Majestic is the first word out of everyone’s mouth when they arrive in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This large city might not be in the middle of nowhere, but it is surrounded by a massive countryside that is just waiting for you to explore it. There are so many things to do in and near Sioux Falls. During your visit, you will find a plethora of family friendly things to do in Sioux Falls. While they are all going to be fun things to do in Sioux Falls, not all of them are going to be free. However, you should be able to add enough free things to do in Sioux Fall, SD to your list, so you can easily stick with your travel budget during your vacation.
Where is Sioux Falls, South Dakota?
Sioux Falls is a city that is the county seat of Minnehaha County. The city is in the southeastern section of the state, basically as far away from Mt. Rushmore as you can get during a visit to South Dakota. However, the location of this city makes it perfect for visiting neighboring states like Minnesota and Iowa.
Best Time to Visit Sioux Falls, South Dakota
The end of June through the beginning of September is considered the busy tourist season in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. However, the rest of the year can be quite cold and snow covered in this city, so those are the months you have available to you unless you plan on doing a lot of snow and cold related activities. It is also important to note that it gets dark really early in Sioux Falls from November through April, so unless you are a fan of short days, you should avoid those months.
Weather in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
The summer months are quite nice in Sioux Falls with the temperatures warming up and the sun shining most of the day. The winter months can be rough, as the temperatures dip down below freezing, and snow begins well before it should most years.
20 Free (or Nearly Free!) Things to Do in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
1. Visit the Falls of the Big Sioux River in Falls Park
These falls are within a massive park called Falls Park that is comprised of 123 acres. There are many things to do throughout this park, so you can easily spend an entire day there. Your first stop will be the Falls, which happen to be the most popular of all the Sioux Falls attractions. The water rushes over the falls at 7,400 gallons per second and it all drops down 100 feet. From there, you can stop at the Queen Bee Mill, Seney Island, or the horse barn. However, one of the best things to do in this area of Sioux Falls, SD is climbing up the five stories of the observation tower for the stunning views.
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2.Visit Good Earth State Park
Good Earth State Park is not in Sioux Falls, SD. But it is close enough that it is considered one of the best things to do near Sioux Falls. As you are heading out for Sioux Falls sightseeing, you must make sure this park is on your list. There is an extensive network of trails, so you can spend hours wandering around. The hike to the river may seem a little tedious, but it is worth it for the views you will have when you get down there.
3. Relax at Veterans’ Memorial Park
Veterans’ Memorial Park is one large open space that is dedicated to all veterans. There are walking trails and formal gardens for you to spend time near. This is even a perfect spot to relax and reflect on your time in Sioux Falls, SD so far.
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4.Walk Along the Big Sioux River and Recreation Greenway
The greenway is a long walking and biking path that is almost twenty-six miles in length. This is one of the best ways to see everything this city is known for. While the length makes this not a kid friendly thing to do in Sioux Falls, you can easily do part of it with your kids. Of course, you can add this to your list of romantic things to do in Sioux Falls if you have someone to watch the kids for you!
5. See the Beauty in the SculptureWalk
The SculptureWalk includes an area of Sioux Falls where different sculptures are placed for an entire year before being swapped out for new works of art. It is easy to grab a brochure of these sculptures in any of the shops in the downtown area. This will allow you to learn more about each piece as you wander around from sculpture to sculpture.
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6. Walk Along Main Street
Main Street is another historical destination in Sioux Falls. There are many different stores, restaurants, and even a theater to see during you stroll. This might not be considered exciting Sioux Falls entertainment, but it will give you something to do for an hour or so one day.
7. Attend a Free Concert
Over at Levitt at the Falls, you can listen to free concerts during the summer months. These concerts are the best free things to do in Sioux Falls and are often considered the best of all the Sioux Falls events. There are usually fifty free concerts each summer, so you are almost guaranteed the chance to see one during your visit.
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8. Make Some Art at the Museum of Visual Materials
A visit to the Museum of Visual Materials won’t be free, but the price is reasonable for a visit. The small fee for a painting class for your child will be worth the cost when they leave with their very first masterpiece. If you don’t want to pay anything, you can at least wander around to see the art on display without paying a dime.
9. Play a Little Disc Golf at Tuthill Park
Disc golf is growing in popularity and you can test your skills over at Tuthill Park. There are eighteen holes at this park, and it is easy to learn how to play.
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10. Stop at St. Joseph Cathedral
As you are doing a little Sioux Falls sightseeing, you may find yourself in front of St. Joseph Cathedral. You must venture inside to see the intricate carvings, pipe organ, sculptures, and stained-glass windows.
11. See the USS South Dakota World War II Battleship
The USS South Dakota World War II Battleship is an important part of history and you can see that history for yourself inside this memorial museum. Inside, you will get to see letters from soldiers, as well as many different artifacts from the now scrapped ship.
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12. Visit the Sioux Empire Medical Museum
One of the lesser known Sioux Falls activities includes visiting the Sioux Empire Medical Museum. This isn’t one of the best things to do with kids in Sioux Falls unless they are older or are interested in medicine. This museum can be found on the Sanford Health main campus. The displays include a 1912 vintage operating room, nurse uniforms, equipment, and even an iron lung from the 1940s.
13. Wander Around Palisades State Park
If you are looking for outdoor things to do in Sioux Falls that are family friendly, add Palisades State Park to your list. Picnics at the scenic overlooks are a must and you will want to spend hours at the rushing waterways.
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14. Visit the Outdoor Campus
The Outdoor Campus has a museum and two miles of walking trails. It is free to walk the trails and wander through the museum, so you can easily spend a couple hours or more there. Inside the museum, you will see a 3,000-gallon aquarium full of fish and other marine life. These are two of the best family friendly things to do in Sioux Falls, because everyone will be entertained the entire time.
15. Watch a Movie in the Park
When you are looking for stuff to do in Sioux Falls during the summer, you will be thrilled to know that you can watch movies for free over in Fawick Park. Every movie is perfect for families. You can’t get popcorn when you arrive at this open-air theater, so we suggest grabbing some over at Poppy’s Popcorn before you arrive at the park.
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16. See Works of Art at the Porter Sculpture Park
The sculptures at the Porter Sculpture Park are quite large and they are placed in natural settings. A few of the sculptures are mysterious, while others are hilarious or out of this world.
17. Visit the Shoto-Teien Japanese Gardens
Architect Koichi Kawana designed these Japanese gardens back in the 1980s. There are currently more than 200 trees, pagodas, koi ponds, and waterfalls to appreciate during your visit. While you can take a walk, you may prefer sitting and simply enjoying the tranquility. This is considered one of the most romantic things to do in Sioux Falls when someone else is watching the kids. You may need to do some careful planning, but we think you can make it happen!
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18. Explore the Siouxland Heritage Museums
The Siouxland Heritage Museums include the Pettigrew Home and Museum and the Old Courthouse Museum. They are both located in restored buildings from the 1800s. Each one offers insight into the local history within the exhibits and galleries.
19. Watch a Movie at the Westmall Theatres
The movies normally don’t make it to a list of free, or nearly free, things to do anywhere in the world. However, in Sioux Falls, SD, you can catch a matinee at the Westmall Theatres for less than you think. This is an excellent way to see some movies before they come out on video. Plus, it is a wonderful option if you happen to have a rainy day when vacationing in Sioux Falls.
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20. Wander Around the Pipestone Historic District
This historic district can be found within two city blocks in Sioux Falls. There are thirty commercial buildings in all, and they have all been preserved, so everyone can see what they were like when they were first constructed.
Expert Tips for Traveling to Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sioux Falls, SD is one of those destinations that are slightly tricky to visit. This is why we are sharing a couple expert tips to help you enjoy your entire visit.
Spend Time Outside – No matter what time of year you are visiting Sioux Falls, SD, you are going to want to spend time outside. There are so many cool places to see in Sioux Falls, SD and you can’t see them if you are not in the great outdoors!
Take Time to Learn about Pig Farming – Pig farming is huge in Sioux Falls and you must take the time to learn about it. You can easily visit one of the numerous farms and simply ask questions to learn about these sometimes-noisy creatures.
These are the twenty free, or almost free, things to do in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. With so many Sioux Falls attractions to visit, we are hoping that you have time to squeeze in some of the things to do near Sioux Falls as well. If not, you can always add them in during your next trip through this area.