Photo Courtesy of Steven Frame/Shutterstock.comStroll through Downtown Sioux Falls, home to over 60 sculptures.Enjoy summer activities in Sioux Falls.Falls Park Visitor Information Center & Viewing TowerFalls ParkSioux FallsSioux FallsSioux FallsSioux Falls, SD

Families will love:

  • Exploring Falls Park waterfalls
  • Zoo, aquarium and butterfly attractions
  • Lively, artsy downtown

The Great Plains can be sneaky. Just when you think it's all flatness and farm fields, you find gems such as the rocky and spectacular Falls Park tucked into the heart of South Dakota's biggest city, Sioux Falls. The 123-acre park's natural playground of tumbled and terraced pink quartzite draws kids like Billy goats to explore its nooks and crannies. Close to 7,400 ... more
The Great Plains can be sneaky. Just when you think it's all flatness and farm fields, you find gems such as the rocky and spectacular Falls Park tucked into the heart of South Dakota's biggest city, Sioux Falls. The 123-acre park's natural playground of tumbled and terraced pink quartzite draws kids like Billy goats to explore its nooks and crannies. Close to 7,400 gallons of the Big Sioux River carves through little canyons and tumbles across terraces that drop a total of 100 feet.

Climb up the five-story observation tower for a sweeping overview of the park before getting a closer look at its former power plant (now the seasonal Overlook Café and a fun place for ice cream), a vintage horse barn and remnants of the former Queen Bee Mill from the 1880s that was known for slicing petrified wood during that century's surge of growth and wealth.

Riverside trails connect the popular park to downtown, with businesses concentrated along Phillips Avenue. Several blocks and cross streets bustle with restaurants, cafes, a patisserie and a variety of shops with everything from outdoor gear in a historic depot to a colorful toy shop with a hidden bookstore inside.

Kids can touch and marvel at giant bears, curious otters, Native Americans and whimsical creations that comprise the annual SculptureWalk, which places more than 50 fresh works of art downtown each year. They stretch to Washington Pavilion, a former multi-story school built of quartzite. The historic building now houses the Kirby Science Center, Wells Fargo CineDome, Visual Arts Center, South Dakota African-American History Museum and the Husby Performing Arts Center.

The Big Sioux River Recreational Trail and Greenway circles the city with an almost 26-mile paved trail that's ideal for runners, bikers and joggers, while the wave pool, slides and rides at Wild Water West Waterpark beckon families on summer's stickiest days.

For year-round fun, kids look for the best butterflies and touch the stingrays at the Sertoma Butterfly House and Marine Cove and gawk at the giraffes and watch the snow monkeys play and preen at Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History.

Attractions, like the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, feel small but mighty -- big enough to be vibrant and varied without feeling overwhelming or crowded. Best of all, Sioux Falls hums with the pride of a city that's thrived -- even during the Recession -- and welcomes visitors with heartland hospitality.

Written by Lisa Meyers McClintick less

Sioux Falls, SD Planning & Tips
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