Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History

A perfect half-day pit stop off I-90 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the Great Plains Zoo is manageably sized, but more importantly, carefully managed to be a high quality zoo experience in the heart of the midwest. Plus, Great Plains Zoo has a Kidscore of 66. (Learn more about Kidscore.)

Great Plains zoo

Great Plains Zoo is so open and accessible, it feels like a park that just so happens to house an impressive collection of animals, and its elevated viewing spaces and interactive exhibits allow even the youngest kids see the animal residents in an up-close and personal way. While walking from exhibit to exhibit, we interacted with geese and ducks, and found many shaded places to take a break, play on a kid-friendly sculpture, or just sit in the grass.

The zoo is in the midst of a multi-year improvement plan, during which it’s bringing in rare animal ‘families’, such as the Rare Rhinos of Africa and tiger cubs in the Asian Cat Exhibit. In the newly restored children’s zoo (now the Hy-Vee Face to Face Farm), kids can pet and feed farm animals and even ride a camel.

rhino sanctuary great plains zoo

I wished I had been at the Great Plains Zoo in time to see the opening of their Monkeys, Magic, and More, slated to open in 2013. Construction is now underway, along with construction of a new zoo entrance and seasonal flamingo interaction.

Included in zoo admission (and not to be overlooked) is the Delbridge Museum of Natural History. I suggest viewing this indoor section of the zoo first, as its 150 mounts, including 36 endangered or ‘vanishing’ species, educates kids on animal conservation. All the mounts in the display are acquired from late Sioux Falls’ resident Henry Blockhouse, who hunted the animals legally in the 1940s-60s and used to house part of his collection in his downtown hardware store. The museum does a good job of providing interactive signage and interpretive displays to keep kids engaged before they continue outside to see the live animals.

Great Plains Zoo

Date last visited:

August 2012

Distance from the interstate:

Just minutes off I-90 or I-29.

Admission prices:

The Great Plains Zoo is very affordable at $7.50 for adults and $4.50 for kids 3-12 (under 3 is free!).

Hours of operation:

April-September 9 am to 6 pm. October-March 10 am to 4 pm.

Food services:

The zoo does offer a full cafe in the heart of the property, as well as a snack station in the children’s zoo area. Outside food seems to be allowed, based on my observations, though the website does not list a ruling specifically.


The zoo is located at 805 S. Kiwanis Avenue, Sioux Falls.