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Road Trip 2015: Day 1

Big Sioux Rec Area campground
As part of my goal to bring my daughter to each state by the time she's 18 (in a somewhat meaningful way, no airport layovers), we packed up and enjoyed an 8-day road trip through five states, camping in tents all but two nights.

It was an awesome trip, filled with adventure, storms, mosquitoes, friends, historic sites, and quiet moments without cell reception. My next few posts will capture the spirit of each day of our trip. Feel free to ask questions about where we stayed and what we did. There aren't a lot of tent-camping review sites to reference when planning this type of vacation, so I'm happy to offer feedback based on our own experiences.

Day 1: Southeastern Minnesota to Sioux Falls, SD

We made a last minute decision not to visit the Laura Ingalls site in Walnut Grove on our way to Sioux Falls. There are times of year when there's more going on, so we're saving that for another time. That meant we could take a longer morning to load the car and get ready without rushing out early.

Lunch was in Albert Lea, MN, a stop perfectly timed as there was an old car show going on. We enjoyed checking out some of the cars, reminding me of times as a little girl with my dad visiting Cape Cod.


Aside from a quick stop for snacks and drinks, we went straight from Albert Lea and checked in at Big Sioux Recreation Area in Sioux Falls, SD for the night. Big Sioux is tucked behind a newer subdivision with giant power lines running through it. They cater more to RVs than tents, but the few tent sites were conveniently placed around the playground - perfect for kids! I'd feared a lot of late night or early morning noise, but everyone was respectful and we got a good night of sleep.


Sioux Falls itself has a small town feel with trendy elements. The thriving downtown offers delicious independent restaurants, cute shops, and interesting art sculpture. The area is beautiful, peaceful, and seems to be an active community. I may not choose Sioux Falls for a vacation destination, but I'd definitely consider living there.


The first day was pretty uneventful. Aside from clean bathrooms, a nice playground, and a flat partially shaded campsite, Big Sioux was pretty nondescript. We didn't get a chance to explore what else the rec area has to offer, so we'll save that for next time we travel west!

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