When was the last time you took a vacation that combined adventure, educational activities, a wealth of dining options and culture around every corner? All this and more awaits you in Brookings, South Dakota. In fact, there’s so much to see and do that you’ll want to stay several days or more.
Brookings offers a variety of attractions for all ages. Kick off your trip in Brookings, home to South Dakota State University, a well-known agricultural research institution. The Children’s Museum of South Dakota provides a year-round interactive playground for kids to learn, while the Hillcrest Aquatic Center delivers an exciting way to cool off in the summer. Our lively nightlife brings friends together and the art scene is gaining ground at the numerous museums and galleries.
Take a leisurely stroll down Main Avenue and see first-hand the early architecture of the historic downtown. With each brick laid and concrete poured, the streets of downtown Brookings tell a story of Classic Revival and Art Deco, along with Beaux-Arts and Romanesque architecture. Or experience the rich, pioneer history at the Brookings County History Museum where more than 45,000 artifacts are on display, and where visitors can travel back in time through old photographs and various newspaper clippings. The Brookings Arts Council encourages community connections through the arts by providing a supportive environment for awareness, appreciation, and participation and has been a driving force in completing a new mural in downtown.
Spark your imagination at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota, the only one of its kind in South Dakota to feature 44,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space and 4-acres of outdoor prairie, including a full size, animatronic T.Rex on display. The CMSD enhances learning for all children and grownups through play, creativity and discovery. The South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum is dedicated to preserving and inspiring a passion for the history of agriculture, while the South Dakota Art Museum features seven spacious galleries and a collections archive of more than 7,000 works of art.
Botany lovers must visit McCrory Gardens, a 25-acre botanical garden plus 45-acre arboretum, which feature a main, formal display botanical garden with a variety of different trees, shrubs, grasses, herbs, flowers, and native plants. Go for the bull’s eye at the Brookings County Outdoor Adventure Center, a 29,530 square-foot facility featuring both a firearms range and Olympic-length archery range. While shooting sports is their key focus, the center also is home to SDSU Extension, Brookings County 4-H, and the Game, Fish, and Parks.
Experience the great outdoors at pristine Dakota Nature Park where kayaking, canoeing, bird watching and nature programming are offered during the appropriate months, while winter brings with it snow shoeing and cross country skiing. Single Track Mountain Biking Trail & Pump Park which boasts three different tracks, suited for all ages and abilities, including a strider track for kids between ages two and five.
Culinary offerings abound throughout the region, and no trip to Brookings is complete without a stop at Nick’s Hamburger Shop, a downtown staple since 1929, Nick’s offers mini 2oz burgers, pies and shakes. They even hosts contests for how many burgers a person can eat in one sitting. The South Dakota State University Dairy Bar, which famously invented Oreo Ice Cream in 1979, features ice cream manufactured by students. Visitors can watch the cow-to-cone process. Pheasant Restaurant & Lounge, the area’s oldest full-service restaurant, serves classic midwestern meals with a Nordic twist, like Pheasant Salad Sandwiches, lamb chislic, Nordic waffles and Bison burger. Backyard Grill & BBQ piles on the pulled pork, Texas beef brisket, and ribs along with classic southern sides like molasses baked beans, cornbread and potato salad.
Perhaps more than anything else, Brookings is a family-friendly destination that welcomes visitors with open arms. The fun and excitement are waiting to be experienced.