Tips + Trends

Not Your Average Pit-Stop: Stick Around Town for These 7 Sioux Falls Must-Do’s

Sioux Falls often serves as a pit-stop for road trippers heading west to South Dakota’s Badlands and the many other wonders they pass en route, but for travelers who stay a spell, it doesn’t take long to fall for the town itself.

The city is named for the Sioux people who have called the area home for thousands of years, as well as for the waterfalls that tumble near downtown. There are plenty of natural and manmade delights to explore and dozens of tasty, locally brewed beers to sip. Even the city’s food game is strong.

Sioux Falls also makes a comfortable home base for day trips around the east side of the state. So don’t make the mistake that so many others have by jetting out of town. Instead, book an extra night (maybe two?) before you arrive. You won’t want to leave.

Ratchet up your love of Sioux Falls with visits to some of the city’s top attractions.

Falls Park

There’s but one perfect way to start your trip: Head straight to Falls Park, home to the city’s namesake falls. There, 7,400 gallons of the Big Sioux River spills 100 feet down the falls every second. If you can break your gaze from the falls, there are 123 acres to explore.

Before you wander off, climb to the top of the viewing tower to take in the scene. It’s a good way to see the historic buildings around the falls area, including what’s left of the Queen Bee Mill, a horse barn and more. The park houses plenty of public art, too.

Runners and walkers take note: The falls are your starting point for a 19.1 mile greenbelt.

Old Courthouse Museum

Built of local quartzite stone, the Old Courthouse Museum — used, as its name suggests, as a courthouse between 1893 and 1962, is well worth a visit. The interior is also marvelous, with slate stairs and stained-glass windows. The public exhibit spaces offer regional history as well as temporary exhibits.

But don’t hurry along the hallways: Take your time looking at the 16 murals by Norwegian immigrant Ole Running. (Free!)

Pettigrew Home and Museum

One of the city’s earliest promoters and, once South Dakota was given statehood, its first full-term senator, Richard Pettigrew bought what is now the Pettigrew Home and Museum in 1911.

The ornate brick and stone exterior is worth a look all on its own, but go inside, too. There you’ll find out how the well-to-do lived back in the city’s early years and see some of Pettigrew’s collections from his around-the-world travels along with his extensive book collection. (Oh, it’s also free!)

things to do in sioux falls
Get your culture fix at the Visual Art Center. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Visual Arts Center

Your eyes will thank you after a visit to see the extensive art collection — of artists from nearby and quite far away — at the Visual Arts Center. If you just have a short time to visit, go to the Shultz and Egger galleries, which feature work from artists who have ties to southeastern South Dakota and the Northern Plains tribes.

With the center housed at the Washington Pavilion of Arts & Science, you don’t even have to leave the building to continue your Sioux Falls fun. Also inside: the Kirby Science Discovery Center, Husby Performing Arts Center, and more.

Interactive Water Fountain

If you’re on a family trip and your kids need to burn off some energy on a warm day, the Interactive Water Fountain will definitely fit the bill. Open from 7:10 in the morning, the large, pet-friendly fountain area shoots water as you and your kids zip around. There’s a chance your whole family will think it is Sioux Falls’ coolest downtown spot.

things to do in sioux falls
Look closely and you might just spy a world of sculpture. (Photo: Getty Images)

Sculpturewalk Sioux Falls

With the works changing annually, Sculpturewalk Sioux Falls offers a top notch reason to return to the city year after year. Local artists enter pieces to be displayed downtown. Their projects make it quite clear that the artistic talent runs deep around South Dakota. Check the website for a printable map.

Stockyards Ag Experience

Learn about Sioux Falls agricultural history at the Stockyards Ag Experience. Used as stockyards from 1917 to 2009, the Stockyards played a vital role in Sioux Falls history.

Though the full “experience” isn’t up yet, the small museum area offers a great taste of what’s to come. And the “Farm to Table” exhibit provides plenty of great hands-on play for little ones.