Falls Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.

Best Things to Do in Sioux Falls

BY Fifty Grande Editors | October 27, 2020

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Sioux Falls? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Sioux Falls?”

Sioux Falls has been heralded as a city on the rise, a “one to watch” in pockets of the Internet for a couple of years now. The truth is, Sioux Falls is already booming, just not in the way you might think. There aren’t throngs of hipsters hogging the rentals. Not yet. While the city is growing (adding 67,000 residents since 2000), the real “boom” is in its culture — the world-class pastry kitchen, the rotating art galleries, the tucked-away record store/venue that attracts big names for small shows. Then there are the gorgeous natural surroundings, full of rock formations and waterfalls, that have always graced the area. Get here now before everyone else figures it out. Here are the best things to do in Sioux Falls right now.

 

Visit the namesake falls (and other parks)

There’s no denying that the mountains in western South Dakota are cool. But the eastern half holds its own in the natural beauty category. Sioux Falls has 80 parks in town, including the popular Terrace Park and Outdoor Campus, but some of the real standouts are a quick drive away. 

Falls Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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Falls Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.

Falls Park

131 E Falls Park Dr, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

These are the Sioux Falls. But they’re just the centerpiece of a 123-acre park on a bend of the Big Sioux River just north of downtown. It features walking paths and bike trails and the Falls Overlook Cafe, a popular lunch spot. 

Palisades State Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.
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Palisades State Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.

Palisades State Park

25495 485th Ave, Garretson, SD, USA

The Badlands is South Dakota’s rock formation attention hog, but don’t sleep on Palisades. It’s got some of the most unique Sioux quartzite cliffs and spires you’ll find anywhere. 

Great Beat Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.
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Great Beat Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.

Great Bear Recreation Park

5901 E Rice St, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA

In the winter, it’s Sioux Falls’ best skiing (and tubing) spot. In the summer, it’s full of hiking trails and panoramic vistas.

Good Earth State Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.
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Good Earth State Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.

Good Earth State Park at Blood Run

26924 480th Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

Along with being a beautiful hiking area, Good Earth State Park is a National Historic Landmark. It was home to Native American civilizations as early as 1300.

Go on a sculpture hunt

Apparently, South Dakotans have a thing for sculptures. Who else would look at a mountain and say: “You know what that needs? Faces carved into the side.” If you know where to look, you can discover some sculpted treasures on the streets of Sioux Falls too.

SculptureWalk, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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SculptureWalk, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

SculptureWalk Sioux Falls

300 S Phillips Ave L104, Sioux Falls, SD

A year-round exhibit where an ever-changing roster of artists adorns the downtown streets with sculptures from Falls Park to Washington Pavilion. There are more than 55 in total.

Porter Sculpture Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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Porter Sculpture Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Porter Sculpture Park

45160 257th St, Montrose, SD, USA

Get on I-90 W., drive 25 miles and you’ll find a 60-foot-tall bull’s head. Around it are more than 50 sculptures, most made from scrap metal and old farm equipment.

One of the Michelangelos, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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One of the Michelangelos, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Michelangelos

Fawick Park, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

Sioux Falls is home to full-scale replicas of two Renaissance masterpieces: Michelangelo’s David and Moses

First course: Try chislic

What’s not to like about seasoned meat cubes? In 2018, state legislators made this skewered snack South Dakota’s official state nosh. Traditionally made with lamb or mutton, it’s evolved to include venison and beef (although some residents will tell you that these aren’t real chislic). Either way, it’s a staple on restaurant and bar menus around the city.

Jono's, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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Not a photo of chislics from Jono's, but something delicious from the menu still.

Jono’s

1700 W Burnside St, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

An unpretentious bar with plenty of regulars and traditional lamb chislic. 

The Attic, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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Not pictured: chislic. Pictured: Delicious food from the Attic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The Attic

4601 E 41st St, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

This is a hip, slightly -larger bar in southeast Sioux Falls that serves beef chislic.

Hit these other culinary hot spots

World-class eateries aren’t confined to the coasts. You can find geysers of culinary achievement and innovation dotting the Midwest too, and Sioux Falls is one of the fastest-growing foodie havens.

CH Patisserie, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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CH Patisserie, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

CH Patisserie

309 S Phillips Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

Acclaimed pastry chef Chris Hanmer took home a gold medal from the World Pastry Team Championship and won Top Chef: Just Desserts. Now, he plates up elegant, European-style pastries in Downtown Sioux Falls. His French macarons are a must-try and come in unique flavors like fruity cereal and s’more.

M.B. Haskett, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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M.B. Haskett, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

M.B. Haskett

324 S Phillips Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

A laid-back deli that blends comfort and creativity. They serve sweet and savory crepes, sandwiches, lunch specials and prix fixe dinners on weekends. 

Parker’s Bistro, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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Parker’s Bistro, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Parker’s Bistro

210 S Main Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

An upscale restaurant with a seasonal menu featuring locally-sourced ingredients. Their Wagyu beef burger won the 2020 Downtown Sioux Falls Burger Battle.

Bagel Boy, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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Bagel Boy, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Bagel Boy

2505 S Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

Their two, locally owned locations bake fresh, New York-style bagels on the premises all day long. 

Music venues

Sioux Falls’ music scene is on the upswing. The Denny Sanford Premier Center lands big touring acts, but for local talent and up-and-comers, Total Drag is the place to be.

Total Drag, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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Total Drag, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Total Drag

307 E 12th St, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

A record store and “community-oriented art and music space” that’s gained a reputation as the city’s best small live music venue. They showcase local bands but also draw some bigger names who are passing through.

Where to stay

If you want to stay in the city’s most unique boutique (say that ten times fast), head this way.

Hotel on Phillips, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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Hotel on Phillips, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Hotel on Phillips

100 N Phillips Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

In 1918, this stone monolith was constructed as the Sioux Falls National Bank. Over 100 years later, it’s been reborn as a stylish and welcoming hotel. Its interior still shows off the bank’s interesting architectural features — specifically the vault, which now serves as an entrance to the hotel’s lounge. The rooms themselves offer an array of sleek, contemporary designs.

Stroll around downtown

What Downtown Sioux Falls lacks in soaring buildings and energy, it makes up for in authenticity and charm. 

Diner on Phillips Ave., Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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Diner on Phillips Ave., Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Phillips Ave.

North Phillips Avenue, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

The pulsing artery of downtown’s culture and nightlife is Phillips Ave. Stop by the throwback Phillips Avenue Diner, play some games at EightyOne Arcade Bar, sample some beer at WoodGrain Brewing Co. and definitely stop in at CH Patisserie (see above) for a macaron. 

Spend a weekend in the Badlands

The Lakota people called this place “mako sica,” or “bad lands,” because its rugged landscape made living there difficult. But it contains some of the United States’ most distinct rock formations and richest fossil beds. 

Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.
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Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA

The erosion of sedimentary rock has given the Badlands it’s striped-mountains look. The Badlands Loop Scenic Byway will take you to some of the park’s best lookout points and hiking trails. It’s nearly a four-hour drive from Sioux Falls, but there are plenty of campsites, so pack a tent. You’ll want to stay to see a sunrise over the painted hills anyway.

How to entertain the family

If you have a full van and an afternoon to kill, we’ve got you covered.

Butterfly House & Aquarium, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.
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Butterfly House & Aquarium, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.

Butterfly House & Aquarium

4320 S Oxbow Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

Rain, snow or sunshine, this place is a tropical paradise. The butterfly house lets you walk among 800 free-flying butterflies from around the world. And the aquarium offers hands-on encounters in the Stingray Touch Pool and Pacific Tide Pool.

Great Plains Zoo, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.
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Great Plains Zoo, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.

Great Plains Zoo

805 S Kiwanis Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

Here you’ll get an up-close look at more than 1,000 animals, including endangered species like the snow leopard and giant anteater. It also includes the Delbridge Museum of Natural History, which houses 150 mounted animals.

Wild Water West, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.
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Wild Water West, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Pic via Shutterstock.

Wild Water West

26767 466th Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

The largest waterpark in the state. It has five waterslides, a wave pool, swim-up bars, go-karts, a mini-golf course and more.