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14 Fun & Best Things to do in Yankton, South Dakota

14 Fun & Best Things to do in Yankton, South Dakota

Are you searching for fun things to do in Yankton? Our list of things to do and places to visit in Yankton, South Dakota, will keep you busy all day! The fun is unending, from visiting local attractions like zoos to munching some delicious local meals and drinks in restaurants around town!

Yankton is a city of incredible natural beauty and historical significance. Whether you’re a tourist looking for attractions and activities to do or a resident who wants to explore a beautiful city in South Dakota, Yankton is a great place. There are a ton of fun things to do in Yankton for anyone, any day.

Founded in 1869, the city is located in the southeastern part of the state, at the confluence of the Dakota and Missouri Rivers. It is also the county seat of Yankton County. 

Yankton is commonly referred to as the “River City” because it is located on the Missouri River. And the river has played a significant role in the city’s development and settlement. 

Yankton city was also named after the Yankton tribe of Sioux Indians. Their Dakota name is “Ihaƞktoƞwaƞ Dakota Oyate,” which means “People of the End Village.”

There are numerous reasons why you should consider visiting Yankton, South Dakota. The city is home to many beautiful destinations and is a perfect place to go if you are looking for adventure and fun. Here are some of the reasons why you should visit Yankton, South Dakota:

Fun & Best Things to do in Yankton, South Dakota

Yankton is rich in history and with a myriad of attractions. There’s plenty to see and do in Yankton, from visiting the mystical historical sites to touring the world-famous tourist spots.

And without further ado, let’s see what would make your trip to Yankton so magical.

1. Cross The Missouri River 

Meridian Bridge

Crossing the scenic Missouri River on the Meridian Bridge is one of the best things to do in Yankton. It is a unique experience and pretty adventurous.

Constructed in 1960, the double-decker Meridian Bridge has 3029 feet in length and a width of 18 feet.

Use the bridges’ pedestrian walkway connecting Nebraska and South Dakota to enjoy the view better. You’ll have time to read and absorb the bridges’ history written on placards placed at the bridge’s lower level.

After you get on the Nebraska side, hike the trails in the woods for a further adventure. Then have lunch or dinner at the Grand Cafe, which is not far from the bridge.

If you happen to go there in summer, go down to the river for a swim. And then relax at the small beach while enjoying the scenic views of the Missouri River. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll enjoy views of motorboats and kayakers traversing the waterways. The Missouri bridge is one of the most popular places in Yankton. 

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2. Tour Lewis And Clark Lake Recreational Area

Located at South Dakota and Nebraska border is Lewis and Clark Lake. This 31,400-acre reservoir is an impoundment of the Missouri River in Yankton, South Dakota. Gavins Point Dam manages the water flow while the Nebraskas’ Game and Wildlife manages its recreational area.

The Lewis and Clark Lake visitor center is always open weekdays throughout the year and daily from memorial day weekend through labor day weekend. At the Lewis and Clark visitor center, you’ll get the interpretation of the Missouri River basin, including Pioneers and Native Americans.

And if you love outdoor adventure, the Lewis and Clark Lake park and the recreational center are places to go for sightseeing and nature walk. There are many picnic areas located around the lake to enjoy nature. This tourist destination is famous for scenery camping sites, hiking, bird hunting, fishing, swimming, and biking.

See Related: 11 Fun & Best Things to Do in Dickinson, North Dakota

3. View Yankton’s Downtown Public Art

You can’t miss checking out Yankton’s Downtown Public Art when looking for things to do in Yankton. Yankton’s downtown is home to many public art pieces, including several sculptures and murals. 

Posing for a photo next to the beautiful set of angel wings or the murals documenting the Yankton city’s history should be part of the fun things to do.

This public art program is one of the many reasons Yankton is such a great place to visit.

4. Visit the Dakota Theater or Yanktons’ Opera House

Dakota Theater

Opened in 1902, the Dakota Theater is a landmark in Yankton, South Dakota. The theater was built in 1887, and it is the oldest operating opera house in the state of South Dakota

The venue has a $10,000 pipe organ, gorgeous seats, and chandeliers. And while it might seem like a small local theater, it hosts many events, including plays, concerts, and other cultural events.

Visiting the Dakota Theater should be top of the things to do in Yankton. You can catch a glimpse of this beautiful place with your family and friends and marvel at this city’s fantastic architecture and culture.

See Related: 10 Fun & Best Things to do in Pierre, South Dakota

5. Fantle Memorial Park

Fantle Memorial Park is also one of the best things to see in Yankton, SD. Located along Douglas Avenue between 19th and 21st street, Fantle Memorial Park is an amazing 35-acre picnic destination.

It is an American History and Culture Park. In the center of the park is a memorial to pay tribute to the military veterans.

You can visit Fantle Memorial Park with your family and friends. The park has different sports for people of all ages. Younger kids can have fun at the playground, complete with a swing set. The older kids and adults can play different games like volleyball, basketball, bocce ball, and tennis. 

The park features walking trails where you can do a nature walk. Also, it features a large grassy area, playgrounds, picnic tables, an 18-hole disc course, and a water feature.

6. View Art at the G.A.R. Hall Gallery

The Grand Army of the Republic(G.A.R). Hall Gallery is an art gallery located near Downtown Yankton, SD. The hall provides a unique art experience as its home to rotating art exhibits that feature some world-renowned artists, as well as local and regional ones.

In the G.A.R, you’ll marvel at a collection of antique pieces of furniture related to the region’s history. This includes a table that Jack McCall trial used at the territorial courthouse.

G.A.R hall gallery is a great place to spend time with family and friends.

See Related: 15 Fun & Best Things to do in Greenwood, Indiana

7. Karttrax Go-Kart & Family Fun Park

Roller Coaster Fun

Karttrax Go-Kart & Family Fun Park is a must-feature in the list of most fun places in Yankton. Here, you can enjoy a thrilling ride on the Go-Kart, Roller Coaster, and many other rides at this fun park. 

This five-acre family-owned and operated park is safe and secure for your family members and friends. The amusement park has a go-kart track, mini-golf, arcade games, laser tag, and other fun activities. 

Also, the park has an indoor package for kids too. They can play video games, while parents can relax and enjoy a drink or a full-service snack. If you come with kids to Karttrax Go-Kart & Family Fun Park, they’ll certainly enjoy the fun activities.

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8. Check out the Mead Cultural Education Center

Mead Cultural Education Center is a cultural education center located in Yankton, South Dakota. It was constructed in 1909 under the direction of Dr. Leonard. C.Mead. Initially, it was part of the women’s ward for the Dakota hospital for the insane. 

In 2008, Yankton County Historical Society voted to rehabilitate and save the building. They proposed to make it a museum and an educational center. In 2018, it opened to the public.

Today, the historic mead building is home to the world’s most extensive private collection of art and artifacts from the American West. It features exhibits of local and regional history.

The facility contains more than 2,000 historical relics, including exhibits, paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, and Native American artifacts. Mead Cultural Education Center artifacts are one of the best things to see in Yankton. 

The center is located in the heart of Yankton at 82 Mickelson Drive and is a perfect place for cultural activities and events. The museum is open daily, and it provides various programs and activities for less than 10 dollars, and members get free admission.

9. Marvel at the Limestone buildings

Yankton, South Dakota, is known for its limestone buildings. It was even once nicknamed the “Cement City” due to its early exploitation of the Fort Hays Limestone for cement manufacture and shipment during the construction of the Panama Canal.

The city has the most extensive collection of limestone buildings in the world. These limestone buildings are pretty impressive and are a sight to see. Most city buildings in Yankton are built on a limestone foundation. 

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10. Tour Historical Architecture at Cramer Kenyon Heritage

Touring the Cramer Kenyon Heritage historical architecture should be part of your itinerary. Historical architecture is an integral part of the city’s culture. It tells about the community’s heritage and history. 

Yankton has a strong community spirit, with a history that dates back to 1869. Several buildings from the late 19th century and early 20th century still stand as relics of the town’s past.

Many of these buildings are now museums, which display the history of Yankton and South Dakota. You can experience the history of Yankton in the Cramer Kenyon home. 

The Cramer Kenyon building completed in 1886 provides insight into the area’s economic and social history. The building is a three-story Queen Anne house containing;

  • Original furnishings 
  • Fine woodwork 
  • Old oil paintings
  • Heavy double doors in the front entry 
  • Replicated wallpapers in the parlor
  • Electric and gas chandeliers

The home is always open for guided tours from Memorial Day through Labor Day, from 1 to 4 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday. However, the house is open to tour only by appointment during the off-season. The suggested donations are from $7 for adults while students under 12 years part with $3.

11. The Boat House – Yankton

The Boat House in Yankton is a place that oozes history. This premier family-owned entertainment center is located in the Meridian District on the Missouri River and was started in March 2020.

The Boat House is a perfect place to relax and unwind in the beautiful scenery of Yankton. It offers a great atmosphere, and one can enjoy ax throwing, mini bowling, golf simulation, pool shuffleboard, and taproom.

The center has the best beverages while playing, including craft beer and wine. You can have private hangouts, enjoy pizza and chili, or go to the open areas to party.

The Boat House is located at 301 E 3rd street in Yankton. It is one of the most famous places in Yankton, which has been recently restored.

See Related: Best Father Daughter Trips

12. Yankton Bowl Family Fun Center

mini bowling

If you are looking for something different to do in Yankton, you should visit the Yankton Bowl Family Fun Center. The center is located on Broadway street, on the edge of the Yankton River, and offers a beautiful atmosphere for a family. 

With 20 bowling lanes and numerous arcade games, the Yankton Bowl Family Fun Center is undoubtedly a fun place to visit with your family. The bowling alley offers a full menu of games for all ages, including the new Ultra Strike Laser Tag.

And besides the incredible selection of games, the bowling alley offers a wide variety of food like pizza, burgers, fries, and drinks for everyone to enjoy. With various activities, this bowling alley will keep you busy for hours. 

This amusement park features bowling leagues for children of all ages from age 3 to 20 from late September to February. Also, the facility hosts high-school bowling teams.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Cheyenne, Wyoming

13. Enjoy a Pizza at Charlie’s Pizza House

Charlie’s Pizza House is a local favorite, serving up quality pizza and pasta dishes in a casual atmosphere. Their pizza is made with fresh dough, and they offer a wide variety of toppings.

Located on 804 Summit street, Charlie’s Pizza House is a family-owned and operated pizza shop serving delicious pizza to customers for more than 60 years. 

The restaurant prides itself on providing a warm and friendly atmosphere conducive to great food and great conversation. This pizza house provides drive-in, drive-through, and delivery options.

14. Spend a Night at the Historic Argo Hotel

The Historic Argo Hotel is a small motel located in the town center. It is famous for its historical significance and, as a result, has been featured in several movies. 

The Argo Hotel is a historic building that has been around for over a century. It is known for its large and elegant lobby and beautiful, exquisite dining room. 

This hotel offers an array of amenities and services, including free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool, a picnic area, and a golf course. It also offers a bed, and complimentary full breakfast served in the dining area with a grand piano. And except Sundays, they provide daily cocktails. 

It has upgraded rooms with private bathrooms. All suites have a sitting area, and most have jacuzzi tubs. Some suites have full-living rooms with private balconies where you can sit and relax, enjoying the cool breeze.

You can come with your family and spend it at the Argo hotel after a busy day of touring Yankton. The Argo hotel is a smoke-free and kids-friendly hotel with a play area and a set of swings. Your kids can play and have fun while you relax at the Argo Hotel.

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