Whenever someone is planning a trip to the United States, ask them which state they would like to visit and South Dakota would rarely be on that list. This is unfortunate because despite it’s not so popular reputation as a tourist hotspot, there is a lot more that South Dakota can offer. Though the capital city is Pierre, its more known and populous city is Sioux Falls. With the city’s motto being “The Heart of America”, it’s worth wondering what hidden gems are in Sioux Falls. Read on to discover the things to do at Sioux Falls, South Dakota!
1. Treat your eyes to the view of waterfalls at Falls Park
Perhaps the most popular tourist destination at Sioux Falls is Falls Park. Marvel at nature’s wonders through this majestic waterfalls which is part of the Big Sioux River. Aside from being a natural attraction, the falls also hold with it a lot of Sioux Falls’ history. The first Native Americans settled around the river long before the European settlers did and since then the city flourished from that point. Aside from the actual falls, the park also features the Falls Overlook Café which serves lunch and dinner, the Observation Tower located near the visitor center, the historic Queen Bee Mill, and the Stockyards Ag Experience Barn which has been turned into an agriculture museum.
Address: 131 E Falls Park Dr, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: Falls Park
Opening hours: 5am - 12am (daily)
2. Marvel at the architecture of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph
The Cathedral of Saint Joseph is the seat of the Diocese of Sioux Falls. It’s more than just a religious monument and place of worship though. The cathedral has gone through its own share of history in Sioux Falls and was only fully completed in 1919. The architectural design of the cathedral is already eye-catching but it stands out even more because of its location - perfectly situated on top of a hill overlooking the city as if it’s presenting itself as a symbol of hope and guidance. Private guided tours can be arranged with one-week prior notice. Self-guided tours are also available from 9am - 11:30am and 1pm - 5pm.
Cathedral of Saint Joseph
Address: 521 N Duluth Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: Cathedral of Saint Joseph
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily); Self-guided tours: 9am - 11:30am, 1pm - 5pm (daily)
3. Travel back in time at the Old Courthouse Museum
Formerly the Minnehaha County Courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum used to be the site of official county business from 1889 until 1962. Shortly after, the building was almost demolished because of the growing need for space but luckily the residents were able to save it in 1974. It’s an architectural paradise for design enthusiasts as they will be able to admire the exterior made from local Sioux Quartzite stone and be in awe of the interiors including slate stairs, granite pillars, tiled fireplaces, and beautiful stained glass windows. The architect behind the beauty of the courthouse is Wallace L. Dow, who claimed that the courthouse is the “largest between Chicago and Denver”.
Old Courthouse Museum
Address: 200 W 6th St, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: Old Courthouse Museum
Opening hours: Mon - Wed: 8am - 5pm; Thu: 8am - 9pm; Fri: 8am - 5pm; Sat: 9am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm
4. Drop by the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science
The Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science is a cultural hub for anyone who wants to learn about Sioux Falls. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or a science junkie, this is the place for you! The Visual Arts Center showcases the best of South Dakota’s artists and the exhibits are rotated monthly so there is always something new in store for guests. Meanwhile, the Kirby Science Discovery Center is an interactive experience with a lot of hands-on activities perfect for your children. If those aren’t enough, there’s even a movie theater and a concert hall for your other artistic cravings. Be sure to check out their website for schedules of upcoming shows!
Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science
Address: 301 S Main Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm
Price: 14 USD (adult); 12 USD (seniors, military); 7 USD (student)
5. Go wildlfe spotting at the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History
Discover some of the best and rarest of wildlife at the Great Plains Zoo, and learn about their origins and natural history at the Delbridge Museum of Natural History located in the same compound. Say hello to favorites like tigers, leopards, bears, rhinos, giraffes, monkeys and so much more! On top of that, get the chance to feed some goats, alpacas and a rare six-horned sheep at Hy-vee Face-to-Face Farm. It’s a trip your kids will surely enjoy!
Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History
Address: 805 S Kiwanis Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 7pm; Sun: 11am - 7pm
Price: 12.75 USD (adult age 13-59); 11.75 USD (senior age 60+); 9.25 USD (children age 2-12); Free (children age 2 and below) (prices exclusive of tax)
6. Awaken the history buff in you at the USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial
If you’re into war-related history, then a trip to the USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial is perfect for you. The USS South Dakota played an important role during the Second World War. It was built in 1939 and commissioned in 1942 during the war. Its notable conflict was the Battle of Santa Cruz against Japanese aircraft bombers. From 1947 to 1962, USS South Dakota was in reserve status and eventually, parts of her were sold as scraps. The remaining parts were eventually turned into a memorial site in 1969. Visitors will get to see these historic relics on-site as well as flags that represented the homelands of sailors who served on board the vessel.
USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial
Address: 2705 W 12th St, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial
Opening hours: 9:30am - 5:30pm (daily)
7. Dig deep into medical history at the Sioux Empire Medical Museum
Discover a bit of medical history at the Sioux Empire Medical Museum. The museum is located inside the Sanford Hospital and admission is free! Check out the evolution and advancements in the field of medicine beginning from the 1900s up to today. There are unique exhibits such as a vintage 1912 operation room and World War II-era nursing uniforms and equipment. It’s definitely a different kind of museum experience!
Sioux Empire Medical Museum
Address: Sanford USD Medical Center and Hospital, 1305 W 18th St, Sioux Falls, SD 57105, USA
Website: Sioux Empire Medical Museum
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 11am - 4pm (closed on Sat & Sun)
8. Catch a game of baseball at Sioux Falls Arena
For the sports fanatics, watching a game of baseball, hockey or indoor football is surely one to watch out for while at Sioux Falls Arena. Built in 1961, the almost 8000-capacity arena has been home to several sports teams native to Sioux Falls. About 6,113 people can see a basketball game while 4,760 fans can watch some indoor football or hockey. Or if you’re not much of a sports fan, perhaps a concert would interest you. The arena has also seen musical legends such as Elvis Presley, Elton John, Garth Brooks, and Cher perform. It’s best to check their website beforehand for a list of their upcoming shows!
Sioux Falls Arena
Address: 1201 N W Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: Sioux Falls Arena
9. Reignite your love for art at the Sioux Falls SculptureWalk
One of the exciting annual events to watch out for in Sioux Falls is the SculptureWalk. Every year, the streets of Sioux Falls turn into a one-of-a-kind open museum, and artists are invited to present and display their sculpture pieces and then they are left there for a year. During the year, the pieces are not only admired by the people but are also voted for. There are 14 awards and up to 15,000 USD at stake. You can take a look at their website for the complete list of participating artists and their corresponding sculptures.
Sioux Falls SculptureWalk
Address: 300 S Phillips Ave L104, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: Sioux Falls SculptureWalk
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
10. Spend an eventful day at the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove
See and admire a bit of wildlife at the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove! The facility is home to over 800 butterfly species that are from Asia, Australia, Africa, and Latin America, and over a hundred types of marine life. The Butterfly House is a 3,600 square feet (3.34 square meters) area kept at just the right amount of temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.67 degrees Celsius) - perfect for the butterflies’ habitat. Meanwhile, the Marine Cove houses areas such as the Pacific Tide Pool, wherein you may find sea anemones, sea urchins, and starfish, and the Shark & Stingray Touch Pool where kids have a hands-on learning experience and the chance of touching some sharks and stingrays. It’s perfect for a family visit!
Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove
Address: Sertoma Park, 4320 S Oxbow Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57106, USA
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 11am - 5pm
Price: 12 USD (adult: age 13 - 59); 11 USD (senior: age 60+); 9 USD (children: age 3 - 12); Free (infant: 2 and below)
11. Pay homeage to the local military members at Veterans’ Memorial Park
Veterans’ Memorial Park is a public park dedicated to the local military history of Sioux Falls. It’s a peaceful spot for locals to commemorate their war heroes and reflect on the history of their place. It’s also a lovely spot for tourists to take a stroll. Some of the park’s amenities include historical and military displays, a garden, a walking trail, and an amphitheater.
Veterans’ Memorial Park
Address: 1021 W. Bailey St. Sioux Falls, SD 57104
Website: Veterans’ Memorial Park
Opening hours: 5am - 10pm (daily)
12. Get your adrenaline fix by skiing at Great Bear Recreation Park
One of South Dakota’s top natural attractions and the largest park in Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation Department, Great Bear Recreation Park provides a venue for adrenaline junkies, hobbyists and anyone who loves the outdoors. During the summer, Great Bear offers the perfect setting for hiking, as well as bird watching or simply having a picnic. The winter months, however, bring a more exciting time as the park becomes the to-go place for skiing with twelve runs and three lifts. Due to its vast outdoor setting, the park is also open to being rented out as a wedding or event venue.
Great Bear Recreation Park
Address: 5901 E Rice Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57110
Website: Great Bear Recreation Park
13. Go kayaking, canoeing, fishing at Terrace Park
If you’re looking to spend a fun time with the whole family, one of the perfect places to do that is at Terrace Park. Visitors may go kayaking, canoeing or fishing at the lake. There are also a variety of courts available for different types of sports like tennis, basketball, and baseball. For the kids, there’s a swimming pool with an amazing water slide! The adults, on the other hand, can go around and admire the sculptures and Japanese gardens around the area. To top it all off, the family can come together for a picnic to wrap up a fun day.
Address: 1100 W 4th St, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: Terrace Park
Opening hours: 5am - 10pm (daily)
14. Tour the interactive Stockyards Ag Experience Plaza and Barn
Located in Falls Park, the Stockyards Ag Experience Plaza and Barn is an interactive museum that tells the importance of agriculture not just in Sioux Falls but in general. It also tells the beginnings of Sioux Falls Stockyards in 1917 until its closure in 2009. Visitors can view the colorful images and informative displays about the impact of agriculture on history, economy, and society at the regional attraction. It’s a perfect place to take your kids as they will be able to get many insights and at the same time have fun!
Stockyards Ag Experience Plaza and Barn
Address: 301 E Falls Park Dr, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Opening hours: Mon, Wed - Sat: 10am - 6pm; Sun: 12pm - 6pm (closed on Tue)
15. Pay tribute to South Dakota at the Pettigrew Home and Museum
Much like the Old Courthouse Museum, the Pettigrew Home and Museum is another building filled with much of South Dakota’s history. The house itself was built in 1889 but it wasn’t until 1911 when it was purchased by Senator Richard Franklin Pettigrew when it started having historical significance. Pettigrew contributed a lot to the town of South Dakota and when he died in 1926, he left his home to be a museum filled with artifacts that he collected throughout his life. There’s also an exhibit on his life and service as a public servant of South Dakota.
Pettigrew Home and Museum
Address: 131 N. Duluth Ave. Sioux Falls, SD
Website: Pettigrew Home and Museum
Opening hours: Summers: Mon - Sat: 9am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm; Winters: 12pm - 5pm (daily)
16. Explore wilderness at its best at The Outdoor Campus
Get outdoors and learn something new at The Outdoor Campus! The Outdoor Campus is South Dakota’s premier destination to learn outdoor education and skills. They offer lessons in hunting, fishing, archery, cross-country skiing, and even gardening. The campus also holds a lot of events and lets visitors fish and kayak for free. Otherwise, you can opt to enjoy the scenic views of the campus and find the perfect instagrammable spot! Visit their website beforehand to check out the complete list of programs and how you can register.
The Outdoor Campus
Address: 4500 S Oxbow Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57106, USA
Website: The Outdoor Campus
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 4pm; Sun: 1pm - 4pm
17. Witness a concert or other events at the bustling Denny Sanford Premier Center
If you’re in Sioux Falls and you’re in the mood to go to a concert or see a sports event, be sure to check out what’s happening at Denny Sanford Premier Center. The stadium can house 13,000 people in seating capacity for concerts and about 10,000 to 12,000 people for sports events. The stadium was completed and opened only recently in 2014. Musical acts like Slipknot, Demi Lovato, Cristina Perri, Carrie Underwood, Rod Stewart, and Ed Sheeran have been performed here. Visit their website to know the upcoming events at the stadium!
Denny Sanford Premier Center
Address: 1201 N W Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: Denny Sanford Premier Center
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)
18. Enjoy dinner with a view at Falls Overlook Cafe
Savor a delicious meal at Falls Overlook Cafe. Perfectly located overlooking Falls Park, this restaurant is managed by the Stensland Family Farms. Though their menu is not as extensive, the selections are still must-try favorites like grilled panini sandwiches, pizzas, and salads. Their best seller, however, is their delicious ice cream! The restaurant is also open to hosting events like wedding receptions, parties, and meetings.
Falls Overlook Cafe
Address: 825 N Weber Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57103, USA
Website: Falls Overlook Cafe
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11am - 3pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 7pm; Sun: 11am - 5pm
19. Shop your heart out at Empire Mall
Empire Mall is South Dakota’s premier shopping destination. It covers the tri-state area of South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. The mall is home to over 140 retail and restaurant establishments. Many of these may be familiar, namely Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Athleta, Oakley, Coach, and Sephora, among others. If you need a little break and shopping is your form of therapy, what better way to do that at Empire Mall!
Address: 5000 W Empire Pl, Sioux Falls, SD 57106, USA
Website: Empire Mall
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 9pm; Sun: 12pm - 6pm
20. Splash some water at the colossal Wild Water West
Looking for the perfect fun getaway for your family and friends? Wild Water West is probably one of the best options for that. If you’re visiting Sioux Falls during the summer, it’s even better. The park has a lot of different water activities from Tornado Alley, Caribbean Falls, Waterslide Complex, Lazy River, Wave Pool, and Bumper Boats. Forgot your swimsuit? Even though that’s unlikely, don’t fret! They also have a lot of exciting land activities like Paintball, Mini Golf, Go-Kart, Batting Cages, and Sand Volleyball. Then wrap up your day of fun by refreshing and recharging at their bar and restaurant.
Wild Water West
Address: 26767 466th Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57106, USA
Website: Wild Water West
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 4pm - 8pm; Sat - Sun: 11am - 8pm
Price: 8 USD onwards
21. Taste quality crafted beers at WoodGrain Brewing Company
Get your beer fix at WoodGrain, a popular brewery in Sioux Falls. Their beers feature the freshest local products every so often, especially hops, barley, and yeast. WoodGrain tries to keep the uniqueness of their brewery by rotating the selections as much as possible so the choices won’t be stagnant and customers will have something to look forward to. Another quirky fact about WoodGrain is that they don’t serve any food. In fact, they even encourage you to bring your own food, so long as they provide the beer! Luckily though, in case you didn’t bring your own grub, the restaurant next door provides it for you!
WoodGrain Brewing Company
Address: 101 S Phillips Ave #100, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: WoodGrain Brewing Company
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 3pm - 10pm; Fri - Sat: 12pm - 12am; Sun: 12pm - 6pm
22. Go cycling through the scenic Sioux Falls Bike Trails
The Sioux Falls Bike Trails is basically a 26-mile (42 km) loop trail that encircles Sioux Falls. It’s a perfect way to see the city and get exercise at the same time. You may opt to skip the bike and walk a few miles instead; either way, it hits two birds with one stone and lets you healthily go around the city! The trail also easily connects travelers to the many different parks in Sioux Falls. Much of the trail will provide you beautiful scenes of the Big Sioux River too!
Sioux Falls Bike Trails
Address: South of 60th Street N. and 57th Street
Website: Sioux Falls Bike Trails
23. Discover one of the oldest sites at Good Earth State Park at Blood Run
Good Earth State Park is an important site in the history of South Dakota and the United States. Its history is deeply rooted with the Native Americans who once occupied the area until white settlers started arriving in the 1800s. Their culture and relevant artifacts are on display for visitors to learn about. The site was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Visitors may also enjoy hiking through the vast scenery. There are also viewing decks along the trails for visitors to enjoy the beautiful landscape surrounding the site.
Good Earth State Park at Blood Run
Address: 26924 480th Ave., Sioux Falls, SD 57108
Website: Good Earth State Park at Blood Run
Opening hours: Summers: Mon - Wed: 9am - 5pm; Thu - Sat: 9am - 7pm; Sun: 1pm - 7pm; Winters: Mon - Sat: 9am - 4pm; Sun: 1pm - 4pm
Price: 6 USD
24. Pamper your taste buds at Minervas
Since 1977, Minervas Restaurant has been a part of Sioux Falls’ dining culture, and until today, it’s still the favorite go-to restaurant of many. The set-up is a little bit on the semi-formal side, so it would be perfect to take someone out on a date or share a meal with an important client here. Their extensive lunch and dinner menus provide guests with a quality selection of meats, seafood, salads, and pasta. They also have a wide array of wine selections for dinner. Minervas is also open to being rented out for small private occasions.
Minervas Restaurant - Sioux Falls
Address: 301 S Phillips Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: Minervas Restaurant - Sioux Falls
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 11am - 3pm, 4:30pm - 10pm (closed on Sun)
25. Make the most of the night at Club David
Looking for a bit of nightlife? Club David is the place to be! Enjoy a night out with friends and a few drinks while at Sioux Falls. Their friendly staff will make you feel at home in their three-level building. Dance the night away with the DJ’s tunes on the first level, enjoy an intimate time with friends at the second level lounge and go all out on the third level with an ICE bar! There is also an outdoor patio which is a perfect spot to socialize and meet new people. Be sure to check their website for the happy hour deals on the day you visit!
Address: 214 W 10th St, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
Website: Club David
Opening hours: 4pm - 2am (daily)
Have fun at Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sioux Falls is a wonderful mix of nature and history with a dash of fun. It’s slowly building its reputation as a tourist destination. With surprisingly many things to do in this town, it should be on many bucket lists very soon!
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