Pierre, South Dakota is a picturesque city with tree lined streets, parks, family-friendly attractions and a historic downtown.
It was founded in 1880 when gold prospectors settled down in the Dakota Territory during the Great Dakota Boom. South Dakota became a state in 1889, and Pierre was declared its capital as it was in the center of the state. Here are the best things to do in Pierre, SD.
1. South Dakota State Capitol
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The South Dakota State Capitol was constructed between 1905 and 1910 with native stone, Indiana limestone, Vermont, and Italian marble. Admire the terrazzo tile flooring laid by 66 Italian artists. A marble staircase leads to the display of miniature gowns worn by each First Lady at the inaugural balls.
The 96-foot high open rotunda on the second level has decorations of the sixteen images of the Tree of Life, acanthus leaves, and the South Dakota state flower, the pasque flower. The House of Representatives and the Senate are located on the third floor. Visitors simply have to explore the four memorials on the grounds of the Capitol building. The South Dakota State Capitol is one of the top Pierre attractions.
500 East Capitol Avenue, Pierre, SD, 605-773-3765
2. La Framboise Island Nature Area
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The picturesque island of La Framboise Island Nature Area is located along the Missouri River and is one of the best things to do in Pierre, South Dakota. This scenic island is resplendent with its lush greenery, and it is home to numerous species of wildlife and birds.
Explore the Fort that Joseph La Frambroise constructed towards the western part of the island. Visitors will enjoy nature trails under the shade of trees like Russian olive, cedar, ash, and native cottonwood trees. The fishing dock attracts fishermen, while families can enjoy a day out in the open at the designated picnic area close to the boat ramp.
3. South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center
© South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center
The South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center was inaugurated in 1989 to interpret and preserve the heritage and unique culture of the people of South Dakota. This center houses the State Archives, a museum, historic preservation efforts, and research and publishing offices. On display at the museum are three permanent galleries that highlight the cultural history of South Dakota from the Native Tribes to the present day.
The State Archives has records and documents that showcase the heritage of this region. Visitors will notice that government officials, teachers, students, and historic preservationists regularly mention and reference these records.
900 Governors Dr, Pierre, SD 57501, 605-773-3458
4. Places to Visit: Oahe Dam
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Oahe Dam is located to the north of Pierre along the Missouri River, and it is responsible for the creation of Lake Oahe. This project offers irrigation, flood control, and electricity. Oahe Dam was dedicated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy when it began producing electricity.
Today, it provides electricity for most of the northern central states of the nation, and with a height of 245 feet and a lake depth of 205 feet, this impressive dam has a plant discharge of 56,000 cubic feet per second. There are about 51 recreational areas around the dam that will impress and delight visitors.
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5. SD Discovery Center & Aquarium
© SD Discovery Center & Aquarium
SD Discovery Center and Aquarium offers science opportunities to children of all ages, inspiring teachers and the public to seek out scientific knowledge and create a healthy world. Outreach and events are their signature offerings, and these programs are interesting and affordable.
Women in Science engage young women grade 12 and younger, encouraging them to pick a career in science, while South Dakota History Adventures are fun field trips that highlight the history of the region. Other interactive programs are the Family Festivals, Legos and Robotics, Nutrition and Physical Activity, and Environmental Education.
805 W Sioux Ave, Pierre, SD 57501, 605-224-8295
6. Fighting Stallions Memorial
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The Fighting Stallions Memorial was constructed in 1994 to commemorate the death of eight citizens of South Dakota who died in a plane crash on April 19, 1993 while on a state mission.
This bronze sculpture that shows two stallions fighting stands on an artificial hill with eight plaques honoring the fallen heroes. The Fighting Stallion was recreated in bronze from the 1935 mahogany creation by renowned local sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. Places to Visit in South Dakota
7. Flaming Fountain
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Flaming Fountain Memorial is located on the shores of the Capitol Lake. This spectacular monument is dedicated to the local South Dakotans who fought during the war. There is a stone memorial, fountain, and waterfall with an eagle statue that honors the members of the great Sioux Nation who lost their lives in this country’s modern war.
The fountain is unique as in the past, flames would rise above the water. Water is sourced from a nearby well that flows into Capitol Lake, and flames would begin to dance above the top of the fountain when gas was directed into the memorial and lit.
500 East Capitol Avenue, Pierre, SD, 605-773-3765
8. South Dakota National Guard Museum
© South Dakota National Guard Museum
The historical memorabilia of the National Guard of this state is on display at the South Dakota National Guard. Visitors will learn about the historical information of both the Army and Air National Guard. The museum has a large area for the visitors to explore – outside the museum are a Sherman Tank, 75mm Cannon, A-7-D Jet, Anti-Aircraft guns, and a 105mm Howitzer.
Admire the collection of the heritage and accomplishments of the National Guard that are showcased inside the museum. The memorabilia and artifacts are from 1860’s up to the present day.
301 East Dakota, Pierre, SD 57501, 605-773-2475
9. Country Farmer's Market
© Country Farmer's Market
Locals and visitors can browse through a variety of handmade crafts, fresh foods, and South Dakota-grown produce at the Country Farmer's Market, which is held at the Pierre Mall upper deck parking lot on Saturdays from May to June. If you are wondering what to do in Pierre with kids, this is a great place to visit. Things to Do in SD
30711 169th Street, Gettysburg, SD 57442, 605-769-0269
10. Pierre Players Community Theater
© Pierre Players Community Theater
Pierre Players is a community theater that entertains and educates the community with theater presentations that involve the audience. The first full season of Pierre Players began in 1967, and throughout the years they have produced over 180 shows and sponsored several touring productions. Over 14,000 locals from the community have volunteered their talent and time.
Visitors will enjoy the opulent ambiance of the theater and should definitely catch a show to experience the commitment of the longest running community theater group in South Dakota.
109 S. Pierre Street, Pierre, SD 57501, 605-224-7826
11. Upper Pierre Street Commercial Historic District
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The Upper Pierre Street Commercial Historic District was once the center of commerce and government in downtown Pierre. Prominent businessmen Andrew C. Brink and Charles Hyde played instrumental roles in attracting businesses to this part of the city.
The first businesses in this area were small mom-and-pop operations that sold jewelry, clothing, and groceries. Today's visitors can stop by the Grand Opera House to either sightsee or watch a performance by the Pierre Players, a local theater group.
12. Hyde Baseball Stadium
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The Hyde Baseball Stadium, built in 1935, is located across the street from the State Capitol, the Governor's Mansion, and Capitol Lake. The stadium is surrounded by picturesque grounds and has enough seating for 1,500 people.
It has been home to many generations of Pierre American Legion baseball teams, and several state tournaments over the last 15 years have taken place at Hyde Field. The well-lit stadium is also open for nighttime practices and games, and the field has a grandstand as well as a batting cage practice area.
13. Hillsview Golf Course
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The picturesque Hillsview Golf Course offers a fun challenge for golfers of all levels. It is an 18-hole course that includes a driving range as well as a clubhouse.
The course offers special season passes for young adults, adults, children, couples, and families, and the passes vary in price. Golfers can also purchase access to extras, including golf carts and golf cart storage.
4201 E. Highway 34 Pierre, SD 57501, 605-773-6191
More vacation ideas: 20 Best Things to Do in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
14. Major League Adventures
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Take the fishing or hunting trip of a lifetime under the guidance of Tom. With 30 years of experience, these day tours are sure to provide visitors with all kinds of fun. Hire a cabin for three nights and sign up for a full day or a couple of days of fishing on a 21-foot first class fully equipped walleye boat. Commercial insurance, gas, tackle, bait, and gear will be provided.
Pheasant hunting is another popular sport in this region, and there are experienced guides with retrieving dogs to take you on this expedition. Visitors could also spend a day on the golf course.
316 Ft. Sully Trail, Pierre, SD 57501, 970-214-2891
15. Old Fort Pierre School
© NPS Photo
This classic school building is known for being the fist high school in Fort Pierre and is among the oldest high schools in South Dakota. The two-story structure used to be home to four classrooms, and although the Old Fort building is referred to as a high school, students of all ages attended school there between 1892 and 1909.
The building was eventually repurposed and became an apartment complex. Visitors enjoy seeing the school because of its elegant façade and stained glass windows. It is currently undergoing another round of renovations.
Corner of Second Street and Second Avenue, Fort Pierre, SD 57532
16. Stockgrowers Bank
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The Stockgrowers Bank is hailed as the only Romanesque Revival structure in Fort Pierre. In the early 20th century, it was a bustling business center for the cattle raising industry. Other tenants throughout the years have included barber shops, real estate offices, the city's first telephone exchange, and a hardware store.
The building stands out now because of its pointed roof, ornate brickwork, and arched windows. Currently, the public isn't permitted inside since the Stockgrowers Bank still serves as a business building.
34 East Main Street, Fort Pierre, SD 57532
17. Gaylord Sumner House
© NPS Photo
Once home to a prominent businessman, the Gaylord Sumner House is known for its unique architecture and classic charm. Renovations done in the late 1800s turned the single-story home into a two-story structure. Gaylord Sumner, the home's original owner, came to South Dakota from New York in 1890, and he eventually organized the Stockgrowers Bank and ran the Stanley County Abstract Company.
Sumner and his wife, Ida Ricketts, occupied this home up until his death in 1967. The home is still a private residence so it is not open for visitors.
509 Second St., Fort Pierre, SD 57532
18. Fort Pierre Chouteau Site
© NPS Photo
The Fort Pierre Chouteau Site is a tribute to the relationship between Euro-Americans and Native Americans. Established in 1832, the Fort eventually grew into a trading center, and locals and travelers could easily buy furs from the fort's convenient riverside location. In 1855, the US government bought the fort and nearly converted it into a military installation.
However, the fort's dilapidated state prevented the Army from developing it further, and they chose to leave it alone instead. In recent years, excavations at the fort site revealed interesting relics, including Native American moccasins, coins, pottery, and fabric. More Romantic Weekend Getaways in South Dakota
Fort Chouteau Rd., Fort Pierre, SD 57532
19. Verendrye Museum
This museum located in the old American Legion Hall building is named after two French explorers, Louis and Chevalier Verendrye, who spent a portion of the early 1700s canvassing the upper section of the Missouri River.
Since 1968, the Verendrye Museum has served as the final resting place for a variety of artifacts from South Dakota's early history, including a plaque left by the Verendyre brothers that claimed the Missouri River for France. The Verendyre museum is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year. Off-season visits can be arranged with the museum staff.
115 Deadwood St., Fort Pierre, SD 57532, 605-223-7690
20. Trail of Governors
Trail of Governors in Pierre, South Dakota surrounds the beautifully restored Capitol building and continues through the historic district of the city. This sculpture trail is thought to be the only trail of its kind anywhere in the United States. The Trail of Governors was designed to serve as a lasting tribute to the Governors of South Dakota. These bronze statues along the trail honor each of South Dakota’s governors for the purpose of enlightenment and enjoyment of both residents of the state and those visiting the city. Future governors will be added to the Trail of Governors as well.
21. Dakota Spirit Distillery
© Dakota Spirit Distillery
Dakota Spirit Distillery opened in Pierre, South Dakota as the first legal distillery in the state. This family-operated small distillery works with local products for producing their quality spirits and sits on a plateau around a few miles north from the Missouri River. The small-batch copper still used by the distillery allows the owners to give the right amount of attention to every run and the climate of the area is ideal for aging spirits inside American Oak barrels. Spirits produced by the Dakota Spirit Distillery include Bickering Brothers Brandy, Blended Whiskey, Coyote 100 Light Whiskey, and Bickering Brothers Vodka.
3601 Airport Rd, Pierre, SD 57501, 605-484-1009
22. Cattleman's Club Steakhouse-Pierre
© Cattleman's Club Steakhouse-Pierre
Cattleman's Club Steakhouse in the capital city of Pierre, South Dakota was first opened by Myril Arch, a native Pierre area rancher, in 1986. Sawdust can still be seen on the floor, serving as a reminder of a time when having carpet was a bit too expensive. The restaurant boasts that people from all across the world have come to the Cattleman's Club Steakhouse and dined on their burgers, prime rib, and steaks. Offering a nice view of the scenic Missouri River, the steakhouse restaurant is open for dinner every day except Sunday.
29608 SD-34, Pierre, SD 57501, 605-224-9774
23. RedRossa Italian Grille
© RedRossa Italian Grille
RedRossa Italian Grille started with a love for authentic, flavorful, and fresh Italian-American cuisine. Guests will find affordable American and Italian fare on the menu, including signature RedRossa recipes created to highlight the best ingredients. Dishes are prepared in the Old World Italy tradition and served within a festive and comfortable atmosphere. There is a wide selection of wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas that are made to order, housemade pastas, fresh salads, hand-cut steaks, and seafood. RedRossa Italian Grille also offers decadent desserts, a cocktail selection, and a good wine list.
808 W Sioux Ave Ste 200, Pierre, SD 57501, 605-494-2599
24. Mad Mary's Steakhouse & Saloon
© Mad Mary's Steakhouse & Saloon
Mad Mary's Steakhouse and Saloon in Pierre, South Dakota features plenty of Old West flair and a food menu that includes specials, seafood, prime rib, and straks. The restaurant was started by Mary Etzkorn, who got the idea for the name "Mad Mary's" from her sister after Mary had divorced her husband and was clearly still mad at him. Today, the steakhouse is a popular local spot and welcomes everyone, from truckers to business travelers to couples and young families to even governors.
110 E Dakota Ave, Pierre, SD 57501, 605-224-6469
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