We started at McCrory Gardens, where the kids loved guiding me around and wandering a kid-sized maze. A boba tea from Agua Fresh gave us a little boost before we hit the Children’s Museum of South Dakota, aka Kid Heaven. Cubby’s Sports Bar was the perfect crowd-pleasing sustenance. We ended the day with an ice cream from Nick’s Hamburger shop and some photos of the murals right behind it. The kids slept well.
We started our day at McCrory Gardens, right at 10:00 am when they opened. There was so much fall texture to take in. Yellowing maples, brown shrubs with berries still shiny and black, an autumn-brittle children’s maze, a colorful hopscotch path, a surprising cluster of healthy cacti, a waterfall with chairs set up for a wedding, pepper plants popping with fruit, tall grasses with downy tops, and Dr. Seussian tendrils of fluff. My 4-year-old held the map and directed us where to go next. We spent about an hour marveling at the changes that fall brings.
Pro Tip! They sell coffee in the gift shop. You’re going to need energy for this day of kid-centric delights.
Needing a little pick-me-up before the Children’s Museum, we headed to Agua Fresh. The kids loved the mango boba tea. This storefront also houses Mac Bowl, a noodle restaurant with dishes from all over the world. Today, we were just there for the boba and a few photos with the angel wings, of course.
Pro Tip! If it’s nice out, take your boba to go and window shop on Main Ave like we did.
Children’s Museum of South Dakota
This is one of those places where your kids will want to play for three hours without stopping to eat, drink water, or use the restroom. There’s an entire room dedicated to wind tubes that you can stick silk scarves into, a maze of waterways with rubber duckies, a child-sized grocery store, a sod house to teach us about the days of yore, a tiny earthquake simulator, a car with serviceable parts, hypnotic zen sand spinners, and an oversized Lite Brite. There’s a huge open room with natural lighting where kids can climb on platforms painted to look like clouds. If it’s warm enough, you can even dig for dinosaur bones in the sand out back. When you leave, your children will be so thirsty, tired, and hungry that you will need to head directly to Cubby’s Sports Bar.
Pro Tip! Don’t miss the giant T-Rex out back!
Cubby’s Sports Bar & Grill
We went to Cubby’s during a Vikings game, and the place was buzzing. Starving from an exciting afternoon at the Children’s Museum, we devoured wings, waffle fries, cheese curds, and a superior Buffalo chicken salad. This place was recommended to me by a local, and it’s an easy, crowd-pleasing place for lunch or dinner, especially if there’s a game you want to catch.
Pro Tip! There is a TV in the bathroom so you don’t have to worry about missing one second of the game.
Nick’s Hamburger Shop
We grabbed an ice cream from Nick’s after lunch and immediately sensed that this was a special place. The shop has existed since 1929 and is a well-known landmark in Brookings. Their slogan is “buy them by the bag,” in part because Nick’s signature hamburgers are slider-sized, and reportedly, you’re going to want to eat several. The interior of the store is welcoming and has a vintage feeling. Next time we will come for the burgers!
Pro Tip! They’re open every day but Sunday!
I Love South Dakota Pandr Mural
Admittedly, this stop was more for me than the kids. The murals behind Nick’s Hamburger shop are bold and fun and an easy way to take a souvenir photo of your visit! There are five different murals to check out, each with a different feel. Did I need to bribe my kids with ice cream from Nick’s to pose for these? Definitely. Worth it? Of course.
Pro Tip! Go ahead and bribe your kids to pose with you.
The “I Love South Dakota” mural is a part of the Downtown Urban Canvas.