Everything to Know About South Dakota's Stunning Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls, South Dakota is the scenic city you've been missing in your travel plans.

Sioux Falls
Photo: Getty Images

For years, Sioux Falls, South Dakota has been drawing travelers who want to see the famous waterfalls of Big Sioux River in person. Falls Park near downtown Sioux Falls is a popular place to watch the cascading channels flow over pinkish Sioux quartzite, and in the surrounding Big Sioux River Recreation Trail and Greenway, visitors and tourists alike can take advantage of more than 20 miles of paved trails that wind through parks and urban and wildlife areas.

Just 15-minutes from the airport, people are fishing for jumping carp, traversing countless outdoor trails, and scoping out the "Fortress of the Bears" exhibition at Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History.

To show you what this special Midwestern city has to offer we've compiled a list of everything you need to know about Sioux Falls — South Dakota's second-largest city.

How to get to Sioux Falls

The city's closest airport is the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, also called Joe Foss Field, which is located about five miles from downtown Sioux Falls.

Five airlines currently operate from the airport — Delta, Frontier, United, American Airlines, and Allegiant — with possible connections to over 200 U.S. cities and some international locations. Direct flights are offered to and from nine domestic cities: Tampa/St. Petersburg, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, Minneapolis, Dallas, Orlando, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.

Weather in Sioux Falls

With a humid, continental climate, Sioux Falls experiences true seasons, so the weather changes based on the time of year. In the winter months, the city has an average temperature of 7 degrees. The city's warmest month is usually July, with an average high of 84 degrees and an average low of 62 degrees.

Summer can be quite humid in Sioux Falls, whereas winters tend to be cold and dry.

Hotels in Sioux Falls

Hotels in Sioux Falls are affordable for most, with prices on Trip Advisor ranging from $43 at the Ramada by Wyndham to $149 per night at Courtyard by Marriott. For a more personalized, intimate experience, you can find unique lodging at The Historic Victorian Inn or opt for a quaint bed-and-breakfast like The Jasper Stone, both of which can also be booked through Airbnb.

Watching the Big Sioux River pass in Falls Park

Falls Park is the city's main natural attraction. Here, you'll see the famed waterfalls flowing over pinkish-red stones as Big Sioux River passes through the park.

A short walk from downtown, Falls Park is a 123-acre expanse where visitors can relish the gorgeous scenery provided by the city's namesake and take a walk or bike ride on a 29-mile path that starts in the park and makes a loop around the entire city.

Flowers and architecture in Terrace Park

While Falls Park may be the most famous park in Sioux Falls, the city boasts more than 80 parks, many of which are connected through a system of trails known as the Greenway.

Aside from its beautiful natural scenery, Terrace Park is known for the flowers and architecture of its Japanese Gardens, a popular wedding venue, and the Family Aquatic Center, which draws thousands of people each year who come to enjoy water slides and special play features.

Public lands and history in Sherman Park

Encompassing 205 acres, Sherman Park is one of Sioux Fall's most well-known public lands. Here you'll find softball diamonds, bike paths, and picnic areas, but Sherman Park is also home to the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History, the U.S.S. South Dakota Battleship Memorial, the Softball Hall of Fame, and the Indian Burial Mounds.

Exploring the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History

Located near the northeastern corner of Sherman Park, the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History sit on 45 acres. The site is an amazing family destination that includes kid-friendly activities like a hands-on farm exhibit.

Great Plains Zoo has over 1,000 animals,137 different species, and exhibits that will take you from Asia to Africa to North America, with plenty of stops in-between. One of the zoo's most popular attractions is the "Fortress of the Bears" exhibit, which opened in June 2018 and houses four playful brown bear cubs. The zoo is also a key player in the survival plans for 43 endangered species so visitors can see rare animals like the snow leopard, giant anteater, red panda, Humboldt penguin, and more.

In the northeast corner of Great Plains Zoo, travelers will find the Delbridge Museum of Natural History, a unique destination where visitors can scope out approximately 150 mounted animals from six continents. The animals were all hunted legally at the time and give guests close-up views of many now-endangered animals — 38 are even considered "vanishing species." Here, kids and adults alike can learn about animals they probably wouldn't come into contact with any other way.

Visiting downtown Sioux Falls

Downtown Sioux Falls is a buzzing area that provides easy park access and a view into local life and culture. An easy and super affordable way to get a comprehensive sense of downtown is via the Downtown Trolly. The hop-on, hop-off tour makes a 30 minute loop that starts at Falls Park and costs $2 for adults (kids ride free).

In the downtown area you can find a slew of events — including farmers markets, live music, and guided wine, beer, and art walks. Paramount Studio Cocktails & Food is a popular place to catch live music on Friday and Saturday nights and is more casual than its neighboring sister restaurant, Minervas.

Accessible hiking and biking trails

Sioux Falls and the surrounding area is an outdoor adventurer's haven, with tons of resources to find the perfect trail for you — whether it's for biking, hiking, or another mode of traversing the pathways surrounding the falls. Beyond the diverse activities you can participate in, the trails deliver a variety of terrain and sights.

A short 10-minute drive from downtown Sioux Falls is Great Bear Recreation Park, a popular destination for snowboarding and skiing in the winter and hiking in the warmer seasons. Another 10-minute drive from downtown Sioux Falls will bring you to the trails at The Outdoor Campus, two miles of paths that showcase some of the bountiful nature that exists within city limits.

Of course, a great innercity option is the Big Sioux River Recreation Trail and Greenway, which is located right in downtown Sioux Falls. The paved trail circles the city and guides travelers through several city parks. The trail conditions are great for everyone from walkers and runners to bikers and rollerbladers.

For more advanced hiking, both Palisades State Park and Newton Hills State Park — 25- and 45-minutes from downtown, respectively — offer six miles of trails with rewarding natural perks. At Palisades State Park, rock climbers are able to scale South Dakota's famous quartzite rock formations, while hikers can traverse through woods and along rivers and rock ledges. In Newton Hills State Park, visitors are often greeted along their journeys by white-tailed deer, red and grey foxes, birds, and wild turkeys. You can take a break for a snack, or even a quick swimming or fishing expedition here, too.

Turning into local public radio

Public radio is definitely making a comeback these days, and if you want to get a dose of the local broadcasting in Sioux Falls, check out the SDPB Radio Channel, KCSD-FM 90.9. NPR's "In the Moment" podcast is a popular daily program that covers local news and culture.

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