The largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls was founded in 1856 and is located next to the spectacular falls on the Big Sioux River.

Plan a weekend trip to get to know the city’s magnificent nature, historic buildings, unique museums, art and restaurants. Top things to do in Sioux Falls for families with kids include the Great Plains Zoo, the Outdoor Campus and the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove.

1. Falls Park

Falls Park
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Falls Park is 123-acre park around the falls on the Big Sioux River for which the city has been named. The falls and the spectacular nature around them have been the center of life in the area for centuries.

The remains of the 1881 seven-story Queen Bee Mill can be seen on the east side of the river, and the 1908 Sioux Falls Light and Power Company building is now the popular Falls Overlook Café. The 19 mile hiking, biking, and walking trail starts at Falls Park and makes a loop around the city.

2. Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove

Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove
© Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove

Located on South Oxbow Avenue, the Butterfly House & Marine Cove is an attraction that features several educational exhibits.

The 3,600 square foot Butterfly House is kept at a warm 80 degrees for the 800 butterflies and the beautiful tropical garden, allowing visitors to see and admire both attractions. The butterflies come from Africa, Asia, Australia, and Central and South America. The Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove is one of the best things to do in Sioux Falls, SD.

The Marine Cove, on the other hand, is the home of hundreds of species of corals and fish, and the Pacific Tide Pool houses sea anemones, sea stars, and sea urchins. The Shark & Stingray Touch Pool provides a hands-on learning experience where children can touch bamboo sharks, horn sharks, and southern stingrays. More info

4320 South Oxbow Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-334-9466

3. Old Courthouse Museum

Old Courthouse Museum
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Located on West Sixth Street, the Old Courthouse Museum is a historic building that served as the first Minnehaha County courthouse.

Built between 1889 and 1893 by local architect Wallace L. Dow, the building is made of native Sioux quartzite stone, a popular local building material in the late 19th century. There are many interesting and aesthetically pleasing features inside the old courthouse, including stained glass windows, tiled fireplaces, granite pillars, and slate stairs. The 16 large murals on the walls of the hallways portray early life and local nature.

The courthouse remained in use until 1962 when it was slated for demolition after a new courthouse was built. However, citizens campaigned to save the historic building, which can now be toured.

200 West Sixth Street, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-367-4210

4. Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science

Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science
© Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science

The Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science is an arts and science center located on South Main Avenue. Opened in 1999, the center consists of an art gallery, a concert hall, a science museum, and a large-format theater. It is housed in the renovated Washington High School, a neoclassical building whose facade is made of Sioux quartzite.

The center is home to several educational institutions such as the Community Learning Center, the Dakota Academy of Performing Arts, and the Graham Academy Preschool. Several organizations are associated with the center including the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Society, and several others.

301 South Main Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-367-6000R

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5. Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History

Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History
© Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History

Located on South Kiwanis Avenue, the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History is a 45-acre zoo and museum. Opened in 1963, the zoo has more than 1,000 animals like giraffes, primates, and tigers, among others. The museum displays exhibits such as Asian Cats, Birds, Bugs, and Amphibians, Flamingo Aviary, and Rare Rhinos of Africa.

There is also a petting and feeding area called the Hy-Vee Face-to-Face Farm. Educational programs include ZooCamps, ZooCub classes, Scout Programs, and many more. In the Delbridge Museum of Natural History there are 150 mounted animals, 38 of which are considered to be vanishing species.

805 South Kiwanis Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-367-7003

6. The Outdoor Campus

The Outdoor Campus
© The Outdoor Campus

The Outdoor Campus is an outdoor learning center located on South Oxbow Avenue. Operated by the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, it teaches outdoor activities and skills such as cross-country skiing, fishing, gardening, and much more. The campus offers a wide variety of programs for both adults and children.

Adults can participate in community programs as an individual or as part of a group like a church group. For children, there are programs for homeschoolers, preschool and elementary students, and middle school students as well.

The campus also sponsors events such as the Outdoor University where family members have the opportunity to enjoy many free activities like fishing, kayaking, and touching fish, frogs, and turtles.

4500 South Oxbow Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-362-2777

7. Terrace Park

Terrace Park
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Terrace Park is a public park located on West Fourth Street operated by the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department. The park contains many amenities and facilities and has several sports facilities such as baseball fields including miracle league ball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, walking trails, and more.

There are access points for canoeing, fishing, and kayaking. Several sculptures, formal gardens, and Japanese gardens enhance the beauty of this park. Families and groups can take advantage of playgrounds and picnic shelters with electricity.

The Terrace Park Family Aquatic Center includes a large swimming pool, drop-off slides, a looping water slide, and a wading area.

1100 West 4th Street, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-367-8222

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8. USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial

USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial
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Located on West 12th Street, the USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial is a display that includes several relics from the historic battleship.

The outline of the hull of the ship is made of concrete, and visitors can view both the relics and several pieces of memorabilia. The ship was constructed beginning in 1939 and was launched and commissioned in 1942.

The USS South Dakota was the lead ship of its class and saw heavy action during World War II in the Pacific Ocean; two of the battles included the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands and the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Sold as scrap metal after being decommissioned, parts of the ship were saved for this memorial.

2705 West 12th Street, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-367-7141

9. Cathedral of Saint Joseph

Cathedral of Saint Joseph
© Cathedral of Saint Joseph

The Cathedral of Saint Joseph is a Catholic cathedral and the seat of the Diocese of Sioux Falls. Famous architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray designed the beautiful limestone, but he died before the cathedral was finished. Construction of the cathedral was completed in 1919, and the building underwent many later additions.

A Kilgen pipe organ was installed in 1935 and the tester and marble high altar in 1946. Beautiful French stained glass windows were installed in 1947. The cathedral has occasional organ concerts that are open to the public, as well as series of conferences on topics relevant to wider audiences, including non-Catholics.

521 N Duluth Ave, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-336-7390

10. Veterans' Memorial Park

Veterans' Memorial Park
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Veterans’ Memorial Park, a public park located on West Bailey Street in Sioux Falls, commemorates the military history of the people of the local area.

After veterans' organizations and the community began developing the idea of a memorial, a committee was formed to discuss the project with the public and with designers. Eventually, a site was chosen north of Terrace Park. It was an area the U.S. Army Air Corps used during World War II.

Dedicated in 2006, the park’s amenities include military memorial and historic displays, sculptures, walking trails, and gardens. The entrance to the park consists of an amphitheater, flags, plazas, and walls.

1021 West Bailey Street, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-367-8222

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11. Pettigrew Home & Museum

Pettigrew Home & Museum
© Pettigrew Home & Museum

Located on North Duluth Avenue, the Pettigrew Home & Museum is a historic house museum. Originally built in 1889 for Thomas and Jenny McMartin, Senator Richard Franklin Pettigrew eventually bought the house in 1911.

Pettigrew enjoyed traveling and collecting objects, and he eventually added a museum to the back of his house to store the many items in his collection. These include things such as Native American clothing, natural history specimens, stone tools, and items related to local history.

Pettigrew bequeathed the house to the city, and today visitors can see the many artifacts in the museum as well as the house, which has been restored to look as it did in the early 20th century.

131 North Duluth Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-367-7097

12. Falls Overlook Cafe

Falls Overlook Cafe
© Falls Overlook Cafe

Falls Overlook Cafe has a million dollar view. Located on the steep bank of the Big Sioux River in Falls Park, Sioux Falls, this quaint restaurant overlooks a series of wild tumbling falls surrounded by lush greenery. It is set in a restored 1908 quartzite building that was a hydroelectric power plant for the Sioux Falls Light and Power Company until 1974 when it was abandoned. The Cafe is a popular place for visitors of the Falls Park to take a break, enjoy the view and grab a bite to eat. The cafe has a small menu of excellent freshly made soups, salads and sandwiches and has tables both inside and outside. Cafe guests also have a chance to see a number of historic exhibits displayed in the building.

825 N Weber Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57103, Phone: 605-367-4885

13. Sioux Falls Stadium - The Birdcage

Sioux Falls Stadium - The Birdcage
© Sioux Falls Stadium - The Birdcage

Located on Northwest Avenue, the Sioux Falls Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Sioux Falls. It is the home field of the Sioux Falls Canaries, a professional baseball team that is a member of the North Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. The Canaries began using the Sioux Falls Stadium for their home games during the 1993 season, leading to the stadium’s adoption of the nickname “The Birdcage.”

Opened in 1941, the stadium holds 4,500 people and underwent several renovations in 2000. The stadium offers several children’s programs such as Mini Manager of the Night and Play Ball Announcer.

1001 Northwest Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-336-6060

14. SculptureWalk Sioux Falls

SculptureWalk Sioux Falls
© SculptureWalk Sioux Falls

Every year, downtown Sioux Falls turns into an art museum without walls. Sculptors from all over the world are invited to place their sculptures in designated spaces along the city streets, where they stay for a year. City residents, tourists, and all passers-by are encouraged to vote for their favorites.

There are about 14 awards that total $15,000, and each artist can bring up to four sculptures. All artistic styles are accepted, from modern, traditional, and abstract to representational. The sizes also vary greatly. The open sculpture exhibition started in 2003 and is gaining immense popularity.

It is a great tourist attraction, which was the original goal, but it is also bringing city residents out on the streets where they can really appreciate not only the art but their beautiful city as well. All sculptures are available for sale. Check their web site for event dates.

300 S Phillips Ave, Suite L104, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-838-8102

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15. Arc of Dreams Monument

Arc of Dreams Monument
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A unique and awe-inspiring art installation that will literally take your breath away, the Arc of Dreams Monument in Sioux Falls is a must-see attraction for all visitors to the Sculpture Walk in Sioux Falls. The massive stainless-steel sculpture is the brain-child of local South Dakota Artist Dale Claude Lamphere and was built as a tribute to dreamers of the past, present and the future. At the center of the massive installation, which spans the Big Sioux River and towers 85 feet above the river banks, is a 15 foot gap which represents the leap of faith every dreamer needs to take to bring their dreams to life. Brilliant viewing at any time of day, the Arc of Dreams is particularly impressive when lit up at night.

Arc of Dreams, Sioux Falls, SD 57103, 605 838 8102

16. Wild Water West

Wild Water West
© Wild Water West

Wild Water West is closed and will reopen at the end of May, 2016.

Wild Water West is a water park located on 466th Avenue in Sioux Falls. Established more than 25 years ago, Wild Water West is the largest water park in South Dakota. Some of the water features of the park include Tornado Alley, a 55 foot long tube slide; the 65 foot high Waterslide Complex with four slides; and the Wave Pool with up to six foot high waves.

There is a Swim-up Bar for adults who are interested in enjoying a few alcoholic beverages and an activity pool and baby pool for children. Amenities for non-water activities include batting cages and go karts, and visitors can also partake in mini golf, paintball, and sand volleyball.

26767 466th Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-361-9313

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17. Carnaval

© Carnaval

The only Brazilian restaurant and steakhouse in South Dakota, Carnaval is a popular and spacious place with compelling décor and soft lighting.

Lots of green plants, bright art pieces, and the neon blue ceiling create the festive atmosphere of a real Brazilian carnival. If you are looking for romantic date ideas, Carnaval is a great place to try. The restaurant is famous for its salad bar with over 55 choices and the all-you-can-eat “Gaucho Meal” – slow-roasted meats (Churrasco) served at the table. An à la carte menu includes great burgers, seafood, pizzas, and sandwiches.

The restaurant has a nice patio and regular live music on weekends, and Carnaval is equally suitable for large groups as it is for intimate romantic dinner. Once a month, Carnaval has food and wine pairing evenings by reservation only.

2401 S Carolyn Ave, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-361-6328

18. Camille's

© Camille's

Located in Gilrich Village Mall, Camille's Sidewalk Café is a health food restaurant with a pleasant bright space indoors and a spacious outdoor patio available for use when the weather permits.

They serve fresh salads, flavorful gourmet wraps, sandwiches, and flatbread pizzas. Their fruit smoothies are made from fresh fruit and are available with yoghurt. Camille’s serves breakfast tortilla wraps the whole day, and they have a wide range of spiced tortillas like herb-garlic and jalapeno-cheddar.

These tortillas make for excellent grilled hot wraps such as the Michelangelo with grilled chicken breast, roasted red peppers, red onions, black olives, mozzarella, rosemary, thyme, and balsamic glaze. The restaurant also provides a nutrition information sheet for all their dishes, and they have many gluten free options.

1216 W 41st Street, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-333-9727

19. Crawford's

© Crawford's

Crawford’s is an upscale bar and grill located in an 1896 former butcher’s store that has been meticulously renovated and restored; it features original quartzite and brick walls and dark overhead beams. The décor is funky and theatrical, from hand painted, jeweled wallpaper and Moroccan chandeliers to the cowhide-paneled bar and reclaimed wooden tables.

This spectacular ambiance is a perfect background for enjoying outstanding food, including excellent grilled meats and fish and some very interesting small plates such as spinach and artichoke gratin with smoked Gouda cheese and sun-dried tomatoes served with crostini. They have an extensive beer and wine list and some original and innovative cocktails.

214 S Phillips Ave, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-332-5333

20. Great Bear Recreation Park

Great Bear Recreation Park
© Great Bear Recreation Park

Great Bear Recreation Park is a ski area owned by the city of Sioux Falls. Often referred to as just Great Bear, it is situated in the northeastern section of the city. Established in 1963, the ski area opened with just two runs and one rope tow. Later, a lodge was built and more runs and tows were added.

Today, the park has twelve runs and three lifts: a handle tow, a magic carpet, and a quad chairlift. At Terrain Park, skiers can perform tricks like aerial maneuvers. The park is an all-season park, and during the warm months visitors enjoy spectacular views on the eight miles of walking trails.

5901 East Rice Street, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Phone: 605-367-4309

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21. Sioux Falls Bike Trails

Sioux Falls Bike Trails
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Sioux Falls Bike Trails is an extensive system of bicycle trails that run through the parks and green spaces of Sioux Falls. There are more than 70 public parks in the city. Falls Park is centrally located and serves as the hub of the park system; many of the other public parks are connected to Falls Park by the bicycle trails.

The trail system is bordered on the north by Interstate 90, on the west by Westward Ho Park, on the south by 57th Street, and on the east by Rotary Park. There are over 20 miles of paved multi-use paths, and bikers share the paths with walkers and runners.

22. Good Earth State Park

Good Earth State Park
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The Good Earth State Park encompasses one of the earliest sites of human habitation in the South Dakota and is an important historical site as well as a place to enjoy nature at her finest. What was once an important trading and cultural center for early settlers (from 1300 to 1700 AD) now provides visitors will an expansive outdoor recreational area where you can enjoy a wide range of activities including hiking, biking, bird watching, fishing and geocaching in summer and snow-shoeing in winter. Visitors are welcome to bring along a picnic to enjoy at the picnic area with shelters and tables and are encouraged to visit the museum/visitor’s center.

Good Earth State Park, 26924 480th Avenue, Sioux Falls, SD 57108, 605 213 1036

23. Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum

Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum
© Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum

The Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum is living proof of how one person’s dream can transform a barren tract of land into a wonderful natural community resource. The land on which the arboretum is established was once home to an early settler community where settlers lived, worked and raised their families. Neglected for many centuries, this historic 155 acre plot of land has been transformed into thriving forests, themed gardens and beautiful prairie meadows which beckon visitors to enter and stay a while. Besides enjoying the gardens visitors can enjoy other activities including walking, bird-watching and the use of a canoe launch.

Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum, 1900 S. Perry Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57110, 605 367 4414

24. The Center for Western Studies

The Center for Western Studies

Forming part of the revered Augustana University, the CWS (Center for Western Studies) is home to a vast collection of books, art and artifacts which showcase the history of the American West. Visitors are very welcome to visit the center’s art galleries and museum exhibits from Monday to Friday, from 8am to 5pm. The center also offers an amazing research facility for anyone who has an interest in the history and origins of the American West. A highlight of the CWS calendar is the annual Artists of the Plains Art Show in November, which is funded by the center and showcases a wealth of talented artists from across the region. The Center for Western Studies, 2121 South Summit Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57197, 605 274 4007

25. Catfish Bay Water Ski Park

Catfish Bay Water Ski Park
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Your visit to Sioux Falls would be incomplete without taking the time to visit the amazing H2O show at the Catfish Bay Water Ski Park. Here the whole family can be entertained as you marvel at the talents and skill of the cast of this really unique water show. H2O encompasses both land and water acts which are suited to all ages. The Stunt Show is a celebration of sensational water acts which will have everyone on the edge of their seats. Just when you think you have seen it all, the highly skilled water skiers take over to treat you to a feast of barefoot skiing, wake-boarding, ballet and more.

Catfish Bay Water Ski Park, 5500 Show Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, 605 339 0911

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