I moved out to the Black Hills five years ago and one of my favorite memories is taking my step-daughters to Custer. When I first started to date my husband, I called my mother and asked her if she had any fun ideas for me to do with my seven and five-year-old step-daughters. Her advice was to go and look through the old family albums of our trips to the Black Hills. After I opened those books, I remember my "light bulb" moment when I saw the photos of when I visited Custer.

That next weekend, my husband and I loaded up the kids and we were on our way to Custer. The girls were excited because we did not tell them where we were going. When we first rolled into Custer they could barely sit still any longer so we got out and walked along Main Street. We stopped at a local coffee shop called Calamity Janes and the girls order biscuits and gravy. Somedays, I wish we would have not gone there because now they are constantly asking me to make biscuits and gravy JUST like they did there. It is always a disappointment.

After we left the coffee shop, we walked to the corner of Main Street and the girls had to take a picture with every bison on each corner. We didn’t make it to every corner because my husband finally asked them if they wanted to go and see a real one. They jumped up and down and we all ran back to the car.

As we drove into Custer State Park, the girls were so excited I thought that they were going to wet their pants. We were lucky to see the burros and the bison that day. As we were driving through, the girls kept telling us to slow down because they were drawing photos of the bison and of the remarkable view that we still have hanging in our hallway today.

It was starting to get warm out, so we then headed to Sylvan Lake. We walked along the trail for a little while and then the girls put on their swimming suits and jumped in the lake. They loved swimming with the fish and trying to race the ducks. After swimming, we loaded up and headed back into Custer for supper. We had heard wonderful things about the Purple Pie Place. We all had a different kind of sandwich or panini and then we couldn’t leave without tasting a couple of pieces of pie. All I remember is my youngest yelling “I WANT THAT PIECE!”

After we left, we slowly walked to the car – my husband and I from a food coma and the ladies were both exhausted and sad that we had to leave. As we drove down Main Street one last time, they had to say good-bye to all the beautiful art bison and within five minutes as we headed out of town both girls were passed out.

The next day, we decided as a family we would always plan a trip to Custer every year. We do not live far away but we now turn it into a weekend trip because the hotels are amazing and there is so much we still want to do on our trips. We sometimes go more than once a year. We are now just finishing up the details for our third-year trip and the girls are so excited to see the bison again, go in a hot air balloon, and go on the UTVs. We cannot forget about rock climbing for my husband.

I will always recommend Custer to everyone that asks me what they should do when they come out to the Hills. There are so many amazing places to visit, but Custer is the diamond in the rough.

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