So we’ve delved into Sioux Falls’ early history and learned about the many African-Americans who greatly influenced the socioeconomic, political, business and artistic landscape here. Now, we’ve got one last look at the culinary scene, plus a wealth of great outdoor attractions.

Downtown

The center of town for this city of close to 160,000 people is definitely downtown. It is here that you will find a host of hotels, dining opportunities, shopping, nightlife and art venues, all or most within walking distance, which makes it a great place to spend time with friends and family any night of the week. Shopping encompasses everything from boutique shops to galleries, bookstores, craft stores, home items, jewelry, men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, and a great deal more.

One of the visual focuses here is the Sculpture Walk. Exhibited year-round but changing every year, the Sculpture Walk features 50 sculptures created by a wide array of artisans whose works represent traditional, representational, abstract and modern artistic forms, together providing a unique look at the arts and culture that define the city.

Dining is a big part of the Sioux Falls scene as well. Downtown residents and visitors alike enjoy great eats from Phillips Ave Diner, referred to as a “Classic 1950 Silver Bullet Diner”; Chedd’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese, offering over 35 types of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches made with Wisconsin cheeses; Minerva’s Restaurant, a city landmark for lunch and dinner since the late 1970s; and Wiley’s Tavern, among numerous others. One of our particular favorites this visit was the Cookie Jar Eatery, which specializes in fresh, casual fare and made-from-scratch bakery items.

Another favorite we found just a few minutes from downtown but still within walking distance is Jacky’s Restaurant. Very non-descript on the outside, Jacky’s is a treasure trove of authentic, fresh-made Guatemalan cuisine on the inside for breakfast, lunch and dinner. From the fish and shrimp tacos to the Mariscada (a seafood soup with fried fillet of fish, yucca, shrimp, king crab, clams, fried green bananas and their special spicy broth), Pollo en Crema (an authentic Guatemalan dish made with chicken, carrots, tomatoes and onions in a cream sauce and garnished with lettuce and tomatoes—absolutely outstanding!) and other items, the portions are sumptuous, flavorful and completely satisfying. A meal at Jacky’s is not to be missed!

Outdoor Sious Falls

One of the great things about Sioux Falls is that the city has so many things to see and do, all within a short drive of each other. One day, we went to the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove, where the main attraction is the tropical butterfly house, featuring over 800 beautifully patterned and delicate butterflies that circle above, around, on and in between verdant plants, flowers, bridges and waterfalls, while visitors are free to stroll among them, marveling at their beauty and graceful flight. The Marine Cove portion of the attraction here encompasses over 5,000 gallons of aquarium exhibits boasting an amazing array of marine fish, live coral, exotic fish and reportedly the only shark and stingray touch pool in the Midwest.

On the same acreage, you will find the Outdoor Campus, featuring indoor and outdoor trails, exhibits and demonstration spaces dedicated to the region’s native plants and wildlife, including a solar display, echo tube and gigantic climbing dome. To talk to the animals, be sure to visit the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum, featuring 1,000-plus animals from all over the world, including exotic birds, alpacas, brown bears, lemurs, flamingos and the like. The zoo is a very fun and intimate attraction that family members of all ages can enjoy by foot or by taking the mini train that circles the property. It even offered enough diversity that it held my teenage boys’ attention; they were excited about exploring each part of the diverse areas.

Your zoo ticket also includes entrance to the Delbridge Museum of Natural History, described as “a local treasure that houses a rare, one-in-the-world collection of 150 mounted animals, including 36 ‘vanishing species’ legally hunted during the 1940 to 1960s.” The exhibits and displays were fascinating as well.

If you’d like to hit the trails in town, you’ll find more than 20 miles of them, on which you can walk, run or cycle, as they loop around the city, beginning at Falls Park and winding theirway along the River Greenway, the Big Sioux River and through many picturesque areas of the city.

Last but certainly not least was our exciting adventure at Wild Water West Waterpark, billed as South Dakota’s largest waterpark and only wave pool, featuring 500,000 gallons of water. Wild Water West is similar to many water parks located around the country, offering tubes slides, a zero entry pool with rope bridges and floating animals, a children’s playground, bumper boats, a lazy river and a variety of other water play features. However, here your ticket price also includes miniature golf, full-throttle go-karts, batting cages, paintball, sand volleyball and an adults-only swim-up bar.

Another nice aspect was that the park offered plenty to do and enjoy, but it was also small enough that if the kids were in one area and you were in another, they were still close enough for you to keep tabs on them. Also, the parking lot is literally right outside of the front door, which made it easy to go back and forth to the car for forgotten items, etc.

Whew! Sioux Falls was definitely a great family vacation, one that for its size really offered a great deal from historic entities to dining, family attractions, arts and culture, and a great deal more.

Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for www.Examiner.com and as a senior travel writer for SoulOfAmerica.com, an Afrocentric travel website. Lysa can be reached at lallmanbaldwin@kc.rr.com.

Resources

Chedd’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese: 605-274-7667, www.chedds.com

Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum: 605-367-7003, www.greatzoo.org

Jacky’s Restaurant: 605-336-0588, http://jackysrestaurantsiouxfalls.com

Minerva’s Restaurant: 605-334-0386, www.minervas.net

Phillips Ave Diner: 605-335-4977, www.phillipsavenuediner.com

Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove: 605-334-9466, www.sertomabutterflyhouse.org

Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau: 800.333-2072, 605-275-6060, www.VisitSiouxFalls.com

Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation: http://www.siouxfalls.org/parks/bike.aspx

The Cookie Jar Eatery: 605-978-0991, www.cookiejarsd.com

The Outdoor Campus: 605-362-2777, www.outdoorcampus.org

Wild Water West Waterpark: 605-361-9313, www.wildwaterwest.com

Wiley’s Tavern: 605-336-0054, www.wileystavern.com