Eliza Myers

Riverrfont Origins and Urban Currents in Sioux Falls

 
 

Eliza Myers
Published February 01, 2018

A 100-foot-tall triple waterfall, a balmy butterfly paradise and a winery constructed with straw bales might seem a strange mix of stops on a tour. But in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a cultural hub of the Great Plains, surprises await around every corner.

“The term I would use for Sioux Falls is that it is a refreshing destination,” said Jackie Wentworth, sales manager for the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s something a bit unexpected. I think sometimes when people travel to the Midwest, they think of farmland and flat country. In Sioux Falls, there is a thriving urban center.”

In the past, the city flourished by connecting five railroads. Today, the junction of interstates 29 and 90 keeps Sioux Falls bustling with activity and compelling attractions to explore. Touring groups can choose from numerous historic sites, a multipurpose entertainment complex and samples from the city’s emerging brewery and winery scene.

Scenic Stop: Falls Park

Some 7,400 gallons of water spilling down a triple waterfall every second will grab visitors’ attention fast. It also captivated the Sioux Tribe of the American Indians and early European explorers, who named the city of Sioux Falls for the natural wonder.

Today, the stunning waterfall stands in 123-acre Falls Park in historic downtown. Groups love to explore the paved trails along the Big Sioux River, which flows through town.

“It’s like the Riverwalk in San Antonio, but it is much larger,” said Wentworth. “We have the Falls Overlook Cafe, where in the summer months, you can grab lunch, dinner or some of the best ice cream around.”

Guests can explore permanent sculptures throughout the park as well as markers from the city’s history. The remains of Queen Bee Mill and the millrace that once powered it are still there for curious onlookers.

One new attraction sits in a renovated late-1800s barn that once housed horses that worked in local stone quarries. The Stockyards Ag Experience tells the story of agriculture’s impact on this region.

Interactive displays highlight the history of the Sioux Falls Stockyards, which shaped the city from their opening in 1917 until they closed in 2009. Another section of the museum reveals how food grown around the region makes its way to Sioux Falls, with one exhibit featuring a look inside livestock barns with 360-degree videos.

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