I am an old soul. So much so that I often think I was born in the wrong era. So when I travel, it always intrigues me to find the forgotten gems of yesteryear or the places that are doing their best to recreate the bygone eras with grace and charm.
We found such a place in a brilliant speakeasy nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I have been to numerous similar spots around the country, but Rapid City’s The Blind Lion is the best yet. Surprised? I was too. But I promise, it is worth the stop – whether you are in the Black Hills visiting the many tourist attractions (Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, Badlands National Park, Deadwood, Keystone, etc.) or a local who hasn’t had the opportunity, it is a must.
Getting in is certainly a modern speakeasy tale – you don’t have a secret knock, but you do have to find the correct phone number and send a text message requesting entry. If you are selected, you will receive a numerical code to open the door and a secret phrase to give the barkeep once inside.
The bar itself is hidden below a much more well-known watering hole in Rapid and you must enter through the alley in the back to find the stairwell that leads to the establishment. The door is an old bank vault that requires the aforementioned code and the rules listed on the adjoining wall aren’t just for fun – so take note!
Once inside and seated, guests are transformed to another time. The ambiance is much what you would imagine a speakeasy in the Jazz Age to have been. It is a pre-prohibition cocktail bar so, do not expect to order a simple beer or glass of wine – and you wouldn’t want to! Their handcrafted drinks are amazing and the food is fantastic as well. If you are lucky enough to be there when they have live entertainment – sit back and enjoy the full experience. Otherwise, relax and appreciate great conversation in a wonderful atmosphere.
The unexpected gems of a community are what I find most exciting about traveling and The Blind Lion certainly fits the bill. Be sure to check it out next time you are in Rapid City, SD – and plan ahead because it takes a little effort and sleuthing to book a reservation – but that is part of the fun! Cheers!