Sioux Falls is a great city to live in; you can check this by reading any list of the top cities in the country. There comes a time though when the Falls Park, bike trails, and downtown Philips/8th & RR nightlife just won’t do it for you anymore. The bad news up first; Sioux Falls is a fairly isolated city, like most in the Midwest seem to be. You won’t be driving an hour or two and city hopping like on the East coast, and the megalopolis unending suburb-sprawl in the West is replaced with cropland around here.
The good news is that you have options for your weekend road trip; you will just need to spend a little longer in the car to get to them. This list is going to stick to places within a five hour driving distance. Yes you can drive to Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, and Winnipeg Canada from Sioux Falls; but you are stretching a weekend trip and are going to have two heavy travel days on either side. So grab your coffee, queue up your playlist or audiobooks, half-heartedly tell the driver you are willing to drive if they want to switch, and let’s set out.
Minneapolis/St. Paul (and friends):
Ask any Sioux Falls native and the first response you will get for a good getaway is “The Cities”. At a respectable three to four hours away depending upon your speeding level and choice of route, it’s a great option for a weekend vacation. It’s almost too much to list, this is one place you will be able to make regular trips throughout the year to. The obvious destinations up front are the Mall of America, Target Field and U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Como Conservatory, and a fantastic bike trail/park scene. If you are a foodie and/or craft beverages fan, this is the city for you. The cultural mash up of everything from classic Americana, Asian, African, and more results in being able to find any cuisine you are interested in (from dirt cheap to three star Michelin rating). Beer; well you are going to have a hard time picking between even the favorites. The region there is home to the best sleeper beer scene in America, with more going on and developing than anyone would ever guess. The great thing however about the Twin Cities up there, is the suburbs that surround them. Six Flags, the Minnesota State Fair, the Renaissance Festival grounds, fantastic lakes, theaters of all kinds, you just have such a great assortment of opportunity to pick from.
As a final note, take the route up that brings you through Windom, Mankato, and St. Peter; you won’t have any extra time tacked onto the driving time, and it will prove to be more fun than taking the two interstates.
Sioux Falls can count itself lucky. Within a three hour car trip (can you even call it a road trip when it’s this short) you will find one of the best, if not the best, zoos in the United States. Hosting the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha sits just South of Sioux Falls waiting for a fantastic weekend getaway. If you are going here you are visiting the zoo, it’s a given. Between big cats, apes, desert dome, African safari, and a world class aquarium you will not ever grow tired of this place. It’s an easy day’s worth of activity, just make sure to get there early as the line of cars to get in during the morning rush is something out of a Los Angeles residents nightmare.
Beyond the zoo however Omaha has some other shining offerings. Like the Twin Cities above, they feature a growing food and beer scene, albeit it at a smaller level. You can find some good Hispanic and Asian restaurants around here, as well as some great breweries popping up like welcome weeds. They have a good “Old Market” with fun food and shopping, plenty museums and art facilities, and a Alamo Drafthouse (full service movie theater chain with frequent fun events). If you like Sioux Falls but crave a slightly larger city feeling, then you will enjoy your time spent in Omaha.
Rapid City/Black Hills:
Now if you are craving mountains, forests, and countless activities and “tourist traps”; Rapid City is where you want to go. You can’t list everything this area has to offer in a few short paragraphs. People can and have written websites alone on the offerings of this region. Boasting huge draws like Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Museums of all kinds, animal encounters, and outdoor activities of any kind; you won’t go without things to do here. Even in the winter time the area transforms into a winter sports wonderland with log cabins seated next to hot springs. You won’t stay in the city of Rapid City itself when you come to visit here, instead you will end up using the place as a launch pad towards adventure.
Out of the three listed in this article, Rapid City would probably offer you the most to do in a traditional tourist mindset. This place lends itself really well to a family getaway where you can rent a cabin, camper, tent or hotel and find something for all ages to enjoy.