9 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Sioux Falls, SD

Sitting on the eastern border of South Dakota, and serving as the largest city in the state, Sioux Falls provides big-city attractions with a small-town feel. From the city's namesake at Falls Park, where thousands of gallons of water cascade over Sioux Quartzite every second, to the SculptureWalk spread throughout the downtown shopping district, Sioux Falls delivers on both natural and modern tourist attractions. Whether it's learning something new at the Washington Pavilion or hiking the trails at the Big Sioux Recreation Area, Sioux Falls can easily provide the entertainment; you just have to provide the time to explore.

1 Falls Park

Visitors at Falls Park
Visitors at Falls Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Serving as the namesake and number one attraction of Sioux Falls, the triple waterfall at Falls Park has been a centerpiece here since the city's inception in 1856. Much like the fast-moving water of the Big Sioux River that creates this impressive natural display, Falls Park receives a steady flow of visitors throughout the year to appreciate the manicured space. While the summer months tend to draw the biggest crowds, during the colder months, this city-owned attraction transforms into a true winter wonderland worth exploring.

Besides admiring the steadfast movement of water up close, other popular things to see here include the remains of the historic Queen Bee Mill and a visitor information center with an attached five-story observation tower. To refuel at Falls Park, the Overlook Cafe serves lunch, dinner, and live music on Friday nights. The 19-mile Big Sioux River and Recreation Greenway also stretches in both directions from Falls Park, allowing this namesake attraction to be just a pitstop on a full day of adventure in Sioux Falls.

Address: 131 E. Falls Park Drive, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

2 Editor's Choice Good Earth State Park at Blood Run

A mural in Good Earth State Park Visitor Center
A mural in Good Earth State Park Visitor Center | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Located 10 miles southeast of downtown Sioux Falls, Good Earth State Park is part of the larger Blood Run National Landmark, with one of the oldest sites of human occupancy in the country. Well before any state parks were ever established, Blood Run served as an important gathering space and trading center for many local tribes and indigenous cultures. Today, Good Earth State Park ranks as one of the best state parks in South Dakota and pays homage to this culturally rich area through native prairie systems and engaging cultural content about the native community. Attractions include six miles of scenic hiking trails and an 11,000-square-foot visitor center brimming with information about the Oneota traditional people. A visit here provides a fascinating look into a time well before our own.

Address: 26924 480th Ave, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

3 Washington Pavilion of Arts & Science

The Kirby Science Discovery Center in the Washington Pavilion
The Kirby Science Discovery Center in the Washington Pavilion | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Serving as the hub of science, art, and culture for the region, the Washington Pavilion provides key cultural opportunities for Sioux Falls residents and visitors. Featuring two performing arts centers, where Broadway shows, live concerts, and an array of recitals are always on the line-up, the Washington Pavilion is also home to the Wells Fargo CineDome, which sets the stage for an excellent movie-watching experience.

Visitors to the Washington Pavilion can also admire the exhibits on display in the Visual Arts Center, which contains seven different galleries dedicated to local, national, and international artists. Perhaps the most engaging of all the attractions at the Washington Pavilion, however, is the lofty three-story Kirby Science Discovery Center, which harnesses the power of imagination and hands-on displays to create a fun place for every member of the family to enjoy.

Address: 301 S Main Ave, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

4 SculptureWalk Sioux Falls

Strings of Happiness sculpture by Osamede Obazee, Sioux Falls SculptureWalk
Strings of Happiness sculpture by Osamede Obazee, Sioux Falls SculptureWalk | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Consisting of more than 50 new sculptures each year, spread throughout downtown Sioux Falls, SculptureWalk adds another touch of fun while you explore the shops, restaurants, and hotels in the heart of the city. Whether you seek out as many sculptures as you can, or a certain work of art happens to catch your eye as you're making your way down the sidewalk, everyone is encouraged to cast a vote for their favorite each year. During any downtown sculpture tour, a recommended place to stop is the original Minervas restaurant for fine eats.

Address: 300 S Phillips Ave L104, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

5 Big Sioux Recreation Area

American Kestrel, Big Sioux Recreation Area
American Kestrel, Big Sioux Recreation Area

Located 10 miles east of Sioux Falls and found on the banks of the Big Sioux River, the Big Sioux Recreation Area exemplifies the rolling prairie landscape and woodlands found in the region. Popular activities to enjoy at the Big Sioux Recreation Area include accessing the Big Sioux River, navigating the dense five miles of woodland trails, and playing a round on the 18-hole disc golf course that meanders throughout the prairie. With so many recreational options, as well as 50 campsites and three cabins, Big Sioux Recreation Area is a top contender for one of the best campgrounds in South Dakota.

Address: 410 W Park Street, Brandon, South Dakota

6 Butterfly House & Aquarium

Butterfly House & Aquarium

Located in Sertoma City Park on the southwest side of Sioux Falls, the Butterfly House & Aquarium provides a hands-on experience with nature through an abundance of butterflies and variety of marine life. Operating as a nonprofit organization, the Butterfly House & Aquarium strives to nurture opportunities for learning, healing, and celebrating nature, and through exhibits like the Butterfly House or the Shark and Stingray Touch Pool, they seem to reach their goal. In addition to simply stopping by to see the exhibits, visitors to the Butterfly House & Aquarium are encouraged to partake in weekly classes and events for all ages, ranging from young explorer camps to tai chi and yoga sessions in the gardens.

Address: 4320 S Oxbow Ave, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

7 Old Courthouse Museum

An exhibit at the Old Courthouse Museum
An exhibit at the Old Courthouse Museum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Housed in a 19th-century courthouse building, the Old Courthouse Museum contains three stories of permanent and rotating exhibits, all of which help paint a brighter picture of the history of the region. Admission is free, although donations are accepted, and with the larger-than-life murals on the wall and numerous historical artifacts, the Old Courthouse Museum makes it easy to remember the past. For some live-action history, visitors to the Old Courthouse Museum can take part in any one of the many community events hosted by the museum, including concert series, Halloween parties, and Victorian tea lectures and servings.

Address: 200 W 6th Street, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

8 Cathedral of Saint Joseph

Cathedral of Saint Joseph
Cathedral of Saint Joseph | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Towering above the skyline of Sioux Falls, the Cathedral of Saint Joseph stands proudly as a century-old, eye-catching attraction. Throughout the last 100 years, it has contributed to the surrounding neighborhood and community, and after a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2011, restoring it back to its original grandeur, it has attracted visitors from around the world. Self-guided and guided tours are available at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph throughout the week, and anyone can attend Mass during the scheduled times. Regardless of the reason you go, whether it be spiritual or architecturally inquisitive, the magnificence of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph will meet you at the front door.

Address: 523 N Duluth Ave, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

9 Great Plains Zoo

Giant Tortoise at the Great Plains Zoo
Giant Tortoise at the Great Plains Zoo Jim Bowen / photo modified

Encompassing 45 acres, the Great Plains Zoo offers up-close views of more than 1,000 animals, ranging from snow monkeys to Amur tigers and eastern black rhinos. As well as the many animals to see here, other popular things to do include chatting with the zoo keepers, catching a ride on the Sanford Carrousel, and visiting the exhibits at the Delbridge Museum of Natural History. The Great Plains Zoo is open year-round, with different activities to do each season, providing a lifetime of learning at this nationally recognized zoo and educational space.

Address: 805 S Kiwanis Ave, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Official site: https://greatzoo.org/

Where to Stay in Sioux Falls for Sightseeing

Whether your visit to Sioux Falls is for work, or preferably play, there is a high number of excellent hotel options. To find yourself at the center of the action, the downtown area boasts the top hotels and lends access to the densest collection of attractions in Sioux Falls. Surrounding the city, many other highly trusted hotel options wait to be discovered. No matter where you stay, you're never far away from something worth exploring.

  • Luxury Hotel: To stay the night in the heart of downtown, the most upscale accommodation can be found at the Hilton Garden Inn Sioux Falls Downtown on 8th street. It offers free underground parking, the in-house CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar, and modern guest rooms that won't disappoint when it comes to comfort and ambience. This hotel is a short walk from many of the city's top attractions.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: Sioux Falls has a wide variety of mid-range hotels spread across the city. Found on the south side of Sioux Falls, Hampton Inn Sioux Falls provides spacious rooms and suites, as well as an indoor, heated pool and fitness center. To stay a little closer to the city center, both the Holiday Inn Sioux Falls - City Center and the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, Sioux Falls offer proximity to downtown and plenty of comfortable rooms to choose from.
  • Budget Hotels: To get the most value out of your trip to Sioux Falls, the Comfort Inn & Suites is often noted for its well-maintained facilities and abundant breakfast included with their affordable nightly rates. The Super 8 Sioux Falls, found on the western side of the city, also ranks high on affordability and quality, providing overnight travelers with a convenient location, hot tub, and international breakfast.

Other Fun Places to Explore in South Dakota

South Dakota is home to amazing wilderness areas, and if you are interested in exploring its natural side, see our article on the Best National and State Parks, and read more about the five unique regions of adventure found in South Dakota. For an overview of camping options, explore our articles on the Best Campgrounds in South Dakota, Best Campgrounds around Mount Rushmore and Best Campgrounds in Badlands National Park. You'll find great places to pitch a tent or park an RV. And if you are looking for another urban landscape to explore, the Wild West town of Deadwood should be high on your list.

Discover destinations, find outdoor adventures, follow the journeys of our travel writers around the world, and be inspired.

More on South Dakota