapid City, South Dakota
When: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day, weather permitting. Storybook Island is only open during the summer – late May through early September.
How Much: FREE, though donations of any size are gratefully accepted.
How Long: 2-4 hours
Amenities: Gift shop, concessions, and restrooms inside the parks. Picnic tables outside the gates.