The Best of Sioux Falls

11 Reasons We Fell in Love with Sioux Falls

Haven’t ever considered a trip to The Mount Rushmore State? Well, a) that’s a travesty, and b) I want you to know there’s far more to South Dakota than Rushmore and Badlands National Park (though obviously you should pay both of these iconic spots a visit, too!).

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

While I’d previously traveled to the western part of the state, I’ll admit I knew relatively nothing about Sioux Falls and eastern South Dakota prior to my arrival. And the outcome? I was pleasantly charmed—make that dazzled—by South Dakota’s largest city.

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

Here’s why:

  1. It went from having one brewery to five in less than two years. I’m sure you’ve learned this about me by now, but I love me some craft beer. And Fernson Brewing Company makes some of the tastiest microbrews I’ve had in ages. For those who don’t have time to venture a few miles north of downtown to the brewery itself, Fernson’s ales are carried all over town, in addition to their new taproom on 8th Avenue.

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

  1. It’s full of interesting entrepreneurs like Wes Eisenhauer starting cool roasteries and other creative endeavors. Remember that little Recession that rendered millions of Americans out of work? Yeah, it didn’t touch Sioux Falls. (Case in point: The unemployment rate hovers around just 2 percent.) That lack of economic hardship has opened a door for myriad ideas and urged entrepreneurship to thrive.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

  1. It’s just an hour from Vermillion, home to the National Music Museum. Whether you’re a musician, a history buff or a mere lover of music, you’ll dig the 15,000 instruments that line the cases of the NMM. If you time it just right, you might even be there for a live performance. Just be sure to take a stroll around the University of South Dakota campus and grab a bite at Café Brule while you’re there.

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

South Dakota Travel: National Music Museum in Vermillion
South Dakota Travel: National Music Museum in Vermillion
South Dakota Travel: National Music Museum in Vermillion
Bonus: The National Music Museum has some of the oldest pianos in the world, not to mention more classic Italian violins than the entire country of Italy!
South Dakota Travel: National Music Museum in Vermillion

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

    1. Have you met Sanaa Abourezk? Not only does the Syrian-born chef whip up some of the healthiest—plus, the most delicious—food in town, but she’s also sassy to boot.
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

Go in between busy hours, chow down on some fatayer, and get the owner of Sanaa’s Gourmet Mediterranean to tell you her riveting life story and how she came to live in Sioux Falls.

  1. It’s small and easy to get around—and has virtually no traffic. How many other mid-sized cities can you say that about? (I’ve yet to find any.) SVV also commented on how wide the roads are, which may seem like an odd observation, but I agree: Sioux Falls is peppered with vast, open spaces despite boasting 175,000 residents. In other words, you get the perks of your urban life while still having room to breathe.

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

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

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

      1. It’s got a winery on the outskirts complete with chickens you can feed and a number of unique blends to sample. If cranberry jalapeño—i.e. Strawbale Winery’s popular Burning Bog—sounds weird to you, I urge you to try it first. It’s so good, I made the ultimate sacrifice of checking a bag to bring a bottle back. And if you’re heading to Sioux Falls this summer, drop in on the winery’s Summer Porch series every Thursday night.

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

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

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota
Seriously, these chickens, though. Check out their mad hang time via my Snaps! Have you ever seen anything like this before?
  1. SVV got to try on an astronaut suit and experience a tornado. The ultimate science geek, my husband loves nothing more than a museum full of hands-on exhibits. And he got just that at Washington Pavilion, a performing arts venue, kids’ discovery center, science and tribal art museum, theater and piece of living history all rolled into one. I regret we didn’t have more time to spend slowly working our way through each level, as we could have amused ourselves all day—then stuck around for a symphony show or viewing of The Force Awakens on the state-of-the-art CineDome come nightfall.
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

    1. The coffee culture is top notch. I thought Nashville had a lot of coffee shops per capita, but I’d bet Sioux Falls easily matches that. Not only were there more cafes than we had time to drink our way through (see: Coffea, Josiah’s, Black Sheep), but we also found a number of awesome bakeries—like Breadico or Queen City Bakery—that were equally deserving of our time. Too few days, too many good places to eat (#FoodLoverProblems)! Only solution? Plan a trip back, obviously.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

      1. Makers’ gonna make. I love shopping when I travel, but I refuse to buy any tourist crap or merchandise manufactured in China (and so much of it often is). If I’m going to clear space in my suitcase, it’s going to be for something local and insanely, over-the-top cool. I found many such things carefully crafted with care by local South Dakota makers during our trip, many of which were displayed in Unglued and sold at a number of boutiques lining the quaint streets of Downtown Sioux Falls.

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
      1. A waterfall runs through it. Seriously. Normally, you have to drive miles to reach an oasis like Falls Park, but in Sioux Falls, the series of cascading water are located an easy walk from the center of town. Additionally, there are 80+ parks in the area, full of lakes, pools, splash pads, water rides, creeks and more.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakotaouth Dakotalls-2

      1. Have I mentioned the people are pretty much the nicest anywhere? Well, they are. And the best part about Sioux Falls, we both agreed, is that the qualities we so loved weren’t as tangible, they weren’t solely the food scene or the bevy of craft brews. It wasn’t the baked goods (OK, that may have been a small part of it) or even the jumping chickens. It was the welcoming vibe, the way mere strangers embraced us like friends, the feeling that we were already part of this secret, but thriving community—all of it weaves together to form one awesome destination, for both visitors and residents alike.

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

Don’t understand what I’m saying? Well then, I guess you’ll just have to travel there and experience it for yourself!

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Western South Dakota

11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls
11 Things to Love About Sioux Falls

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
  • June 2, 2016

    What a lovely town! Is it strange that it reminds me a bit of Fargo (the location in the TV series and movie)? I’m not sure if South Dakota is in the vicinity of where Fargo is (or is depicted) to be located but that’s the vibe I’m getting from your photo 🙂
    Dominique recently posted..Zuid-Kennemerland NP – 30 van Zandvoort 18kmMy Profile

    • June 3, 2016
      Walter

      Fargo is a lot further north. Everyone that went to college there turned into an alcoholic because there was nothing to do.

      • June 4, 2016

        Ha, I’ve never been to Fargo but now you just painted a pretty vivid picture of it!

    • June 3, 2016
      Carol Sommer

      fyi – Fargo is a 4 hour drive north of Sioux Falls, and has about half the population.

    • June 4, 2016

      I’ve actually never been to Fargo, crazy as that is! But I know what you mean about small town (or small city) America—it all has a similar kind of charm.

      • June 4, 2016

        Ha, Fargo sounds… interesting! Would the town in Twin Peaks have been a better example? 😉 All joking aside, Sioux Falls looks like a really cute town!
        Dominique recently posted..Geldermalsen – Bloesemroute 15kmMy Profile

  • June 2, 2016

    there’s so much more of the country i need to explore. south dakota, being one of many states i’ve yet to. 🙂 i did do a state report on it back in elementary school though, so i’ve gotta go!
    suki recently posted..Monteillet Fromagerie – Love & Cheese in Southeastern WashingtonMy Profile

    • June 4, 2016

      OMG, I still remember so many states’ characteristics based on those very state reports in geography class! I actually think my freshman year geo in high school was responsible for my wanderlust in the first place. And I still know all the world capitals as a result, too!

  • June 3, 2016
    Susan O

    THANKS FOR THE KUDOS! I have lived in or traveled to many parts of the world and I LOVE MY HOMETOWN SIOUX FALLS! It is really a great place to live and increasingly we are seeing more and more millennials and entrepreneurs moving here because of our culture and opportunities for success.

    • June 4, 2016

      I’m so glad to do your town justice, Susan! Is there anything you’d recommend we do on our next visit that we didn’t get to on this one (other than enjoy the outdoors since it was raining the whole time)?

      • June 4, 2016
        Susan O

        Reason #12…CH Pattiserie – voted second best French bakery in the US by the New York Times…world champion pastry Chef Chris Hanmer

        Reason #13…Sculpture Walk downtown area

        Reason #14…bicycle trails and parks

        Reason #15…winter sports @ Great Bear

  • June 3, 2016

    Thanks for your fine writing on my hometown – a place I’ve lived for most of my 60+years. You’ve caught our spirit well, yet to be honest, there are a few crabs about and our streets drive us nuts with potholes and construction. Negatives are easily overshadowed however, by the civic-minded folks who work together to make our city even better and better. I’m proud of where we have been and where we are going, and thrilled that you captured us so well. Come visit! Oh, and we are WAAAY south of Fargo. Remember, this is SOUTH Dakota. 🙂
    Brad Heegel recently posted..Oliver on New Science Complex: ‘This Project is a Result of All Those Dreams’My Profile

    • June 4, 2016

      Brad, thank you for your kind words! I love parachuting into a town I know nothing about and immediately feeling like I’ve always been a part of it because the community is so welcoming and eager to share their enthusiasm. And as someone from a very creatively-driven, entrepreneurial city (Nashville), Sioux Falls felt a bit like home, but on a smaller, much more manageable scale (our traffic here is just UGH).

  • June 3, 2016

    I’ve lived in Sioux falls since 1989, after growing up in the Washington, D.C. area and living in the Dallas, TX area during and after college for 12 years. I’ve also done a fair amount of domestic and international travel. Sioux Falls is my favorite place, and it’s getting even better all the time. There are many great places in the world to live, work, and visit. I’m glad I live here; that’s not a criticism of anywhere else.

    • June 4, 2016

      Michael, I can see why! I’m a wuss when it comes to the cold—we get maybe an inch one time a year here in Tennessee and the state shuts down—but if it weren’t for the harsh winters, I could totally see myself living in Sioux Falls, too. Anything I missed that I should check out on my next visit (because I’m already planning one!)?

  • June 3, 2016
    Martin Wanserski

    This is a great presentation of what to like about Sioux Falls. I really enjoyed the chosen photos of the falls. They are not the standard, but they are the falls as I know them.

    • June 4, 2016

      Thank you, Martin! I can’t wait to come back and see it in the sun.

  • June 3, 2016

    We moved to Spring Hill (suburb of Nashville) two years ago from Sioux Falls. We miss a LOT of things about Sioux Falls. I think we left as it was taking off…but we love it here too. Glad you saw it for what it is and what it’s becoming.
    Andy Traub recently posted..How To Make Sure You Buy The Right On-Line Course Every TimeMy Profile

    • June 3, 2016

      I grew up near Spring Hill in Tullahoma and did a tech incubator program there at the old Saturn plant, so indeed quite familiar with your (new) area. I’m sure that was a big change from SF, though likely a wee bit warmer 😉

      What’s your favorite thing about living in Middle Tennessee?

      • June 3, 2016

        We live 3 minutes from the plant off Saturn parkway. Small world.

        If you forced me to pick my one favorite thing about middle Tennessee I’d say the landscape. Here are some more.
        1. It doesn’t get below zero for months at a time (South Dakota)
        2. Kids say ma’am and sir…all of them.
        3. Chick-Fil-A
        4. Being a creative is normal
        5. An entrepreneurial spirit
        6. Our church is the kind of place I can bring other jacked up people like me.
        7. We love our marriage counselor
        8. I don’t own 4 different kinds of shovels, all with distinct purposes.

        I do miss Sioux Falls but the weather was a huge factor in wanting to move. We really can’t be outside for around 3 months a year. I get back often and love it when I do but we could live anywhere and we chose here.

        Beautiful story-telling. Hope we can connect in Nashville someday. Would love to meet your husband. A couple that has a wicked great marriage podcast is coming to town. We should all connect when they do. Marriage Is Funny is the name of their show. Familiar?
        Andy Traub recently posted..How To Make Sure You Buy The Right On-Line Course Every TimeMy Profile

        • June 10, 2016

          I love your short list! We love all the food in Nashville, all the music (obviously), all the state parks and the fact that we have a lawn large enough for my husband to be occupied with landscaping/gardening seven days a week 😉

          (Then again, I grew up here so marginally biased!)

  • June 3, 2016
    James

    Great list; but for the second brewery one your last picture is actually from my neighbors brewery downtown WoodGrain Brewing Co; just saying if you’re only going to pump up 1 brewery in that paragraph yet use a pic of another brewery without even a mention 🙂

  • June 4, 2016
    Judy Monson

    I grew up in Sioux Falls and moved away in 1972 when the population was about 60,000 people. I only get back there every five years for my class reunion (from Washington High now Washington Pavilion), I am so impressed with the beautiful improvements to the city and Falls Park. I’m proud to say I am from Sioux Falls.

    I now live in Spokane, Washington because of the mild winters, low humidity and no mosquitoes. You might like to visit our city too.

    • June 4, 2016

      That’s insane that more than 100K people have moved there since you left! I’ve actually only driven through Spokane on a huge camping trip of the West but had a handful of friends who went to Gonzaga and think I would indeed love exploring it. I mean, who isn’t obsessed with the PNW??

  • June 5, 2016

    I’m from SiouxFalls, left there over 50 years ago and always love going back

    • June 10, 2016

      Where did you move to, James? I was surprised to find how easy it was to reach SF from Nashville. I’d never been before just because it sounded like a headache to get there but flights were pretty quick and reasonably priced.

  • June 8, 2016
    Jill Degen

    Loved reading your adventures while here! It’s a fast growing city, I’ve heard around 6,000 a year so lots of new things coming all the time. I too love to check out new places and have always said I would love to be a paid tourist or write for a travel magazine! Maybe you’ve found a way to do just that! ? Jacky’s restaurant just east of Monks on 8th has the best authentic Mexican. I would also suggest breakfast at Josiah’s. Thank you for your write up highlighting some local favorites! We really do have much to be proud of.

    • June 10, 2016

      We actually did wind up at Jacky’s on the last night, Jill! And we had breakfast two days in a row at Josiah’s. Sounds like you and I have similar tastes in food =)

      • June 13, 2016
        Jill Degen

        So glad you were able to check them both out! Definitely no shortage of places to enjoy a drink or a meal. You’ll have to check some different places off on your next visit. Safe travels!

  • June 9, 2016
    Joe lunt

    Lived there for 20 years moved for career but come back to visit yearly for family and friends proud to have called it home

    • June 10, 2016

      Was it a dramatically different place 20 years ago? I imagine so. It seems like the entrepreneur/small business scene is really just ramping up now.

      • June 10, 2016
        Joe lunt

        Sioux Falls had a great club scene with a large and successful middle class there was no poor part of town

  • June 17, 2016

    You had me at roasteries…. *sigh*

  • June 20, 2016
    Michael

    We also have a fantastic waterski show. Stop by Catfish Bay on Friday nights at 7pm Memorial Day through Labor Day.

  • July 23, 2016
    John K.

    I loved your write up on Sioux Falls. I am currently interviewing for a job there and your prose made it sound like a wonderful place to relocate. You’ve got a great blog. Loved the photos.

    • July 23, 2016

      Thank you, John! I hope you get the job and that you love it as much as I do =)

  • January 15, 2017

    Thanks for the great post! We’re moving to Sioux Falls this summer, and this list made me really excited to check it out!

  • March 6, 2017
    Lara

    I’m planning a midwest roadtrip and was borederline on if Sioux Falls was worth a trip and this totally swayed me – I want to go to there. Thank you!!

    • March 6, 2017

      I’m so glad to hear it, Lara! Such a delicious place full of culture. There’s a lot of live music there that we didn’t have a chance to explore either!

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