I grew up an hour from Brookings and had many cousins attend South Dakota State University, so Brookings is familiar to me. I’ve enjoyed the downtown shops, university festivities, sporting events, local businesses, and other unique things to do. Though I’ve always thought positively of Brookings, it wasn’t until later in life that I began to sincerely appreciate all that it has to offer.
A few weeks ago, I was able to spend the day in Brookings. There was something wonderful about being in the community for the day without having to rush around. And what I found there was something very special. There is much to see and do in this well taken care of city. Here’s what I discovered:
The Children’s Museum of South Dakota – I have been here several times with my children, and they hands down LOVE this place. And me? It makes me feel young again. It also makes me wish I were four-years-old again. It’s a beautiful place to play. I haven’t been to a children’s museum like it before. From the grocery store to auto body shop to seeing “Mama” the T.rex outside and the fishing pond, there is no shortage of things to do. You could spend all day here with your little ones. To me, this is a top-notch attraction not only in South Dakota, but in all of the Midwest. Kids of all ages will find something to enjoy here, really!
South Dakota Art Museum – This is a gem of an art museum in South Dakota. Rotating galleries feature Native American art, Harvey Dunn, and many scheduled exhibits feature regional and national artists. When we were there around Valentine’s Day, there was a unique exhibit called “Heart to Heart” that featured artist couples with ties to South Dakota. Each person in the couple were each asked to submit a work of their own practice. Each couple was also tasked with creating a piece they collaborated on together for the show. Seeing the individual pieces beside the blending of each couples piece made for an interesting experience for the visitor. No matter what time of year you visit, you’re sure to see some great Harvey Dunn and Oscar Howe pieces, along with the largest collection of Maraghab Linens. Psstt – there is also a great gift store inside with beautiful treasures!
Dakota Nature Park – This was a new one for me, and wow, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised! Just on the outskirts of Brookings, you can find this beautifully-preserved area with many recreation opportunities. It’s open year-round, so you’re able to snowshoe, cross-country ski, canoe, kayak, hike, bike, bird watch, or set up a picnic. The on-site facility, which is open to the public, is very beautiful as well. This multi-purpose park is one that you shouldn’t overlook on a visit to Brookings.
Swiftel Center – Wow, what a great event center! Situated perfectly off the interstate but still close to town, the Swiftel Center blew me away with the great concerts, regional, and local events that they seem to be continuously hosting. In the last few months alone, they’ve hosted Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, wrestling tournaments, conventions, and rodeos. I went to Martina McBride and the place was booming with energy and excitement! Check out their events calendar for a listing of upcoming shows, concerts, and entertainment.
Nick’s Hamburgers – Come on. A trip to Brookings without a stop at the World Famous Nick’s Hamburgers? I think not. You’ll walk into a quaint diner with folks ready to fix you up a burger, or two…or three. I chose to have mine with dill pickle chips and a chocolate malt. Perfection. If you haven’t been, you must try these burgers! The kids will love stepping into this nostalgic diner, and your tummies will be happy too!
McCrory Gardens – This garden is a focal point of not only South Dakota State University, but also the community of Brookings. The 25-acre floral garden and 45-acre arboretum is open for the public to enjoy. Especially gorgeous from May-October, you’ll find flowering and green plants, trees, and features like a cottage and waterfall. Children delight in this beautiful park filled with butterflies, birds, dragonflies and flowers. I feel like I’m in a magical world! It’s both peaceful and energizing.
This is just a high level overview of all there is to see and do in Brookings. To explore more, see what is all available, visit their website.