Planning a sweep through the Mount Rushmore State? Then be sure to check out the best things to do in Sioux Falls, SD. The largest city in South Dakota, this often-overlooked urban gem blends big-city attractions with small-town ease. Steeped in history, Sioux Falls began life as a trading post in 1856 – and its beautiful unspoiled landscape still looks like something out of a Wild West novel.
But this is no horse-and-buggy town. Family-friendly Sioux Falls offers a wealth of attractions and outdoor activities. Immerse yourself in a gorgeous tapestry of green spaces and riverside trails, majestic historic buildings, world-class museums, and a vibrant local arts scene.
Ready to discover the “Best Little City in America”? Pack up this guide to the best places to visit in Sioux City, SD, and hit the trail.
Best places to visit in Sioux Falls, SD
Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History
Bears, birds, and butterflies: You’ll find these – and so much more – at the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History.
Spanning 45 acres on South Kiwanis Avenue, The Great Plains Zoo features over 1,000 animals from around the world. Get up-close views of your favorites, including tigers, primates, and rare black rhinos. Hop aboard a camel or get kissed by a sheep at the Hy-Vee Face-to-Face Farm.
Get the inside scoop from zookeepers about the site’s inhabitants. Check out chow time at the Primate Building, or serve lunch to the giraffes at the Savanna exhibit. Ride the animal-themed carousel, or tour Africa on the Savanna express train.
Drop into the intriguing Delbridge Museum of Natural History, a one-of-a-kind collection of 150 mounted animals, including 38 vanishing species. Then put your feet up and relax while the kids burn off energy on the museum’s soft indoor playground.
Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove
Imagine a tropical setting alive with vividly-colored butterflies. Stop imagining – and flit over to the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove.
Set on South Oxbow Avenue, this 3,600-square-foot site is home to over 800 delicate airborne beauties. (The temp is set to 80 degrees to keep them cozy, so dress appropriately!) Treat yourself to the sight of exotic species from around the world, including Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America.
Then zip down to the other end of the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove to explore Marine Cove, home to hundreds of marine marvels, including coral and fish species. Dip into the Pacific Tide Pool to view sea stars, sea anemones, and other entrancing creatures.
Now, roll up your sleeves for a one-of-a-kind encounter: The Shark & Stingray Touch Pool lets visitors actually touch bamboo sharks and southern stingrays. That’s real hands-on learning!
Wild Water West Waterpark and Flamingo Falls Campground
Ready to catch a wave? You’ll find plenty at Wild Water West Waterpark and Flamingo Falls Campground, South Dakota’s largest water park. Voted “Sioux Falls’ #1 Fun Spot,” this popular attraction scores major points with the kid crowd.
Wild Water West Waterpark offers thrills that range from mild (baby pool) to wind-in-your-hair wild. Climb the 65-foot tower to zoom down five different waterslides. Take a spin on Tornado Alley, a swirling 55-foot tube slide. Want to dial it down? Snag a tube and settle back for a glide down Lazy River.
If you’re looking for non-water activities, you’ll get your fill of action with go-karts, mini golf, and batting cages. When hunger strikes, hit the concession stands for tasty surfside snacks ranging from chicken strips to ice cream mixers.
Want more time to chill out at Wild Water West Waterpark? No problem! Check in and stake out a spot at the park’s Flamingo Falls Campground.
No trip to Sioux Falls would be complete without a visit to the city’s namesake, the magnificent falls. Just five minutes from downtown Sioux Falls, this natural wonder is the star attraction of Falls Park – and it’s been the center of life in the area for generations. You’ll be captivated by the sight of the Big Sioux River as it cascades in a series of falls over 100 feet down stunning quartzite rock formations.
Falls Park offers plenty more to explore. Wend your way along 19 miles of scenic hiking and bicycle trails. Discover the remains of the 19th-century Queen Bee Mill, where the power of the falls was harnessed for local industry. Climb the five-story observation tower for spectacular panoramic vistas of the falls and city skyline.
Cap off your day with an alfresco meal at the perfectly-named Falls Overlook Café; it’s got the best outdoor patio views in town!
Craving a breath of fresh air in some wide open spaces? Then you’ll want to sample the pleasures of Terrace Park. Brimming with trees, lakes, and gardens, this gorgeous public park lets you make your day as laid-back or adventurous as you want it to be.
Meander through the trees and colorful flora that line Terrace Park’s stone path. Head for the lake to try your angling luck. Slip into a kayak or canoe for a peaceful paddle. Chill out in the swimming pool, or hit the water slides for an adrenaline kick. And you’ve got plenty of landside options. Hit the ball courts, baseball fields, or tennis courts to work up a sweat.
If you’re looking for a setting that spells serenity, you’ll find it in the Japanese garden. This enchanting spot features a small waterfall surrounded by stone pagodas and colorful lanterns. Peace!
Good Earth State Park
Ready to completely unplug from city life and soak up some natural splendor? Break away and experience the wild beauty of Good Earth State Park. Straddling the Big Sioux River just a few miles south of the city, this National Historic Landmark is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the natural world.
You’ll be awed by the park’s wide-open prairies, bubbling brooks and rivers, and diverse wildlife. Hike or bike the trails that wind throughout the grounds, and pause to take in amazing views from the many scenic overlooks.
Be sure to stop off and explore the intriguing Blood Run site in Good Earth State Park. For centuries, the fertile land and abundant wildlife here made it a hub for the area’s indigenous tribes, and traces of human habitation are still found. Stop in at the onsite museum to learn more about the area’s rich historical legacy.
Great Bear Recreation Park
Looking for a spot that offers great year-round action? Then carve out some time for Great Bear Recreation Park, a destination that offers a wealth of options no matter when you visit. Just minutes from downtown Sioux Falls, this beautiful site has been a family fav for over 50 years.
Great Bear Recreation Park dishes up 220 rolling acres of outdoor delight. South Dakota + winter = snow, so winter sports are a no-brainer here! Choose from 14 downhill skiing and snowboarding trails. Strap on a pair of snowshoes for a trek, or take a magic carpet ride. Feeling adventurous? Test out your best aerial maneuvers on the gnarly slopes of Terrain Park.
Come summer, the snowy slopes transform into a verdant mountain that invites you to return. Explore eight miles of beautiful walking trails as you take in amazing views of Sioux Falls.
The Outdoor Campus
Up for some fun hands-on learning in the Great Outdoors? Then round up your crew and head for The Outdoor Campus. Set in Sertoma Park (home of the beautiful Butterfly House), this unique outdoor learning center offers kids and grownups of all ages a chance to learn, get active, and connect with nature.
Hit the trails to explore, or meander through the tall-grass prairie. (Bring your binoculars for wildlife sightings.) Want to work on your outdoorsy skills? Check out the Outdoor Campus menu of courses for both kids and adults.
Take your pick of hunting and fishing, orienteering, gardening, bow and arrow shooting, and more. If you want to get the adrenaline going, how about kayaking or cross-country skiing?
Are you graduate material? Look into the Outdoor University, a family-focused program offering plenty of kid-friendly options, including close-up encounters with local wildlife.
Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science
If you’re looking for the arts and culture hub of Sioux Falls, the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science is it! Whether you’re a show-lover, art enthusiast, or science nerd, this is a place you need to experience.
Housed in an impressive neoclassical building on Main Street, this multitasking complex features everything from a traditional concert hall to a state-of-the-art interactive science discovery center.
Whatever your cultural cravings, the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science has you covered. Watch a movie in the CineDome, catch some live theater, browse the art gallery, or geek out at the science museum, where you can pay your respects to “Stan,” the prize T-rex skeleton.
The complex is also the home base for the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Society; if music is your thing, this cultural hotspot will be playing your tune!
Pettigrew Home & Museum
If treasures from the past intrigue you, you’ll discover a trove at the Pettigrew Home & Museum. Originally built in 1889, this carefully preserved Queen Anne-style building was once the home of Richard Franklin Pettigrew, South Dakota’s first senator and a keen student of the state’s history.
He was also an early-20th century adventurer and amateur archeologist who loved to bring home the many goodies he collected on his travels. (Hence, the homemade museum.) Enjoy a tour of the elegant home, then head to the back of the building where the treasure is stashed.
The Pettigrew Home & Museum houses a bounty of fascinating artifacts ranging from Native American clothing to stone tools to natural history specimens – all remnants of local history. Browse the galleries that trace the area’s natural and cultural histories. Learn about Pettigrew’s time in the Senate, where he championed women’s and farmers’ rights – and became part of South Dakota’s historical legacy.
Old Courthouse Museum
Ready for a deep dive into Sioux Falls history? Take the plunge at the Old Courthouse Museum, one of the oldest buildings in town. Set on West Sixth Street, this beautifully restored Romanesque building was the seat of government from 1890 to 1972.
The Old Courthouse Museum is an architectural and historic marvel that’s earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places. Built entirely from locally quarried quartzite, this impressive three-story structure features a tall clock tower over the front entrance and a cluster of Roman archways.
Explore the Old Courthouse Museum as you climb slate stairs that date back over a century. Take in the magnificent granite pillars and brilliant stained glass windows. Step into the carefully preserved courtroom where cases were heard for decades. Stroll the mural-lined hallways and browse through three floors of exhibits detailing the community’s rich history and culture.
Stockyards Ag Experience
Agriculture is the lifeblood of South Dakota – so the Stockyards Ag Experience is a must if you want to get better acquainted with Sioux Falls and its home state. Celebrating the region’s agricultural past and present, this unique attraction tells the story of agriculture’s historical and economic impact, beginning with the Sioux Falls Stockyards.
The Stockyards Ag Experience takes you on a journey through Sioux Falls history, from the stockyard’s early days in 1917 to its closure in 2009. Get a bird’s eye view of the cattle pens and gateways as you stroll the stockyard’s catwalk, the site’s observation post for over a century.
View exhibits that lay out the story of food production “from pasture to plate.” Browse fascinating historical images, and get hands-on with high-tech interactive exhibits that bring history to life and offer unique perspectives on an industry that shaped Sioux Falls and the Midwest.
WoodGrain Brewing Company
If you’re a suds fan, you’ll want to plan a stopover at the WoodGrain Brewing Company. Located on South Philips Avenue in downtown Sioux Falls, this brew biz is all about going local. On tap: high-quality craft beer that uses strictly locally-sourced ingredients and a welcoming, laid-back vibe.
Complement your libation with a snack from a local food truck, or choose from the WoodGrain Brewing Company menu. Tasty options include unique varieties of pizza. (Mediterranean anyone?)
If pizza’s not your thing, opt for an appetizer like pot roast sliders. Savor it all while Fido looks on in envy. (That’s right – pooches are welcome here!)
And there’s more to the biz than brew! Be sure to check out their calendar for fun options like yoga classes, live music, and BBQ fests.
Veterans’ Memorial Park
Sioux Falls residents take pride in their town’s contribution to the American military legacy, and that’s clearly reflected in Veterans’ Memorial Park. Beautiful, serene, and meticulously cared for, this site is a living tribute dedicated to the men and women from the area who served and lost their lives in military service.
Set on a former Army Air Corps site, the entryway to Veterans’ Memorial Park welcomes visitors with flags, an amphitheater, open plazas, and memorial walls. Take a stroll to explore historic exhibits and sculptures, memorial walls, dedications, walking trails, and gardens. Find yourself a spot at a shaded bench or picnic table, and take a few moments for quiet reflection.
Sioux Falls Stadium
Americans are passionate about their baseball, and Sioux Falls is no exception. So, where do the locals go to get their fix? To the Sioux Falls Stadium, natch. But don’t expect a Dodgers Stadium experience.
Think Field of Dreams. Built in 1941, Sioux Falls Stadium is one of the oldest in not only South Dakota but the entire American Association. Set on Northwest Avenue, Sioux Falls Stadium exudes an old-time charm – much like the city itself.
Home to the Sioux Falls Canaries – a professional baseball team and member of the North Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball – “The Birdcage” has a seating capacity of just 4,500. Low in numbers but high in spirit, card-carrying Canaries fans wouldn’t miss a game.
But this spot is about more than spotting sluggers: Get the kiddos involved with programs like Mini Manager of the Night, and Play Ball announcer. Batter up!
SculptureWalk Sioux Falls
Want to take in some visual treats during your town-tripping? Press pause in your travels to enjoy the SculptureWalk Sioux Falls. This unique outdoor museum features over 65 sculptures that dot the downtown. Ranging from abstract to traditional, the sculptures are created by artists from around the world and loaned to the exhibit for a year.
Zip into the SculptureWalk Visitor Center to get your bearings – then hit the road. It’s a great way to mix it up while you’re exploring the city’s shops and restaurants. One must-see is the SculptureWalk’s cornerstone, the “Arc of Dreams,” a stainless steel arc spanning the Big Sioux River and a true city icon.
Audience participation is the name of the game here. You’re encouraged to cast a vote for your favorite of the year. Word to the wise: all sculptures are for sale, so if one of them catches your eye, grab it!