Travel Tips

Top 10 Fun Things to do in Sioux City

Written by Eddie White

We have here the top 10 fun things to do in Sioux City. Sioux City is located at the point where the Missouri, Big Sioux, and Iowa rivers converge.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, the Sioux City Public Museum, and the top-notch Sioux City Art Center all offer outstanding free exhibits and activities for visitors.

Top 10 Fun Things to do in Sioux City

Below are the top 10 fun things to do in Sioux City.

1. The Courthouse of Woodbury County

The Woodbury County Courthouse is a 1918 Prairie School landmark in downtown Sioux City. Known as the “Jewel of the Prairie,” this four-story brick structure is regarded as one of the greatest examples of Prairie School architecture in the county.

The 1870s courthouse it replaced was designed by George Grant Elmslie, William Gray Purcell, and William L. Steele of Sioux City.

Take notice of the ornate grillwork over the northern entry, crafted by Elmslie, and the sculptural features by Alfonso Iannelli over the doors, both visible from the street.

The interior abounds with marble, intricate metalwork, and murals, and if you’re interested in a visit, you may contact the Board of Supervisors’ office via the Woodbury County website.

Read also: The 10 Best Things to do in Overland Park

2. Transport and Aviation Museum of the Middle West

The museum, housed in a hangar at Sioux Gateway Airport, explains the evolution of air travel and ground transport in the 20th century.

There are displays and exhibits covering 30,000 square feet, and the museum is home to a number of restored aircraft, including a Boeing 727-200 and a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter.

One notable sight is an intact Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major, the largest-displacement piston engine to be mass-produced in the United States.

Motorcycles and vintage automobiles, such as the 1941 Cadillac Fleetwood “60” Special Sunroof Sedan that President Truman drove in a parade in Omaha, and even a road grader from 1913 make up the earthbound vehicle fleet.

A memorial and tribute garden honors those who perished in the United Flight 232 crash in Sioux City in 1989.

3. Museum of Railway History in Sioux City

First arriving in 1868, the railroads had a key influence on the growth of Sioux City and the tri-state area in the late 19th century.

At their peak, there were eight railroads serving Sioux City making this country’s 10th-largest railroad center in the United States in the 1920s and 30s.

The massive engine terminal and maintenance buildings constructed in the 1910s by the Milwaukee Road are now home to the intriguing Sioux City Railroad Museum.

By World War II, the shops had over 500 employees and were responsible for the daily maintenance of 70 trains in addition to the overhaul of 35 steam engines.

You may wander the museum’s 32 acres, taking in the historical structures and impressive machinery, such as Steam Locomotive No. 1355, nicknamed “Ironhorse” (1909).

In addition to the magnificent model railroad, there is a motor car trip around a third of the track, a Grand Scale Train that can hold 32 people, and more.

Read also: The 10 Best things to do in Killeen

4. The LaunchPad Museum for Kids

Across from Pearl Street Park in the heart of downtown Sioux City is a well-regarded children’s museum that features a wide variety of well-thought-out interactive exhibits for children as young as six months old and as old as ten years old.

LaunchPad includes numerous attractions rooted in local farming, such as a big red barn, hog pen, grain bin, milking cow, and an agricultural zone, where kids can find out about crops grown in the area and what life is like as a farmer.

The Market and Cafe provide enough chance for roleplaying, while the Build Zone, Wind Zone, and magnificent Water Table introduce young minds to scientific and engineering principles.

5. The Anderson Dance Theater

This posh riverbank facility, surrounded by manicured gardens, is a prime spot for Sioux City’s outdoor concerts.

The Anderson Dance Pavilion, easily recognized by its Neoclassical columns, revitalized the riverside when it debuted in the early 1990s and features a beautiful vista of the water.

The fact that this is a popular location for wedding pictures is hardly surprising.

Cinco de Mayo, Summertime Mardi Gras (early July), ArtSplash (late August), and a host of music festivals and outdoor concerts fill the calendar at this picturesque location.

Read also: The Top 10 Fun and Educative Things to do in Clermont FL

6. Visit the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

This free nature center is tucked away in the trees off Sioux River Road in beautiful Stone State Park. Learn about the marsh, woodland, and prairie ecosystems found in northwest Iowa through hands-on displays.

Tanks and terrariums with live fish and reptiles complement fascinating displays of the area’s rich natural heritage.

The park’s wildflower and butterfly gardens are a sight to behold in the late spring and summer, and there’s even a designated bird-viewing area to showcase the park’s avian treasures.

From the park’s hub, you can access a network of trails that will take you into the forest and to breathtaking overlooks of the grassland beyond.

7. The Museum of Public History of Sioux City

This landmark of the community relocated downtown to a shiny new structure in 2011. Although it now oversees the Sergeant Floyd River Museum (which we’ll get to in a minute), the Sioux City Public Museum was previously located at the 23-room Peirce Mansion (1893).

The HQ is a cutting-edge destination with numerous interactive exhibits like the Time Machine and Innovation I-Wall that provide novel insights into the city.

The lavish Corn Palace Theatre is a great place to begin, as it shows a short film titled “Spirit of Sioux City” that will give you a sense of the city in 12 minutes.

The Sioux City Stockyards re-create one of the United States’ busiest stockyards during its heyday, and the Big Dig recreates an active fossil dig in the region to show how fossils were discovered there.

Read also: 10 Best Things to do in Jamestown (New York)

8. Visit the Center for the Arts in Sioux City

The Sioux City Art Center opened in a state-of-the-art structure in 1997, but its impressive collection dates back to the 1930s.

Although the collection’s primary concentration is on Iowa and the Midwest, it also includes works by a number of nationally and internationally renowned artists such as Salvador Dal, Dale Chihuly, Claes Oldenburg, Käthe Kollwitz, and Jun Kaneko.

The Corn Room painting, which Grant Wood painted in 1927 for the Martin Hotel in Sioux City, is on display in a dedicated room.

The artwork in question had been covered up with the paper in the 1950s and wasn’t discovered again until 1979. All five galleries include rotating exhibits, and the center hosts a variety of events designed to encourage creative expression in participants of all ages.

9. Interpretive Center of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

In the summer of 1804, Lewis and Clark were exploring the new territory that had been acquired through the Louisiana Purchase, and they stopped in the area that is now Sioux City. A 20,000-person cultural complex opened in 2007 to commemorate this era.

Fascinating displays bring the expedition’s stay in the region to life, including the tragic death of Sergeant Charles Floyd, the first U.S. soldier to perish west of the Mississippi.

There’s also a ton of information about this historic journey leading up to and including its arrival at the Missouri River’s confluence with the Big Sioux.

The Keelboat Theater presents the 15-minute video “A Visit with William Clark,” while the rest of the museum is filled with interactive activities for kids, such as computers, flip books, stamping stations, and a brass-rubbing station.

10. Statue of Sergeant Floyd

Charles Floyd, a young man who participated in the Lewis and Clark expedition, is buried in Sioux City (1782-1804). In all likelihood, appendicitis took his life on the upstream journey, and he was laid to rest in the future site of Sioux City.

His death marked the sole loss of life among the Corps of Discovery. His cemetery has been moved twice to locations further east due to erosion, and the memorial’s mournful Kettle River sandstone obelisk was built in 1901 and is 100 feet in height.

Located in a 23-acre park with a breathtaking panorama of the Missouri River valley, the monument is a short distance downstream from the heart of Sioux City.

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Eddie White

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