Photo courtesy Experience Sioux Falls  


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Sioux Falls, located in the heart of the state of South Dakota, is deservedly known as “The Best Little City in America.” An up-and-coming year-round tourist destination that’s gaining popularity among luxury travelers for its many unique sightseeing opportunities and experiences, it’s also quite a pretty place to visit.

The fact the Big Sioux River flows through the city certainly helps, with several picturesque waterfalls to explore right in the very midst of the city. Sioux Falls also boasts plenty of great cafés and restaurants, as well as a historic downtown area that’s full of great shops, unique museums, and the city’s famed sculpture walk.

Visiting as part of a cross-country road trip? Be sure to stop at Mount Rushmore on the west side of the state, and include Sioux Falls on a tour of the east side. Several major airlines, including American, Delta, and United, fly into the Sioux Falls regional airport daily. Sioux Falls is the largest city in the state of South Dakota, so discovering these fun things to do in Sioux Falls should be on everyone’s must-do list.


Fun Things To Do in Sioux Falls, SD


Explore the Sioux Falls Waterfalls
FallsPark family enjoying fun things to do in Sioux Falls SD
Falls Park is a magical must-visit in Sioux Falls for families (Photo courtesy Experience Sioux Falls)

One of the most beautiful waterfalls you’ll see anywhere is located at the north end of town in Falls Park. The park covers 123 acres and is full of unique viewing locations, with grassy areas to sit and spend the day enjoying the multiple cascades and impressive rock formations. One of my favorite places to take an Instagram shot is from the lower bridge.

There’s a children’s play area and an open-air shelter with electricity that can be reserved for special events, and a farmers’ market that is open on Saturdays, May through October. During the winter, the park is decorated with lights, making it very festive.

Be sure to pop into the Falls Park Visitor Information Center. It claims to have the largest selection of Sioux Falls memorabilia anywhere. Attached to the visitor center is a five-story enclosed viewing tower with an outdoor observation deck, and an elevator is available. The tower provides a 360-degree panoramic view of the Falls and the city skyline.


Enjoy a Break at Josiah’s Coffeehouse, Café & Bakery
Josiahs_coffee sign
Josiah’s Coffeehouse is a Sioux Falls institution

Josiah’s is a great place to start your day exploring the historic downtown area. They serve a full breakfast and lunch menu, and make all their bakery items from scratch (they go well with their selection of coffees and teas). The café is dog-friendly, so bring your four-footed friend with you.

The coffeehouse is quite large with plenty of windows along the street from which to watch the world go by. There’s even a meeting room, Phillips Gathering Place, and the fireplace offers a warm respite on those chillier mornings. When we were there in October, they also had a pumpkin patch out front to find your Halloween pumpkin while you sip your hot cup of coffee.

Josiah’s is located around the corner from the Sculpture Walk on W 12th Street. Grab a cup of coffee and start exploring Sioux Falls’s historic downtown.


Take the Sculpture Walk
peoples_choice_award_sioux_falls_blue_bag_nomads fun things to do in Sioux Falls SD
Siox Falls’ Sculpture walk is a must-do (Photo: Blue Bag Nomads / LuxuryUnitedStates) 

The Sculpture Walk will take you through the heart of historic downtown Sioux Falls. This public art project sees around 80 new sculptures mounted on rock pedestals for display each year, many of them created by today’s top local and international sculpture artists.

As we wandered up and down S Phillips Avenue, we were amazed at the detail, creativity, and use of materials in the sculptures. Some were tall and large and others delicate and light. But they expressed whimsy and honor, love and creativity, and above all, a dedication to the varied craft of sculpturing.

The public is invited to vote for their favorite sculpture, with the winner receiving the People’s Choice award. The annual winning sculpture is purchased by the city, and remains in Sioux Falls, on display in an appropriately worthy location.


Sit for a Bite to Eat at Falls Overlook Café
Falls Overlook CAfe patio seating
Enjoy a snack or a meal as well as the views at the Falls Overlook Cafe patio (Photo courtesy Falls Overlook Cafe)

This café has breathtaking views of the falls that you can enjoy while grabbing lunch and specializes in comfort foods like grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s located in the historic Sioux Falls Light and Power Company building that was built in 1908. One word of warning: it does close in October for the season (although it is available for special events year-round).

In case you overeat, you can enjoy taking a beautiful walk around the falls. Or maybe get that second cup of coffee and be mesmerized by the waterfalls, in the indoor or outdoor seating.


Make a Wish at the Arc of Dreams
Arc of Dreams is one of the best fun things to do in Sioux Falls SD
Enjoy a river walk to the Arc of Dreams (Photo courtesy Experience Sioux Falls)

Arc of Dreams is a massive stainless steel sculpture by artist Dale Lampere. It crosses the Big Sioux River downtown between 6th and 8th Streets. Years in the making, the sculpture was completed in 2018 and spans across the river almost the length of a football field (285 feet). It stands 70 feet above the river with an 18-foot gap between the two sides.

Titled Dream Big – Live Big, the arc represents believing in your vision, taking that leap of faith, following your dreams, and finding success.


Take the Kids to Great Plains Zoo
Great Plains Zoo Asian Cats entrance
Check out the exotic big cats at Great Plains Zoo (Photo courtesy Experience Sioux Falls)

You can easily make a day of taking a drive over to the Great Plains Zoo, a fun trip that’s great for all ages. Looking for something unique and different? Then why not feed a giraffe! This is a seasonal weather-permitting activity, but is a superb one-of-a-kind experience.

The gift shop and coffee bar are open all year, and the Maasai Market Café is open seasonally. There are wheelchairs and motorized scooters for rent to help everyone see and enjoy the zoo.

Parks and Pavilions
Palisades State Park
Palisades State Park is a wonderful place to explore(Photo courtesy Experience Sioux Falls)

When you have finished visiting this vibrant city, don’t forget, that a few minutes away is Palisades State Park. The park is a perfect stop for rock climbers and nature enthusiasts. Afterwards, swing back into town to visit one of the growing numbers of beer brewing companies popping up here.

There is so much more to see and do here in Sioux Falls, like the historic Washington Pavilion. The Pavilion is host to theater performances, art galleries, and over 100 hands-on science exhibits. The city also boasts several new luxury hotels, including an Aloft, in various stages of construction.

Sioux Falls is definitely a place you will want to stop and give yourself a few extra days to explore. To learn more about this great travel destination and the many fun things to do here, visit


Visit the Sioux Empire Medical Museum

Looking for something obscure and less traveled to visit? Why not visit the Sioux Empire Medical Museum? You’ll certainly come away with an appreciation of just how far our medical practices have come. The museum is free and loaded with all kinds of medical history. Learn about medical advances from the early 1900s to today. On display are an old operating room and a 1940s iron lung.

The museum is staffed by retired healthcare workers who have many wonderful (hopefully not scary) stories to share. It’s a great stop for all ages.

This museum is located at Sanford Hospital and can be a little hard to find, so be sure to ask if you have any problems locating it. Instead of driving by, be sure to stop and take a peek at this small unique museum.


Dine at Minervas Restaurant

Minervas Restaurant has been a downtown treasure for over 40 years and is one of the city’s most popular dining establishments. The restaurant still uses tablecloths, and with all the dark wood it gives an old-world feeling of warmth. When we first walked in, it reminded me of a restaurant you might find in New York City.

With my food allergies, the staff was accommodating and friendly. When there was a question, they came back to ask me if it was okay or not – something I appreciated. The food was delicious. One of our group partook in the Specialty Salad Bar, which turned out to be very well-liked by the locals. The salad bar also includes homemade soups and seasonal fruit.

Eating here was a great way to end our day. The interior was warm and comfortable, the food was delicious, and the staff was great. The location is perfect for lunch while exploring the historic downtown or a night out.


Stay in Sioux Falls
The Hilton Garden Inn boasts a great riverfront location (Photo courtesy Hilton Garden Inn Sioux Falls Downtown)

Need a great place to bed down for the night in Sioux Falls? We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Sioux Falls Downtown, a modern, moderately luxurious property set overlooking the Big Sioux River. The Hilton Garden Inn Downtown offers plenty of areas to enjoy inside and out, including a walkway along the river. It’s also close to downtown, the Falls, and the airport, and an airport shuttle is available.

The hotel offers an excellent variety of rooms and suites. We stayed in a king suite, which had a large private outdoor balcony overlooking the river. The rooms have plush Serta Perfect Sleeper Beds, complimentary Wi-Fi, microwave, HDTV, and generous workspace.

If you want to stay in, room service is available, or stroll down to CRAVE restaurant, which serves classic American fare (and sushi), and there’s also a large bar area. For breakfast, they offer a hot cooked meal (be sure to check to see if it is included with your room), and a Starbucks coffee outlet is on site.

Amenities include a fire pit, an outdoor patio, and an indoor swimming pool. The bottom line? This quality 3-star hotel in Sioux Falls is comfortable, in a great location with plenty of onsite free parking and offers many great guest services.

Check out the Hilton Garden Inn Sioux Falls Downtown for the latest details and rates, and to make reservations.

Looking for something different? Check out these great accommodation options in Sioux Falls, SD.




Contributor Cynthia Graham is an award-winning. Find her on Twitter at @lovetravelingto; Facebook,; and on her blog, Check out Cindy’s recommendations on boutique hotels in Asheville, North Carolina.


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