Sioux Falls — destination?

This is something I threw together about Sioux Falls when I was in a particularly horrible mood, but it’s pretty close to the point. I love this city, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to have much to offer.

Initially it was meant as an intro to a small travel section on everyday Sioux Falls sites, part tongue in cheek and part real review. Now that I’ve pulled this out of the archives, I might just start doing that.

My first stop, of course, would be the Hamburger Inn.


It’s kind of a weird black hole. Sioux Falls, that is – a city that doubles as a center of quicksand. It seems to be culturally sterile, like a mule in the middle of the great plains. It’s a strange mixture of both city and town with an impotent result. It’s devoid of personality.

No, that’s not right. It’s just trying to make sense of a personality that seems to be patch worked together; a mess of identities. It’s small town sensibilities vs. big city growth and prosperity. It’s an amalgamation of low-rise business buildings and wide streets, trees on every boulevard and creeping suburbs.

Because of this, our fair city has all but disappeared from the usual annals of travel literature. It’s true! I challenge you to open a Fodor’s or Let’s Go! Guidebook (not counting the impossible to find Fodor’s South Dakota) and find a mention of the state, let alone the city of Sioux Falls. We’ve been lost, cast adrift between Minneapolis and Denver. Sure, we may get the second-from-largest dot on a Rand McNally atlas – in fact our hamlet is featured with it’s own corner map, although so is Aberdeen, so take that for what it’s worth – but what does it mean in the “grand scheme” when Wall Drug features more in the state tourist bureau’s plans than its largest city?

Truly we deserve more respect. We were the #1 city in the country once! I mean… really! It’s beside the point that we received zero points (out of 100, for those who are counting) in the entertainment portion of the surveys, although I think we lucked out – the surveyors probably wanted to give us negative points for listing “the loop” as a top ten hangout on the questionnaire.

We cling to that ranking like any underachieving small-to-mid-size-city should. For one solitary year, we beat Rochester, MN. Mayo be dammed! We’ve got two hospitals! Ha!

It’s this aspect, the pride in our city as a beacon of employment and chasm of entertainment, which makes Sioux Falls so humdrum. Where can an inspiring travel journalist go to experience new things in a town so distant from everything but itself?

Ultimately, I’m a traveler with out travel, in search of tourist stops with no tourists.

This was lovingly handwritten on August 3rd, 2005