Ordinary People, Extraordinary Art!

Downtown ...

sioux fALLs has it ALL ...

Sioux Falls is a city that lives large but easy.  Sports, shopping, symphony, art, theater, and social activities power the city's population, summer and winter.  Whatever trips your trigger, Sioux Falls has it.  If we don't, we'll have it tomorrow.  There's so much to see and like, it's hard to know where to begin.  This page introduces you to a few of the city's features -- there are city web pages, created by professional web designers, devoted to telling you more.

In this section, we list a few of the city's attractions and links -- why you may like to visit, and why we like living here.  We don't want to overwhelm you, so the list is not inclusive.  What's most important is that you found the Gallery, but also we'd like to help you discover more about this vibrant city.

For an encompassing and informed view of Sioux Falls and our cultural attractions, visit this excellent website for photos and text: Gallagher's Travels.com.  Download the 2006 Summer Activities Guide in PDF format.  Or, go to: E-Podunk.com for general city info.  Be sure to click your browser's Back button as many times as necessary to return to this page.  Navigate to other sections of this web site by clicking the page titles in the orange bar above or the purple page names at the very bottom of this page.

The City of Sioux Falls web site had, among other things, a great video of the very early days.  It was 30 minutes long, but unfortunately, they deleted it.  Please send an email to the city website and ask them to host it again on their webpage.  It's wonderful.   The video was called 'Historic Downtown Sioux Falls'.    Photo at right shows the Minnehaha County Courthouse, constructed of local pink quartzite (jasper), and completed in 1889 at a cost of $80,000.  More at county web site.

We have a fantastic Sculpture Walk downtown - click on the underlined words to go to their web site to see photos of all this year's sculptures.  You can vote for your favorite online or pick up a ballot downtown.  We have a very good and improving city-wide Bike Trail You can download the bike trail map in PDF format by clicking on Current Bike Trail Map.  If you have a weekend to spend in Sioux Falls, set aside a little time to enjoy the outdoors.

Artful outdoor activities include our summer festivals.  See a list lower on this page at: summer festivals.

The Convention & Visitors Bureau hosts a city map with points of interest marked.  This page includes a map of downtown, as well as a city map. 


Another source of useful information is Main Street Sioux Falls.  Their marketing name is Downtown Sioux Falls, or DTSF.  Their web site lists events and downtown businesses.  Give Dan Statema a call if you need info that you can't find on the DTSF or city web sites.  Tell him Prairie Star sent you.

Falls on the Big Sioux River
(extracted from www.siouxfalls.org)

Falls Park is the city's historic birthplace. The Falls of the Big Sioux River are the most frequently photographed feature in the region. The popular park is also the most heavily visited site in the Sioux Falls area.

The almost mystical allure of the Falls has always been a powerful influence. This special place of natural beauty has been attracting visitors ever since the earliest prehistoric peoples occupied the great northern plains. Sioux Falls exists as a city today because the land speculators who staked town site claims here in 1856 came in search of the cascades, inspired by stories of their impressive beauty and power. 

Fall Park has been dramatically transformed in recent years by comprehensive improvements, effectively reversing decades of neglect and decline. The great scenic beauty of the Falls is now complemented by a beautiful park setting. Many new visitor amenities have been built, dense volunteer scrub brush has been cleared, alcohol has been banned from the Park, and an intensive system of historic style pedestrian lights makes Falls Park a safe, well-illuminated place after dark. Large floodlights illuminate the cascades themselves. The Park is an inviting family environment day or night.

You are invited to join this ancient legacy of falls visitors – and the thousands who now visit the area each month - to see what’s new at Falls Park.

Attractions and Park Features

Sound and Light Show
The Sioux Falls Sound and Light Show uses lasers, unique lighting, a new sound system and special effects for a dramatic multi-media display to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Sioux Falls. Refinements to the script and musical score are underway to make this popular show even more enjoyable. The production is jointly sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank and the Rotary International Clubs of Sioux Falls.

Monarch of the Plains Sculpture
Beautifully sculpted from a 12 ton piece of mahogany granite mined in the Milbank area, the “Monarch” is a work of art created by Darold Bailey. The fundraising and organizational efforts bringing the sculpture to Falls Park were lead by Shirley Savage. 

Falls Park Visitors Information Center
The Visitors Center is staffed by the City and managed by the Convention and Visitors Bureau. It was built through a collaborative partnership of the City, Forward Sioux Falls, the Development Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce. The friendly and helpful staff are enthusiastic ambassadors, ready to assist guests seeking information about the Park or the city services, amenities and points of interest that Sioux Falls has to offer. Unique Sioux Falls shirts, art prints and memorabilia are available for purchase at the Visitors Center. The Facility is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily, through the summer season. The Visitor's Center hours will return to daily service and extended hours after Memorial Day. Attached to the Falls Park Visitors Information Center is a tall, attractive enclosed viewing tower with an outdoor observation deck. Equipped with an elevator, the Viewing Tower provides a breath-taking 360-degree panoramic vista of the falls and the city skyline. The Viewing Tower is open to the public during the hours when the Visitors Center is operating.

Self-Guided Historic Walking Tours
Falls Park is the foundation of the community’s heritage. It is the most significant historical site in the city. The story of Sioux Falls is intimately entwined with Falls Park, and the history to be found here is both broad and deep. A system of ten large interpretive panels is distributed across the park. The panels include full color graphics and many early vintage photos provided by the Siouxland Heritage Museums System to convey the fascinating story of Falls Park. How were the falls formed? Why does the river run north in this area? What product fabricated at Falls Park was distributed through Tiffany’s of New York and featured at two worlds fairs? How did the entire lower tier of the falls disappear? What happened to Seney Island? The answers to these questions and much more can be found in the system of interpretive panels.

Horse Barn Arts Center
Built in the late 1800’s as a horse barn, owned by the City of Sioux Falls and now managed by the Sioux Empire Arts Council, the Horse Barn Arts Center houses an art gallery in the former hayloft, and an exhibit space in several of the former horse stalls and along the granite wall of the main level.  Both the Loft Gallery and Falls Portfolio Gallery feature different exhibits of local art every month of the year.  The gift shop occupies 2 of the former “stalls”, and there is one working artist’s stall.  A variety of activities take place in both levels, from artist demonstrations to hands-on activities for kids and adults, classes and workshops, poetry readings, artist receptions, or musical performances.  Our space also serves as a meeting place for several local arts organizations.  Open year round; April through October – Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sundays from noon to 5:00 pm; November through March – Wednesday through Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Sunday noon to 4:00 pm.

National Register Historic Buildings
Two Falls Park buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. The oldest and most remarkable is the ruins of the Queen Bee Mill, built of native Sioux quartzite in 1878. Once an imposing, massive grain mill of six-plus stories, maple floors and the finest imported Scottish machinery, the building went up in a spectacular blaze in 1957. The ruins were placed on the National Register in 1984, and more recently have been stabilized by masonry repair. It remains a monument to the boundless energy and optimism of the earliest town builders and civic leaders.

The Sioux Falls Light and Power Hydroelectric Plant, known by most residents as the old “NSP Building”, began using water power to generate electricity for streetlights and the Sioux Falls Traction System (streetcar trolleys) in 1907. Northern States Power donated the property to the City in 1974, the adjoining steam fired electrical plant was demolished, and the remaining original quartzite building was added to the National Register in 1993.

Sioux Falls Trolley
Catch a ride on the Sioux Falls Trolley (map) and take a sentimental journey back in time. Discover the many unique shops downtown or enjoy a meal at one of downtown's fine restaurants. The trolley is FREE and operates on a 30-minute schedule.


Summer Events and Festivals

Farmers Market
The Farmers Market is located near the northern boundary of the Falls Park, just north of the Horse Barn, along Falls Park Drive. The site is easily accessible and has ample parking. Numerous vendors set up their stands to offer fresh produce, flowers, jellies, preserves, artistically hand crafted items and many other delightful items of interest. The Farmers Market operates from May through October of each year. The stands are open for business on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

The Festival of Cultures -- June 18, 2005
This fun event is jointly sponsored by the Sioux Falls Multi-Cultural Center and Main Street Sioux Falls. It is a celebration of the many cultural traditions found in Sioux Falls and the surrounding area. The Festival includes exhibits, entertainment and foods representing more than a dozen cultural traditions.  Pictures

Artfalls at Falls Park -- June 25-26, 2005
The Festival features visual, performing and culinary artists from a nine state area. Both
children and adults will enjoy opportunities to play, sing, dance and interact with the artists as they display and perform during this annual celebration. Participants can take part in a wide variety of guided, hands-on creative arts and crafts activities. Pictures Website

Jazz Fest -- July 15-16, 2005
Two days of good, free, jazz and blues.  Tends to be hot in mid-July in Sioux Falls, so dress light.  Website     Photo at right.

Sidewalk Arts Festival -- September 10, 2005
The Sidewalk Arts Festival is the Sioux Falls region's largest one-day outdoor festival. Held each year in historic downtown Sioux Falls, the Sidewalk Arts Festival fills Phillips Avenue from 9th to 14th Streets, draws 65,000 visitors and showcases 375 fine art, folk art, and craft booths. Artist and food vendors come from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Website.

Downtown Harvest Festival -- September 24, 2005
Brief summary can be found at the CVB website.

Northern Plains Arts Market -- September 23-25, 2005
More details about the market will be included here as provided by Jack Herman, at Sinte Gleska University, on the Rosebud Indian Reservations, Mission, South Dakota.  It's a wonderful market with a 17-yr history, with 75-100 juried artists from South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, and other states. 

Return to Sioux Falls Overview (above)

1908 power plant reopens as eatery

Diners enjoy renovations, panini


Sioux Falls Argus Leader, published: 02/27/05

Suellin Richardson, 2, sits by her mother, Lisa, and looks out the window Saturday while eating her hot dog and fries at the new Falls Park Overlook Cafe at Falls Park. Saturday was the first day the cafe was open to the public.
(photos by stuart villanueva / argus leader)

The new Falls Park Overlook Cafe will be open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with summer hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The cafe is located in the former Northern States Power building, constructed in 1908.

Friends Dorothy Knutson and Dwaine Bogenhagen eat under a historic photograph of the Northern States Power building.

The latest Falls Park renovation was unveiled to the public Saturday morning as the much-delayed Overlook Cafe finally opened its doors for business.

Situated on the east side of the park, the cafe - which used to be a Northern States Power building - welcomed a curious crowd of folks who came to sample the restaurant's quick menu or simply see how the city had renovated this 1908 building overlooking the Falls and Big Sioux River.

"We just came here to check it out," said Mark Clyde. "It's nice. It's a big change from what it used to look like."

Indeed. The 4,200-square-foot stone building now features an interior fashioned with light wood tables and highlights under a vaulted ceiling with exposed arches.

The walls boast large windows and are decorated with historical black-and-white photos depicting the building's former life as an energy hub.

Aside from giving context to the history of the structure, the photos illustrate how far the Falls themselves have come.

Pictures from before and after the Great Depression show the city's namesake landmark amid an unfriendly, rock-strewn landscape.

After taking a look at the past, visitors found it easy to appreciate the present.

"They've done a wonderful job of fixing it," said Kathy Barnett.

Enjoying a meal with her granddaughter, Megan, Barnett recalled her youth, when she would ride her bike to the Falls regularly. But there never was access to this building, she remembered.

Last fall, some wondered whether there ever would be access to the cafe. The opening originally was planned for fall, but delays pushed it back.

Now, nearly two seasons later, the Overlook Cafe is open to the public.

Inside, guests will find a modest but stylish cafe with fast-food service and prices for near-restaurant-style menu items ranging from pizza to ice cream to gourmet coffee to panini sandwiches.

Russ DeCurtins, manager of the Arena and Orpheum Theater, said the cafe will be open every day with extended hours during the summer.

Philadelphia-based management company SMG, which is contracted to manage the Arena and Orpheum, also handles management operations for the Overlook Cafe.

"I think we're going to have good crowds every day at noon," DeCurtins said.

He also said the menu will vary periodically as the staff tries new things.

Saturday, people seemed intent on trying the panini, which basically are sandwiches fried on a specialty grill.

RanDell Winter, chef and manager of the cafe, said the eatery periodically will offer special varieties of panini, which are made with a choice of meats, cheeses and vegetable toppings.

And though she expects people will be drawn to the panini, Winter said it won't be the cafe's signature food.

"The thing that is going to be our signature item is our ice cream cone," Winter said.

She said that during summer months, when visitation to the park is at its peak, the ice cream cones - in both sugar and waffle cone varieties - will be a popular item.

And, of course, she expects the atmosphere to be a draw too.

But on a day with a chilly wind, few people dared to eat their food on the cafe's veranda, which hangs over the exit stream of the waterfalls.

People were more content to simply take in the view via the windows.

Reach reporter Robert Morast at 331-2313


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