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Visitors to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will find a relaxing atmosphere and many things to do. As the largest city in South Dakota and center of commerce for a region that also includes parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, Sioux Falls has many features not often found in other cities with a population of less than 200,000 people. Sioux Falls has a zoo, fairgrounds, several museums, many parks, several minor-league professional sports teams and, of course, the waterfalls for which the city was named. Not far from Sioux Falls are tourist attractions that celebrate the Old West, including a cowboy ghost town.
Sioux Falls has more than 70 public parks, including Falls Park, which features the Big Sioux River cascading down waterfalls that reveal the lovely pinkish quartzite bedrock that was exposed by receding glaciers thousands of years ago. Sertoma Park has a large playground and picnic area as well as a nature center called the Sioux Falls Outdoor Campus. Inside the Outdoor Campus are displays that show and tell visitors about the local ecology, and there are classrooms where fishing, boating and other courses are held. Outside are a butterfly garden and a nature walk.
Other city parks have recreational features such as swimming pools, tennis courts, a skate park and ball fields. A scenic, paved trail for cyclists and runners circles the city and is more than 20 miles (32 km) long. Just 3 miles (4.8 km) outside the city is Great Bear Recreation Park, where skiers and snowboarders can enjoy many downhill trails when there is snow on the ground.
The Great Plains Zoo is a wonderful destination for youngsters and adults. In addition to the many live animals, the zoo is home to a huge collection of mounted animals. The collection at the zoo's Delbridge Museum rivals that at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. A number of dioramas present the mounted animals in depictions of their natural habitats.
History buffs might enjoy visiting Buffalo Ridge, a cowboy ghost town located 5 miles (8 km) outside the city. Visitors to the ghost town can get a sense of what it was like to live in South Dakota during the 1880s. Buffalo Ridge features dozens of exhibits and places to buy food and souvenirs.
The Sioux Empire Fair is held every summer at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds. Thousands of visitors to the fair can enjoy the rides, animals, concerts and other attractions. The fairgrounds also are the site of one of the largest farm shows in the nation, the annual Sioux Falls Farm Show, where there is stiff competition for the best the many breeds of cows, pigs, and sheep.
Visitors to the city might also enjoy a trip to the largest mall in the region, Empire Mall, which has more than 100 shops and is the most popular tourist attraction in South Dakota — more popular than Mount Rushmore, even. Sports fans can watch one of the city's four minor-league pro teams during their respective seasons. The Pheasants play baseball, the Skyforce play basketball, the Stampede play hockey, and the Storm play indoor football.