Roadside Marvels: Sioux Falls’ Top Stops When Traveling Interstate 90

Embark on a journey along Interstate 90 and discover the enchanting city of Sioux Falls, a treasure trove of urban delights, natural wonders, and historical intrigue. From the bustling streets of downtown to the serene landscapes of the Badlands, this guide will unveil the top stops that make Sioux Falls a must-visit destination on your road trip. Whether you’re seeking cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, or a peek into the past, Sioux Falls offers an array of attractions that promise to enrich your travel experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Sioux Falls serves as a cultural and natural hub with attractions like Washington Pavilion and Falls Park, offering a blend of arts and scenic beauty.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts can revel in the city’s offerings, from the rugged Badlands National Park to the expansive Sioux Falls Bike Trails and the unique SculptureWalk.
  • History buffs will be drawn to the stories and landmarks of the region, with stops like Historic Rapid City and the Dakota Dunes by the Missouri River.
  • The journey from Sioux Falls to Rapid City is filled with iconic American sites, including the majestic Mount Rushmore and the lush Black Hills National Forest.
  • Sioux Falls is not just a stopover; it’s a destination brimming with dining, shopping, and entertainment options, ensuring a memorable stay for all visitors.

Downtown Delights: Sioux Falls’ Urban Charms

Washington Pavilion: Arts and Culture Hub

Nestled in the heart of Sioux Falls, the Washington Pavilion of Arts & Science stands as a beacon of creativity and discovery. This historic building, once a high school, now houses a myriad of attractions that cater to art enthusiasts, science buffs, and curious minds of all ages.

The Kirby Science Discovery Center, located within the Pavilion, offers over 100 hands-on exhibits. Visitors can delve into the wonders of space exploration, experience the power of a tornado, and engage with interactive displays that make science accessible and fun.

Art lovers will find a treasure trove in the Visual Arts Center, which features eight galleries exhibiting art from around the globe. The center not only showcases a diverse range of artworks but also hosts educational programs and activities that are both enlightening and entertaining.

Upcoming Event Highlight:

  • Title: The Future Is Female
  • Date: Thursday, June 20, 2024
  • Time: 5:30 p.m.
  • Location: Visual Arts Center | Everist Gallery
  • Admission: Free Event!

This exhibition celebrates the power and creativity of female artists and is a must-visit for those who appreciate the profound impact of women in the arts. Mark your calendars for an evening of inspiration and empowerment at this free event.

Falls Park: The Heartbeat of the City

Nestled just north of downtown Sioux Falls, Falls Park serves as a natural centerpiece to the city’s vibrant landscape. Spanning over 100 acres, this urban oasis is anchored by the stunning waterfalls of the Big Sioux River, which have played a pivotal role in the city’s history. Once a thriving hub for trade, the park now offers a serene escape where visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of cascading waters and lush greenery.

The park’s extensive network of viewing platforms and the iconic five-story observation tower provide unparalleled vantage points to witness the falls’ majesty. Whether you’re seeking a moment of solitude or a picturesque backdrop for your travel photos, Falls Park delivers an experience that is both enriching and unforgettable. For those interested in the historical aspect, the remains of the 19th-century Queen Bee Mill and the historic Light and Power Company building add a touch of historical intrigue to your visit.

Beyond the falls, the park is a gateway to further exploration. The adjacent SculptureWalk and the nearby Washington Pavilion enrich the cultural tapestry of Sioux Falls, offering artistic and educational experiences just a stone’s throw from the park’s natural splendor.

Savor the Local Flavor: Dining and Nightlife

Sioux Falls’ culinary scene is a vibrant mix of traditional American fare and international cuisine, offering a delightful experience for foodies and casual diners alike. Embark on a downtown food tour to sample a variety of dishes while soaking in the city’s rich history. This gastronomic journey not only tantalizes your taste buds but also supports the local economy by spotlighting small businesses and their unique offerings, such as the renowned salted caramel macaroon.

After a day of exploring South Dakota’s diverse attractions, unwind at the EDGE Lounge or EDGE Restaurant & Bar. Here, you can indulge in upscale dining with locally sourced ingredients, savor exquisite tapas, and enjoy the ambiance of live music on select evenings. Wine tastings also provide a perfect setting to relax and discover new favorites with friends and family.

Whether you’re in the mood for a casual meal or a sophisticated night out, Sioux Falls caters to all preferences. Below is a list of must-visit spots that promise an unforgettable dining and nightlife experience:

  • Downtown food tour: A blend of flavors and history
  • EDGE Lounge: Chic atmosphere with live music
  • EDGE Restaurant & Bar: Fine dining with a local twist
  • Wine tastings: Explore new varietals in a social setting

Remember, each meal and every sip in Sioux Falls is an opportunity to create lasting memories while enjoying the heartbeat of the city’s culture.

Nature’s Masterpieces: Outdoor Adventures Await

Badlands National Park: A Rugged Retreat

Nestled in the rugged terrain of South Dakota, Badlands National Park offers a starkly beautiful landscape that beckons travelers with its unique geological formations and extensive fossil beds. The park’s 200,000+ acres serve as a testament to nature’s artistry, with layered rock formations and steep canyons that paint a picture of the Earth’s tumultuous past.

Visitors can explore the park’s wonders by driving the scenic Badlands Loop Road, where overlooks such as Pinnacles, Yellow Mounds, and Panorama Point provide breathtaking vistas. Each stop along the way offers a different perspective of the park’s diverse ecosystem, from the colorful Yellow Hills to the White River Valley below.

For those seeking a deeper connection with the park’s natural beauty, numerous hiking trails wind through the landscape. The trails range from easy walks to more challenging hikes, allowing adventurers of all levels to immerse themselves in the Badlands’ serene wilderness. Here’s a quick guide to some must-see spots:

  • Pinnacles Overlook: A panoramic view of the park’s striking pinnacles.
  • Yellow Mounds Overlook: A glimpse into the vibrant yellow and red layers of the Badlands.
  • Conata Basin Overlook: The perfect spot to witness the vastness of the park.
  • Panorama Point: Where the horizon stretches endlessly, offering a full scope of the Badlands’ grandeur.

Whether you’re a photographer, a hiker, or simply a traveler in awe of nature’s creations, Badlands National Park is a place where the spirit of the American wilderness is alive and well.

Sioux Falls Bike Trails: Pedal Through the City

Sioux Falls offers an exceptional experience for cyclists with its extensive network of bike trails. The Big Sioux River Recreation Trail, the main artery of this network, winds through the city for about 19 miles, offering a seamless blend of urban and natural landscapes. Whether you’re an avid biker or just looking for a leisurely ride, these well-maintained paths provide a perfect backdrop for your adventure.

Renting a bike is a breeze in Sioux Falls, with local shops like Nyberg’s Ace and Spoke-N-Sport catering to visitors year-round. Even in the chill of winter, the trails remain accessible, inviting enthusiasts to enjoy the crisp air and serene cityscapes. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:

  • Start your journey at Falls Park to immerse yourself in the city’s natural beauty.
  • Rent a bike from a local shop to support the community and explore with ease.
  • Follow the trail as it meanders along the Big Sioux River, with various lookout points offering breathtaking views.
  • Connect with nature and the city as the trail takes you through parks, residential areas, and downtown Sioux Falls.

The Sioux Falls Bike Trails not only connect neighborhoods but also serve as a gateway to the city’s vibrant culture and history. As you pedal through, you’ll find that each turn brings a new discovery, from public art installations to local eateries, making it an essential experience for any visitor to Sioux Falls.

SculptureWalk: An Open-Air Art Gallery

Sioux Falls’ SculptureWalk is an ever-evolving outdoor exhibit that transforms the city’s streets into a vibrant art gallery. With over 65 statues on display year-round, the SculptureWalk offers a unique blend of creativity and accessibility. Stroll through downtown Sioux Falls and encounter an array of sculptures that range from the whimsical to the profound, each telling its own story.

Visitors can utilize the SculptureWalk map to navigate the exhibit seamlessly. The map leads you from the bustling Washington Pavilion to the serene Falls Park, with each sculpture strategically placed to enhance the city’s aesthetic appeal. At the Washington Pavilion’s Visitor Center, art enthusiasts can delve deeper into the stories behind the sculptures and the artists who crafted them.

The SculptureWalk is not just a feast for the eyes; it’s a celebration of artistic expression that connects the community and its visitors. As you explore, you’ll find that each piece is a conversation starter, inviting contemplation and discussion. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this open-air gallery, where art and the urban landscape meet in perfect harmony.

Historic Trails and Tales

Trading Post Trails: A Journey Through Time

The Trading Post Trails offer a unique glimpse into the rich tapestry of Sioux Falls’ history. As you traverse these paths, you’re following in the footsteps of early traders and settlers who shaped the region. The trails are more than just a walk; they’re a journey through the stories and legacies of the past.

Each trail has its own narrative, marked by the remnants of old trading posts and the whispers of historical events. Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect:

  • Historic Sites: Discover the locations where traders exchanged goods with Native Americans and early settlers.
  • Cultural Insights: Gain a deeper understanding of the local Sioux culture and how trade shaped their history.
  • Scenic Vistas: Enjoy the natural beauty that has captivated travelers for centuries.

Whether you’re a history buff or an outdoor enthusiast, the Trading Post Trails provide an enriching experience that connects you with the heart of Sioux Falls. Remember to respect the trails and preserve their integrity for future explorers.

Historic Rapid City: A Glimpse into the Past

Nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Historic Rapid City offers a unique blend of natural beauty and rich history. This vibrant city is a gateway to some of the nation’s most iconic monuments and landscapes, including the majestic Mount Rushmore and the rugged Badlands National Park.

When exploring the historic downtown, visitors are greeted with a charming array of dining options, local shops, and cultural hotspots. Main Street Square is a focal point of activity, hosting events and providing a space for relaxation amidst the urban setting. Art Alley, another highlight, showcases the city’s creative spirit with its ever-changing display of street art.

For those interested in delving deeper into the area’s past, Rapid City’s historical attractions are not to be missed:

  • Bear Country USA: A drive-through wildlife park featuring North American mammals in their natural habitat.
  • Reptile Gardens: Home to a diverse collection of reptiles and exotic plants, holding the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest reptile zoo.
  • Storybook Island: An enchanting free children’s park that brings fairy tales and nursery rhymes to life.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure or a stroll through history, Rapid City serves as an ideal stop on your Interstate 90 journey.

Dakota Dunes: Golfing by the Missouri River

Nestled along the winding Missouri River, Dakota Dunes presents a serene escape for golf enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The Dakota Dunes Country Club is a premier destination, offering a challenging yet picturesque golfing experience. Visitors can indulge in the luxury of a meticulously maintained course while enjoying the backdrop of South Dakota’s stunning landscapes.

The area is not just about golf; it’s a community that prides itself on its high-quality living standards. With top-notch restaurants and a peaceful atmosphere, Dakota Dunes is a place where one can unwind after a day on the greens. The region is also known for its beautiful, luxurious homes, such as the new construction in Bay Hill that boasts a contemporary design and quick possession.

For those considering a longer stay, Dakota Dunes offers a variety of accommodations, from the practical to the plush. Here’s a quick guide to help you find the perfect place to stay:

  • The Dakotas Hotel Deals: Special offers for a budget-friendly stay.
  • Vacation Rentals in The Dakotas: Ideal for those seeking a home away from home.
  • Ramada by Wyndham Sioux Falls: A comfortable option with added amenities.

Whether you’re here to challenge your golf skills or simply to soak in the tranquil riverside ambiance, Dakota Dunes is a stop that promises relaxation and recreation in equal measure.

Road Trip Wonders: En Route to Rapid City

The Denver Route: Scenic Drives and Stops

Embarking on the Denver Route offers a scenic detour that enriches your road trip experience with diverse landscapes and cultural highlights. Starting from Kansas City, the journey west on I-70 unfolds a tapestry of rural Kansas scenery before reaching the vibrant city of Denver, Colorado. Known as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, Denver is a treasure trove of natural beauty, with proximity to renowned ski resorts and the opportunity for a luxurious stay at places like the Four Seasons Hotel Denver.

As you drive north from Denver, the route passes through Boulder and Fort Collins, inviting explorers to consider a detour to the Rocky Mountain National Park or the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. For those seeking a break from the drive, the Badlands National Park presents spectacular geological formations that are a must-see.

Whether you’re drawn to the music-infused cities of Memphis and Kansas City or the majestic Rockies near Denver, the Denver Route is a journey that offers something for every traveler. Here’s a quick list of not-to-miss stops along the way:

  • Mississippi River: A serene spot for reflection.
  • Badlands National Park: Marvel at the awe-inspiring landscapes.
  • Four Seasons Hotel Denver: Indulge in luxury with mountain or city views.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park: Immerse yourself in nature’s grandeur.

Remember, this route is more than just a path to your destination; it’s an invitation to discover the heart of America’s scenic beauty and cultural richness.

Mount Rushmore: Faces of American History

Carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, the colossal sculptures of four U.S. presidents stand as a testament to American history and ingenuity. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is not just a monument but a symbol of democracy and freedom that draws visitors from around the globe. Located in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota, it’s a must-see destination en route to Rapid City.

The memorial features the 60-foot high faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Each figure was chosen to represent key themes in U.S. history: the birth, growth, development, and preservation of the nation. The site also offers a range of activities and educational opportunities, making it an enriching experience for all ages.

When planning your visit, consider these tips:

  • Arrive early to avoid crowds and secure a good viewing spot.
  • Take the Presidential Trail for a closer look at the sculptures.
  • Don’t miss the evening lighting ceremony, a truly captivating display.

Nearby attractions such as Badlands National Park and Custer State Park offer additional outdoor adventures, ensuring your trip to this region is filled with natural beauty and historical discovery.

Black Hills National Forest: A Hiker’s Paradise

Nestled in the rugged terrain of South Dakota, the Black Hills National Forest offers an escape into nature that is both refreshing and invigorating. With over 1.2 million acres of forested hills, canyons, and grasslands, this natural wonder is a hiker’s dream come true. The forest is home to a diverse range of trails that cater to all levels of experience, from leisurely walks to challenging treks.

One of the most popular hikes is the ascent to Black Elk Peak, the highest point east of the Rockies. The journey to the summit rewards adventurers with panoramic views that are simply breathtaking. For those seeking a more serene experience, the trails leading to Roughlock Falls and Spearfish Falls offer a picturesque backdrop for a peaceful hike.

Here’s a quick guide to some of the top hikes in the area:

  • Little Devils Tower + Black Elk Peak
  • Devils Bathtub Trail
  • Roughlock Falls + Spearfish Falls

Whether you’re looking to conquer new heights or simply enjoy the tranquility of the forest, the Black Hills National Forest is a must-visit destination on your road trip. Remember to pack your hiking boots and a sense of adventure!

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Great Faces. Great Places.

South Dakota is an incredibly unique state in that each region offers a completely different experience then the others. Check out each of the regions to see what each has to offer!

Badlands

Western South Dakota

Featuring the Black Hills, Badlands, the Sturgis Rally. This region tends to be the most popular.

CENTRAL REGION

This region of South Dakota offers some of the best hunting and fishing in the entire central US. 

Eastern Region

The eastern region is home to the largest city in the state and provides visitors with a true "prairie" experience.