Greeting guests for more than 125 years, the oldest city in the Black Hills is full of great eateries, local brews, gift shops, outdoor adventures, and more. Here are just a few suggestions for what to do in Custer.
BOBKAT’S OLD FASHION PURPLE PIE PLACE
19 Mount Rushmore Road
It’s hard to miss Bobkat’s Old Fashion Purple Pie Place. The staple of Custer is a purple house a couple of blocks from downtown, and serves “the best homemade pie in the Black Hills.”
Bob and Kathie Yehle, who lived in California, purchased the business after finding out it was for sale.
“My daughter owns Baker’s Bakery [and Cafe] in Custer, and we wanted to be closer to our grandkids,” he said. “So we changed the name to Bobkat’s (a combination of our names), updated the menu, and painted the entire building purple since it had been known as the ‘purple pie place.’”
The company has a more extensive menu since then, and offers soup, sandwiches, pies (of course), and ice cream.
A fixture for summer and fall, you can either order a slice of pie or take home a whole pie (they ship pies nationwide online).
The Purple Pie Place serves hundreds of slices of pie a week during tourist season, and they have traditional flavors and unique ones, like the Raspberry Rhubarb Jalapeño.
“We offer 12 varieties of pies, and Kathie also makes a cream pie of the day,” said Bob.
Fresh sandwiches include the Chicken Salad Sandwich made from scratch, with fresh chicken breast baked in Purple Pie’s seasonings. They add their special sauce (no, they will not give you the recipe), and finish it off with celery and raisins.
There are also paninis and entrees, like the signature Chicken Pot Pie, made with tender chunks of chicken with vegetables in a creamy chicken gravy, served in a flaky-crust bowl.
Eat inside or outside on the patio, and don’t forget to take a photo with the purple pig mascot.
Open every day during the summer and fall 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Flavors of Pies
- Cream Pie of the Day
- Peanut Butter
- Raspberry Rhubarb JalapeÑo
- Strawberry Rhubarb
29 North 5th Street
A chef-driven concept, Skogen Kitchen offers innovative breakfast and dinner options. Owners Eliza (general manager) and Joseph Raney (executive chef) have worked and learned from some of the best companies in the food service industry, like Disney and the Patina Restaurant group.
Skogen means “the forest” in Norwegian, and is a nod to their heritage and surroundings. Their menu is influenced from other cultures, as well.
“The chef and I moved here from southern California and I’m originally a Minnesota girl, so I wanted to move back to the Midwest,” said Eliza. “We fell in love with this little town of Custer and found this spot.”
Items include must-haves like the Suckling Pig with toasted buckwheat, peach, watermelon, and balsamic buttermilk jus.
Try their daily specials, like the Swordfish or freshly sliced truffle atop creamy risotto.
“You should trust the chef, and if you do trust the chef, he will take you on a real fun adventure,” said Eliza.
The quaint eatery, which seats 31 inside and 14 outside, is in demand, so reservations are “seriously suggested.”
“For dinner, they are almost required now,” she said. “If you’re coming, just give us a call.”
Though it’s impeccable dining, attire is casual. And don’t be surprised to get to know Eliza by the end of the evening, as she personally visits with each table now and again.
Open for breakfast Friday through Sunday 7 a.m. – 11 a.m., and open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
A Breakfast Experience
Here is a peek into Skogen Kitchen’s breakfast…
Romaine, baby kale, poached egg, applewood smoked bacon, parmesan, and brioche croutons.
Served with potato-bacon hash, mint emulsion, local egg sunny-side up.
Homemade Quiche Lorraine
Bacon, roasted wild mushrooms, sugar snap peas, and a buttermilk emulsion.
PANCAKES NAMED AFTER PEOPLE THEY LOVE
Torched balsamic meringue, chopped bacon, and maple.
Ma & Paul
Fried chicken, Frank’s Hot Sauce, and maple syrup.
CUSTER IS CONSIDERED TO BE THE OLDEST TOWN ESTABLISHED BY EUROPEAN AMERICANS IN THE BLACK HILLS OF SOUTH DAKOTA AND WYOMING.
GOLD PAN SALOON
508 Mount Rushmore Road
The oldest bar in Custer has made some changes recently.
“[The Gold Pan Saloon] probably dates back to the 1880s-1890s,” said bartender Carrie Smith. “The swinging doors are very famous, so that when the new owner bought it, she kept those in it. Then we also had sawdust floors, which unfortunately, we don’t have those anymore.”
While still “old style,” it’s had some slightly modern updates, but not too many.
“I was trying to stick with the old style as much as possible,” said owner Barbara Nelson. “People love it. They love the old-time bar feel.”
Taxidermy is strewn along the walls, including a bear holding a lantern.
Nelson laughed, “Most of [the taxidermy] are from customers who don’t have the room for them, and they bring them here.”
Now the classic establishment has a cabin feel, with cowhide barstools and plaid upholstered chairs.
Along with drinks are limited food items. Food includes pizza, onion rings, and wings. Taco Tuesday is all summer long, starting at 5 p.m. “until gone.”
Live music from Carrie Fischer and Ivan is every first and third Saturday of the month. Eight drafts are always on tap, including a couple local brews.
“You can do five beers and you get the sixth one free, and we put them in a bucket with ice,” said Smith. “And we also sell the pint glasses for 10 dollars, so you can fill it up with the draft of your choice. We do the pint and we also have the 32-ounce, the big glasses. Those are really nice. They’re really cold on a hot day.”
Open Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
ABOUT 54,000 ACRES BURNED IN CUSTER STATE PARK IN DECEMBER 2017.
444 Mount Rushmore Road
One of the newest businesses in Custer is Adventure Rentals right in the heart of downtown.
Alex Niemann and his wife, Holly, own the tiny establishment that rents everything from ATVs to bikes to mopeds to kayaks to paddleboards.
“Pretty much anything you want to do out in the Black Hills, we can provide it for you, so you don’t have to haul all the stuff in from your own house. You can pick it up here,” he said.
Aiming to not have visitors stuck in the car and able to enjoy the fresh air of the Black Hills, the company makes renting easy, with an online option for booking. Each unit has park passes and forest permits, and the ATVs are street and highway legal.
ATVs can fit anywhere from two to six people.
“We try to get everyone’s vacation to be the highlight, right here,” said Neimann.
“We have one of the largest inventories in the state, so we can usually try to make accommodations for anybody, no matter what,” he continued. “We love it out here. It’s the most beautiful place in the world.”
When renting an ATV, you have access to over 1.2 million acres in the Black Hills, almost 4,000 miles of roads and trails, hidden treasures, and scenic vistas.
Open every day 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., and rentals are available 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Here are some suggestions from Adventure Rentals on where to take ATVs…
- Mount Rushmore
- Custer State Park
- Black Elk Peak
- Sylvan Lake
- Needles Highway
- Pigtail Bridge – Highway 16