A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Columbus vs. Rapid City for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Columbus or Rapid City?

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

Should I visit Columbus 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.

Where Should I go: Columbus or Rapid City?


The capital city of Ohio, Columbus sits at the meeting point of America's Rust Belt, Bible Belt, Appalachia, and the Plains. It is also home of Ohio State University, which is a major financial and economic force in the city. While not always famous for it's sights and attractions, visitors will be pleasantly surprised by what they find here.

Rapid City

Rapid City is a large city in western South Dakota that is considered the gateway to the Black Hills National Forest. Rapid City is often used as a base for all types of outdoor activities, including tours to the infamous Mount Rushmore and surrounding parks. The city has a budding art scene and offers the perfect combination of a metropolitan city surrounded by stunning natural scenery. Rapid City experiences the best weather from June-September with temperatures in the 70's and 80's Fahrenheit. Temperatures drop to the low 20's F in the winter and the area receives the most rain pour in April and May.

Which place is cheaper, Rapid City or Columbus?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Columbus is $158, 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 Columbus and Rapid City in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbus $72
    Rapid City $60
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbus $144
    Rapid City $120
Compare Hotels in Columbus and Rapid City

Looking for a hotel in Columbus 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 Columbus

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: Columbus Hotel Prices and Rapid City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbus $50
    Rapid City $53

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Columbus

Also for Columbus, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Columbus to Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) - Departure Private Transfer: $66
  • Columbus Ohio (CMH) Airport Arrival or Departure Private Transfer: $180
  • Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) to Columbus - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $132
  • Columbus John Glen Airport (CMH) to Columbus - Arrival Private Transfer: $66

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Rapid City

Also for Rapid City, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Airport Transfer and Orientation: $89

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbus or Rapid City?

Prices for flights to both Rapid City and Columbus 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 Meals for one day
    Columbus $49
    Rapid City $23

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 Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbus $46
    Rapid City $26

Tours and Activities in Columbus

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

  • Columbus Blue Jackets Ice Hockey Game Ticket at Nationwide Arena: $23
  • Columbus Scavenger Hunt Adventure : $21
  • 1-Hour Themed Escape Room Adventure & Narrative: $41
  • Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $44
  • Experience the season with a scavenger hunt in Columbus with Holly Jolly Hunt: $20
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus Ticket: $29
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Columbus by 3Quest Challenge: $10
  • The Escape Game Epic 60-Minute Adventures: $41
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Columbus by Crazy Dash: $10

Tours and Activities in Rapid City

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

  • Badlands National Park Private Tour: $650
  • Badlands Sunset and Wildlife Adventure : $239
  • Badlands Winter Wonderland Adventure: $239
  • Black Hills & Badlands: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tours: $20
  • Buffalo Jeep Safari & Mammoth Site Tour: $700
  • Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills: $133
  • Crime Solving Detective Experience Rapid City, SD: $15
  • From Private Devils Tower Tour and Hike: $650
  • From Private Spearfish Canyon Tour: $650
  • Full-Day Private Sightseeing Tour in South Dakota: $275
  • Mount Rushmore Self-Guided Walking Audio Tour: $15
  • Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Bus Tour with Live Commentary: $89

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbus $20
    Rapid City $6.93

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Columbus and Rapid City, we can see that Columbus 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 Columbus would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Columbus 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 Columbus Expensive? and Is Rapid City Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Columbus or Rapid City?

Columbus has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Rapid City. When comparing the sizes of Columbus 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.