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Animal Adventures: Zoos, Aquariums, & Nature Centers near Sioux City & Sioux Falls

a turkey walks across a grassy area

Siouxland is a great place to enjoy the wonders of the natural world! Here are some of the best places in Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and other nearby communities in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota to do just that:

Adams Homestead & Nature Preserve

black eyed susans peek up against a blue sky in South Dakota

North Sioux City, SD

Butterfly House & Aquarium

Sioux Falls, SD

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

a large, realistically painted turtle sculpture from the nature playscape behind the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

Sioux City, IA
  • Sioux City's best place for nature education is home to fun indoors and out, with a variety of educational displays, and including indoor tanks for local amphibians, reptiles, and fish, and an outdoor home for rescued birds of prey!
  • The Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center is home to some of Siouxland's best nature education, with programming for all ages from preschool to adult.
  • Find out more at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center website

Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery

Yankton, SD
  • This fish hatchery on the shores of the Missouri near the Gavins Point Dam is dedicated to conservation, especially for endangered and threatened species like the pallid sturgeon, paddlefish, and blue suckers.
  • The hatchery includes a 10,000 gallon aquarium open to the public 
  • Find out more on the Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery website

Great Plains Zoo

Sioux Falls, SD
  • This 45-acre zoo is home to 1000+ animals including giraffes, tigers, snow leopards, rhinos, flamingos, and much more.
  • The Great Plains Zoo is also known for its Delbridge Museum of Natural History, with more than 100 preserved animals!
  • Find out more at the Great Plains Zoo website

Outdoor Campus

Sioux Falls, SD
  • The Outdoor Campus is South Dakota's hub for outdoor education from the State Game, Fish, and Parks Department with programs on a wide variety of topics for all ages!
  • Find out more at the South Dakota Outdoor Campus website

Beyond Siouxland:


a trio of giraffes at the Henry Doorly Zoo

The Henry Doorly Zoo is not in Siouxland, but I had to mention it anyway, because it is one of the best zoos in the entire country. If you have time to make the 2 hour drive south of Sioux City and spend the day there, you won't regret it!

Also near Omaha is the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari, an immersive (mostly) open park full of North American animals like bison, deer, elk, prairie dogs, wolves, pelican, and more! Visitors can drive through the park or go for a hike to enjoy the natural beauty, or enjoy farm animals in the Hands-On Corral!

Des Moines area

Check out this post about fun places to see animals in the Des Moines area from Des Moines Parents!


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