Article courtesy of Life Among Pines; written by: Samantha and Brendan Binger
Almost directly in the center of the United States lies the largest city in the state of South Dakota: Sioux Falls. Named for the Sioux Native American tribe and the waterfalls located in the downtown area, Sioux Falls borders both Minnesota and Iowa and is generally considered the “Heart of America.”
My husband and I visited Sioux Falls at the end of September, when the autumn air was beginning to cool, but the days were still plenty warm enough for outdoor activities. We enjoyed amazing food, beautiful sights, friendly people, and fun activities, all within the short span of two days. This post will highlight all the activities that we packed into our two-day itinerary, to hopefully inspire your own weekend getaway to Sioux Falls.
We began our day at Coffea Roasterie, a beautifully-decorated cafe in the downtown area. We stopped here for breakfast one morning and enjoyed seasonal Charlie Brown lattes, which combine fall spices and pumpkin puree. We paired our lattes with pumpkin loaf bread and cinnamon rolls for a cozy, yummy breakfast.
Explore Downtown and the SculptureWalk
Next, we walked through the downtown area SculptureWalk. Here, various sculptures line the streets from the Washington Pavilion to Falls Park. Each year, new sculptures are added, and visitors can vote for their favorites. This is such a unique and fun way to create the perfect artsy vibes in Downtown Sioux Falls. We also enjoyed perusing the cute local shops.
This is Sioux Falls’ main attraction. Right in the heart of the city lies a magnificent set of roaring waterfalls and beautiful churning waters. It’s not very often that you see a huge, natural feature in the middle of a city, and people come from all over to marvel at Falls Park. We saw them from the high overlook tower in the park and from various viewing platforms above and along each side of them.
Lunch at Bread & Circus Sandwich Kitchen
For lunch, we visited “Bread & Circus” a fast casual venue inspired by the local fares of Portland, Oregon. I ordered an Italian, and Bren ordered a “B&C Brisket” which was smoked brisket, ancho chile & porter mole sauce, pickled red onion, and oaxaca. The sandwiches came on incredible ciabatta rolls, and the venue’s signature craft sauces and dressings were available on the table. Bren particularly enjoyed their “Dagger and Arrow” sauce, which was a very spicy mayo/mustard combination. To drink, we enjoyed Take 16 Sunset Nut Brown ale, which was on tap.
CH Patisserie (dessert)
This shop does not seem to belong in a midwestern city, but rather feels like stepping into a local Paris sweets shop. At CH Patisserie, macarons and espressos are handcrafted in a beautiful location complete with Parisian decor and even French music. We stopped here for dessert and enjoyed some of the most delicious macarons we have ever had.
Bike Riding on the 29-mile paved path
This was my favorite part of our first day. After lunch, we rented bikes from Nyberg’s Ace and rode them to the paved bike trail. This beautiful trail runs alongside the Big Sioux River, past many scenic bridges, and through groves of lovely trees. One could easily rent a bike and use this path to tour the entire city, as it also passes through downtown and Falls Park. If your visit is during the spring, summer, or fall months, this is such a nice, relaxing activity.
Wilde Prairie Winery
Our last stop of the day was at the beautiful Wilde Prairie Winery in Brandon, just 15 minutes from downtown. Here we sampled delicious fruit wines in a beautiful barn house lit by fairy lights. It was the perfect way to end the day, and we even grabbed a few bottles of wine for our library.
Butterfly House & Aquarium
This beautiful place is so unique! It began as just a butterfly house, and the aquarium side was added a few years ago due to the contributions of a kind donor. The aquarium contains several colorful, well-maintained tanks full of tropical fish, as well as a great “please-touch area.” The butterfly house, full of many species of colorful winged beauties, was my favorite of the two. Brendan and I sat very still for quite a while, admiring the flowers and the butterflies, hoping one would land on us. This did not happen to me, but I saw a few land on other visitors! The Butterfly House & Aquarium is very family-friendly and is great for kids.
The Cathedral of Saint Joseph is a pleasant surprise in Sioux Falls. We stopped here to escape the rain and ended up spending awhile on the self-tour. The gorgeous architecture and stained glass are not to be missed!
Blarney Stone Pub
We had our second lunch in Sioux Falls at Blarney Stone Pub. On the inside of this Irish restaurant, it feels more like a scene out of Dublin, rather than a midwestern city. The food was excellent (especially the Irish nachos), and the beers were even better! Definitely make this part of your trip for a small taste of Ireland.
We stopped at Smallcakes for dessert after a delicious lunch at Blarney Stone Pub. This cupcakerie is truly spectacular. Also located in downtown Sioux Falls, the interior is adorable, and the cupcakes are unique, delicious and affordable. Need I say more?
Canoe/Kayak on the Big Sioux River
We love to get out on the water as often as we can, and the Big Sioux River was the perfect place to paddle! We put in at Rotary Greenway Park and found ourselves floating through gorgeous, tree-lined waters and under many historic and scenic bridges. The float ended in downtown, where we pulled out at the 8th street bridge.
Since we travel with our own canoe, we floated in our own vessel. However, there are plenty of affordable rental locations if you don’t have your own boat. When we finished our float, we caught a Lyft back to our car, but, if you rent, you can count on a shuttle to return you to your vehicle after your float. This is another Sioux Falls must-do activity.
WoodGrain Brewing Co.
We ended our final day in Sioux Falls with a visit to WoodGrain Brewing Co. While there are many amazing breweries in Sioux Falls, we chose WoodGrain because it seemed to have an interesting variety of flavors. We tried their flight and sampled their Oktoberfest seasonal, (which was spectacular), Dakota Harvest, Lavender Nectar, Mt. Tromen, and WG Shandy. This is a great place to hang out, sample local brews, and play a game or two if that is your speed! To top it off, you can also bring your own food. If we had had more time, we would have also tried Miner Brewing and the Carpenter Bar, too.
We absolutely loved everything about our visit to Sioux Falls. The food culture is truly next level. The huge variety of restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and breweries create a big city food scene in an otherwise small-town area. We honestly wished we had more time here just so that we could have an opportunity to try everything!
Sioux Falls’ outdoor activities were great, as well. Between the river, the bike path, and Falls Park, there is plenty for outdoorsy folks to do, without ever having to leave the city. Just outside of Sioux Falls, you can also find Palisades State Park and Good Earth State Park. Both offer plenty of hiking trails and nature viewing opportunities.
While visiting, we described Sioux Falls as the perfect city for nature lovers. There is a unique and friendly culture with a hint of small-town vibes, and we loved all of it. In the future, we hope to return and see this lovely city in each of its different seasons.