Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is just a hop, skip and jump off I-90 or I-29 and is maybe one of the state’s best-kept secrets.
Once a prairie town, it is now the largest city in the state, is very visitor-friendly and offers an abundance of things to see and do. For a city this size — population about 182,000 — Sioux Falls is easy to get around, yet offers all the amenities of a big city, including perfect overnight accommodations and food options that can compare to anywhere in the country.
However, the must have here is the local favorite chislic — skewered cubes of seasoned and fried red meat, served with soda crackers — found in most restaurants. One restaurant, Urban Chislic, which appeared on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” is known for their chislic.
Of course, a trip to Sioux Falls isn’t complete without visiting Falls Park. The park offers bike and walking trails, places to sit and enjoy the view, and an observation tower. History is plentiful, including the former Queen Bee Mill’s ruins. Signs throughout the park offer a look back at the past. The Big Sioux River cascades down the rocks, creating multiple waterfalls that date back about 14,000 years. Underneath is the Sioux Quartzite, which is a hard pinkish stone the area around the city is known for and used in some of the city’s buildings.
Speaking of history, a trip to the Old Courthouse Museum tells it all. With three floors of exhibits featuring culture and natural history, and a restored courtroom and law library, it is a journey back into the early years of the area. The building was constructed in 1889 from the native quartzite and it has slate stairs, stained glass windows, tiled fireplaces and granite pillars. Sixteen large murals line the hallways, painted from 1915 to 1917. The clocktower of the building is an icon of the city.
In conjunction with the Old Courthouse, a visit to the Pettigrew Home & Museum is a great stop. The home was built in 1889 and purchased in 1911 by Sen. Richard Franklin Pettigrew. Visit siouxlandmuseums.com for hours.
A visit to the National Historic Landmark Good Earth State Park at Blood Run just southeast of the city offers a place to dive into the history of thousands of Native Americans and retreat into nature. This land is known as one of the oldest long-term places for human habitation in the country. It was a village ceremonial site from 1500 to 1700 and has burial mounds and other cultural features. It has a large family of wildlife, and plenty of room to roam.
Whether biking, birdwatching, fishing, geocaching, hiking, snowshoeing or taking in the history of the park, visitors will enjoy the peacefulness of 615 acres of untouched prairie. Visit gfp.sd.gov for current hours and events.
For more information, visit experiencesiouxfalls.com.