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

Should you visit Flagstaff or Rapid City?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Flagstaff and Rapid City can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Flagstaff

Flagstaff is a active, adventurous , and picturesque city. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. 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.

Flagstaff and Rapid City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
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


Is there more to do in Flagstaff or Rapid City?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Flagstaff. Although Flagstaff and Rapid City are both popular with visitors, Flagstaff has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Flagstaff is more popular for its food, nightlife, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Rapid City is known for its museums. Flagstaff is popular for its nearby craters and volcanic caves as well as its location along the historic Route 66. It is also home to Walnut Canyon National Monument. Rapid City is popular for its proximity to Mount Rushmore and many other iconic parks.

How is Flagstaff different from Rapid City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Flagstaff
Rapid City

Rapid City is a must-visit destination for its museums and landmarks. Also, Flagstaff 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.

Flagstaff is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. Lowell Observatory is a highlight for many visitors, especially those who are fascinated by space. There's also the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Pioneer Museum, and Fort Tuthill Military History Museum.


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

Flagstaff
Rapid City

Flagstaff is a very popular place for its restaurants. Also, Rapid City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

Flagstaff has a huge number of terrific restaurants. The food scene is diverse and growing. There's a focus on local recipes and ingredients. You'll also find many casual and family-friendly restaurants. American cuisine is common, but you'll also find burritos, Indian curries, and frittatas.

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

Is Flagstaff or Rapid City Better for Nightlife?

Flagstaff
Rapid City

Flagstaff 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 Flagstaff. You'll find a range of bars and cocktail lounges around town that come to life in the evening hours.

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 Flagstaff or Rapid City Better for Hiking?

Flagstaff
Rapid City

Flagstaff is an unbeatable place for its hiking trails. Also, Rapid City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Many people visit Flagstaff specifically for its hiking. Nearby you'll find world class hikes through surreal landscapes and diverse environments. The area is filled with desert landscapes and varied rock formations that are best explored on foot. Trails range in length and skill level, but whatever your ability, the hiking in the area is among the best.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Rapid City. 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 Flagstaff or Rapid City?

Flagstaff
Rapid City

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

Many visitors go to Flagstaff to go shopping. Located along historic Route 66, you'll find many shops that capture the city's history, particularly in the Southside Historic District. The town also has farmer's markets as well as shopping centers and large malls.

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 Flagstaff or Rapid City Better for Families?

Flagstaff
Rapid City

Rapid City is a must-visit destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Flagstaff is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Rapid City is an extremely popular city to visit for families. 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.

Flagstaff is a very family-friendly destination. The city is filled with outdoor activities for kids like ropes courses and adventure parks. Kids will also enjoy climbing around the Lava River Cave, visiting Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, or hiking through the many diverse landscapes in the area. There are also museums that educate visitors on the city's history as well as Lowell Observatory, which will intrigue all the space enthusiasts among us.

Is Flagstaff or Rapid City Better for Couples?

Flagstaff
Rapid City

Rapid City is well known for couples. Also, Flagstaff 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.

Flagstaff is a nice destination for couples. Hiking and outdoor adventure sports make this city a good destination for couples who enjoy active living. There are many parks that you can visit as well as hiking trails and unique natural settings.


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

Flagstaff
Rapid City

Flagstaff and Rapid City are superb places to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Flagstaff is a very popular city for backpackers and budget travelers. There are campgrounds nearby as well as tons of nature parks and countless hiking trails in the area.

Rapid City is very popular with the backpacker crowd. Backpackers will appreciate the surrounding natural beauty and the nearby national parks.

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

Flagstaff
Rapid City

You'll find somewhat comparable public transit options in both Flagstaff and Rapid City.

Public transit is generally limited in Flagstaff. The Mountain Line offers eight routes through town.

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

Is Flagstaff or Rapid City a more walkable city?

Flagstaff
Rapid City

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

Flagstaff is a somewhat walkable place. The downtown is compact and walkable, but you'll really want to have a car to explore the nearby hiking trails and natural areas.

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 Flagstaff Worth Visiting? and Is Rapid City Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Rapid City or Flagstaff?

How long in Flagstaff or Rapid City?

It's fun to spend time in either Flagstaff or Rapid City. In our opinion, Flagstaff has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Flagstaff than Rapid City. However, 2-4 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Rapid City than Flagstaff. 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 Flagstaff. 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 Flagstaff than Rapid City 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 Flagstaff.


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

One day in Flagstaff or Rapid City?

With museums and nightlife around the active city of Flagstaff, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. 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.

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Rapid City. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A weekend in Flagstaff or Rapid City?

With nightlife and food around the destination of Flagstaff, 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. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this city.

You'll find museums and food around the activity-filled destination of Rapid City. Hikers are also drawn to this area. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in Flagstaff or Rapid City?

Flagstaff, 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.

Travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the fascinating city of Rapid City. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Most people head to the area for the museums. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


A week in Flagstaff or Rapid City?

Flagstaff is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. 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.

Rapid City is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to United States of America, The Best Train & Rail Tours in United States of America, The Best Sightseeing Tours in United States of America, and The Best Cruise Tours and Packages in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Rapid City or Flagstaff?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Flagstaff is $166, 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 Flagstaff and Rapid City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Flagstaff $86
    Rapid City $60
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Flagstaff $172
    Rapid City $120
Compare Hotels in Flagstaff and Rapid City

Looking for a hotel in Flagstaff 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 Flagstaff


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: Flagstaff Hotel Prices and Rapid City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Flagstaff $37
    Rapid City $53

Is it cheaper to fly into Flagstaff or Rapid City?

Prices for flights to both Rapid City and Flagstaff 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
    Flagstaff $55
    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
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Flagstaff $28
    Rapid City $26

Tours and Activities in Flagstaff

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

  • 2 Hours Private E-Bike Tours In Northern Arizona: $75
  • Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Day Tour from Flagstaff: $299
  • Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park Tour with Lunch & Pickup: $245
  • Comprehensive Grand Canyon Tour from Flagstaff w/Lunch: $208
  • Downtown Flagstaff Haunted History Tour: $28
  • Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course-Adult Course: $65
  • Flagstaff Ghosts Tour By Us Ghost Adventures: $30
  • Flagstaff Route 66 Electric Bike Guided Tour 2 HR: $85
  • Flagstaff Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Flagstaff Segway Tour: $129
  • Flagstaff, AZ: Murder Mystery Detective Experience: $15
  • Adults-Only Haunted Walking Tour: $35

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: National Parks Driving Tour Bundle: $18
  • Pinnacle Zipline Tour in Keystone: $124
  • Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills: $133
  • Mt Rushmore & Black Hills Tour with Meals & Show: $164
  • Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Tour with Two Meals and a Music Variety Show: $164
  • Full-Day Private Sightseeing Tour in South Dakota: $275
  • From Badlands NP Full Monty Adventure: $399
  • From Private Spearfish Canyon Tour: $650
  • From Private Devils Tower Tour and Hike: $650
  • Private Black Hills Monuments Full-Day Tour: $650

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Flagstaff $29
    Rapid City $6.93

Sample the Local Flavors in Flagstaff

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Flagstaff:

  • Spirits With The Spirits, Haunted Pub Crawl Of Downtown Flagstaff: $50
  • Haunted Pub Crawl with Guide: $50


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


Which is Bigger, Flagstaff or Rapid City?

Rapid City has a larger population, and is about 8% larger than the population of Flagstaff. When comparing the sizes of Flagstaff 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.