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Article courtesy of Shine On Photos; written by: Jill Emmer
This article has been modified from its original version.

When my husband and I found out that our kids were going to have an additional week of school off after New Years, we were like, "Now what?!" We knew the prior week would be filled with family, holidays and celebrations... How could you top that?

As luck would have it, we were invited to spend 5 days in Sioux Falls during the winter! We were able to schedule it for the week our two boys had off of school!

Why would you go to Sioux Falls, South Dakota in January?! There are SO many reasons! We were truly surprised! I can't wait to show you! 

Day One:

The first day of our trip began in the late afternoon, after my husband got done with work. Since the drive was only 3 1/2 hours from our hometown of Minneapolis, MN, we had no problem making the trip on the same day as a work day! We even arrived with time to spare!

So we headed straight to the Midco Aquatic Center to meet up with a "host family." 

Visit Sioux Falls had not only planned our event-filled trip, they had also connected us with a local family. Conveniently, the host family had 4 boys! A great pair up.

 The new facility gleaned and provided us with a tropical & steamy oasis on a sub-zero day. The boys got to really shake-out their legs and explore. Water slides, basketball hoops, floating pads, fountains, and more! 

Afterwards we checked into the Sheraton Sioux Falls. We were delighted to see that the manager had left a hand written note and some treats. The boys loved the glass elevators! They went to sleep waterlogged, full-bellied and content.   

Day Two: 

One of the aspects I love most about traveling is the anticipation! When Visit Sioux Falls sent us the proposed itinerary, the boys and I huddled around my laptop and Googled each spot. They began to jump up and down with excitement. (It reminded me of a scene from the Price-Is-Right.) I got a little Price-Is-Right-ish myself when I saw a photo of the beautiful theater located in the Washington Pavilion. It looked amazing!! A photo idea started to grow..

Anyhow, back to Day Two. After a nice breakfast at our hotel, we were off and running! We headed over to the Washington Pavilion where we stayed all morning. There was so much to do there, we barely covered half of it! The Washington Pavilion houses a Visual Arts CenterKirby Science Discovery Center, a cafe, a store, Wells Fargo CineDome Theater and Husby Performing Arts Center, all under one roof! 

I pitched my photo idea and they said yes! Since we were visiting the Kirby Science Discover Center that day (and because Cy already owned an astronaut costume) I decided to do a space themed shot - in the middle of an empty theater! It was so magical! As I took a quick picture, Arlo and Patrick my husband ran around on the stage having a blast! 


The Space Toilet provided some giggles 

After that we headed over to the Kirby Science Discovery Center where we stayed for hours. There are three different levels there, each with a unique theme. 

That afternoon we all took a rest. Then the boys swam in the hotel pool.


Sheraton Sioux Falls pool. Yup. My kids love hotel pools! 

Then we headed downtown to check out a few local stores.


Shopping? Yes! But first milkshakes for the boys, and wine & beer for the adults at the Phillips Avenue Diner in downtown Sioux Falls.

Zandbroz was an adorable store that reminded me a bit of the beloved Twin Cities chain Patina. It had all sorts of unique homes goods, toys, and gift ideas. I know if I lived in Sioux Falls that would be my go-to gift shop stop!

And next door was a toy store! Child's Play Toys. The boys went bananas there. What a great store! They were totally welcoming & encouraged the boys to play with anything they saw. And of course we did not leave empty handed! Cy chose a magical ball and Arlo chose a stuffed bear that tagged along with us the rest of the trip! 

That evening we caught the magical Winter Wonderland display and got a chance to see the falls at Falls Park. So neat to see a beautiful rugged waterfall right in the middle of the city! 

Finally we dined downtown at Crawford's. It was a cozy, warm little spot with amazing decor. If you ever question whether Sioux Falls is hip, visit this spot! You will leave convinced that the town is vibrant, artistic, and filled with a diverse and very friendly population.


Downtown Sioux Falls

Which reminds me... Earlier that day, an employee at the Washington Pavilion had mentioned how people in Sioux Falls are incredibly kind. She said that residents never honk at each other! Sure enough, when Patrick dropped off Cy, Arlo and I out in front of Crawford's Bar and Grill - we took a long time to get unstrapped and out of the car. It was only after we were out did I realize that we were holding up a line of cars on their busy main thoroughfare, Phillips Ave.  Oy. I was slightly mortified. However, those words totally rang true. No one honked! They even gave me a friendly, understanding wave as I shuffled the boys into the restaurant and Patrick went off to park.


I tried to be sneaky and take a quick iPhone photo of the walls at Crawford's. They're jeweled and sparkly and amazing! 

After filling our bellies with delicious steaks and pasta and salads, we headed "home" to crash and prepare for another day of fun! (To be continued in Part Two!