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 2019 details as they are available!

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 11/22 to 1/5/2019
  • 28th Annual Parade of Lights 11/29 at 7:30pm, on Phillips Ave from 13th to 5th
  • Christmas with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, 12/14 at 7:30pm & 12/15 at 2:30pm
  • Irving Berlin's White Christmas Musical at Washington Pavilion, 11/15 at 7:30pm, 11/16 at 2 & 7:30pm, and 11/17 at 2 & 7:30pm
  • Moscot Ballet's Great Russian Nucracker at Washington Pavilion, 11/21 at 7pm
  • Frozen Jr. stage production presented by DAPA (Dakota Academy of Performing Arts), 12/4-12/8
  • Tonic Sol-Fa The Nights Before Christmas Tour at Washington Pavilion, 12/6 & 12/7
  • Kenny G Christmas at Washington Pavilion
  • 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, 12/5 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:
    • Saturday, 11/30, 11am: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
    • Saturday, 12/14, 11am: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
    • Monday, 12/16, 7pm: It's a Wonderful Life
  • For more info, visit the Vermillion tourism page


  • Holiday Festival of Lights on 12/5 will feature a 21-foot tall Christmas tree (lighting ceremony at 7pm), plus a parade at 6pm with more than 60 floats and bands, and festive fun in the Meridian District like carolers, cocoa, and fireworks! More information is available on Facebook.
  • Cowboy Christmas at WJ ranch on 11/29 features hayrides, crafts, treats, a petting zoo, and Santa on the ranch! More information is available on Facebook.
  • Vespers at Mounty Marty with Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Music, performances at 4 & 7pm on 12/7, free but limited seating. More information is available on Facebook.
  • View a performance of A Christmas Carol live on stage, presented by the Lewis & Clark Theatre Company, with 6 showtimes on 12/5-12/8. More information is available on Facebook.
  • Enjoy the musical stylings of Just Cuz at the AME, benefiting Pathways Homeless Shelter. More information is available on Facebook.
  • Or see the movie Elf at the Dakota Theatre for free with a donation to Pathways Homeless shelter at 3pm on 12/14. More information is available on Facebook
  • Vintage Christmas on 12/14 at the Mead Cultural Education Center will entertain young audiences from 1-5pm with cookie decorating, stocking decorating, popcorn chains, Father Christmas, and stories from Lady Christmas! More information available on Facebook.
  • 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

  • Durham Museum: Several events throughout the season including: (Disclosure: I'm a Durham Museum 2019 ambassador and received a free annual membership in exchange for blogging about them this year.)
    • Christmas at Union Station Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Friday, 11/29 from 4-8pm and will feature live entertainment, cookie decorating, holiday crafts, and Santa!
    • Log Cabin Christmas: On Saturdays and Sundays from Thanksgiving through Christmas, a docent will be available inside the Durham's log cabin to show guests the cabin's Christmas decorations and discuss how pioneers would've celebrated Christmas. Check the Durham website for exact dates and hours!
    • Meet Santa at the Durham--Santa will be at the Durham on Saturdays from 10:30am-3pm from Thanksgiving through Christmas, on Sundays from 1:30-4pm in December, and on Tuesday 12/3, 12/10, & 12/17 from 5-8pm
  • Omaha Children's Museum's Santa's Magic exhibit, an annual favorite featuring Santa, elves, ice princesses, and more! This exhibit is included with regular museum admission, which is $14 for ages 2-65 (free for babies, $13 for seniors)
  • For more festive fun in Omaha, like Hogwarts Christmas at Fontanelle Forest, multiple production of A Christmas Carol, and musical performances from Mannheim Steamroller, Canadian Brass, and the Omaha Symphony, check out the Ultimate Omaha Holiday Events List post from the Oh My Omaha! blog.

More Christmas fun in Nebraska

Nebraska city

  • Lied Lodge has tons of Christmas fun including a Trolley Tour of Lights, crafts for kids, Brunch with Santa, and 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!
  • Winterfest at Worlds of Fun features more than 5 million festive lights, music and performances, costume characters, and more! For 12 Reasons to check out World's of Fun's Winterfest, check out this post from KC based travel blogger, Everyday Wanderer.
  • 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, 11/29 at 6pm.
  • Enjoy dinner theatre at the Ruby Theatre as they present A Tuna Christmas with showtimes from 11/29-12/2 and from 12/13-15.
  • Sip something delicious at the Holiday High Tea at the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion on Thursday, 12/5.
  • Catch a production of Elf: the Musical at the Missouri Theatre on 12/6-8.
  • Celebrate Downtown Holidays with free carriage rides, free cocoa, live music, and more, on Saturday, 12/7.
  • Sing along with holiday film classics at the St. Joseph Symphony's Home for the Holidays concert at the Missouri Theatre on 12/14 at 7pm.
  • 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


  • Santa's Village in Downtown Spirit Lake on  includes carriages rides, crafts, shopping, Santa, cocoa, and much more! You can find the full details here.
  • Milford Holiday Fantasy celebrates the season with a Holiday Fantasy Parade & Festival of Trees on 12/6 and a chili feed and free holiday movie screenings at the Milford Pioneer Theatre on 12/7
  • On 12/22 you can enjoy Tonic Sol-Fa Christmas at the Roof Garden at Arnold's Park
  • Catch Elf or White Christmas for free at 10am on Christmas Eve (donations to food pantry requested) at the GreatLakes 7 Cinema
  • For more info on these and more holiday events in the Okoboji area, visit the Vacation Okoboji website.

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

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