Skip to main content
  • Biking across a bridge over the waterfalls of Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
    View more

    Sioux Falls: Immersive Art, Natural Wonders and Urban Entertainment

  • Sailing cruise on Lewis and Clark Lake Recreation Area in Yankton, South Dakota
    View more

    Yankton: Lewis & Clark Lake and Farm-to-Pint Fun

  • Relaxing on a dock with views of Lake Mitchell in Mitchell, South Dakota
    View more

    Mitchell: Home of The World’s Only Corn Palace and a Gorgeous Lake

  • Viewing paintings by Terry Redlin at the Redlin Art Center in Watertown, South Dakota
    View more

    Watertown: Discovering Americana Art and Hand-Crafted Beer

  • Exploring McCrory Gardens in Brookings, South Dakota
    View more

    Brookings: Iconic Eats, Dairy Delights and Blooming Gardens

Posing outside the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota
View more

On the Road in Eastern South Dakota: Charming Cities, Scenic Lakes and Unique Sights

By Zaida Rios

  • Route distance:
    664.00
  • Suggested Time:
    5 days

Experience farm-to-pint beer, sailing, sculptures, urban waterfalls, a corn palace and more unexpected finds.

Carve out time to explore this loop around eastern South Dakota on a road trip laden with only-in-the-USA sights, natural wonders and farm-to-table experiences. Enjoy the welcoming spirit of the locals on an epic road trip that starts in Sioux Falls and ends in Brookings. To start your trip, fly into Sioux Falls Regional Airport and drive five kilometers to Sioux Falls.

01
Biking across a bridge over the waterfalls of Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
View more

Sioux Falls: Immersive Art, Natural Wonders and Urban Entertainment

Feeling the mist of cool waterfalls usually requires a hike in the mountains, but in Sioux Falls, you’ll find waterfalls right in downtown. Visit Falls Park to explore impressive waterfalls with drops up to 30 meters cascading down the pink quartzite rock. Hop on a bike and discover the nature trails within this expansive park and beyond it on a 48-kilometer bike loop. On your ride, you’ll pass Levitt at the Falls, a popular outdoor concert venue as well as other sights. Downtown is also home to the SculptureWalk and the spectacular Arc of Dreams, an immense metal sculpture spanning more than 100 meters across the Big Sioux River. Plan to spend time on Phillips Avenue, a main drag lined with local boutiques, delicious farm-to-table restaurants and fun bars and breweries. The Big Sioux River Recreation Trail and Greenway connects to the outskirts of the city with trails winding past cool and urban scenic wildlife areas. Pedal or hike along the Big Sioux River at Good Earth State Park, a gorgeous landscape with popular hiking trails featuring scenic overlooks.

127 km
1.25 hours by car
02
Sailing cruise on Lewis and Clark Lake Recreation Area in Yankton, South Dakota
View more

Yankton: Lewis & Clark Lake and Farm-to-Pint Fun

Take Interstate 29 South into Yankton, the ideal spot to unwind and enjoy the simple life, featuring lakeside leisure and hand-crafted beer and food. Sailing is a popular pastime at Lewis & Clark Lake Recreation Area. Cruise on an afternoon sailboat ride, then take advantage of the laid-back outdoor amenities at Lewis and Clark Resort, including sandy beaches, a fully-equipped marina and hiking paths amid beautiful forested bluffs. Want to know what goes into making beer? Tour the 6th Meridian Hop Farm to learn a little hoppy history, as well as the basics of how hops become beer. It’s not just learning, though; count on live music and an easygoing vibe in the open-air beer garden. Relax, sip, and grab a bite from the Counterfeit Curbside food truck. Back in town, walking is a terrific way to see the sights. Stroll along the Meridian Bridge, a pedestrian bridge spanning the Missouri National Recreational River. From the bridge, venture into Meridian Plaza and onto downtown’s shops and restaurants. Don’t miss a stop at Ben’s Brewing Co., a brewery with a secret: The Copper Room speakeasy. Sip on a pineapple jalapeno margarita and settle in for the evening before your road trip continues.

More information
146 km
1.5 hours by car
03
Relaxing on a dock with views of Lake Mitchell in Mitchell, South Dakota
View more

Mitchell: Home of The World’s Only Corn Palace and a Gorgeous Lake

Take in the rural landscape of state highways 50 West and 37 North en route to Mitchell, a heartland town filled with farm country spirit and Native American heritage. Head to the main attraction in town – the famous Corn Palace. This corn-centric structure pays homage to the local staple produce and draws people from around the globe. A Moorish-style design is the foundation for the exterior, while the walls are decorated in multi-colored corn cobs and prairie grass. Inside discover unique murals and an abundant supply of corn-inspired merchandise. Outside, catch a glimpse of the Corn Palace Decorators replenishing the seeds and grains on the exterior designs. Next, set off on an archaeological excursion at the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village and Archeodome for a glimpse of Mitchell’s ancient history. It’s South Dakota’s only archaeologic site open to the public. Dive into more history at the Dakota Discovery Museum. Learn about South Dakota’s Native American and early settler roots among distinctive exhibits and preserved buildings including homes and a historic church. Before you hit the road, make time to enjoy lovely Lake Mitchell, an outdoor recreation hub for activities including hiking, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing.

206 km
2.25 hours by car
04
Viewing paintings by Terry Redlin at the Redlin Art Center in Watertown, South Dakota
View more

Watertown: Discovering Americana Art and Hand-Crafted Beer

Venture northeast into Watertown, where everything from the art to the beer feels homegrown. Make your first stop the Redlin Art Center, a stunning, three-story art center that displays 165 original paintings from famed American oil painter, Terry Redlin. Much of Redlin’s artwork was inspired by the natural surroundings in and around Watertown. Touch base with nature at Stokes-Thomas Lake City Park. Wander through various scenic trails or hop in the water at Lake Kampeska for activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, boating and more. Get social in downtown Watertown at Dempsey’s Brewery Restaurant & Pub, where you can sample the varying flavors of the local craft beer offerings. Patrons might also discover a pop-up spirit tasting from the Glacial Lakes Distillery, too. Both the brewery and distillery take immense pride in cultivating local ingredients to create their specialty libations. Finish the night with a peaceful stroll in this walkable downtown.

More information
82 km
1 hour by car
05
Exploring McCrory Gardens in Brookings, South Dakota
View more

Brookings: Iconic Eats, Dairy Delights and Blooming Gardens

Hit the road via Interstate 29 South to your last stop, the welcoming college town of Brookings. There’s a certain appeal to a quaint college town, and this one is filled with so much to do. Take the “cow-to-cone” tour at South Dakota State University’s Dairy Bar, where students help create more than 60 flavors of rich and refreshing treats. Make sure to buy a cone after the tour; the iconic cookies and cream ice cream flavor is one of the most popular. (Local lore claims this flavor was created here.) You can’t leave Downtown Brookings without a pit stop at Nick’s Hamburger Shop. This local institution with an old-school diner feel has been serving freshly made mini-burgers topped with secret-recipe relish since 1929. Next, escape to McCrory Gardens, a serene haven loaded with flower power. Stroll through 10 hectares of formal gardens such as the Hummingbird Garden or the Butterfly Garden. If you’re here in the spring, don’t miss Tulipalooza, a floral wonder of over 10,000 tulip bulbs to behold. End your day with a trip to the Children’s Museum of South Dakota. Set on the corner of Kidoodle Way in downtown Brookings, this clever museum is full of engaging, interactive exhibits. Kids of all ages can learn about South Dakota prairie life, discover the farm-to-table journey or create their own artwork. After a fun stay, head back to Sioux Falls to fly home or onward to your next adventure.