Quick Stop: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Make the most of a brief visit.

By Hope S. Philbrick

We spent 22 hours in Sioux Falls, South Dakota—eight of them asleep.

Though a longer visit is in order, if your road trip from Point A to Point B passes through Sioux Falls, heed our advice to make the most of an overnight layover.

4:00 p.m.

Welcome to South DakotaWelcome to Sioux Falls!

Bordering Iowa and Minnesota, Sioux Falls is located at the junction of Interstates 90 and 29 and is within a day’s drive of most major cities in the Midwest. South Dakota’s largest city is named for the Sioux Tribe of Native Americans and the waterfalls of the Big Sioux River.

If you’re driving south to Sioux Falls from Fargo, North Dakota, the route passes through miles of flat prairie lands—so vast and flat that while peering through your windshield, you may feel inspired to hum a few bars of that old chestnut, “Home On The Range.” (It’s beautiful for sure, but if you continue south to Iowa, you may be surprised by how excited you’ll feel upon seeing the hill just over the state line.)

In the 1800s, the state was still known as Dakota Territory, it was a ‘lawless’ frontier of the Wild West. Today, the city is home to 162,300 residents.

To get acquainted, take some time to drive around town. There’s a range of architectural styles to admire, especially in residential areas.

5:00 p.m.

great SD beer at Crawford'sCrawford'sCrawford'sDinner at Crawford’s Bar & Grill, an upscale restaurant in historic downtown, may be the best welcome to Sioux Falls. I fell in love with this place, and though the food is good, what really won me over was its ambiance and the server’s sincere commitment to hospitality. With details like cowhide upholstery and bedazzled wallpaper, the décor is a balanced mix of rustic cowboy bar and swanky brothel boudoir. Century-old quartzite and brick walls lend the space a true sense of place. The atmosphere is relaxed yet energetic, funky and fun. Steak is the most local food on the menu and it’s seared to perfection. Crave a Midwestern brew? The staff will recommend selections to suit your palate.
Odds of Encountering Children: Low. Children aren’t banned, but this restaurant is fancier and a bit pricier than other nearby options that are more kid-friendly, which makes it perfect for grownups.
Crawford's on Urbanspoon

6:30 p.m.

SculptureWalk 2SculptureWalk ballot boxSculptureWalk 1Stroll downtown Sioux Falls (Phillips Avenue, Main and 8th Streets) touring SculptureWalk, a year-round outdoor art exhibit that recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Art pieces are on display for a year, during which time they’re free to admire. You can even join the fun and cast a vote for the People’s Choice Award (a total of 14 awards in various categories are bestowed to the value of $15,000!) If you really love a particular piece of work, you may be able to own it for yourself since featured artists’ sculptures are for sale. The city also owns several pieces on permanent display that have been purchased throughout the years of the program.

7:30 p.m.

Brimark InnCheck into the Brimark Inn, which is owned and operated by Randy and Juli. The couple has welcomed guests for 40 years and has the motto “great rooms at great rates.” As a building, this roadside hotel is not unlike the national chains that surround it; guest rooms are about as big and as similarly furnished as what you’d expect to find with a more familiar brand name. Service most distinguishes the place: Whoever is working the front desk will be happy to answer questions, hold the door open while you wheel in a heavy suitcase, and even fix the toilet if yours happens to gurgle. Though the inn is just off the highway, you’ll feel safe here: There is one main entrance; guest room doors open into a hallway rather than the great outdoors.


  • Free high-speed wireless internet access
  • Free breakfast bar
  • Outdoor heated pool
  • Truck and large vehicle parking
  • Mini refrigerators in all guest rooms
  • Fitness center
8:00 a.m.

Complimentary breakfast at the Brimark Inn

8:45 a.m.

Check out.

9:00 a.m.

at Falls ParkHead to the Falls Park Visitors Information Center at Falls Park, home of the city’s namesake waterfall. Open year round, the Visitors Information Center is where to pick up free brochures, get answers to questions plus recommendations from local pros about what to see that suits your interests and time schedule, and stock up on the city’s largest selection of Sioux Falls memorabilia, including a wide selection of T-shirts. There’s also a five-story, 50-feet viewing tower. Climb stairs or ride the elevator for free and the reward is a breathtaking panoramic view of the park and city. The park and the falls are impressive; there’s a lot to see and do here, so allow sufficient time to linger awhile to take it all in and snap several photos. A café on site overlooking the falls is a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee.
Odds of Encountering Children: High, but it’s a big park so you’ll be able to find your own space.

Sioux Falls SD Falls Park

10:30 a.m.

American Flag exhibitOld Courthouse MuseumOne of the most striking buildings in the city is home to the Old Courthouse Museum. Constructed of native Sioux Quartzite stone, the restored 1800s quartzite building offers three floors of regional exhibits that showcase various historical themes. Current exhibits feature Sioux Falls’ connection to the railroads, American Indian art, chairs, the American flag, Vietnam and more. Sixteen large murals in the hallways were painted between 1915 and 1917 by Norwegian immigrant Ole Running. Admission and parking are free.
Odds of Encountering Children: High, if you happen to stroll in when a school group is visiting, but you can get lucky: I didn’t see any kids during my visit.

11:45 a.m.

Pettigrew Home & Museum The Pettigrew Home & Museum offers a guided tour through the home first built in 1889—the same year South Dakota became a state—for the McMartin’s, who sold it to Senator Richard Franklin Pettigrew in 1911. Pettigrew is credited with bringing five railroads to Sioux Falls, developing many businesses for the community, and was elected to serve as the state’s first full term senator. In 1925 he turned the home into a free museum and donated it to the city. Whether or not the local history fascinates you, the home is worth a visit for its Tiffany lights, canvas ceilings, wood craftsmanship, and extensive collection of antiques, archeological finds and historic papers. Fans of Downton Abbey will appreciate the opportunity to compare the homeowners’ and maids’ quarters.
Odds of Encountering Children: High, if you happen to stroll in when a school group is visiting, but you can get lucky: I didn’t see any kids during my visit.

12:30 p.m.

Minerva's Sioux Falls SDEnjoy lunch at Minerva’s Restaurant, where the eclectic menu offers a range of options from aged steaks to fresh seafood to pasta, soups and sandwiches. Founded in 1977, this downtown Sioux Falls location is the restaurant’s home base (there are eight other locations in the region). Minerva’s serves a mix of classic favorites and seasonal dishes featuring local foodstuffs in an upscale environment with attentive servers.
Odds of Encountering Children: At lunchtime during the work week, the dining room is most popular with business professionals.
Minerva's on Urbanspoon

1:30 p.m.

store windowStroll downtown and step into any of the boutique shops that pique your interest, such as Prairie Star Gallery which features an array of artwork by Native American artists, primarily from Northern Plains tribes.

2:00 p.m.

Depart Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Remember to buckle up and drive carefully!

More To Do…

If time permits, add these stops to your itinerary:

Good Earth State Park at Blood Run

Strawbale Winery

Tre Lounge

Washington Pavilion

Strawbale WineryMore Information…

Visit Sioux Falls




-Photos  © HSP Media LLC

Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.

HopeP_144Hope S. Philbrick is founder and editor-in-chief of Getaways for Grownups. She became a freelance writer and editor because she believes that work and fun should not be mutually exclusive. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications nationwide. When not writing, she can usually be found on the road or savoring something tasty.


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