7 Best Places to Live in South Dakota

October 17th, 2022

7 Best Places to Live in South Dakota

Best Places to Live in South Dakota

Searching for the best places to live in South Dakota? Check out these seven great South Dakota cities!

South Dakota is a great place to live. Home to Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands, the state has a diverse landscape with rolling plains, canyons, lakes, and the Missouri river flowing through its center. Known for tourism and agriculture, this is a great state to live in if you are looking for a lower cost of living with more space, lots of outdoor activities to enjoy, and a slower pace of life.

South Dakota city and waterfall

Located in the middle of the United States between Minnesota and Wyoming with a population of 879,226, everything is very spread out here. Whether you are looking for a city with access to lots of things to do and explore or a place where you are genuinely in the middle of nowhere where you can escape, South Dakota has a place for you.

Check out these top places to live in South Dakota!

Sioux Falls

One of the best places to live in South Dakota, this city is known for its stunning Falls Park, the city's main natural attraction. These significant falls that the city initially got its name from flow through downtown, running over large red rocks and creating a stunning river.

With the largest population in the state of 180,927, this is the closest to city life that you will get in South Dakota. Downtown Sioux Falls is full of restaurants, bars, a few new cocktail bars/clubs, a significant performance center/science center, and many small stores to explore. The surrounding city also has a lot: excellent school districts, parks, recreational courts, a large zoo, and a bike path that wraps around the whole town.

Check out the best things to do and see in this fun city!

Falls Park in South Dakota at night with waterfall and purple lights

Local Favorites:

  • Falls Park - This public park surrounding the city falls includes a cafe, an observation tower, and the remains of the old mill. The park is lit with a drive-thru display and lights shining beneath the frozen water during Christmas.
  • Great Plains Zoo - A 45-acre zoo and museum showcase many exhibits from animals worldwide. The Delbridge museum also has over 150 mounted animals, including 38 "vanishing species," where you can learn more about them.
  • Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove - Escape into your magical forest with hundreds of active butterflies within an enclosed garden. Be able to learn and see butterflies of all different colors, shapes, and sizes, and if you are lucky, one might land on you. There is a butterfly house here and a marine cove with sea life displays and a touch pool!
  • Washington Pavillion - This arts and science center holds a performing arts theatre, hands-on science exhibits, art galleries, and a Cinedome. Everyone of all ages can experience something different here, from live performances year-round to watching a film on the 60ft wide, 4-story screen.

Rapid City

Located in the state's southwest part, this city is known for being close to many attractions such as the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and more historical monuments and places. The city is known as The City of Presidents due to 43 presidential statues located downtown city corners.

The current population is 76,541, but it can easily double due to the tourists that visit each year. People live decently spread out with lots of hills and beautiful landscapes covering the area. The public schools are above average, and there are many cute coffee shops, parks, and museums.

Check out the places to visit in Rapid City!

Local Favorites:

  • Reptile Gardens - A animal park open on the first Saturday of March-November 30th. Recognized as the world's largest reptile zoo, there are many different animals and plants to see and possibly even touch here!
  • Mt. Rushmore - This historic attraction brings thousands of visitors each year. Carved into rock and surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the Black Hills, you will see the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
  • Badlands - This national park has dramatic landscapes formed by rock formations and canyons. Explore one of the many trails and take in this geographical spectacle and hope to see maybe a bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dog, and hopefully not a rattlesnake.
  • Crazy Horse - This memorial has yet to be finished with the design that was hoped to be seen, but you can still see the face and body of Crazy Horse himself bursting through rock. This memorial's goal is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians. You can see the monument and many performances and stop at the museum to learn more about the individuals that lived in the Black Hills first.
  • The Mammoth Site - A museum and paleontological site near Hot Springs, SD, where 60 mammoths have been uncovered, and research and education are still occurring.

Badlands, South Dakota on a cloudy day


Pierre is the capital of South Dakota, with a population of 13,908. Known for several parks, including two state parks; LeFramboise Island Nature Area and Farm Island Recreation Area. This is the place to live for an outdoor lover!

Pierre gives you the small-town feel but still has lots to offer. Located right on the Missouri river, you can easily spend the day fishing, boating, or swimming in the water during the warmer months or play 18-holes at one of the local golf courses. Downtown Pierre has many bars and restaurants with a laid-back feel to enjoy catching up with friends or family.

Check out the best places to see in Pierre, SD, below.

The capitol building in South Dakota on a sunny day with clouds

Local Favorites:

  • State Capitol Building - This beautiful state capitol building houses the offices of most state officials, including the governor.
  • Flaming Fountain - This memorial is dedicated to the war veterans of South Dakota and is located on the shores of Capitol Lake. This fountain was initially made of an artesian well deep in the earth, making it look like it is always on fire!
  • South Dakota Discovery Center - A must-visit for kids! This playful museum has 60 interactive science exhibits for hands-on learning.


Just five miles east of Sioux Falls, Brandon is a tremendous suburb-like area to live in, with highly rated schools, cheaper housing, and lots of green spaces and hiking areas to enjoy. With a population of 10,030, many individuals here enjoy the comfort of living outside of the bigger city of Sioux Falls. Still, it is only a short distance away if wanting to drive downtown to enjoy some of the things offered there.

Brandon is known for being close to the ski hill Great Bear during the winter months. People of all ages come to enjoy tubing, skiing, and snowboarding at this local snow hill and relax in its ski lounge after hitting the slopes. During the summer, there are many hiking trails and picnic areas to enjoy and catch a race at Huset's Speedway!

Whether you are someone that wants to be in touch with wildlife or live in an area with good quality living, Brandon, SD, is for you. Check out some local favorites below!

Local Favorites:

  • Great Bear Ski Valley - The largest park in the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department with winter sports activities for the whole family and trails for jogging, bird watching, or picnics during the summer.
  • Big Sioux Recreational Park - This beautiful lush state park lies on the banks of the Big Sioux River and is a paradise for camping, canoers, bicyclists, hikers, disc golfers, and more.
  • Huset's Speedway - A 3/8mile dirt oval racetrack for sprint car races for everyone to enjoy!


Located right near the southeastern border of South Dakota and Nebraska above the Missouri river, Yankton is the town to go to if you are looking for live theatre performances, great fishing, frisbee golf courses, and stunning hiking areas.

Historic downtown Yankton offers an artsy feel with live theatre performances by the Lewis and Clark Theatre Company and explores the many artistic sculptures featured in the Yankton riverwalk. Downtown offers many shops, hotels, restaurants, and breweries to enjoy.

Check out some local favorites to enjoy in Yankton, SD!

Local Favorites:

  • Yankton Riverwalk - Enjoy the outdoors and some art simultaneously! Volunteers and non-profit workers work with artists and civic leaders to install these stunning sculptures for the whole community to enjoy.
  • Lewis and Clark Recreation Area - Located on the northern shore of Lewis and Clark Lake, this is one of the state's most popular resort parks. Enjoy three separate campgrounds, sandy beaches, and marinas.
  • Mead Cultural Education Center - This historic building is home to the Yankton County Historical Society, Dakota Territorial Museum, and the future home to the Yankton College Alumni offices.
  • Yankton Area Arts - A art gallery organized by a non-profit organization dedicated to education and a rich cultural experience.


Aberdeen is the third most populated city in South Dakota, with a population of 28,495. Known for its beautiful scenery with rolling hills and rivers, this is a fantastic place to live if you are looking for a nice quiet area.

Home to Northern State University, this town has a tremendous college-town environment with local bars, sporting events, and more to enjoy. Voted as the second-best small college town in the country, this is a great affordable place to go to school or raise a family. Enjoy a game or grab a beer at one of the bars, and you will feel like a local very quickly in this midwestern town.

Check out some of the fun things to enjoy in Aberdeen, SD!

Local Favorites:

  • Storybook Land and Land of Oz - A 20-acre family amusement park where families can enjoy rides, interactive exhibits, and more based on famous nursery rhymes and childhood books such as the Wizard of Oz!
  • Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge -These lands are essential to the yearly bird migration. This 21,498-acre refuge has Sand Lake, wetland areas, hiking trails, and more to enjoy. As a birdwatcher, this place is a must-see!
  • Aberdeen Aquatics Center -This is a fantastic center for all things aquatics! With a 50m Olympic-sized lap pool, a 25m pool with a floating floor and diving facilities, an exercise studio, a sauna, and a cafe, there is something to enjoy for everyone.

Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota with snow on the ground and trees


This area of South Dakota, located in the furthest west part, is known country-wide for its fantastic fly-fishing opportunities and breathtaking scenery. With multiple pools and rapids, fishermen come from all over to enjoy its waters while enjoying the wonderful Black Hills.

Not only is there fly-fishing in Spearfish, but also a ton of other outdoor activities to enjoy and try! Being close to the breathtaking landscapes of the Black Hills part of South Dakota, it's hard not to get lost in the natural beauty of the many waterfalls, rugged rock formations, pools, mountains, and more.

Not only is this a gorgeous town to live in, surrounded by some of the best natural scenery, but it also has a meager crime rate, and individuals here seem to have that warm, small-town welcome.

Check out some of the great places to visit in Spearfish!

Local Favorites:

  • Spearfish Canyon -This breathtaking natural park has stunning views all around. With four waterfalls, rock climbing, biking, hiking, fishing, and tons of wildlife, it's hard not to get lost in the scenery that makes up Spearfish Canyon.
  • D.C Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery - An exciting name for an otherwise beautiful place! Yes, there are fish you can feed and get up close with here, but there is also a museum, a historic fish car that was used to transport fish from hatcheries to lakes and rivers, a Yellowstone boat, and hiking trails to enjoy. Come to learn about fish hatcheries and their history at these beautiful grounds.
  • High Plains Western Heritage Center - Learn about the unique history of the American Western heritage and even experience it for yourself here!

Best Neighborhoods in South Dakota-Final Thoughts

South Dakota is a beautiful place to live, with lots of cities and neighborhoods to choose from. If you are looking for a slower way of life with lots of outdoor parks and activities, this is the place for you.

If you or anyone else you may know is interested in homes for sale in South Dakota in one of these fantastic cities, make sure to contact us here to be connected with one of our Realty Specialists!

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.