“With our wide open spaces and fewer crowds, it’s a perfect, socially-distanced vacation,” said Jessica Noteboom, marketing director for Custer Hospitality.
Custer not only has the state’s largest state park, but some of South Dakota’s most unique dining options and Black Hills experiences.
Spend the vacation checked into Buffalo Ridge Camp Resort, and choose between staying in a deluxe cabin, a treehouse, luxury canvas tents, glamping teepees, or a standard campsite.
“We are a unique camp resort that embraces modern style and convenience while celebrating escapes to nature,” said Noteboom. “It’s camping with a modern twist, without skipping on amenities.”
But before hitting the road, Noteboom says to be sure to pack the two most essential items for a trip to Custer: hiking boots and an appetite.
“We just have so much to offer guests with food and our nightlife.” -Jessica Noteboom
“Hiking is a must do if you’re traveling to Custer,” said Noteboom.
“Custer is a natural playground for anyone who loves to hike,” she said.
So, lace up your best boots, and hit the trails. And she emphasizes that on slippery slopes, there are handrails to assist the journey.
After a morning spent exploring, head to Custer Wolf for a bite.
“Custer is definitely a scene for any foodie,” said Noteboom. “We have some of the top-rated restaurants in the Black Hills.”
Back at the resort, relax in the pools, grab some snacks and drinks at Stone Wall, outdoor concessions, and just unwind.
For dinner, swing into Black Hills Burger & Bun, and try The Hawaiian.
Finish the first night off with roasting some marshmallows around the campfire with family and friends.
2019 605 Best Bucket List Restaurant
In 2019, 605 Magazine voted the Black Hills Burger & Bun Co. to be a must-add restaurant for your bucket list and named Skogen Kitchen the best intimate dining experience.
Power up for day two with a caffeine-filled drink of your choice at Calamity Jane’s Coffee Shop and Grill.
Noteboom also swears by Miner’s Cup for her morning cup.
Check out the resort’s rental arsenal of bikes, kayaks, and paddleboards. Spend some time learning a new skill or hone an old one.
Next on your list is to head about five miles away to view the in-progress Crazy Horse Memorial. Or if Crazy Horse isn’t calling to you yet, there’s always an option to save it for the end of the night.
“Crazy Horse has a really cool laser light show at night,” said Noteboom. “It’s pretty awesome.”
After, or perhaps before, checking out the memorial, be sure to head downtown for a drink at Mt. Rushmore Brewing Company.
“Custer is quickly rising on the brew scene,” she said. “We have Mt. Rushmore Brewing Company that has a variety of their own handcrafted ales and stouts.”
Another must-try restaurant downtown is the Custer Beacon, where there is often live music.
Head back to the hotel to lay back and relax poolside and bask in the quiet nature and clear skies of the Black Hills.
“The sky is pitch black and it’s beautiful for stargazing,” said Noteboom.
Noteboom offers a few recommendations for some stops.
Chicken Artichoke Sandwich
Crispy chicken tenders, spinach artichoke dip, roasted tomatoes, and lettuce on a potato bun.
Calamity Jane’s Coffee Shop and Grill
12 oz., 16 oz., or 20 oz.
Toasted quinoa, sweet potato, cucumber, carrot tomato, house slaw, power sauce, and crispy rice noodles.
To kick off the last morning, take in the views as shades of pink, orange, and yellow cast over the hills from the basket of a hot air balloon with Black Hills Balloons.
“Just getting up in the air is a little wobbly, and it makes your stomach drop. But after that, it just moves really slow, and it’s just beautiful.” –Jessica Noteboom about Black Hills Balloons
Grab a chef-driven, gourmet meal at Skogen Kitchen. Noteboom insists that the food there is so well plated that your phone must eat first.
“When you’re there, you want to take a picture of your food, even if you aren’t that person,” said Noteboom.
As the journey comes to a close, don’t miss stopping at Wind Cave National Park, a place Noteboom says is big enough and peaceful enough for pandemic times.
“There’s something so spiritual about going into Wind Cave and seeing all the wildlife roaming the rolling prairie grasslands and the forested hillside,” she said.
A relaxing close for a three-day, socially distanced vacation to Custer.
“Despite Custer’s ever-increasing profile, it’s still a hidden gem in the Black Hills,” Noteboom assured.