12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Sioux Falls, SD
Author Brad Lane spent time visiting the sights of Sioux Falls on a reporting trip through South Dakota for PlanetWare.
Sioux Falls is on the eastern border of South Dakota and is the largest city in the state. It provides a small-town charm alongside several tourist attractions, including the city's namesake at Falls Park, where thousands of gallons of water cascade over Sioux Quartzite every second.
Sioux Falls delivers both natural and cultural things to do. Head to the downtown district for abundant shopping and dining and a chance to meander the SculptureWalk throughout the urban area. Other things to do include learning something new at the Washington Pavilion or hiking the trails at the Big Sioux Recreation Area.
And sightseeing is abundant in Sioux Falls, especially in the outlying natural areas. Places like Good Earth State Park and Great Plains Zoo offer plenty of places to point a camera and learn about the area.
Discover more places to visit in this South Dakota city with our list of the top attractions in Sioux Falls.
1. Falls Park
The triple waterfall at Falls Park has been a centerpiece since the city's inception in 1856 and proudly serves as the namesake and number one attraction of Sioux Falls.
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. While the summer tends to draw the biggest crowds, during the colder months, this city-owned attraction transforms into a true winter wonderland worth exploring.
Besides admiring the steady movement of water up close, other sightseeing opportunities 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 Café 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 popular place to visit to be a pitstop on a full day of adventure.
The park also features ample sculptures and historical displays, as well as traditional park amenities, like playgrounds, benches, and water fountains. One of the best reasons to visit Falls Park, however, is to simply stroll along and watch the dynamic landscape.
Each Saturday between May and October, Falls Park is also home to a lively farmers market that entices visitors with fresh produce and artisan crafts.
Address: 131 E. Falls Park Drive, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
2. Downtown SculptureWalk Sioux Falls
The Sioux Falls SculptureWalk spreads throughout downtown Sioux Falls, adding another touch of fun while exploring the shops, restaurants, and hotels in the heart of the city.
These public installations continually rotate and consist of more than 50 new sculptures each year. Whether seeking out as many sculptures as possible, or a certain work of art happens to catch the eye while ambling down the sidewalk, everyone is encouraged to cast a vote for their favorite each year.
The original Minervas is a recommended place to stop during any downtown sculpture tour, especially if looking for fine eats. Other great restaurants in downtown Sioux Falls include Khorasan Kabob House and Phillips Avenue Diner. Downtown shopping in Sioux Falls ranges from sunny boutiques to specialty outdoor stores and includes art galleries, antique shops, and home décor.
Address: 300 S Phillips Avenue L104, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
3. Cathedral of Saint Joseph
The Cathedral of Saint Joseph towers above the skyline of Sioux Falls and stands proudly as a century-old, eye-catching place to visit. It's contributed to the surrounding neighborhood and community throughout the last 100 years, and after a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2011, restoring it to its original grandeur, it has since attracted visitors from around the world.
Self-guided and guided tours are available at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph throughout the week, and anyone is welcome to 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 Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
4. Big Sioux River Recreation Trail and Greenway
Bicycling, rollerblading, and utilizing the city's paved trail system are great ways to get around Sioux Falls. The main avenue of non-motorized transportation is the approximately 19-mile loop known as the Big Sioux River Recreation Trail and Greenway. This relatively flat path tours the urban, natural, and riparian landscapes that define the city.
Expect other pedestrian traffic when navigating the trail. The city maintains the Big Sioux River Recreational Trail throughout the winter, enabling brisk winter strolls.
5. Washington Pavilion of Arts & Science
The Washington Pavilion serves as the hub of science, art, and culture for the region, providing a key tourist attraction for Sioux Falls residents and visitors. It features two performing arts centers, where Broadway shows, live concerts, and an array of recitals are always on the line-up.
The pavilion is also home to the Wells Fargo CineDome, which sets the stage for an excellent movie-watching experience.
Visitors to the Washington Pavilion also admire the exhibits on display in the Visual Arts Center. This growing art collection has local, national, and international artists, spread throughout seven different galleries. Though some permanent pieces are always on display, much of the Visual Arts Center's collection rotates every month or two.
Perhaps the most engaging of all the attractions at the Washington Pavilion is the lofty three-story Kirby Science Discovery Center. This interactive education space harnesses the power of imagination and hands-on displays to create a fun place for every member of the family.
A few of the fun things to discover at the Kirby Science Center include outer space, dinosaurs, and underground mines.
Address: 301 S Main Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
6. Butterfly House & Aquarium
The Butterfly House & Aquarium provides a hands-on experience with an abundance of butterflies and variety of marine life. This non-profit facility is within the lovely Sertoma City Park on the southwest side of town.
The Butterfly House & Aquarium strives to nurture opportunities for learning, healing, and celebrating nature. Through exhibits like the Butterfly House or the Shark and Stingray Touch Pool, they reach toward this 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. These programs range from young explorer camps to tai chi and yoga sessions in the gardens.
Special tours are also available at the facility, including Behind the Scenes Butterfly Tours that dive into the process of running a butterfly house.
Address: 4320 S Oxbow Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
7. U.S.S. South Dakota Battleship Memorial
Within Sherman Park and near the Great Plains Zoo, this unique battleship memorial commemorates the U.S.S South Dakota battleship, which was widely decorated throughout the Second World War. Visitors will find several exhibits filled with artifacts and interpretive information regarding World War II and what life was like on a battleship.
The grounds of the memorial are fun to visit themselves, with landscaping and features made to resemble a naval vessel. The memorial is open seven days a week between May and September. Admission is free, and donations are accepted.
Address: 2705 W 12th Street, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
8. Good Earth State Park at Blood Run
Good Earth State Park is part of the larger Blood Run National Landmark, located 10 miles southeast of downtown Sioux Falls. The location is one of the oldest sites of human occupancy in the country. Well before any state parks were ever established, or state boundaries ever drawn, Blood Run served as an important gathering space and trading center for many local tribes and indigenous cultures for hundreds of years.
Today, Good Earth State Park ranks as one of the best state parks in South Dakota and pays homage to this culturally rich area. The state park features interpretive trails through native prairie systems and engaging cultural content about indigenous communities.
Attractions include an 11,000-square-foot visitor center brimming with information about the Oneota traditional people and six miles of scenic hiking trails that ultimately lead to a great view of Big Sioux River.
Address: 26924 480th Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
9. Old Courthouse Museum
The Old Courthouse Museum contains three stories of permanent and rotating exhibits housed in a 19th-century courthouse building. Every display at the museum helps paint a brighter picture of the history of the region. 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.
Admission is free to the Old Courthouse Museum, with donations accepted. 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. These include concert series, Halloween parties, and Victorian tea lectures and servings.
Less than a half-mile away, the Pettigrew Home and Museum offers other cultural immersion into the city's past.
Address: 200 W 6th Street, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
10. Pettigrew House and Museum
The Pettigrew Home and Museum is a historic piece of property a few blocks northwest of downtown, near the Old Courthouse Museum. The house dates back to 1869, and its namesake proprietor purchased the property in the early 1900s. Pettigrew was influential in settling Sioux Falls and the surrounding region and served as the South Dakota's first senator when it achieved statehood.
Pettigrew was also an avid collector and opened a museum in the back of his house. After passing in 1926, he donated the home and museum to the city, and today, it's a popular free place to visit with no admission fee. Visitors are welcome to tour the historic interior and museum collections throughout the year.
Address: 131 N Duluth Ave, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
11. Great Plains Zoo
Encompassing 45 acres on the west side of the city, the Great Plains Zoo offers up-close views of more than 1,000 animals. Residents at the zoo range from snow monkeys to Amur tigers and eastern black rhinos.
Alongside the many animals to see here, other popular things to do include chatting with the zookeepers, 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. The zoo also features daily events, including animal encounters and unique opportunities like feeding a giraffe. The Zoo also features "After Dark Adventures" for something fun to do at night.
The Maasai Market Café at the zoo features casual fare like cheeseburgers, pizza, and ice-cream.
Address: 805 S Kiwanis Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
12. Big Sioux Recreation Area
Big Sioux Recreation Area exemplifies the rolling prairie landscape and woodlands of the region, ten miles east of Sioux Falls, on the banks of the Big Sioux River. Popular activities at 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.
Big Sioux Recreation Area features 50 campsites and three cabins for an overnight adventure. Alongside these well-manicured spots to pitch a tent or park an RV, the surrounding adventure outlets make Big Sioux Recreation Area one of South Dakota's best campgrounds. All campsites at Big Sioux feature easy access to flushing restroom facilities and hot showers.
Address: 410 W Park Street, Brandon, South Dakota
Sioux Falls, SD - Climate Chart
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