Presidents Day is celebrated the third Monday in February each year, but the holiday began as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday. His birthday, February 22, was unofficially observed for most of the 1800s, becoming a federal holiday in 1879. It was the first federal holiday to celebrate an individual American, and would remain so until the 1960s. Congress proposed moving the holiday to the third Monday of February in order to provide consistency from year to year, but also to acknowledge the contributions of President Abraham Lincoln whose birthday was February 12.
Today, most celebrate Presidents Day by taking advantage of the day off from work to go shopping or simply relaxing. Taking advantage of ski resorts is also a popular pastime; the holiday is one of the busiest days of the season for local ski resort Terry Peak.
Here in the Black Hills, however, we do things a little differently. Not only are we next door to Mount Rushmore, Rapid City is known as the City of Presidents. Every previous president of the United States is represented in sculpture form, with plans of adding President Trump to the lineup already in works. Every president is represented as close to their actual height and weight when they were living, and are generally sculpted with a detail that represents their personality or highlight of their time in office. President Taft is readying a baseball pitch, President Bush is walking with his dog, and FDR is seen speaking at a news podium. Taking the time to examine each sculpture really enhances the experience.
While you’re downtown, be sure to check out the shops and restaurants Rapid City has to offer. There are many great options no matter what you’re looking for; to help you find a new favorite, we’ve compiled a list of businesses that offer military discounts. Stopping in one of the many coffee shops to get a warm beverage while you stroll is a great way to spend an afternoon outside.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit all of the statues downtown, check out the City of Presidents Walking Guide from Visit Rapid City. The site offers both an interactive map with the locations of each president, and a text-based guide sortable by walking tour order or alphabetically.