May 02 2011

11 Things: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls is one of our family’s favorite weekend getaway spots.  Not much more of a drive than the Twin Cities, there’s a lot packed into a small space.  There are plenty of restaurants, a better-than-decent mall for running a few errands, and lots of family-friendly things to do.  We have yet to visit Sioux Falls in the summer, when there are even more things open, so my list is based on winter and spring activities.

  1. Kirby Science Discovery Center.  Located in Washington Pavilion, a repurposed school building, this is one of our family’s top 5 hands-on museums, and we’ve been to a lot.  Each family member has a favorite at this museum: the rock-climbing wall, the earthquake simulator, the water area, the Mars rover.  This was our fourth visit to the museum, and the kids to go back for a second day before we left for home.  There’s something for all ages here.
  2. Sertoma Butterfly House.  Where better to escape from a cold winter day than a butterfly garden?  If the sun is shining, the butterflies are especially active.  Maybe you’ll get lucky and see one come out of its chrysalis.
  3. Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum.  Our January walk through the zoo was brisk, but seeing the stuffed animals in the museum indoors was a good alternative method of learning about habitats.
  4. Falls of the Big Sioux River.  The green grass and roaring falls belied the near-freezing temperatures, so we pulled our hoods up to wander around Falls Park.  The waterfalls that give the city their name are beautiful and plentiful, and seeing the Queen Bee Mill Ruins and mill race give an interesting perspective to the history of the area.
  5. Falls Park Viewing Tower.  After seeing the waterfalls up close, we climbed the tower to see a panoramic view of the area.  The women manning the visitor center were friendly and welcoming.
  6. Sculptures and Fountains.  Downtown and in Falls Park, as well as other parts of the city, sculptures are featured.  Sculpture tour information can be found in Sioux Falls visitor information.  There are also a number of waterfall-like fountains throughout town.  Our kids loved being the first to spot a new fountain.
  7. Vintage signs.  Driving down 12th Street especially, but in other areas of town as well, time seems forgotten as signs from days gone by are still advertising businesses that are local fixtures.  It’s refreshing to see signs like this that haven’t been updated every few years.  We played a game of “spot the old signs” while driving around Sioux Falls.
  8. Splashtacular Waterpark.  The Ramkota Hotel has a waterpark that’s just right for families with young children.
  9. Visual Arts Center at Washington Pavilion.  On your way out of the science museum, head to the other end of the building to see the Visual Arts Center.  Check out the artwork, and then let the kids have some time in the children’s workshop area.
  10. USS South Dakota Memorial.  No, it’s not an entire battleship, but there’s enough of an outline and a few pieces from the ship that you can get a good idea of the scope of this historical ship.
  11. Downtown.  Stop for a cup of coffee at Michelle’s, where there are games and children’s books available to keep them busy while you relax.  Chedd’s, a gourmet grilled-cheese shop, looked mighty tasty.  There are enough unique shops downtown that I told my husband that my next trip to Sioux Falls will be a girlfriends shopping trip.

There’s more to see and do in Sioux Falls. On our to-see list next time we’re in the area are the Outdoor Campus and the Museum of Visual Materials, and maybe a stop at the EROS center just outside of town.  In the summertime, even more activities and attractions are open.  For a great Midwest getaway, I highly recommend Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The “11 Things” series is designed to give tips for traveling families to destinations well-known or off the beaten path.  Learn how to share 11 Things about your favorite destination, or read other 11 Things posts.

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2 Comments to “11 Things: Sioux Falls, South Dakota”

  1. [...] our family’s favorite science museums, the Kirby Science Discovery Center, plus a lot more.  11 Things: Sioux Falls will show you the highlights.  A drive down the Mississippi River to Dubuque, Iowa, is an [...]

  2. [...] a copy of their new “Road Trip” CD to try, I was game.  We tested it out on the way to Sioux Falls, and at first I wasn’t sure the kids really liked it.  My husband and I were fine with it, [...]

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