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Christmas Road Trips for Siouxland Families

in background, a snowy winter scene surrounds a highway as seen from inside the front seat of a car. foreground reads "Christmas Road Trips Less than 4 Hours From Sioux City"

There are tons of great holiday events happening in the coming weeks in some of our nearby communities. Here are some of my top picks for Christmas events within about 4 hours or so of Sioux City that could make a really fun day trip or weekend trip for families in the Siouxland area! This post will be updated with 2020 details as they are available, but please be aware that things change fast this year, and check frequently for updates with the hosting organization. 

Sioux Falls

Winter Wonderland at Falls Park in Sioux Falls South Dakota
Sioux Falls Winter Wonderland at Falls Park, photo courtesy of Sioux Falls CVB

  • Winter Wonderland at Falls Park features over 300,000 lights on hundreds of trees and poles, and will be lit every night from 11/20/2020 to 1/10/2021
  • 29th Annual Parade of Lights 11/27 at 7:30pm, on Phillips Ave from 13th to 5th
  • It's a Wonderful Life live radio play presented by the Sioux Empire Community Theatre will bring the Christmas classic to life with more than a dozen performances from 12/1 to 12/13 at the Orpheum Theater (315 N. Phillips Avenue.)
  • Sacred Sounds of Christmas with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra celebrates Christmas with festive pieces from Handel, Bach, and more on 12/3 at 7:30pm at Sioux Falls' Washington Pavilion. Seating arrangement will be social distancing friendly.
  • A Prairie Christmas comes to delight audiences of all ages at the Washington Pavilion on 12/6 at 3pm
  • Joy to the World Christmas show with The Browns (from LeMars!) will be at Washington Pavilion on 12/6 beginning at 4pm
  • 'Tis The Season: Christmas with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra will delight audiences with their festive music on 12/12 at 7:30pm and will have a social distancing friendly seating arrangement
  • Christmas with Lorie Line piano Christmas music will fill Washington Pavilion on 12/18 at 7pm
  • Elf the Musical, Jr. stage production presented by DAPA (Dakota Academy of Performing Arts) brings adorable laughs to the stage of the Sioux Falls Orpheum with 6 showtimes from 12/16-12/20
  • For tickets to events at Washington Pavilion go here. For more info on these events and the other great Sioux Falls holiday events, check out the Visit Sioux Falls website

More Christmas fun in South Dakota


Standstill Lighted Parade in Vermillion South Dakota

  • The highlight of Vermillion for the season is their Standstill Parade of Lights on Thursday, 12/ 3 from 6-7pm in downtown Vermillion features a wide variety of floats and performers like a traditional parade, but they stay still while the crowd moves around to see all the fun!
  • Free screenings of Christmas classics at the Coyote Twin Theaters: TBA
  • For more info, visit the Vermillion tourism page


  • Holiday Festival of Lights on 12/3 will feature a virtual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 5:30pm) followed by fireworks off the Meridian Bridge at 5:45 and a parade at 6pm, with an extended parade route this year to accommodate social distancing. More information is available on Facebook.
  • Cowboy Christmas at WJ ranch on 11/27-11/29 features horse rides, buggy rides, Santa on the ranch, and lots more fun! More information is available on the WJ Ranch Website.
  • Vespers at Mounty Marty with Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Music, TBA
  • View a performance of Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus live radio play, presented by the Lewis & Clark Theatre Company, with several performances from 12/-12/13 and 12/18-12/20. More information is available on the Lewis & Clark Theatre Company website.
  • The Hall of Trees at the Mead Cultural Education Center features dozens of elaborately decorated Christmas trees, on display from 11/28/20 to 1/31/20.
  • Vintage Christmas at the Mead Cultural Education Center lasts all month this year to allow everyone to enjoy without a large crowd gathering all at once, and kids visit free all December! Fun includes a vintage toy display, Bingo, a scavenger hunt, craft kits, and much more! Father Christmas will visit the Mead on 12/12 and 12/19. More information available on the Mead website.
  • For more information on these events and other festive fun in the Yankton area, check out Visit Yankton


Santa Claus and Else entertain a crowd of children and parents at the Omaha Children's Museum Santa's Magic exhibit
Santa's Magic 2018 at the Omaha Children's Museum, photo used with permission of OCM

  • The Durham Museum is one of Omaha's most festive locations! You can find full details for all their events, buy tickets, and make reservations on their website. Some of their most notable fun this holiday season includes:
    • Christmas at Union Station This year's Tree Lighting Ceremony will be virtual! The event will be held on Friday, 11/26 from 7-7:20pm and will be streamed live on the Durham website and FB page.
    • Holiday Cultural Tree Display will showcase trees throughout the holiday season that are decorated by cultural organizations across the Omaha area in ways that reflect their beliefs and traditions.
    • Here Comes Santa Claus at the Durham--Santa will be at the Durham Tuesdays through Sundays from Thanksgiving through Christmas, with his reindeer joining him on Tuesday nights and on Sundays! Included with museum admission, but timed reservations required
    • Strings of the Season concert series fills the Durham with live string music from noon to 1pm on 12/5, 12/12/ 12/13, 12/19, and 12/20.
  • Omaha Children's Museum's Santa's Magic exhibit, an annual favorite featuring Santa, elves, ice princesses, and more! This exhibit runs from 11/27-12/23 is included with regular museum admission, which is $14 for ages 2-65 (free for babies, $13 for seniors.) More informatoin is available on the Omaha Children's Museum website.
  • For more festive fun in Omaha, check out the Ultimate Omaha Holiday Events List post from the Oh My Omaha! blog.

More Christmas fun in Nebraska

Nebraska city

  • Tons of festive fun, mostly at the Arbor Day Farms including:
    • Christmas at the Mansion, which features a tour of the festively decorated Arbor Day Mansion with over 50 rooms! Tours available from 11/20 to 12/20
    • Reindeer Chase at Tree Adventures from 11/28 to 12/27
    • Glass blown ornament making on Saturdays, 12/5, 12/12, and 12/19
    • Christmas Murder Mystery at the Arbor Lodge on 12/5, 12/12, and 12/19
    • Arbor Lodge Christmas Tea on 12/6
    • A Swinging Brownville Christmas with several performances from 12/11-12/13
    • And much more!
  • Find more info on the Nebraska City website

Kansas City

70 foot tall Christmas tree decorated with colorful lights at Winterfest at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City Missouri
70 foot tree at Winterfest in KC, photo by Sage Scott of Everyday Wanderer

  • The Mayor's Christmas Tree Lighting at Crown Center features a 100 foot tall tree and will be virtual for 2020! This year's event is on 11/27 at 5:30pm, and you can find more info here.
  • Find more KC Christmas fun on the KC Parents website.

More Christmas fun in Missouri

Saint Joe

Photo of Krug Park Lagoon courtesy of the St. Joseph Visitors Bureau

  • Let your eyes light up at the Holiday Park Lighting Ceremony, to be held at the Krug Park Lagoon on Friday, 11/27 at 6pm.
  • Enjoy dinner theatre at the Ruby Theatre as they present A Christmas Story with showtimes from 11/27-11/29 and from 12/4-12/6.
  • Eyes will light up at the American Girl Doll Holiday Tea Party at the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion on 12/28, for elementary school age kids and their favorite dolls.
  • Catch a production of It's a Wonderful Life: the Musical at the Missouri Theatre on 12/11-12/13.
  • Celebrate Downtown Holidays with carriage rides, free cocoa, live music, and more, on Saturdays 12/5, 12/12/, and 12/19.
  • For more info on holiday fun in Saint Joseph, visit the St. Joseph tourism site.

Des Moines

Winter in historic East Village, photo courtesy of Catch Des Moines

  • Drive through Adventureland's spectacular Jolly Holiday Lights,  from 5:30 to 10pm each night from 11/29 to 12/30 provides tons of holiday cheer and proceeds go to Make-a-Wish Iowa! Find more info here
  • Ride the Santa Express on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad any weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, more info here.
  • Celebrate the season at the Blank Park Zoo, with events including Caroling with the Animals on 11/29, Scuba Santa on 12/7-8, and Santa at the Zoo on 12/14-15. Find more information on these events on the Blank Park Zoo website
  • Ballet Des Moines presents The Nutcracker at the Hoyt Sherman Place, 5 performances from 12/13-15. More information available from Ballet Des Moines.
  • For more Des Moines Holiday fun, check out this post from Catch Des Moines, or visit the Des Moines Parents website, especially their list of Holiday Events in Des Moines.

More Christmas fun in Iowa


  • Christmas Acres, "country Christmas" drive or walk-through lighted extravaganza, with over 100,000 lights, tons of inflatables, 100's of light up molded plastic characters, and other decorations, along with festive music and other fun. Free admittance, with donations requested for a local charity for those who are able to contribute.  You can find the most up-to-date info about Christmas Acres on their Facebook page
  • Pioneer Village Christmas Wonderland features Christmas lights and decorations, visits with Santa, and rides in lit and decorated horse drawn wagons! Find more info on the Pioneer Village Christmas Wonderland Facebook Page


Want to go a bit further? Check out Christmas lights in Chicago with Angela from Dang Travelers or Christmas lights in Minneapolis with Mike of Give Me the Mike!

Whatever your destination is this holiday season, I hope you get to spend some time making special memories with your friends and family! 


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