Hampton Inn Spearfish, SD

Hampton Inn – 240 North 27th Street, Spearfish, SD 57783

The Hampton Inn in Spearfish, SD is right off the interstate and clustered near a few other hotels in case you didn’t make a reservation.  The prices are fairly low.  The hotel seems clean.  Here is their website.

Issues I have had with this particular hotel include a deadbolt that wouldn’t lock due to the door not being properly aligned, tiny pillows, and the breakfast.

You get a free breakfast at this hotel, but it isn’t very good.  Everything is prepackaged and then heated up which is what you would expect at a hotel of this quality.  Actually based on how nice the inside of this hotel is and the dining area I expected more, but they do not have a proper kitchen area or connected restaurant so you get prepackaged food.  This might not be an issue, but I swear the potatoes were freezer burned last time we ate there.

The bed is actually really nice, but then they give you a ton of tiny pillows.  Move your head to the side and boom you are on the bed and not the pillow.  It is pretty annoying.  The bathrooms are new and nice.

You do have access to WiFi and I believe it works fairly well.  They also have a pool.  The children running the halls seemed to be very happy about that.  There are stairs at the end of the halls or an elevator that you can take in the middle.

Overall it is an OK place to stay, but I suggest getting your breakfast somewhere else.  The price makes it a place worth staying in this area.  Plus on the other side of the interstate is a pretty decent Perkins chain restaurant where you can get your breakfast or a late meal.

Sylvan Lake Lodge

Sylvan Lake Lodge – 13389 US Hwy 16A, Custer, SD 57730

Stay in the Lodge or in one of their cabins just around the corner and you have a great place to start your trip around Sylvan Lake Sylvan Lake and up Harney Peak Harney Peak.  You can also take your chances through driving through Needles Highway, slow down and drive a smaller vehicle.

The front of Sylvan Lake Lodge

Here is their website.

Sylvan Lake Lodge Cabin, picnic table, and fire pit.

We stayed in one of the cabins.  Some cabins are bigger than others.  Ours had 2 beds and a bathroom.  The campfire outside was nice and the fireplace inside was fun to have in the room.  We found some flying insects in the room, but this is a park and bound to happen.

Sylvan Lake Lodge bed, fireplace, and appliances.

The cabins are a very short walk to the lodge and the restaurant.  We ate breakfast and one dinner at the lodge.  The lounge area is really nice.  We took our dinner on the outdoor patio.  There is an opening along the wall of the patio that you can take right off a ledge or down to the front of the building, I love South Dakota.  It is very tread at your own risk.

seating at Sylvan Lake Lodge

Breakfast the lodge can be a little slow, but the food is amazing:  pancakes, try the pancakes.  The bacon was pretty good too.  The restaurant is very high end for South Dakota.  Check out their menu.

This cost is high for South Dakota, but not super expensive.  Really the overall cost was rather reasonable.  Plus you are right there to start your trek up to Harney Peak or around Sylvan Lake.

Alpine Inn

Alpine Inn – 133 Main St, Hill City, SD 57745

The Alpine Inn is great from a location standpoint being super close to Harney Peak and a ton of other places like Mount Rushmore.  It has a long history and is family owned.  It’s history dates back to the gold rush.  I cannot speak to the lodging, but they keep the stairs to the upstairs area well watched and you have an excellent bar and restaurant right below your feet when you stay here.  The prices look reasonable.

Check out their rates and the restaurant menu on their website, Alpine Inn Hill City.

Alpine Inn sign with me

Now let’s discuss the restaurant and bar.  Expect to wait for a table in the evening and take advantage of their indoor or outdoor bar area as you wait.  The wait is well worth it.

Their lunch menu has a few more items to choose from on it than their dinner menu, but their dinner menu is awesome both the items on it and due to how short it is.

We went for dinner.  I enjoyed a nice glass of wine while we sat on the porch.  They moved the people through pretty quickly.  This is a cash only til so make sure you have cash on you before you go inside.  They also have an ATM available to use.

I love the atmosphere inside the restaurant.  It seems like a rather large restaurant, but it is divided into many little areas with very low lighting.  We ended up in a room with 4 tables and one other set of guests.

Your evening dinner choices basically come down to meat or vegetarian.  With a second choice of small cut of meat or large cut of meat.  Oh and the meat item is a dirt cheap filet mignon.  For those of you who have never heard of filet mignon this particular cut of meat is meant to be eaten medium rare so please do not ask them to burn it to a crisp.  The salad was a quarter wedge of lettuce covered in homemade ranch dressing, so good and simple.

I was scared based on the price, but this was a truly amazing meal.  Super cheap for what you get, but very good quality.

This place is well known for their desserts.  Order one.  Just do it.

Everything is great about The Alpine Inn.  If you are in the area definitely stop in, this place is worth it.

Silver Bell Diner

Silver Bell Diner – 1981 Silver Bell Rd, Eagan, MN 55122

When I think of a diner Silver Bell Diner is the exact style of restaurant that comes to mind.  Checkered floor, jukebox in the middle, and those chairs and booths.  Don’t forget the stools up front for those single diners or the kid that just wants a malt or shake.

Jukebox, records on the wall, checkered floor, and a blue chair.

I love the old advertisements on the wall and the records.

Strawberry Malt with a wafer and cherry on top.

I general go to this place shortly before close which is early to me, but normal for Minnesotans.  It is never packed at this time.  I hope this means that they do more business at breakfast and lunch time.  Their breakfast menu looks super tasty and is served all day.

They offer an assortment of burgers.  The meat is pretty good and the toppings make sense.  They offer a burger of the month.

Hamburger and fries on a plate

I have eaten my way through a good portion of their dinner menu and everything tasted just right.  I think they may have traded cooks since their open because they changed their menu and the food is a little bit better than when they started.  They offer daily specials.

I am kind of stuck on their tuna melt and cheese curds as my preferred menu item.  I had never tried a tuna melt before, but they are pretty darn good.

Tuna melt, cheese curds, and 2 pickle chips on a plate.

If you have room when you finish your meal they have homemade pies.  I have taken a slice home on occasion and their desserts are amazing.

You can find their menu on their Facebook page.  I would put their prices exactly right for what you are getting and overall not expensive.   They are priced at a level that you could probably eat at pretty often.

If you are looking for normal, American, feel good food or if you just want a shake or slice of pie I highly suggest this little gem of a diner on Silver Bell.  Go to the new mall and then stop in here for lunch.

King’s Estate Pinot Gris

King Estate Pinot Gris bottle

King’s Estate – Pinot Gris

Awful, truly one of the worst wines I have had that hadn’t turned to vinegar.  I tried 2 different bottles just to make sure it wasn’t a bad bottle or just me.  King’s Estate has a fantastic Pinot Noir, but this Pinot Gris is horrid.

Seriously, do not buy this particular wine.  I cannot understand how one company can make 2 wines on the opposite ends of the spectrum, but as much as their Pinot Noir is great, their Pinot Gris is terrible.

I poured this wine out and I suspect you would too.

1/5 stars on the Linda Scale.

Do not serve this wine to anyone.

R and R

R R full bottle

R and R

Not a very good wine.

2/5 stars on the Linda Scale

This wine has a slight bite, but somehow it is completely ok.  It is probably just a bit dry.  1 glass is ok, but 2 glasses is a bit much.

Overall I would not recommend this wine.  It isn’t something you can fully enjoy.  You would not want to serve it to guests since you would need to cut them off after one glass.

Magna Terra

Magna Terra

Magna Terra with guests

This Pinot Noir is pretty good.

4/5 stars on the Linda Scale.

This is a fairly dark wine.  It has a strong smell, with an intense fruit flavor.  It is slightly dry, but not bitter.

Overall I liked this wine.  I would say it is dinner worthy especially with a piece of red meat.




Poppy =- Pinot Noir

This Pinor Noir is excellent!

5/5 on the Linda Scale

This is an excellent wine.  It was good on day one and good on day two.  This wine if very drinkable, smooth, nothing harsh, no bite, and the flavor is pleasant.

I would definitely serve this to guests.  This wine is a delight.

Cruz Garcia Real Sangria

Cruz Garcia Real Sangria

This is probably the best all in one Sangria that you will ever find.  It is super smooth and sweet.

5/5 stars on the Linda Scale.

I love opening a bottle of this Sangria, peeling an orange, and pouring the cool liquid over the sweet fruit.  The orange soaks up some of the alcohol making it easy to finish a few glasses.  When you are ready eat the fruit and let the sweet juices numb your lips.

It is such a great experience.  I am not sure I would serve this at dinner, but after dinner or just out on the patio with friends, definitely.

How to make a Real Sangria drink.


D'Autrefois Pinot Noir
D’Autrefois Pinot Noir


This Pinot Noir is good I guess.  I guessed wrong.

2/5 stars on the Linda Scale.

The following notes are short and tend to be quickly taken after a quick sampling in the evening.

D’Autrefois, I didn’t take any notes on this one, but I think I rather liked it.  There are no negatives about this one that I can remember.  I kind of wish I had another bottle to try right now.  On the other hand it isn’t memorable.  I am going to take that as a very good sign.  A drinking wine that isn’t too much of anything.

I am downgrading this wine from a non-memorable 4 to a 2.  The tart cherry flavor in it does not make this wine a crowd favorite.  I took this wine to a party very excited to share it and it did not go over well.

I myself could only manage to drink a single glass.  This was a very disappointing wine.