A Visit to South Dakota thanks to Mazda!

We travel not to escape life, but for life to not escape us. See our recent visit to South Dakota…


Our family didn’t plan any vacations this Summer and I was starting to feel like we were missing a beautiful opportunity. So late last month I started talking to Chris about driving to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore and a few other nearby attractions. The more we talked, the more we planned. Then the lovely people at Mazda were super generous and decided to loan us a (super pretty red!) 2017 CX5. So when that happened, the trip went from a maybe to officially being a go!

2017 Mazda CX5 red

So last Friday, we loaded up the SUV and then hit the road.

We only made it about 5 miles before someone was saying they were hungry. So we stopped in our town for breakfast before hitting the highway. Even had time to take some silly selfies at the table before our food arrived…

Once on the road I was amazed at how easy the CX5 was to drive. My car is so old that it doesn’t take much to impress me! I set the cruise on the CX5 and was surprised to discover that it totally controls itself– slowing down when approaching a car or speeding up when passing. It was so cool! I was like….this SUV practically drives itself. I discovered the Mazda Radar Cruise Control with close proximity warning, Lane Keep Assist and Traffic Sign Recognition are all apart of the i-ACTIVSENSE — designed to help ensure a safe and confident drive. It was wonderful to experience them all working first hand!


The seats were super comfortable too. I  often get back pain in my upper right shoulder when driving on long trips. But that didn’t happen this time. I think that means I really need to buy this one! 😉 

We arrived in Custer, South Dakota around 4pm. We drove right to our hotel which was a Holiday Inn Express….but it didn’t look like your normal Holiday Inn Express. This one had like a rustic look throughout!

Holiday Inn Express in Custer SD

It even had a built in waterfall on the back of the property that backed right up to the mountains!

Britton didn’t nap at all on the drive to South Dakota, so he was super fussy when we tried to get dinner. Translation: we ordered dinner at a restaurant and got drinks, but had to get the food to go and ended up eating in our hotel room. Hey…traveling with kids ain’t easy…but I will tell you, it’s worth it. Fits and all. 😉 

After we got some food in our stomachs and the “hangry” left our vacation, we decided to check out the hotels pool. The boys thought it was a blast and it helped them get all those stuck-in-a-car-wiggles out.

After a great nights sleep, we got up and ventured down to our free hotel breakfast. Then we hopped back into the CX5 and headed straight to that beautiful sculptor — Mount Rushmore. As soon as we saw it (before you actually enter the exhibit entrance) we pulled off to sneak a picture.

We couldn’t wait to get closer. Here we are when you first enter the exhibit…

Then we finally got as close as the exhibit allows and snapped this shot…just amazing is all I can say!

You might be able to tell that some of us were thrilled and took a ton of pictures of ourselves with the famous mount…

Some of us were less than thrilled…

But overall, I am sooooo glad we took the time to drive and see it. Such an amazing work of art. I even managed to sneak a profile shot of George when leaving the exhibit. 

From Mount Rushmore, we decided to drive to the Badlands about 100 miles away. We stopped in Rapid City for some lunch and then made are way there.

This is some pretty interesting country if you have never been. Lots of huge drop of cliffs with tons of hills. And opposite of that is tons of prairie land full of prairie dogs. 

We drove around this park for about 30 minutes before heading back towards our hotel in Cluster. We did pass Bear Country USA and the Reptile Garden, but ran of time to visit. Maybe the next time around.

The next morning we slept in a little, then enjoyed one last free breakfast and started making our way back home. Thanks to our super pretty red CX5, we made it home safe and sound.

It was a quick three day adventure but I know we made a ton of memories that we will keep for a long time. If you can venture to this area of South Dakota with your family, I highly recommend it. The people were super nice and there’s some pretty impressive faces you really need to see in your lifetime! 

Have you visited South Dakota?

Disclosure: Big, huge, giant THANK YOU to the fine people at Mazda for loaning us this gorgeous 2017 CX5 for our family vacation getaway. Of course, as always, opinions expressed are all mine. I really love this SUV and would love to purchase one for my own family! 

One Comment

  1. How fun! I actually live in South Dakota, but on the other side of the state. We are pretty proud of all the attractions our state has to offer and little trips to the Hills are the best! Thanks for sharing

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