Cities We Love: Aberdeen

Image courtesy Aberdeen Magazine

by Spencer Sommers, CO-OP Architecture

The third largest city in South Dakota is Aberdeen, located near the north state border.  Incorporated in 1881, Aberdeen was known as the “Hub City of the Dakotas” due to the four railroads that crossed there. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe line still runs through the city.  Aberdeen is home to Northern State University and Presentation College and is known as a family friendly community.  Recently, we caught up with Mayor Travis Schaunaman to talk about his town.

“Aberdeen is hands down the best place in the state to raise a family. I know this first hand because I am a father of three children, with two of them being younger than school age” says Mayor Schaunaman. “As a city, we strive to make life enjoyable for all of our residents and we constantly put effort into improving our parks and trails. We have more low to no cost youth and family activities than any other town our size and a ton of fun places to visit any day of the week. “

Mayor Schaunaman’s Favorite Places

1.      Storybook Land: This fairy-tale themed park is a unique and fun space that is great for both kids and adults. The Humpty Dumpty Rollercoaster is a big hit with my family and me. It opened in 2015 and it has patio style seating next to it which is really nice. We also love the zoo which is home to many animals such as: Elk, Yak, Bison, and many more.

2.      Aberdeen Trail System: Being an outdoor enthusiast, the trail system here in Aberdeen is amazing. I love to run on the trails and they are also where my kids are learning to ride bikes. Aberdeen boasts an expansive trail system which proves to be a great way to see all parts of the town and enjoy its nature. 

Image courtesy Aberdeen Magazine

3.      One-Legged Pheasant Brewery: This place has great craft brews that are locally produced by brewmaster Dave Welling. I enjoy the engaging events they hold and the family friendly atmosphere is great for my crew.

4.      Richmond Golf Course: I’m a big fan of disc golfing and when it comes to nature and a little challenge, you can’t beat the golf course located by Richmond Lake. This place is a great outlet for casual recreation and the scenery is beautiful. The course has amazing trails for bikers, runners, and hikers and it also hosted the state tournament in 2020. 

5.      Allevity Entertainment: My family and I love this place that is full of games and activities for our whole family. It just opened in 2020 and is a great spot for axe throwing, laser tag, and even bumper cars. Our kids love it and they always want to go. As a parent, it’s an added treat that they serve beer!

6.       Dacotah Bank Stadium: NSU’s new football stadium is set to open this year and we can’t wait to go cheer on the Northern Wolves. The venue will be one of the best NCAA Division 2 fields and it has a spectacular design. It’s located right on campus which will make the game day environment even more electric!

Challenges of Aberdeen

Like many other cities, a challenge I foresee in the future of Aberdeen is being able to direct the town’s growth to be as productive and beneficial as possible while restoring our often overlooked areas including downtown. Aberdeen is fortunate to have experienced growth – we just need to capitalize on it.

Travis Schanaman grew up in rural Aberdeen and moved to Minneapolis to attend college. He chose to come back to raise a family and founded a design and web agency called Production Monkeys in 2007. He has been mayor of Aberdeen since 2019 and has strived to make it the most business-friendly city in the state in addition to being the best place for families.
Spencer Sommers is a licensed architect with CO-OP Architecture in Aberdeen, SD. A graduate of South Dakota State University, Spencer currently serves as president of the Aberdeen Downtown Association in addition to sitting on the board of directors for the Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation.  

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