Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is about 3 hours from Omaha. This makes it the perfect road trip for a family get-away! With only two-and-a-half hours in the car (give or take a little depending on what part of Omaha you are from), you won’t go bonkers listening to kid tunes or break the bank on snacks.
(It’s one of the reasons we moved to Omaha.)
I grew up in Sioux Falls, but it wasn’t until I had kids that I saw the charm of the city. Sioux Falls’s culture and history may surprise you for such an out-of-the-way place. Plus, there are lots of things to do. Even before we lived nearby, we visited at least once a year.
8 Things to do in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
1. Explore Falls Park
Sioux Falls was named for the Sioux River and the geological rock feature that forms a “fall.” It is also the “pinkest city” because of the pink-colored rocks that are found in the area. You can spot them at Falls Park and in buildings all over town. If you visit during the summer, I recommend exploring Falls Park on a Saturday. The Falls Park Farmers Market is open every Saturday from May to October. After perusing the market, my kids and I love to watch the falls, climb the rocks, and then get ice cream at Falls Cafe.
2. Make a Splash
Several of my friends have stayed at Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel specifically for their indoor waterpark. We’ve never been, but we love the Pioneer Spray Park and the McKennan Park wading pool. Before my kids knew how to swim well, these places were our go-to watering spots. Now that my kids are older, we’ll probably head to Wild Water West, which was a childhood favorite of mine growing up.
3. Find Balance on a Nature Playset
Natural elements + play area for kids = I’m in love. The playspace behind the Outdoor Campus is my favorite play area in Sioux Falls! The large trunks are perfect for climbing and balancing. There are also nature trails nearby, more playground sets in Sertoma Park, or you can head to the Butterfly House and Aquarium to have a butterfly land on your head. When we visit Sioux Falls in the winter, the Butterfly House is my favorite place to warm up in, as they keep the climate humid and hot for the butterflies (and all the butterflies’ visitors).
The Museum of Visual Materials is a venue for private events; however, throughout the years, they’ve had different opportunities for kids to play and create. My kids have spent many mornings soaking in the sunshine and experimenting with different art supplies (which is fun for me, too!) Currently, they offer art classes. Check out their schedule here.
5. Walk Downtown
Sioux Falls doesn’t have skyscrapers, but it does have the downtown sculpture walk, with annual art displays. Each summer, we like to stroll Phillips Avenue and see all the new art pieces. There are even ballots where you can cast your vote for your favorites. If we’re downtown, we’ll head to Phillips Avenue Diner to grab a burger and a shake for lunch. When you step inside this vintage diner, it feels like you’ve been transported to the 1950s. Farther down Phillips Avenue, my kids beg to take a peek inside Child’s Play Toys. A unique toy or book usually finds its way home with us.
When it comes down to it, isn’t eating out one of the best parts of a road trip? There are a couple of places we crave whenever we are in Sioux Falls. The first is Azteca Family Mexican Restaurant with its colorful murals and friendly staff. My kids love speaking Spanish with the bilingual staff, and the food is delicious. Our second favorite place is pizza from Papa Woody’s Woodfire Pizza in the Jones Seed Company building. Try the Greek pizza with the balsamic vinaigrette! (Soo yummy!) This is also a fun place to shop with cute boutiques and a coffee shop. Speaking of coffee shops, I can’t forget to mention Josiah’s, which makes a fabulous brunch, and my kids love their homemade fruit pastries.
Shopping isn’t really my thing, but we always find our way to the Sioux Falls Stride Rite store. I know, I know. I can probably find the same shoes for my kids in Omaha, but I really like the customer service at this particular store. They are so helpful in finding the right fit and shoe for my kiddos. The store also carries shoes for women up to size 12 and for men up to size 12-13. With one stop, you can find the right shoe for everyone in the family!
8. See How Other’s Lived
This may be my own nostalgia, but I love visiting the Pettigrew House and Museum. It brings me back to elementary field trips where my class loaded into a 15 passenger van, and we carried our lunches in paper bags. The Pettigrew House was the first place I heard the Lakota language spoken. It’s where I learned how an icebox was used and fell in love with antique books. With so many memories, I love to have my kids experience it too.
Bonus Tip: If you’re visiting during the summer, be sure to check out B&G Milkyway. It’s a Sioux Falls classic!
Maybe I’m a little biased as I explore Sioux Falls. It is my hometown, after all. But if you’re looking for a fun family getaway, why not try Sioux Falls?