The fourth largest city in South Dakota is growing faster than ever. With the Swiftel Center, McCrory Gardens Education & Visitor Center, South Dakota State University, and so much more, it was hard to pick just four stops for our trip to Brookings. Whether you’re making a day of it or are spending a couple days in Jackrabbits country, here are some must-see spots.
South Dakota Art Museum
The South Dakota Art Museum, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), has been a place for visitors around the world to enjoy the artistic legacy of our state and its diversity since 1970. Exhibits feature permanent housing for Harvey Dunn, Native American art, Marghab Linens, and Paul Goble, as well as exhibits curated from regional, national, and international artists. The museum has more than 7,000 objects in its collection, including paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, textiles, and ceramics.
The current Harvey Dunn exhibit is Harvey Dunn: Night and Day with works depicting a night scene and one depicting a day scene with pairings relating to each other in subject matter and/or compositional strategies.
“I’m trying to encourage people to look at the works and see what connects them, and then what is different between them – which is really my goal for the show,” curator of exhibitions Jodi Lundgren said.
Other current exhibits are Skye Gilkerson: There and Back, Tapun Sa Win (curated by Dr. Craig Howe of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies), and Written in the Stars: Star Stories in the Illustrations of Paul Goble.
Before you head out, visit the museum store to peruse jewelry, pottery, and original works of art by local and regional artists in addition to books on state history and culture.
Admission to the museum is free.
Open Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sunday 12-4 p.m.
12,613 Students enrolled at South Dakota State University
Nick’s Hamburger Shop
On November 2, 1929, Harold and Gladys Nikalson fired up a little stove burning “white gas” for South Dakota State University’s Hobo Day. What they ended up making on the stove was one of the most famous hamburgers the state has ever seen. Known today as Nick’s Hamburger Shop, the quaint restaurant is a can’t-miss when you’re in town, with charming stools around the circular diner bar.
“Simple has worked well for 88 years,” owner Todd Fergen said.
Enjoy a malts, homemade pies, sundaes, floats, fountain sodas, and – of course – hamburgers. The infamous hamburgers started at 5¢ a burger in 1929, and in 2017, it’s still a steal at $2. Nick’s Hamburgers always has Coke products and offers Old Dutch Potato Chips for sides.
Join their text club for weekly special offers by texting “Nicks” to 68398. There is also Nick’s merchandise and a book on their history available for purchase.
Fergen said, “This is the place to come for stories and chatting. It’s such an iconic place to come and meet for any occasion.”
Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The City and county were both named after pioneer Wilmot Brookings
Children’s Museum of South Dakota
Build. Dance. Sing. Paint. Play. Learn. Discover. Imagine. Create fun and lasting memories for hours with your family at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota. Learn the farming process and see produce go all the way through to the grocery store.Tune up a car, make sandwiches and steam lattes at Cafe Oscar, produce a newscast live at the studio, make music, and visit the 1.5 acre prairie. Watch out for Mama and baby boy Max, the animatronic T. Rex family.
Mama is the only full size animatronic T. Rex in the U.S.
Books are sprinkled throughout the museum for breaks and for more learning. “Literacy is really important, so we have up to 550 books out at any given time, which mirror the area they’re in,” director of marketing Kerrie Vilhauer said.
Literally climb up the clouds, even if you’re an adult. “Each panel of the clouds can hold 2,200 pounds, which means adults can climb them, too,” Vilhauer said.
Walk through one of the newest additions, Tangle Town – a sculpture created from sticks by the outdoor play area. It was created by 77 volunteers with over 603 hours of work.
Hungry? Stop at Café Coteau, which offers a wide array of breakfast and lunch items. Taste the autumn features, like the Fall Turkey Sandwich and Thai Noodles. Kids – don’t miss the Kidoodle Grilled Cheese, which is cut and served in creative shapes.
Become a member and save. Members receive a 10% discount on all purchases at the Museum Gift Shop and a 20% discount on all classes and birthday parties.
Admission is $7.50 per person.
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday 12-5 p.m. // Café Croteau is open Tuesday-Saturday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Home to American Hockey Team brookings Blizzard
Old Market Eatery + Bar
This charming eatery is perfect for any occasion, like date night, catching up with friends, or for a work lunch.
“We do a lot of events in our veranda, which is great for holiday parties and work get-togethers,” general manager of Old Market Eatery + Bar Laura Johnson said.
Choose one of three seating areas to indulge in a variety of handcrafted cuisine and cocktails made with local ingredients.
Sip on signature drinks, like the Pomtini and Cran-Apple Spritzer, or specialty martinis, like the S’more Tini. Happy hour is Monday-Thursday 4-6 p.m and 9 p.m. – close and Friday and Saturday 9 p.m. – close.
Nibble on delicious appetizers like Goat Cheese Spinach Dip and meals like their Tuscan Pasta and Grown-Up Grilled Cheese.
Johnson explained, “Everything is prepped here and is made fresh.”
Open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.