An old friend once said to me, “Everyone knows someone in Sioux Falls.” You might not have visited before, but I promise that someone you know has. And for good reason – Sioux Falls has a lot going for it. It’s the largest city in South Dakota and is almost in the middle of the United States. More specifically, it’s 245 miles (394 km) from Minneapolis, about a four-hour drive. It’s also only about five hours (371 miles or 597 km) from Mount Rushmore, the huge monument with presidents’ faces carved into a mountain.
Sioux Falls was built along the Big Sioux River as a city of industry. While it still holds on to some of its industrial roots, today it’s known more for its charm, low unemployment rate and thriving healthcare and banking industries. Sioux Falls is on its way to becoming the next metropolitan city of the American Midwest and has the amenities to match. I’ve lived here for almost 10 years and have loved seeing it grow. From restaurants and bars to out-of-the-way record shops and just-outside-of-town hikes, here are the things to do in Sioux Falls you should not miss. Book your ticket and come to visit.
- Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- Top Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Sioux Falls
- 1- Explore Falls Park
- 2- Cultivate Your Inner Art Critic On The SculptureWalk
- 3- Put Your Feet Up At A Local Brewery
- 4- Get Some Exercise On The Bike Trail
- 5- Catch A Flick At The State Theatre
- 6- Hike Palisades State Park
- 7- Grab Some Friends And Drink Your Way Through Downtown
- 8- Float On The Big Sioux River
- 9- Take In Summer At The Sioux Empire Fair
- 10- Eat Like A Local
- 11- Let A Butterfly Land On You
- 12- Grab A Drink At A Cocktail Bar
- 13- Shop The Downtown Boutiques
- 14- Cultivate Your Inner Art Critic At An Art Museum
- 15- Shop The Local Farmers’ Market
- 16- Perk Up With A Cup Of Coffee
- 17- See A Concert
- 18- Indulge Your Sweet Tooth With Dessert
- 19- Attend A Festival
- 20- Visit A Sioux Falls Landmark
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
20 Things To Do In Sioux Falls
1- Explore Falls Park
It’s not a visit to Sioux Falls until you visit the city’s namesake, the waterfall of the Big Sioux River.
Located just north of downtown, “the falls” (as locals call it) meander through Falls Park, a scenic and walkable park that gets you up close to the river or rent canoes here.
The water tumbles over the city’s iconic pink rocks, nicknamed Sioux quartzite, which give the park – and many buildings downtown – their signature pink hue.
This has earned Sioux Falls the nickname “America’s Pinkest City.”
Also in the park is an observation tower overlooking the city and the ruins of the Queen Bee Mill, a 19th-century grain mill on the National Register of Historic Places.
Falls Park is at 131 E. Falls Park Drive.
2- Cultivate Your Inner Art Critic On The SculptureWalk
Head downtown from Falls Park and you’ll run into SculptureWalk, the world’s largest annual exhibit of public sculptures.
There are 69 sculptures in the exhibit downtown, so you can appreciate their beauty while thoroughly exploring the city’s heart.
Each year, new sculptures replace the old and crowds of people visit to check out the new artists.
The SculptureWalk has been going on for 20 years.
3- Put Your Feet Up At A Local Brewery
What’s a trip to a new city without hitting up a few craft breweries?
The city’s craft bar scene has taken off hugely over the past few years.
A local favourite is Fernson Brewing Company, which offers phenomenal beer and burgers and one of the best patios in town, right on Phillips Avenue.
There are plenty more breweries to choose from, including Remedy Brewing Company, Severance Brewing Company and Woodgrain Brewing Company.
All are conveniently located downtown.
4- Get Some Exercise On The Bike Trail
Work off all that beer and delicious food with a bike ride (or a walk, rollerblade, skateboard, you do you!) on the 26-mile bike trail that circles the city.
The trail takes you through most of town and many of the 80 public parks in Sioux Falls.
5- Catch A Flick At The State Theatre
The State Theatre, located in downtown Sioux Falls, was built in 1926 to showcase vaudeville shows and silent films.
It closed in the early 1990s and sat unused and in disrepair for decades; after millions of dollars in renovations, it was reopened in late 2021.
Now, it’s a gorgeous nod to the past and possibly the best movie-watching experience you’ll ever have.
Take in the art deco interior while you sink into state-of-the-art movie seats and sip a glass of wine.
The State Theatre is located at 316 S. Phillips Avenue.
6- Hike Palisades State Park
Palisades State Park is about 23 miles (37 km) and a 25-minute drive from Sioux Falls.
Like the Big Sioux River falls, Palisades State Park is made of Sioux quartzite; the tall vertical towers of pink quartzite make this park unlike any you’ve visited.
It has lots of easier ground to cover along Split Rock Creek and some more in-depth hiking trails for those so inclined, making this a hiking option suitable for all ages.
Stay in the park overnight in the spring and summer for out-of-this-world stargazing.
Palisades State Park can be reached at 25491 485th Avenue in Garretson, SD.
7- Grab Some Friends And Drink Your Way Through Downtown
Do you want to get your exercise and drink at the same time? Then Sip-n-Cycle is the right fit for you.
Sip-n-Cycle is a party bike tour that is just as fun as it sounds.
You and a group of your 5 to 12 friends can rent what is essentially a modern-day covered wagon, but instead of being pulled by horses, you use bike pedals to pedal the wagon through the streets of downtown Sioux Falls – while drinking!
This is a private tour of downtown and you can make stops at any of the many bars and restaurants downtown.
This is a ton of fun and local Sioux Falls residents are used to cheering on Sip-n-Cyclers on their journeys.
8- Float On The Big Sioux River
Sioux Falls’ namesake, the Big Sioux River, is a great way to explore the city.
Locals will bring their own kayaks or paddleboards, but there are plenty of rental options for visitors. You can rent your gear in advance here.
Grab the water vessel of your choice and float along the Big Sioux on a warm afternoon.
It’s a gentle river, so don’t expect white-water rafting; this experience is well-suited for beginners.
9- Take In Summer At The Sioux Empire Fair
Summer is a great time to visit Sioux Falls, and if you’re visiting in August, you can spend an evening at the Sioux Empire Fair.
The fair is the largest in South Dakota and is a family-friendly event with lots of fun activities for everyone.
One big aspect of the fair is livestock – events like horse racing and rodeos showcase Midwestern cowboy culture at its finest.
There are also classic rides like Ferris wheels and fried food for the ultimate American summer fair experience.
The Sioux Empire Fair is at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds at 100 N. Lyon Boulevard.
10- Eat Like A Local
Have you ever heard of chislic? Unless you’re from South Dakota, you probably haven’t.
Well, the great thing about travel is you learn something new every day.
Chislic is South Dakota’s state food, consisting of small pieces of beef or lamb fried and seasoned with garlic salt.
This is served with a dip, usually ranch dressing, another local favourite.
Chislic can be found at most bars, and there are even specialty restaurants serving just chislic, so you’ll have your pick.
Chislic and a cold beer – with tomato juice in your beer, like a real South Dakotan – are a match made in heaven. You might also like to join a food tour downtown.
11- Let A Butterfly Land On You
Many cities have zoos and Sioux Falls is no exception; you can visit the Great Plains Zoo and have a great time. But if you want a wildlife experience that’s out of the ordinary, visit the Butterfly House & Aquarium.
This establishment is part aquarium, part butterfly sanctuary, and super interactive.
The aquarium features tide pools and touch exhibits for little ones, while the butterfly portion allows guests to walk through a big open exhibit with butterflies flying all around.
Just don’t be squeamish – they really will land on you.
The Butterfly House & Aquarium is at 4320 S. Oxbow Avenue.
12- Grab A Drink At A Cocktail Bar
It’s not only Sioux Falls’ microbrewery scene that’s taken off these days, craft cocktail options have levelled up in recent years too.
The best Old Fashioned in town is at Carpenter Bar, and it’s best enjoyed tucked into one of the cosy leather booths or, in warmer weather, the patio right on Phillips Avenue.
If you can’t get a seat there, try one of its equally good sister bars like The Treasury or Highball.
The Treasury is one of the coolest cocktail bars in Sioux Falls because its door features an old bank vault, so you feel like you’re stepping into an old bank.
All these craft cocktail bars are downtown.
13- Shop The Downtown Boutiques
Downtown Sioux Falls is centred around Phillips Avenue, where most of the boutiques and stores can be found.
It’s an excellent place for shopping and has something for everyone.
A few standouts include local favourite Zandbroz, a combination bookstore and gift store for the quirky among us, or Primp, Chelsea’s or Mint + Basil boutiques for women’s clothing.
While you’re downtown, grab a drink at one of the many bars and restaurants or stop into EightyOne Arcade Bar, which features arcade games from decades past.
14- Cultivate Your Inner Art Critic At An Art Museum
Visit one of the city’s several art galleries to take in local artists and the culture they express in their art.
One space of particular note is Post Pilgrim Gallery, an art gallery owned by a Native American woman.
Native American culture – particularly Sioux and Lakota cultures – is a huge part of South Dakota and Sioux Falls.
Taking in Native American art is one of the ways to honour the people that originally lived here and continue to shape the city.
You can also visit the Washington Pavilion, an old high school-turned-concert hall with rotating galleries.
This space also includes lots of exhibits for kids and events throughout the year.
Post Pilgrim Gallery is at 2121 E. 10th Street and the Washington Pavilion is at 301 S. Main Street.
15- Shop The Local Farmers’ Market
Every Saturday morning from May through October, the Falls Park Farmers’ Market hosts local vendors with every kind of local good you could want.
Local produce like corn, apples and mushrooms are sold alongside baked goods and handmade items.
Live music livens the experience and sets the mood for a relaxing, enjoyable morning supporting local businesses.
The Falls Park Farmers’ Market is just north of Falls Park at 260 E. Falls Park Drive.
16- Perk Up With A Cup Of Coffee
If you need a little caffeine to start your day, there are plenty of quaint, cozy coffee shops in Sioux Falls that you need.
One stunning local favourite is Queen City Bakery, located downtown.
Not only will they make you a great cup of joe, but you can treat yourself to some of the best baked goods in town.
Grab a pastry while you admire the high ceilings and exposed brick walls, or try The Breaks on the other side of downtown for another local favourite featuring high-quality grounds and a patio on the street.
Queen City Bakery is at 324 E. 8th Street. The Breaks is at 311 E. 12th Street.
17- See A Concert
If you’re into live music, Sioux Falls has a lively live music scene; there are many venues to choose from.
If it’s nice out, check out an outdoor concert at Levitt at the Falls, a new outdoor music venue close to Falls Park and downtown that hosts 50 free live concerts every summer.
For an indoor music venue, head to a White Wall Session.
Within a studio below a record and CD shop, this venue hosts local artists in an intimate setting for a one-of-a-kind show.
For a bigger concert venue, head to the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, which features big-name artists like Blake Shelton and Journey.
Levitt at the Falls is at 504 N. Phillips Avenue, The White Wall Sessions can be found at 2121 E. 10th Street, and the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center is at 1201 N. W. Avenue.
18- Indulge Your Sweet Tooth With Dessert
Don’t leave Sioux Falls without visiting its most famous dessert shop, C.H. Patisserie.
When this dessert shop opened in Sioux Falls, it was a big deal and is one of the city’s treasures.
French-inspired and led by award-winning pastry chef Chris Hanmer, this little shop boasts some of the best macarons and exquisitely perfect French desserts you can find in the Midwest.
Order a cup of coffee while you’re there and watch the city go by from its downtown windows.
Not in the mood for macarons? Visit Parlour Ice Cream House for exquisite ice cream and sorbets.
C.H. Patisserie is at 309 S. Phillips Avenue and Parlour Ice Cream House is at 340 S. Main Avenue.
19- Attend A Festival
Sioux Falls has many festivals, so no matter what time of year you’re visiting, you’re bound to find one that offers a ton of fun.
One annual festival is GermanFest, a one-day festival hosted in September in downtown Sioux Falls.
It features German music and food to celebrate the strong German heritage in this part of the country.
Downtown Riverfest takes place in August and features live music, kids’ activities, live art and food trucks.
If you’re here in December, check out the Parade of Lights – this lit-up parade through downtown is a local favourite.
Make sure to have a cup of hot cocoa to keep you warm.
20- Visit A Sioux Falls Landmark
The Old Courthouse Museum features one of the city’s defining landmarks, the clock tower.
Originally constructed in 1889 as a courthouse, it has since become a museum and event space.
Like many of the older buildings in Sioux Falls, the Old Courthouse Museum is made of native Sioux quartzite stone.
Not far from the Old Courthouse Museum is the Cathedral of St. Joseph, which sits atop a hill overlooking Sioux Falls and is another of the city’s most distinct buildings.
Construction began in 1915, and a remodel took place from 2009-2011 to restore the cathedral’s interior.
The building features classical architecture and marble from floor to ceiling.
Regardless of your spiritual or religious inclinations, the cathedral is a stunning building and well worth a visit for any architecture lover.
The Old Courthouse Museum is at 200 W. 6th Street, and the Cathedral of St. Joseph is at 521 N. Duluth Avenue.
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