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Wisconsin Parent

Midwest Travel: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Aug 07, 2014 03:30PM ● By Julie Henning
Summer seems to inspire feeling of restlessness and wanderlust, and for many people that means a road trip out West in search of Wide Open Spaces. But if you're on a bit of a vacation crunch, why not consider a trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for a taste of the plains without all the tanks of gas? With things do do and see all year round, here are a few family-friendly suggestions that both give you a feel for the area and let you get up close and personal with the people who have made the Sioux Falls community their home.

Falls Park

A "must see" stop on your trip to Sioux Falls is Falls Park just outside of downtown. A place of commerce and trade since the time of the Native Americans and European settlers, a modern-day visit to see the falls of the Big Sioux River features a visitors center, observation tower, cafe, bike trails park shelters, and paved walkways friendly on strollers and wheelchairs.

With 7,400 gallons of water dropping from the falls each second, plan to hear and feel the roar of the water that once powered the Queen Bee Mill (the remains of the seven-story structure made from pink quartzite can be seen from behind a protective iron fence). Falls Park is home to other historic structures, sculptures, and community events (read everything here). Admission is free.

Downtown Sioux Falls Trolley

Sioux Falls TrolleyA designated stop for the Downtown Sioux Falls Trolley, anyone can board the trolley at Falls Park and ride the 30 minute loop from Falls Park into downtown Sioux Falls. The trolley is air conditioned, wheelchair accessible, and only costs $1 for unlimited admission all day long (kids 5 and under are free). Designated trolley stops are located throughout downtown (although if you pull the cable, the trolley will stop and let you off wherever you need to be). Trolleys run Monday-Saturday between 10AM and 8PM.

People on TrolleyA trolley ride is a great way to "get your bearings" without having to drive or look for parking spots (bring your spare change if you do decide to park downtown).

First Friday Downtown Sioux Falls

Participating in the monthly "First Friday" community event, our evening in downtown Sioux Falls was spent surrounded by residents and visitors enjoying local music, art, dining, and entertainment.

1st Friday SignMost of the stores and coffee shops located on S. Phillips Avenue stay open late and many have special deals and "sidewalk sales."

First Friday MusiciansThese "Crazy Kids" are consuming and burning calories at the SAME TIME (this is one new exercise trend I might not actually mind).

Sip-n-CycleHere artist Nancyjane Huehl puts the finishing touches on an oil and acrylic painting of a buffalo while local musicians Dalton Coffey and Clyde Teel fill Coffea Rostarie with upbeat "panhandle swing" and soulful bluegrass songs played on their resophonic and traditional guitars.

Nancyjane HuehlAround the corner at 8th & RR Center, we encountered a block party featuring food vendors, picnic tables, and a main stage complete with MC and DJ.

Block Party Sioux FallsNote: Earlier in the day we happened upon Sanaas restaurant located in the shopping center (this is the brick building pictured in the background in the above photo) and enjoyed quite possibly the most delicious (and affordable) Mediterranean food in the entire Midwest!

Lunch Sioux FallsIf you choose to walk between downtown and 8th & RR Center, keep an eye out for the splash pad located on the Downtown River Greenway that runs along both sides of the Big Sioux River.

Greenway Sioux FallsNo one will think you are crazy if you run through this thing without your children. August is pretty warm in South Dakota, after all!

Other Places to Visit

Other ideas for "places to go and have fun with your kids" include the Sertoma Butterfly House and Marine Cove (building photo below), the Great Plains Zoo, Washington Pavilion, Good Earth State Park at Blood Run, and the Terrace Park Family Aquatic Center.

IMG_8332Strawbale Winery

For adults on more of a "getaway trip," drive out to the Strawbale Winery located in the town of Renner (just north of Sioux Falls). As the name implies, the wine is stored among bales of straw that create the optimal conditions for both storage and flavor.

Strawbale WineryOur visit to the winery coincided with the Stawbale Summer Porch Series happening every Thursday night in the summer months. If you go, bring a blanket or lawn chair and come hungry, as you can purchase food from local vendors and sip wine (try the "adult" wine slushies in various fruit flavors), shop from local artisans—all to the backdrop of crowing roosters competing with the musicians on stage.

Chickens at Strawbale WineryLa Quinta Inns & Suites

Like any metropolitan community with nearly 250,000 people, you'll have a wide variety of lodging options during your stay in Sioux Falls. That said, we enjoyed the brand new La Quinta Inn & Suites conveniently located on 41st Street near Interstate 29 and the Empire Mall (and plenty of popular restaurants and places to shop).

La Quinta Sioux Falls LobbyWith a modern decor and all the amenities you might miss on the road (workout room, laundry facility, swimming pool, WiFi/business center), the size of the standard "double queen" room is quite impressive (no tripping over luggage in this space, folks).

La Quinta Room Sioux FallsFor more information on what to do, events, and lodging options in Sioux Falls, visit:

The Downtown Sioux Falls Trolley is another unique way to discover all of what downtown has to offer. The trolley, which provides downtown transportation beginning June 6th Monday - Saturday 10am-8pm. Riding the Sioux Falls Trolley is easy - board at any of the trolley stop signs located on nearly every block in downtown Sioux Falls or at Falls Park. It's just $1 per rider, per day. Kids 5 and under ride for free!

The trolley is wheelchair-accessible, and climate controlled for maximum comfort.

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