Garretson day trip: Shopping, soul food and a pontoon ride

This piece is presented by the Minnehaha County Economic Development Association.

Garretson is known as the city of parks, and the name fits.

The community in the northeast corner of Minnehaha County boasts three one-of-a-kind parks teeming with red quartzite formations, winding water and pioneer history.

So stop by the famous Devil’s Gulch and Palisades State Park, and try out River Ridge Golf Course when you make the quick trip 25 minutes from downtown Sioux Falls.

But don’t miss these lesser known attractions we found that easily make a memorable day trip close to home:

The Treasure Chest

It’s where old meets new meets locally made. The shop on Main Avenue lives up to its name as it invites shoppers to hunt for finds.

The Treasure Chest in Garretson

You’ll discover a wide range of gifts, toys and kids’ books, and South Dakota-made salsa and seasonings as well as vintage apparel and home items.

“We’ve got some old, neat vintage items here in the store,” co-manager Kris Frerk said. “And lots of humorous-type things.”

There’s a bigger story in the backroom.

The Treasure Chest calls itself a mission store. It’s staffed by volunteers and constantly taking donations. Some are sold to help fund the store, but most are given to nonprofits, schools and foster parents in the Sioux Falls area and on reservations.

“I take a vanload every week to Sioux Falls,” Frerk said. “Foster parents can call us, and within 24 to 48 hours we usually have enough that they can clothe the children.”

The store is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday.

Jesse James Pontoon Rides

Don’t explore Garretson’s parks without meeting Bruce Rekstad.

Bruce Rekstad owns Jesse James Pontoon Rides.

The owner of Jesse James Pontoon Rides for more than 20 years, he’s a history teacher at Washington High School who spends his summers on the Split Rock Creek.

He guides a 45-minute pontoon ride to take visitors past majestic cliffs and wildlife and ends at the cave where outlaw Jesse James hid.

“They experience nature at its best,” Rekstad said. “We are a little humorous at times, and they like the history of this but mainly the beauty of this place.”

The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for kids. Reservations are required by calling 605-594-2225.

“O” So Good Restaurant

Garretson’s newest dining option already is drawing crowds.

Omar Thornton opened “O” So Good a few weeks ago and said the response to his Southern-style restaurant has been encouraging.

“We had a really great opening,” he said. “I’m loving Garretson. Garretson came with open arms when I got here.”

Southern-style restaurant opens this weekend

His shrimp hot plate, Cajun seafood pasta and signature “O” steak burger have been early best-sellers, he said.

“When I say Cajun, a lot of people think it will be over spicy, but they’re finding out while I have a little bit of a kick it doesn’t overwhelm you.”

His Main Avenue restaurant includes a bakery, home decor section and a stage where he invites musicians and comedians to entertain.

“If you have a talent and you’re looking to display it and are serious about it, I’ve got a stage here,” he said.

What’s next

Garretson began an economic development initiative, Grow Garretson, last year.

Main Avenue in Garretson

“We’re working on a pretty big residential development,” said Richelle Hofer, who also serves on the board of the Minnehaha County Economic Development Association.

The group also is working with the city to fund a “cool facelift for Main street with lights and design in a couple years,” she said.

“And we’re doing a full-color, 34-page visitors guide this year that’s going to be off the charts, so we’re really excited about that.”

While there’s a lot of activity, the city is still hoping to bring in more businesses, Hofer said.

“We’ve had businesses express interest, but we don’t have great space for them, so I’m hoping as residential development kicks in we’ll get more activity.”

Garretson day trip: Shopping, soul food and a pontoon ride

Garretson is known as the city of parks, and the name fits. But don’t miss these lesser known attractions we found that easily make a memorable day trip close to home.

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