Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

South Dakota: Great Faces, Great Places

My first time in South Dakota, my husband and I were greeted crossing the southwestern border with the famous “Great Faces, Great Places” slogan. “Cute!” I thought, realizing that what many people, myself included, knew about the Great Plains state boiled down to those four famed faces etched into granite. “What an inventive way to capitalize on such an iconic monument.”

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

On our return last month, though, I learned that there’s far more to South Dakota and its motto than a couple of rocks bearing the identities of former presidents. If ever a place personified its state tagline, it’s Sioux Falls (or the whole of South Dakota, really).

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Our first time, we stayed near Custer State Park in Hot Springs and Rapid City on our inaugural South Dakota vacation back in 2011. It was a particularly wet that year—not only across the entire region, but the country at large. Badlands National Park wasn’t open, so we stuck close to our campground, spent our days photographing bison and prairie dogs, stole away to motorcycle mecca Sturgis to take photos with its prominent sign.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Our most recent visit last month may not have been any less damp, but a token of a great trip is that the weather doesn’t even matter one bit. We were greeted by the locals of Sioux Falls with such warmth and enthusiasm, at times I had to double-check I wasn’t actually back in my native Southern habitat. In fact, Nashville could learn a thing or two about hospitality from the fine folks of Sioux Falls: We were summoned for coffee by entrepreneur/musician/photographer Wes Eisenhauer over Twitter, asked by chef/nutritionist Sanaa Abourezk to partake in the weekly dinner feast at her eponymous restaurant and invited to join a pair of local children’s pastors for a Guatemalan-style dinner at Jacky’s when the line was particularly long one brisk Friday night.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Every time we’d pop into a coffee shop—and in Sioux Falls, there are many—the barista would inquire where we’re from, some even going as far as to scribble down their favorite insider-y recommendations on a Post-It for us to take with us (thanks, Kylie!). Everywhere we went, complete strangers became friends; we couldn’t have felt anymore welcome had we both grown up in the area.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

We’d been in California visiting family, so we arrived in Sioux Falls from San Francisco. The first thing that struck us as awesome was the convenience of the airport; not only was it one of the easiest terminals to get in and out of—and the rental car process a breeze, taking all of three minutes—but we’d only been driving two miles when all of a sudden, BAM, we were in the heart of Sioux Falls.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Our hotel, the new Hilton Garden Inn Sioux Falls Downtown, was situated right over the river, in the trendy 8th Street corridor, and we pretty much hit up every restaurant along that stretch of real estate in the next four days: craft brews and wine tastings at Prairie Berry East Bank, lattes and homemade pop-tarts at Josiah’s Coffeehouse (twice), even more beer and mashed potato pizza(!) at Monk’s House of Ale Repute.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Then, there was lunch at Sanaa’s Gourmet Mediterranean, which was a true treat—particularly as the sassy namesake herself came and joined us for a spell (sadly, we weren’t able to accept her dinner invitation as we were on our way back to Tennessee).

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Each morning, I was torn between returning to Josiah’s or grabbing breakfast on the go from Breadico or Queen City Bakery—they’re both local favorites and just a couple blocks apart—so we bit the bullet and tried each spot (for the sake of “work,” y’all).

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Dinner at Parker’s Bistro absolutely blew our minds—and our palates. We were not shy when we ordered the pierogies, the fish of the day and the bison meatloaf, which was one of the best dishes I’ve had in years. We also sipped our way through the cocktail menu, because with drinks as lovely as this, how could we not?

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Parker’s is perhaps the most upscale dining experience in Sioux Falls, and not only did SVV and I arrive early enough—moments before they opened for the night—to nab the coveted table-for-two in the front window, but we also got to sit down with owner Stacy Newcomb-Weiland, who is one of the city’s great trailblazers, heading up the renovation of the old State Theatre and serving on the historical preservation society board for several years. She told us about Sioux Falls’ evolution, how she took a dilapidated building that was formerly a monument company (i.e. headstones) and turned it into the hottest restaurant in town, and what she and other small business owners hope to see from the city’s growth in coming years.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

I’m just going to put it out there and say that if I lived in South Dakota, I’d force Stacy to be my happy hour buddy, whether she liked it or not. I’m constantly inspired by the entrepreneurs I meet on the road who invest every ounce of their energy (and dollar in their bank account) to bettering a community.

But I digress. Back to all the things we ate and drank.

The beer lover in me tried the local craft brews everywhere we went: Hydra, WoodGrain and Fernson Brewing Company, the biggest of them all which now boasts a sprawling brewery and a downtown taproom. Don’t like beer? First, you’re crazy, and, second, don’t fret: the area? has wine, too.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

My pesky sweet tooth had a really hard time not separating from my body and running off to CH Patisserie for dessert every chance it got. Not only is pastry chef Chris Hanmer as nice as they come, but have you ever seen a prettier petit gateau in your life?

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

It was, in fact, every bit as delicious as it looks, too (if not more). Despite loving the macarons, the carrot cake may have very well been my favorite dessert of all.
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Yes, if ever I encountered an unexpected foodie destination, Sioux Falls was it.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

But beyond eating and drinking, there’s plenty to do for those who don’t plan their trips around 5,000 calories a day. The 56 sculptures comprising SculptureWalk—from a bighorn ram to an interactive xylophone—are worth a gander, and at one of the city’s most beloved treasures, Washington Pavilion, you can learn about tribal art, see a flick on the awe-inspiring cinedome or embrace your inner science geek in the kids’ discovery center.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

There’s also one heck of an entertainment complex—70,000 square feet to be exact—that arrived on the scene last Thanksgiving: Badlands Pawn. You can’t enter Sioux Falls without seeing one of its billboards beckoning you down the road to this pawn shop/speedway/radio station/casino/deli/foundry/tattoo shop/gun range/concert venue. And what kind of travelers would we be if we didn’t check out such an over-the-top concept like that?

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

We took a stroll around Badlands Pawn during the day, but our visit coincided with the weekly Thursday night concert, which just happened to be Night Ranger, so we returned once the sun went down to find Badlands Pawn transformed into a completely different world. (I’m pretty sure we were the only ones not in black leather—take note and plan your wardrobe accordingly if hitting up one of the summer concert series like Panic! At the Disco or Tom Keifer—though we brushed up on the lyrics to “Sister Christian” in advance just to be safe.)

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

So, food, drink, music, entrepreneurship—it seems Sioux Falls does indeed have a little something for everyone.

And, of course, you’re wondering where the name comes from, right? I present to you:

The 123-acre Falls Park, home of the Falls of the Big Sioux River, is smack in the center of the city. You don’t even have to leave downtown’s confines. Does it get any better than that?

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

I traveled to South Dakota for the #MyGreatPlace campaign on behalf of Travel Mindset. For more tips on what to eat, drink, see and do in Sioux Falls and Vermillion, read my Road Trip Journal here.

COMMENTS
  • May 31, 2016

    How much fun! On a sidenote: I love your hair!
    Andi recently posted..Review: Nootropics By truBrainMy Profile

  • May 31, 2016

    This looks like such a wonderful trip!! Yay, SD!

    xox
    Feisty Harriet recently posted..If we went to lunch…My Profile

  • May 31, 2016

    The buildings in Sioux Falls are a prime example of how I pictured a small American town to look. You might be able to deduce that I’ve never been to a small American town before, which is true. Regardless, Sioux Falls is now on my must-visit list so that I can prove my point about American towns (and so that I can eat all that lovely food 🙂 )
    Dominique recently posted..Zuid-Kennemerland NP – 30 van Zandvoort 18kmMy Profile

  • May 31, 2016

    I love the format/layout of this post. It’s a lot of (good) information to digest in one go, but the beautiful, big photos are so complementary to your humour and personal anecdotes it makes it easy to read. Anyhoo, I love the redesign!
    Lauren Bishop recently posted..A Journey on a Slow Boat: Mekong River, LaosMy Profile

  • May 31, 2016

    Thanks for stopping by! We’re glad you had a great time in Sioux Falls. See us again soon!
    Hanuman Chalisa recently posted..Hanuman Chalisa Lyrics in EnglishMy Profile

  • June 1, 2016

    Some interesting locations to visit. And the food looks amazing. I’d need quite some time just to visit Sioux Falls, so a trip to America should be somewhere around a year if I want to properly visit everything 🙂
    Linda March recently posted..Hairstyles for the Homecoming DanceMy Profile

  • June 1, 2016
    Brooke

    You should really go back to South Dakota a third time and go to Deadwood! Great little town. Lots to do besides gambling! My favorite is to go dancing at Saloon No. 10! 🙂

  • June 1, 2016
    Brandy

    What a great trip! Your pictures are awesome and everything you ate looks amazing. Sioux Falls looks absolutely adorable – I would love to visit. I really need to make it out to that part of the country at some point.

  • June 12, 2016

    Parabéns pela excelente iniciativa de nos mostrar lugares tão incríveis como a Dakota do Sul

  • June 29, 2016

    Wow…

    Its just amazing…I think I should go at least once in our lifetime.

  • July 19, 2016

    Your food pics are stunning. Salivating over those cakes!
    Lauren Monitz recently posted..The Seven Stages of Pokemon Go PlayMy Profile

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