Sioux Falls is considered one of the healthiest cities in the United States which is probably due to its gorgeous scenery and rolling hills. In fact, the city has over 70 parks and sits on the margins of the Big Sioux River. All of this green space offers many outdoor activities and adventures.
Sioux Falls also hosts important events throughout the year including one of the biggest music festivals in the country, the LifeLight Festival. And although the city is also the most populous in South Dakota, it is yet to be discovered by the tourism industry as it is an underutilized vacation spot.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Sioux Falls (SD)
1. Falls Park
Featuring waterfalls, an observation tower, picnic shelters, and sculptures, Falls Park is the most visited park around the city. The Sioux Falls itself is a beautiful waterfall in multiple sections on the Big Sioux River right in downtown Sioux Falls. A series of paved trails lead you throughout the park to view the waterfall from different angles. There are also a few historic markers just to make things interesting and rocks all along for kids to climb and explore.
The park also counts with a museum and a restaurant with an amazing selection of ice cream. Not to mention the Falls Café which is a great place to grab a bite or something warm to drink.
2. Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History
With wildlife from around the world, Great Plains Zoo also houses a museum with over 100 mounted animals, the Delbridge Museum of Natural History. Some of the most interesting exhibits at the museum are the Primates, African Safari, Asian Cats, and definitely the bears.
The zoo itself is very clean and convenient and there is plenty for kids to do including the petting zoo and a really nice carousel. Not to mention the train ride, puppet show, and the playground with lots of slides and climbing equipment. And of course, the zoo is home to a wide variety of animals, from giraffes and birds to bears and big cats. Even though it is a small zoo compared to others, it seems they are always adding on new attractions.
3. Denny Sanford Premier Center
The well-ran facility of Denny Sanford Premier Center is the place to view a wide range of events and performances. Amongst the events, you can watch there are Monster trucks, live music concerts, and sports events such as basketball and hockey matches. You can just enjoy the night anytime you are there for an event.
The seats are made of plastic but comfortable enough for the long shows and the cost of the tickets is typically very reasonable. The concession stands with food and drinks is also on the high side.
4. Washington Pavilion
Featuring art galleries, hands-on science exhibits, and theater performances, Washington Pavilion is a historic cultural venue. You are guaranteed to have a great time there, whether you are seeing a live show, visiting the Kirby Science Center, or enjoying the new exhibits in the Art Museum. Some of the other attractions on-site include Dakota Academy of Performing Arts and Wells Fargo CineDome.
They have drinks and snacks available for purchase both before the show and at intermission, and often have show-themed treats and drinks to add to the fun. Overall, the facility offers a great hands-on learning experience for children and adults alike!
5. Butterfly House & Aquarium
Butterfly House & Aquarium is a fun place to visit and see the wonders of nature. The butterfly house itself is filled with flora and trees while huge colorful butterflies and moths hover and dart all around.
The aquarium functions at a friendly and warm building with floating seahorses and quirky colorful fish plus all kinds of exotic coral and even stingrays. And even though the aquarium is small it is still fun and interactive featuring some stingrays and small sharks that you can “pet” which is always fun. Other animals include turtles and quails.
6. Wild Water West Waterpark
Wild Water West Waterpark is a seasonal amusement park with aquatic attractions. The amusement park itself features go-karts, mini-golf, bumper boats, and paintball. This is a great place for family fun!
The waterpark has an activity pool, wave pool, lazy river, and even a swimming pool with a bar. The pirate ship is yet another great place to hang out for both younger children and adults. Also, lifeguards are super proactive and watch well. Overall, the park has got some fun slides, and a great variety of other attractions to entertain the whole family.
7. Sertoma Park
Featuring a butterfly house, a playground, a picnic shelter, and walking paths, Sertoma Park is like a little oasis of nature in the middle of Sioux Falls. The park has many side trails leading walkers and bikers into the wilderness. However, due to its popularity, it is only peaceful and quiet during early mornings.
Next to the playground, you will find a pond with a lovely bridge that is perfect for photo shooting. Not to mention, it is a great spot to teach the kids how to fish. Also, make sure to visit the Outdoor Campus building with tons of educational information for the kids and great events throughout the year.
8. Pipestone National Monument
Located an hour from Sioux Falls and featuring a visitor center and walking trails, Pipestone National Monument is a site with pipestone quarries sacred to many American Indians. The beautiful pink quartzite rocks and cliffs on-site are just magnificent and beautiful. The monument itself has some nice historical information about what pipestone is and what it used to be used for.
Besides some unique rock formations, there is also a lovely waterfall that you can get up close to the top and also the bottom. So, be sure to explore the nice, paved path that extends around a 3/4 mile loop.
9. Midco Aquatic Center
Midco Aquatic Center is a green space with ball fields, sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, and trails, plus an outdoor pool. This is a very nice center, one of Sioux Falls’ best additions to the city.
This facility is packed with lanes, recreational pools/therapy pools including slides and a lazy river, diving boards, family rooms, and meeting rooms for birthday parties. For young kids, there is a splash area. It also features a good seating area with a snack and beverage bar. Great place for everyone who enjoys a day in the water.
10. Sky Zone Trampoline Park
The chain of indoor trampoline Sky Zone Trampoline Park features freestyle bouncing, dodgeball, fitness programs, and more. Overall, this is an easy way to get energy out of your kids and just have some quality family time. Some of the activities there include the foam pit, shoot hoops, and simply jumping around. One of the highlights is the Ninja course which is fun for all ages. Not to mention all the rock climbing opportunities they offer.
Although some of the locals in Sioux Falls use Sky Zone as a gym and fitness center, you can just join for an afternoon of fun while visiting the city.
11. Palisades State Park
Palisades State Park features quartzite formations, pipestone quarries, and a creek. These impressive rock formations that enclose the river are truly a must-see. The whole area is beautiful with a unique landscape, bridges crossing over streams, and many places to sit and relax.
The park also counts with well-kept facilities such as campsites and hiking trails. Walking the trails along Split Rock Creek will make you feel peaceful and happy. There are also many rocks to climb and playgrounds to take the kids to spend some energy. And do not forget to take some mosquito repellent and sunscreen!
12. Thunder Road Family Fun Park
The fun park and mini-golf course of Thunder Road Family Fun Park offers go-karts, thrill rides, an arcade room, and other kid-friendly games. The highlights of Thunder Road include bowling and laser tag. The park also counts with giant pizzas, amazing chicken wings, and free refills on fountain drinks.
It is usually not very crowded, so the queues are short and the waiting time is minimal. The workers are very nice and friendly and seem to actually enjoy being there. They always pay attention to avoid accidents and crashes making the entire family feel safe while having fun together.
13. Great Bear Ski Valley
Great Bear Ski Valley features downhill and cross-country trails, a tubing park with its own lift, and summer hiking. With very easy hills and geared towards beginners, this is the closest ski resort to Sioux Falls. From hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoe, downhill skiing, and tubing, the resort has it all.
If you are traveling with kids, make sure to check out the very popular bunny hills. Their efforts in getting this place up and running are commendable. All the costs of tickets and rentals are reasonable, and the food is typical of ski resorts.
14. Old Courthouse Museum
The 19th-century courthouse now functions as the Old Courthouse Museum and it is dedicated to the history of the region of Sioux Falls. This museum contains a very fun collection of antiques and fun facts covering eclectic areas of interest including local and state histories, motorcycles, history of medicine, prohibition, and suffrage. They even have a toy museum on-site!
The architecture of the building is amazing to not only see but read about as well. It should take you around one hour to explore the museum. Overall, the old red brick Courthouse Museum offers a wonderful time travel adventure.
15. Arc of Dreams
Arc of Dreams is the dream come true of not only the sculpture but also of the Sioux Falls. The structure itself highlights the beautiful river cutting through the city. There are lots of nearby parking, no steps, very accessible to all, even those in walkers and wheelchairs.
This is an awesome place to visit, especially during nighttime when the lights are vibrant and magnificent. And even during the day, make sure you stop to relax and enjoy the local art community, down-home local shopping and grab a bite to eat in one of the local restaurants and cafes.
16. Sanford Pentagon
The Sanford Pentagon is a really nice and beautiful arena showcasing sports events, live concerts, and video shoots. In addition to the main venue, the facility features six extra courts for teams and athletes to practice and play.
The staff does a wonderful job running tournaments, keeping athletes and spectators safe. You will be impressed by the attention to detail, and everything that this venue offers. Besides, the Pentagon also houses an interesting sports museum inside.
17. Devil’s Gulch Park
Devil’s Gulch Park is a cool little green space with some pretty amazing geological features. The park is sprawling with paths and overlooks, so be careful. There are no railings or barriers anywhere except for the bridge to cross over. There is a main trail that takes around an hour to be completed. When the gulch is dry, you can adventure yourself through rock hopping.
Besides all the nature and outdoor activities, the park also tells the interesting story of Jessie James. During your walks, you will learn about how he convinced his horse to jump the gulch. They also have a little gift shop with memorabilia.
18. Prairie Village
Located an hour from Sioux Falls, Prairie Village is a living museum of the past sitting on the margins of Lake Herman. There, you will be able to step back in time and see real articles that were used in day to day life. Be sure to appreciate the hard work individuals did back in the day.
This little village counts with a church, a library, a tractor pull track, a gift shop, and a few other historical buildings. The public’s favorite attraction at Prairie Village is the train ride.
19. USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial
Located in Sherman Park, USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial features a great little museum with lots of information about the ship that it honors. This is a very neat stop and a great way to get a perspective on the size of these massive ships and equipment.
The memorial tells many side stories bringing a personal touch to it. They also display a movie filled with information. The outside area is an outline of the ship with guns, propellers, and the anchor. The entire family will have a blast exploring the history and size of the ship.
20. Pettigrew Home & Museum
The 1889 Queen Anne home of the state’s first U.S. Senator is now known as Pettigrew Home & Museum offering tours of period furniture and exhibits. Seeing a house set up so true to that time can be quite the experience and you can visit the entire museum in less than two hours.
The museum holds many interesting pieces of history and artifacts that Mr. Pettigrew was quite fond of. There is a 25-minute video which is good to watch and explains the house and things from that time period. Then you can go on a tour by yourself. Although, you have to actually have a guided tour to access the part of the house where Pettigrew and his wife lived.
21. Museum of Visual Materials
With minimal decoration, the Museum of Visual Materials functions at a historic downtown building. In fact, this is one of the oldest and greenest buildings in Sioux Falls. The building is mainly used as an event venue. And when there is no event happening, they showcase local arts and crafts.
They offer rentals for events such as weddings or corporate functions and they also have a lot of free children’s events held there. The building itself is beautiful with refinished beams and bamboo wood floor, making for a trendy location.
22. Japanese Garden
Located in Terrace Park, Japanese Garden is a perfectly manicured property adjacent to the river with a perfect view for a morning workout or afternoon stroll. The grounds themselves are beautiful, with a nice lake and the Terrace Park behind, which is lovely. It is a quick, easy walk, and if you like the quiet setting you can sit on one of the many benches and look at the water.
Children especially love all the different paths, and the best part is the water feature. Bring bread for the ducks and geese as you will most likely be followed and greeted by them at some point.
23. SculptureWalk | Sioux Falls
Located in downtown Sioux Falls, the SculptureWalk is the perfect place to go for a walk and admire all the different artwork displayed. The collections contain local paintings and sculptures. And, interestingly, it changes every year since the art is sold at the end of every summer.
Along your walk, you will come across many stores and boutiques that are perfect to purchase your Sioux Falls souvenir. There are also quite a few places you can stop for excellent food or drink, with outside seating, along the way.
24. The Empire Mall
The 1-level Empire Mall opened in 1975 and now houses over 140 stores, as well as casual and sit-down restaurants. Located near Union Square, some of the stores include Old Navy, JCPenney, Victoria’s Secret, Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Bath & Body Works.
The facility is spotless, and it was recently renovated, so it does not seem to run down like a lot of malls across the country. The food court has a great number of options for lunch or dinner. It is usually really busy, and you will see a lot happening there.
25. Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews
With dozens of creative patties and brews available, Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews is a chill venue with a sports bar vibe. Featuring an extensive menu, they offer a lot to choose from including delicious appetizers. Not only do you get a great choice on the menu, but you get a lot of food to take home if you want to.
This open-concept restaurant is most known for its burgers, shakes, and over 40 beers on tap. However, their cheese curds, Monte Cristo, and donuts do not stay far behind as the public’s favorites.