A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Chattanooga vs. Rapid City for Attractions, Families, Hiking, and Couples

Should you visit Chattanooga or Rapid City?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Chattanooga or Rapid City? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a thriving, bustling, and outdoorsy city. Visitors also love the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Rapid City

Rapid City is a friendly, fascinating, and activity-filled city. Other popular activities here include shopping, museums, and food.

Chattanooga and Rapid City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Home to Mount Rushmore
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Chattanooga or Rapid City?

Travelers will generally find more things to do in Rapid City than Chattanooga. While Chattanooga is larger than Rapid City, Rapid City has more sights and attractions for tourists. Rapid City is more popular for its museums, while Chattanooga is known for its nightlife. Rapid City is more touristy than Chattanooga and is popular for its proximity to Mount Rushmore and many other iconic parks. It is also home to Mount Rushmore. Chattanooga is popular for it's hikes, railways, and nearby natural areas.

How is Chattanooga different from Rapid City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Rapid City and Chattanooga. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Chattanooga or Rapid City?

Chattanooga
Rapid City

Rapid City is an unbeatable place for its museums and landmarks. Also, Chattanooga is still popular, but not quite as popular for its historical sights.

You'll find many recognizable landmarks that put Rapid City on the map. You'll find a wide variety of museums and landmarks nearby. Popular places to visit that aren't far from town include the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, the South Dakota Air & Space Museum, and the Journey Museum & Learning Center. There's also the Museum of Geology and the National Presidential Wax Museum. And of course, there's the iconic Mount Rushmore.

Chattanooga is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. It's a thriving city and there are a number of museums to explore. The Hunter Museum of American Art is great for art enthusiasts. There's also the Creative Discovery Museum, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, and the 6th Cavalry Museum, as well as several smaller museums that you can visit.


Is the Food Better in Chattanooga or Rapid City? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Chattanooga
Rapid City

Dining out at restaurants in both Chattanooga and Rapid City can be an enjoyable experience.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Chattanooga area. There are a growing number of restaurants that range from local dives to fine dining. Fried food is common, but you'll also find Mexican and classic hamburgers. Popular dishes that are local to the area include catfish, southern barbecue, and hush puppies.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Rapid City. You'll find local restaurants in town that serve local specialties such as chislic (grilled meat), fry bread, and walleye (a local fish.

Is Chattanooga or Rapid City Better for Nightlife?

Chattanooga
Rapid City

Chattanooga is very good for nightlife and partying. However, Rapid City is lacking in good options for its evening party scene.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Chattanooga. You'll find plenty of bars and clubs around town. There are also a number of comedy and improv clubs that are fun to check out.

Rapid City is generally a quiet destination but there are options around. You'll find some places with live music and good drinks, but the city isn't really known for its nightlife scene.

Is Chattanooga or Rapid City Better for Hiking?

Chattanooga
Rapid City

If you're looking to go hiking, Chattanooga and Rapid City both have great trails.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Chattanooga. It's proximity to the mountains means that you don't have to go far to find good hiking. Within a half hour of town there are more than 50 trailheads. Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain are both hiking destinations. Several trails have swimming spots and many pass through nice forests or head to impressive viewpoints.

Many visitors go to Rapid City for the hiking trails. The region is filled with national parks, state parks, and natural areas with wonderful hiking trails. You don't have to travel far to get into nature and experience some of South Dakota's best natural beauty.


Is the Shopping Better in Chattanooga or Rapid City?

Chattanooga
Rapid City

Shopping is a popular activity in both Rapid City and Chattanooga.

Many visitors go to Chattanooga to go shopping. Head downtown for local shops or to the larger malls if you want mainstream stores. Many visitors enjoy antiquing while they're in town, but there are also farmer's markets and thrift stores.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Rapid City. Rapid City has some interesting local shops as well as larger malls and shopping centers.

Is Chattanooga or Rapid City Better for Families?

Chattanooga
Rapid City

Rapid City is an unbeatable place for its family-friendly activities. Also, Chattanooga is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Rapid City is a very family-friendly destination. Nearby national parks and outdoor activities, this is the perfect base for exploring the area with kids. Nearby you'll find the Big Thunder Gold Mine, which has tours and lets you pan for gold, and Custer State Park, which is filled with wildlife. Wall Drug is worth a stopoff, as is Dinosaur Park.

Chattanooga offers lots of family activities. Many people enjoy a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium, which has a touch tank and a butterfly exhibit, among other things. Near downtown, Coolidge Park is a great place for kids to get their energy out. There's also the popular Lookout Mountain Incline Railway as well as many hiking trails in the area.

Is Chattanooga or Rapid City Better for Couples?

Chattanooga
Rapid City

Rapid City is a great destination for couples. Also, Chattanooga is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Couples visit Rapid City frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Couples will enjoy the amazing national parks in the area and the easy access to iconic landmarks like Mount Rushmore. There are many opportunities for wildlife spotting as well as great hiking trails and unique landscapes.

Chattanooga is a nice destination for couples. Many couples enjoy staying at a local inn and then dining in a nice restaurant or visiting a winery. There's an eclectic art district to explore as well as horse drawn carriages and plenty of nearby hiking trails.


Is Chattanooga or Rapid City Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Chattanooga
Rapid City

Rapid City is a great destination for backpackers. However, Chattanooga is a city with minimal options for backpackers and budget travelers.

Rapid City is a very popular city for backpackers and budget travelers. Backpackers will appreciate the surrounding natural beauty and the nearby national parks.

Chattanooga is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. It's proximity to the mountains and diverse outdoor activities make this an under-rated destination for many backpackers.

Is Chattanooga or Rapid City Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Chattanooga
Rapid City

Chattanooga is a very popular place for times when you don't have a car. However, Rapid City is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Chattanooga has some very good public transit options. The city has a convenient and free electric shuttle service. It travels through the downtown and has stops at many points of interest such as the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Tennessee Aquarium.

Public transit is generally limited in Rapid City. While there are a few buses, this isn't a realistic option for traveling through the region.

Is Chattanooga or Rapid City a more walkable city?

Chattanooga
Rapid City

Chattanooga is a very popular place for its high level of walkability. However, Rapid City is lacking in good options for its ease of walking around.

Chattanooga is a very walkable city. The city has put a lot of effort into improving its walkability. In particular, the downtown is nice to explore on foot.

Rapid City is generally not very walkable. While the downtown is walkable, most visitors use the city as a base for exploring the surrounding areas, and this requires a car.


For even more information, also check out Is Chattanooga Worth Visiting? and Is Rapid City Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Rapid City or Chattanooga?

How long in Chattanooga or Rapid City?

It's fun to spend time in either Chattanooga or Rapid City. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Rapid City due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Chattanooga, and 2-4 days is enough time in Rapid City.

Families should spend more time in Rapid City than Chattanooga. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Rapid City, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Rapid City than Chattanooga. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Rapid City that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Rapid City than Chattanooga if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Rapid City.


  • How many days in Chattanooga or Rapid City? Ideal Length of Stay
    Chattanooga 2-3 
    Rapid City 2-4

One day in Chattanooga or Rapid City?

With museums and nightlife around the thriving city of Chattanooga, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the friendly city of Rapid City. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Most people visit for the museums. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A weekend in Chattanooga or Rapid City?

With nightlife and food around the destination of Chattanooga, there's plenty to do. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this city.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the friendly destination of Rapid City. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This city offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Five days in Chattanooga or Rapid City?

Chattanooga, a popular city, is full of activities for travelers. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

The fascinating city of Rapid City offers museums and food. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.


A week in Chattanooga or Rapid City?

Chattanooga is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Many people enjoy the food and shopping when visiting Rapid City. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people visit for the museums. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Contiki Tours to United States of America, The Best G Adventures Tours to United States of America, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage.


Which place is cheaper, Rapid City or Chattanooga?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Chattanooga is $182, while the average daily cost in Rapid City is $116. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Chattanooga and Rapid City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chattanooga $92
    Rapid City $60
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chattanooga $184
    Rapid City $120
Compare Hotels in Chattanooga and Rapid City

Looking for a hotel in Chattanooga or Rapid City? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Chattanooga


Hotels in Rapid City


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Chattanooga Hotel Prices and Rapid City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chattanooga $35
    Rapid City $53
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Chattanooga

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Chattanooga:


  • Chattanooga Zoo (for 2)
    $16

Is it cheaper to fly into Chattanooga or Rapid City?

Prices for flights to both Rapid City and Chattanooga change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Chattanooga $59
    Rapid City $23

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chattanooga

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Chattanooga.

  • ChattaBrunch Food Tour: $119
  • Historic Southside Food Tour in Chattanooga: $129
  • Downtown Chattanooga Food Tour: $139

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Rapid City

For Rapid City, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Roller Coaster Tickets with Dinner and Show in Rapid City: $70

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chattanooga $52
    Rapid City $26

Tours and Activities in Chattanooga

Here are a few actual costs in Chattanooga for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 2 Virtual Reality Simulator Bundle for Outdoor Experiences: $27
  • ChattaBOOga Ghost Walk Tour in Chattanooga: $23
  • Chattanooga "C-Block Prison Break" Escape Room Admission Ticket: $36
  • Chattanooga "Locker Room Lockdown: Mascot Rescue" Escape Room Admission Ticket: $34
  • Chattanooga "Secret Agent" Escape Room Admission Ticket: $34
  • Chattanooga "The Inheritance Mystery Room" Escape Room Admission Ticket: $36
  • Chattanooga "Vaccine: Search For The Zombie Cure" Escape Room Admission Ticket: $36
  • Chattanooga Ghosts of the Misty Mountains Walking Tour: $26
  • Chattanooga Guided Walking Tour: $23
  • City Trolley Tour with Coker Automotive Museum visit: $44
  • Chickamauga Dam Lock Kayak Tour by Chattanooga Guided Adventures: $80
  • Classic Middle Ocoee River Adventure: $45

Tours and Activities in Rapid City

For Rapid City, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Mount Rushmore Self-Guided Walking Audio Tour: $15
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience in Rapid City SD: $15
  • Black Hills & Badlands: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tours: $20
  • Pinnacle Zipline Tour in Keystone: $109
  • Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills: $133
  • Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Tour with Two Meals and a Music Variety Show: $164
  • Badlands Winter Wonderland Adventure: $239
  • Full-Day Private Sightseeing Tour in South Dakota: $275
  • From Private Spearfish Canyon Tour: $650
  • From Private Devils Tower Tour and Hike: $650
  • Private Black Hills Monuments Full-Day Tour: $650
  • Badlands National Park Private Tour: $650

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Chattanooga $24
    Rapid City $6.93


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Chattanooga and Rapid City, we can see that Chattanooga is more expensive. And not only is Rapid City much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Rapid City would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Rapid City and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Chattanooga would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Chattanooga than you might in Rapid City.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Chattanooga Expensive? and Is Rapid City Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Chattanooga or Rapid City?

Chattanooga has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Rapid City. When comparing the sizes of Chattanooga and Rapid City, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.