Sioux Falls is the most populous city in South Dakota that sits by the Big Sioux River. It is a geographically interesting area a there are large cascades that were formed during the last ice age, and it has a long history as it was home to many indigenous groups of people long before the European settlers arrived. Therefore, it is a popular place to visit, especially amongst those who are interested in history and those who enjoy the outdoors. However, there are plenty of other things to enjoy in this diverse city as there are activities and attractions to suit all ages and tastes. So that you can plan your visit, here are the 20 best things to do in Sioux Falls for first-timers.
20. Learn About Medical History at the Sioux Empire Medical Collection
One of the more unusual attractions you can visit while in Sioux Falls is the Sioux Empire Medical Collection. This unique museum focus on medical advancements from the early 20th-century onwards. One of the highlights of the visit is the 1912 vintage operating room. There are many other interesting exhibits to see, including a 1940s iron lung, medical equipment, and nursing uniforms. Many of the displays include mannequins to depict scenes from surgeries or medical treatments.
19. Go Shopping at The Empire Mall
If you want to enjoy a little retail therapy in Sioux Falls, then head to The Empire Mall. There, you will find big brand stores alongside some smaller shops. You can shop at stores selling luxury items, or you can search for some brand name bargains. There are also several eateries in the mall, so you can grab a bite to eat while shopping.
18. Visit the Veterans’ Memorial Park
Many parts of Sioux Falls are busy and have a lively vibe. If you want to get away from the urban buzz for a short while, then a great place to sit and relax is the Veterans’ Memorial Park. This pretty and peaceful spot is a garden that commemorates local people who were members of the military. The garden is located within the former Army Air Corps site. Along with the memorial structure, there are sculptures, an amphitheater, historic exhibits, and walking trails to enjoy.
17. Watch a Performance at the Denny Sanford Premier Center
The Crazy Tourist recommends watching a performance at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. There is always something going on at this center, including theatrical performances, sporting events, and rodeos. Check out what is going on at this venue before embarking on your trip to Sioux Falls. Booking in advance is advisable to avoid disappointment.
16. Have some Fun at Wild Water West
A great day out for all the family is Wild water West. This is a large water park where you can enjoy some water-based fun and cool off during warmer weather. It is the largest water park in South Dakota, and you will find it on 466th Avenue. There are several exciting rides and slides to enjoy in this park, including the 55-foot tube slide ‘Tornado Alley’, and the four 65-foot slides that form the Waterslide Complex. There is also a wave pool, a swim-up bar, a baby pool, and a children’s activity pool. This water park has several activities for people to enjoy that are no water-based. Some of these activities include sand volleyball, paintball, mini-golf, batting cages, and go-karts.
15. Take the Sculpture Walk
Downtown Sioux Falls is turned into an outdoor art gallery each year when sculptors from across the globe are invited to display their sculptural work in designated spots across the city. People are invited to vote for their favorite, and there are monetary awards for the artists of the most popular sculptures. There are examples of both modern and traditional sculptures, and you can see both abstract and representational works on display. Both locals and visitors to the city can admire the sculptures by taking a walk along a set route through Sioux Falls.
14. Try Winter Sports at Great Bear Recreation Park
Those who have an adventurous streak and like outdoor activities might like to spend a day at the Great Bear Recreation Park. This is a ski area that is owned by the city of Sioux Falls. It was first opened in 1968, and it only had two ski runs. Now, there are 12 ski runs, a magic carpet, a handle two, and a quad chairlift. The best time to visit the park is during the winter months when you can go skiing. However, the park is open throughout the year. During the summer months, you can enjoy hiking trails and there are spectacular views over the city from the tops of the slopes.
13. Watch a Game at Sioux Falls Stadium- The Birdcage
Even if you are not a sports fan, the excitement and camaraderie of watching a game make it worthwhile. To watch a baseball game in Sioux falls, you should head for Northwest Avenue where you will find Sioux Falls Stadium- The Birdcage. This is the home ground of the Sioux Falls Canaries, who are a professional baseball team. Check if there is a game on during your visit and book tickets in advance, if possible.
12. Have Lunch at Falls Overlook Cafe
To enjoy some of the best views of the city while eating delicious food, you should enjoy a meal at the Falls Overlook Café. This building was originally built in 1908 on the banks of the Big Sioux River and is overlooks the Sioux Falls in Falls Park. In the past, it was the Sioux Falls Light and Power Company until it was abandoned in 1974. Now it has been restored to become a quaint restaurant that serves freshly prepared light meals.
11. Visit Pettigrew Home & Museum
This house was originally built for Thomas and Jenny McMartin in 1889, It was then bought by Senator Richard Franklin Pettigrew in 1911. Pettigrew had a passion for traveling and collecting interesting objects. So that he had someone to store his collections, he built a museum on the back of his house. Both the restored house and the museum are now open to the public. Some of the collections include natural history specimens, artifacts relating to local history, stone tools, and Native American clothing.
10. Learn About Agriculture at the Stockyards Ag Experience Plaza and Barn
One of the newest additions to the attractions in Sioux Falls is the Stockyards Ag Experience Plaza and Barn, which opened in 2017. The aim of the attraction is to teach visitors about the role that agriculture plays in both the local area and in the rest of the world. It looks at agriculture in history alongside modern agricultural practices. It is a fun place for both adults and children to learn about rural life and about where food comes from.
9. Visit the Cathedral of Saint Joseph
One of the most significant landmarks in Sioux Falls is the Cathedral of Saint, so a visit to this religious structure is something that you should include in your vacation itinerary. It was designed by architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray. Unfortunately, he died before the structure was completed in 1919; It has since undergone many changes and additions. Some interesting features inside the cathedral include the stained-glass windows, the high marble altar, and the Kilgen pipe organ. Occasionally, the cathedral hosts organ concerts.
8. See the USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial
As there is no coastline in South Dakota, it may surprise you to learn that one of the most popular attractions in Sioux Falls is the USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial. You will find this memorial on West 12th Street, and the outline of the battleship’s hull is a concrete wall that is covered with flags. At the memorial, there is a display of various relics relating to the historic battleship.
7. Try New Outdoor Activities at The Outdoor Campus
If you enjoy the outdoors and like to get active during your vacations, then The Outdoor Campus will likely have an activity for you to enjoy. Located on South Oxbow Avenue, this center has a wide range of programs for both adults and children. They teach a variety of outdoor activities and skills, including cross-country skiing, gardening, and fishing. There are options for both individuals and groups.
6. Stroll Around Terrace Park
A good option for those on a budget is to spend some time at Terrace park, as this public park in the city has plenty of amenities and facilities to enjoy for free. There are gardens, sports courts, playing fields, sculptures, and walking trails to enjoy. Families can also enjoy the playgrounds. It is a great place to enjoy a picnic, as there are several sheltered picnic areas around the park. Furthermore, there are access points to enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.
5. Have a Day at the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History
This is an attraction that you will need a full day to get the most out of your experience. The zoo part of the attraction is home to more than 1,000 animals, including tigers, primates, and giraffes. The zoo is divided into habitats, and there is a petting zoo that younger children will enjoy. The museum section of the attraction has large and interesting displays relating to different species, such as birds, insects, and Asian cats. The Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History runs various educational programs throughout the year.
4. Learn About Local History at the Old Courthouse Museum
Those who are interested in architecture should set aside some time to visit the Old Courthouse Museum. The museum is set in a historic building that was the first Minnehaha County courthouse, and you will find it on West Sixth Street. Local architect Wallace L. Dow designed the structure, which was built between 1889 and 1893. The building has many interesting features, include slate stairs, granite pillars, tiled fireplaces, and stained-glass windows. There are also some interesting murals to view when you tour this historic building.
3. Enjoy the Attractions at the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science
The Washington Pavilion Arts and Science Center is a venue that combines several attractions. Therefore, you should set aside a full day to visit this attraction or split the attractions within the building over several visits. There is a concert hall and a large-format theater where you can watch a performance, and the center is home to the Dakota Academy of Performing Arts. There is also an interesting science museum, an art gallery, and a community learning center.
2. Visit Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove
An attraction that is both fun and educational is the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove. This offers two attractions in one. One of the main attractions is the 3,600 square foot Butterfly House, which is home to 800 butterflies within an indoor tropical garden. The other main attraction is Marine Cove, which is home to fish, marine life, and corals. Some of the highlights are the Pacific Tide Pool and the Shark and Stingray Touch Pool. There are many educational exhibitions at both attractions.
1. Explore Falls Park
According to Vacation Idea, the best thing to do in Sioux Falls is to explore Falls Park. This 123-acre park covers both sides of the Big Sioux River, after which the city is named. It is here that you will see the spectacular cascades. There is a 19-mike hiking and biking trail that goes through the park and creates a loop around the city. Within the park, there are some interesting structures to see, such as the Queen Bee Mill, which is a seven-story building that was built in 1881. There is also the Falls Overlook Café, which was once the Sioux Falls Light and Power Company.