Namesake cascades tumble through South Dakota's largest city, a great overnight stop in the state's southeast corner for road-tripping families headed west to Mount Rushmore.
great shots sanford sports complex sioux falls south dakota
Credit: Courtesy of Experience Sioux Falls

Best Places for Sports Fun


More than a driving range, the three-story Great Shots facility at the Sanford Sports Complex lets old pros and newbies test skills with interactive golf games in private bays.


A summer entertainment staple, Thunder Road now has an indoor facility for year-round fun. Options include go-karts, mini golf, and batting cages outdoors, plus bowling, axe throwing, arcade games, laser tag, a theater and a restaurant inside.


At Frontier Climbing and Fitness, choose from 150 routes on walls up to 58 feet high, plus bouldering zones for going up sans ropes and harnesses. Novices can get one-on-one or group training for their first climb, while old hands can try for a record on the speed wall.

Family Hits

A-list stops begin with B: breakfast, butterflies and baseball.


Fill up on fluffy pancakes and local eggs in Phillips Avenue Diner's retro setting.


See more than 800 flutterers, plus fish, jellies and coral, at Butterfly House and Aquarium.

Budget Pick

Spend a summer night watching the Sioux Falls Canaries play minor league baseball at "The Birdcage." Keep an eye out for discount ticket offers.

falls park big sioux river south dakota
Falls Park
| Credit: John Noltner

Photo Op

At Falls Park downtown, the Big Sioux River plunges 100 feet over pink quartzite ledges. Climb a five-story viewing tower for a staggering view.

Bucket List

State Theatre 

See a classic movie at the Beaux Arts-inspired cinema, reopened after a multimillion dollar restoration.

Big Sioux River Recreation Trail  

The bike trail system includes a 19-mile loop, as well as more than 15 miles of spurs linking neighborhoods to the main trail. Walk, jog, bike or Rollerblade your way along the Big Sioux River as it flows through town.

SculptureWalk and Arc of Dreams

Stroll past 50-plus works of outdoor sculptures, including a majestic 85-foot-high arch spanning the Big Sioux River. A 15-foot gap symbolizes a dreamer's leap of faith.

Great Plains Zoo

The 45-acre zoo, on the same site as the Delbridge Museum of Natural History, houses more than 1,000 creatures—from anteaters to zebras.

It's a Date!

The Sioux Empire Fair (August 5–13, 2022) is the state's largest fair, with big-time concerts, pro rodeo, carnival rides, food vendors, hundreds of exhibits and livestock.

Where to Eat

All Day Cafe

Break your fast with a feast: the Caprese Benny on fresh-baked biscuits or the OMG French toast, featuring brûlée batter and thick challah bread.

Falls Overlook Cafe

Grab lunch (lots of kid-friendly fare like hot dogs, pizza, and mac and cheese), then try local Stensland ice cream while visiting Falls Park.

Roam Kitchen + Bar

Amid a wood-and-fire frontier vibe, savor beef brisket, rotisserie chicken, sausage, beer, bourbon and wines.

Harvester Kitchen by Bryan

Chef Bryan Moscatello moved from Washington, D.C., to open themed dining areas that look like rooms in a house.

Jacky's Restaurant

Enjoy tacos, salads, taquitos, burritos and more at this Guatemalan-style place with three locations in town.

palisades state park south dakota
Credit: John Noltner

Day Trip

Retreat to recently expanded Palisades State Park, 23 miles northeast of the city, for hiking trails and amazing views. Split Rock Creek cuts through striking Sioux quartzite formations—from shelves not far above the water to 50-foot vertical cliffs. Overlooks and rushing water draw campers, photographers, picnickers and climbers.

Where to Sleep

A new downtown lodging option, Hotel On Phillips is a former bank now rich with chic decor and river views. The bank's original vault door serves as a fitting entrance to The Treasury lounge.