North America, South Dakota, United States

12 Reasons to Travel To (and Not Through) Sioux Falls, South Dakota

December 5, 2016

While talking to locals during my travels I often hear, “you’ve seen more of my country than I have!” It makes me wonder, if I were to stop tourists in the U.S. and ask where they’ve been, have they seen more of my country than me? Probably! I’m guilty of typically choosing to explore destinations that require a stamp in my passport over good ole ‘Merica.

So after a recent string of trips to Croatia, Wales, the Dominican Republic and Cuba when Travel Mindset asked if I was interested in visiting Sioux Falls, South Dakota I immediately said yes! To be honest, I didn’t know much about Sioux Falls and I had never been to South Dakota. I jumped on the chance to explore small town U.S.A. as a guest of the Sioux Falls CVB.

Sioux Falls is located in southeast South Dakota putting it on the map in the Midwest, but don’t let its small town charm fool you! It’s actually the largest city in South Dakota and home to nearly 30% of the state’s population. I visited Sioux Falls to explore outdoor adventure, its vibrant arts and music scene, and its bustling restaurant and brewery industry. During my visit a local told me that Sioux Falls used to be a place people traveled through, but now it’s a place people travel to. Here’s 12 reasons why:

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

1. FALLS PARK

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If I lived in Sioux Falls I would visit Falls Park every day, which I did during my visit! Flowing through 123 acres of land, the Big Sioux River offers a beautiful display of waterfalls in the middle of the city. Falls Park is a great location to catch a sunset, pit stop on a bike ride and escape into nature. It’s hands down the city’s most iconic destination and no trip to Sioux Falls would be complete without a visit. If you’re visiting Sioux Falls during mid-November to mid-January make sure to attend its Winter Wonderland display to get in the holiday spirit.

2. Bike Trails

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For outdoor adventurers like myself, Sioux Falls has over 26 miles of biking trails. From Falls Park the trails loop around the city offering riders a safe and easily navigable way to explore the city and its many public parks. Through a city bike tour I enjoyed sightseeing while getting a good workout and breathing in crisp, fresh air. If you need to rent gear or a bike, your one stop shop is Spoke-N-Sport. I also recommend renting a bike with fat tires because sometimes size matters and bigger is better.

ARTS & MUSIC

3. SculptureWalk

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In meeting and talking with a lot of Sioux Falls locals it was clear to me that residents are very proud of the city’s art scene. A simple stroll through downtown is actually a walk through one of my favorite Sioux Falls exhibits. The ScultpureWalk is a collection of artwork that displays local artists’ work outside for a year. The sculptures can win one of 14 awards totaling $15,000 in prizes and are up for sale. It’s a treat being able to check out different pieces of art by local artists every few steps on Phillips Ave.

4. Washington Pavilion Visual Arts Center

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What do you get when you combine seven galleries in one location that span regional, national and international artists? The answer: The Visual Arts Center at the Washington Pavilion. The center is aimed at showcasing collections specific to South Dakotans, but also exhibits that appeal to visitors from all over the world. Exhibitions are always changing so make sure to check the schedule.

5. Deep Sea Imaginarium

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Hurry! You’ve only got until January 29, 2017 to check out my favorite exhibition at the Visual Arts Center! Deep Sea Imaginarium is a collection of sea creature sculptures created by local artist Steve Bormes. For over two years, Steve collected boat motors, potato ricers and butter churns to create fascinating pieces that he brings to life through colorful lighting. I was lucky enough to spend time with Steve at his shop Rug & Relic where he creates his artwork. Steve gave me a tour of his workshop and even put me to work on his drilling process. He was incredibly hospitable treating me as if we had been old friends. If you can, stop by his shop to hopefully meet him!

6. Old Courthouse Museum

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The tallest structure in Sioux Falls is a restored building with an 1893 clock tower that’s hard to miss! In 1974 it opened as the Old Courthouse Museum featuring exhibitions focused on natural and cultural histories of the surrounding Sioux Falls region. In addition to art, the museum offers workshops, lectures, tours, concerts and the best part is that admission is free.

7. Total Drag

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Not gonna lie, at first when I was pitched going to a place called “Total Drag” I thought I was headed to a drag queen show. I quickly was proven wrong. Total Drag is actually a record and cassette store that sells new and used vinyls and tapes. In addition to being a cool spot to buy music, it’s an intimate hipster spot to enjoy live music. An all ages welcome venue in the city (as opposed to 21+), Total Drag is definitely the place to hit up if you’re a millennial into an underground music scene.

8. Orpheum Theatre

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Since 1913 the Orpheum Theatre has been the oldest existing theatre in Sioux Falls. Today it’s home to the Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Society and community theatre. During my visit I was lucky enough to see a show by jazz artist Alicia Olatuja who was the featured soloist during President Obama’s second inauguration. Alicia’s performance blew me away and I highly recommend checking out the events calendar during a visit to Sioux Falls.

FOOD AND DRINKS

9. Brewery Tour

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If you love beer, there’s no better way to explore Sioux Falls than hopping around from brewery to brewery! Sioux Falls is home to an emerging craft beer scene with breweries sprinkled all around town. After spending an afternoon drinking flights my top picks are Hydra, Fernson, Monks, Prairie Berry, and WoodGrain. On my brewery tour I also met and interacted with a lot of locals who welcomed me and spoke highly of Sioux Falls’ small community vibe.

10. Restaurants

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With over 650 restaurants, Sioux Falls is known for having one of the largest restaurants per capita ratios in the country. Whatever you have an appetite for you can pretty much bet Sioux Falls has it. With cuisine options from classic diners like Bob’s to BBQ at Backyard Grill, Mexican at Jacky’s, Japanese at Oshima and American at PAve… it’s hard to leave Sioux Falls with an empty stomach.

11. First Fridays at Parker’s Bistro

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Meet Paul, a bartender in downtown Sioux Falls. If you happen to be in town on the first Friday of the month, head over to Parker’s Bistro where you can enjoy one of Paul’s well known drink themed nights. While whipping up cocktails together, Paul told me he loves creating original drink menus for themed nights on First Fridays and never imagined his little idea would become a monthly hit in town.

BONUS

12. Palisades State Park

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Just a 30-minute drive outside of Sioux Falls, Palisades State Park is a must see destination for outdoor adventurers. I was fortunate enough to visit the park after the first snowfall of the year. Pristine, gorgeous, tranquil and breathtaking are just a few words I’d use to describe the natural beauty of Palisades State Park. With picturesque views, gorgeous 1.2 billion year old Sioux quartzite formations and outdoor adventures that include trail hiking and cliff jumping, Palisades State Park is a South Dakota gem.

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Here's 12 Reasons to Travel to (and not through) Sioux Falls South Dakota

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11 Comments

  • Reply Ann December 5, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Yes, my home is awesome it’s a wonderful place to live.

    • Reply Justin Walter December 5, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      Hi Ann, thanks for the comment. I had a great time exploring your hometown and everyone was so welcoming. Thank you. My thoughts are with you all as well and know you have such a strong sense of community pulling together for the building collapse late last week.

  • Reply Ernesto Paras Jr December 6, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Hi Justin! I’ve been to Falls Park early this year and it’s really a wonderful experience. I was long driving too. Congratulations again on your travels. It’s a wonderful achievement of yours. Congratulations again to your dad and to your whole family on Price is Right Survivor special. It was so unforgettable to me because it was my first time! I was sitting near from you in the same row and I gave you a hug after the show. Remember? I’m that guy from the Philippines wearing black Price is Right shirt. Just letting you know I went back to Price is Right 4 more times and I finally did “come on down” on my 5th time. It aired October 4th, 2016. Drew Carey mentioned about me visiting all 50 states and my shirt shows that too. I put my episode on youtube. I’ve been following your journey and congratulations again for everything. AMAZING. I pray I’ll get to watch you on Survivor someday. 🙂

    • Reply Justin Walter December 6, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Hi Ernesto! I’m glad you had a good time at Sioux Falls and thanks for checking out my blog. I’m so happy for you that you got called down to the PIR and love your “never give up” attitude to getting on. I’ve got that same drive to get on Survivor and thanks for sending those positive vibes into the world. I’ll look up your PIR episode to watch and cheer you on. Hope you’re great and Happy Holidays!

      • Reply Ernesto Paras Jr December 6, 2016 at 10:13 am

        Thanks so much, Justin! You’re not in Survivor yet but I am already a big fan of yours! I guess Survivor is just saving the BEST for later! Hahahaha. Thanks so much for approving my comment and it means a lot to me and to be part of your website. You’re such a jack of all trades and master of many. 🙂 I also watched some of your hosting and other stuffs. Those things really shocked me. I honestly was looking for your episode on TPIR on youtube but I can’t find it. I learned from your posts that you did COME on DOWN before too. It’s a great achievement of yours too as I know how difficult it can be to be picked (in my case LOL). I was amazed to learn many things about you and congratulations for everything. I also have been the the back of Hollywood Sign last April and your pics really amazed me and made me reflect about that long hike!! It was difficult LOL. I am very proud of you and you’re always in my memories and my heart. Please say my regards to your dad. It was incredible he won $25k in Punch a Bunch! Wow!! Also, I attended the Big Brother edition and Amazing Race edition of Price is Right. So, I made it to all those three. On Big Brother edition, Brian and I were together. He won his game and the showcase and that got me up on stage for the first time. Brian and I were sitting at same row as yours on Survivor special. During Amazing Race, I was sitting at front row behind the Racer Contestants. Take care and have a wonderful day. 🙂 I’ll click LIKE on your world travel fb page. 🙂

  • Reply Jade December 6, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Sign me up for the brewery tour! Looks awesome- how was the beer? 😉

    • Reply Justin Walter December 6, 2016 at 9:55 am

      The brewery tour was awesome, one of my favorite things of my trip! I actually run pub crawls for fun in Santa Monica every Halloween so it was nice to have someone run one for me 🙂 One of my favorite beers was at Prairie Berry and it was Kombucha beer. I made fun of them for it being #soLA, but it was delicious! They also made me try the Red Ass Rhubarb (wine), one of their customer faves. I loved Hydra’s heavy metal vibe and they have a “Game of Thrones” type chair for fun photos. Fernson I recommend the Lions Paw, Howling Wolf at Monks and the Honey Ginger Lemongrass soda at WoodGrain. Can’t go wrong going to the breweries, just made sure to have a designated driver!

  • Reply steve bormes December 8, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Justin, Thanks for the kind words! If you could, please send a photo of you and my Paul Bunyan piece, sometime. It was great meeting you. Good luck on your incredible journey! Peace

    • Reply Justin Walter December 13, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      So great meeting you. Loved your exhibit and getting a tour of your workshop. Thanks for letting me use the saw! Which piece was the Paul Bunyan one?? Is it what I’m thinking it is…

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