Play At Raccoon River Park
Raccoon River Park is a popular destination in Des Moines for families, because there are so many things to do there. You can all walk along the paved trails, before the kids run around and play on the playgrounds. There is also a spray pad and beach for those warmer summer days.
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Free Things To Do In Des Moines
Exploring a city doesnt have to mean spending lots of money. Thats especially true in Des Moines! There are tons of free things to do in Iowas capital city from outdoor adventures to places to learn about the states history. Whether youre looking for a fun weekend activity for the family or a date that wont break the bank, theres something for everyone to enjoy around the metro. Continue reading to discover some of the incredible things to do in Des Moines.
Des Moines Art Center
A free thing to do indoors is the Des Moines Art Center, next to the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Free admission lets you see the collection of mostly modern and contemporary art, as well as paintings by famous artists like Georgia OKeefe and Edward Hopper. A good lineup of free kids programming includes Art Spectrum, which use sensory experiences to foster creativity.
Outside the Des Moines Art Center is Greenwood Park. You can do a little urban, wooded hiking, spot frogs in the parks little pond, or play on its nice, new playground and splash pad .
Read More: More Cool Free Stuff to Do in Iowa!
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Go Over The High Trestle Trail Bridge
There is a long trail that will take you to the High Trestle Trail Bridge, but it is usually best to make the thirty-mile drive to Madrid. This allows you to reach the bridge much faster. The bridge itself is only a half mile long, but it is one hundred thirty feet in the air.
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Why Your Family Should Go
If youre feeling adventurous and want to spend a night or two appreciating nature, plan a camping trip at the Ledges State Park today! Aside from camping, you can go for a hike once youve set up your tents at your chosen camping site.
Camping at this infamous park is a good option for a cheap family-fun that will undoubtedly be fun for teens, kids, adults, and even pets!
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John And Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
Interesting sculptures and art pieces dot the iconic, 4.4-acre downtown Des Moines park. Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a great place to take photos, have a little picnic, and let the kids run around the massive lawn. Free audio tours available online will teach you more about the artwork in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. So will the free guided tours from the adjacent Des Moines Art Center .
Frequently Asked Questions About Best Things To Do In Des Moines Iowa
1.& nbspWhat are the top attractions to visit in Des Moines?
Some of the best attractions you should visit during your holiday in Des Moines include the beautiful Iowa State Capitol Building, the Des Moines Art Center, where youll find the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, and the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.
2.& nbspWhat are the best outdoor activities in Des Moines?
If you want to get active and do outdoor activities in Des Moines, then you should make sure to try some of the best outdoor things to do here, including hanging out with the many wildlife at Blank Park Zoo, trying out the many amusement rides and slides at Adventureland Park, and strolling around the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.
3.& nbspWhat are the best day trips from Des Moines?
After exploring every nooks and cranny of the capital city, and still want to see more of the state, then you should consider having a day trip to Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Madison County. Other best day trips you can do here include Okoboji, Dubuque, and West Bend.
4.& nbspWhat are the most popular things to do in Des Moines with kids?
Des Moines boasts many kid-friendly activities like meeting new animal friends at the Blank Park Zoo, trying kiddie rides at the Adventureland Park and swimming at Cascade Falls Aquatic Center.
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Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill
Catch a strike at Uncle Bucks Fishbowl and Grill. Under-water themed bowling alley. Adventurous treats like alligator and crawfish. Kid-friendly eats like burgers and pizza. Then venture to connected Bass Pro Shops for a museum, art gallery, aquarium and shopping experience. Sure to keep the family entertained!
Have Fun At Big Creek State Park
Big Creek State Park is about twenty miles outside Des Moines, but it is an easy place to reach if you want to get out of the city for the day. Big Creek Lake is in this park and it is where you will find the largest beach within the state parks of Iowa. You could spend all day swimming in the lake and soaking up the sun in the sand. However, we also recommend renting a boat to take a tour of the lake and letting the kids play on the all wooden playground.
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Things To Do In Des Moines: Science Center Of Iowa
The Science Center of Iowa is a hands-on science facility with a planetarium and an IMAX theater all located on West Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway on the west bank of the Des Moines River. The science-based interactive galleries and the education labs are housed in the 110,000 square foot Science Center in the downtown area.
The six-story IMAX theater is dome shaped and seats 216 people. The Science Center offers many educational outreach programs, including camps, preschool visits, school visits, overnight adventures, and more. The center also hosts many different special events such as classes, family nights, IMAX events, and workshops, among others.
401 West Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Des Moines, Iowa, Phone: 515-274-6868
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What To Do With Kids
The Jester Park has an area called Jester Park Natural Playscape that the youngsters will love. Its not your typical play area natural resources make up this kid-approved area where they can climb rocks, dig sand and splash around in the fountain.
Just make sure to keep an eye on them as the stepping grounds are rocks and can get slippery.
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Things To Do In Des Moines: East Village
Bounded on the north by Interstate 235, East 14th Street on the east, and the Des Moines River on the south and the west, the East Village is a downtown residential and commercial district in Des Moines. It is a historic area where you can find the State of Iowa Historical Museum, the Iowa State Capitol, and numerous buildings that are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places such as the Hohberger Building, the Municipal Building, the Northwestern Hotel, and more.
When several buildings were scheduled to be demolished, citizens stepped in, and today many of the buildings are used as restaurants, shops, and housing. The East Village hosts many events and is a dynamic and popular neighborhood.
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Playgrounds For Nasty Weather Days
The Playground For Kids in Ankeny is an indoor romper room that kindly features a toddler area for kids 6mos 3yrs. They have foam blocks and such that small children can climb/lean/lay on. Check the site for rates and hours. Backyard Adventures is a playground showroom that also offers open play times during the week . Its not ideal for little, little ones, but it is kid-friendly, has the hugest collection of Melissa & Doug paraphernalia Ive ever seen and is populated by other moms. Check the site for hours and rates for open play . You can bring lunch to eat in their lunchroom, use their refrigerator, and they even have paper plates/utensils if you need them.
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Fun Things To Do In Iowa With Kids Best Family Friendly Attractions
- Tanner Wilkes
The Hawkeye State is a scenic state partially bordered by rivers and dotted by lakes and state parks.
But sightseeing and swimming arent the only fun things to do in Iowa with kids.
There are interactive museums, amusement parks, historical villages, and many other exciting destinations that the entire family can enjoy in Iowa.
Before you pack your bags, here are additions to your Iowa itinerary that you should consider.
Des Moines Summer Fun Guide
Does summer feel like a juggling act? Trying to keep the kids happy and entertained is no small featand doing it within the family budget can be easier said than done! dsm4kids is here to help make summer a little easier by compiling all our great summer resources in one convenient place.
Your 2021 summer fun begins here!
Our Summer Fun Guide launches early in the season, a bit before all of the summer events have been announced, so check back often as we will be continuing to update the Summer Fun Guide throughout the season!
*** Because of uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic and weather related issues, please verify information before heading to an event or activity since information may change.
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Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a 14-acre botanical garden located on Robert D. Ray Drive on the east bank of the Des Moines River. The garden began in 1939 as a city greenhouse, and todays Botanical Garden facility opened in 1979. The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is one of the must-see attractions in the city. More than 1,200 different kinds of plants are on display, and the mission of the conservatory is to celebrate and explain the world of plants.
Collections include Amaryllis, Bonsai, and Orchid, among others. The garden hosts events such as Fall Gardening, Garden Growers – An Apple a Day, Story Sprouts, and Yoga at the Garden.
909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, Iowa, Phone: 515-323-6290
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Try One Of The Tasty Tacos
Tasty Tacos is a business that opened after a woman called Grandma Mosqueda passed down her famous flour tacos recipe to her grandchildren more than fifty years ago. The flour tacos are deep fried and filled with all sorts of topping. This is one stop in Des Moines that is a must and your children will not complain about!
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Explore The Rest Of The State
Try this quick list as a jumping-off place to find area attractions and day trips. Be aware, many towns in Iowa are virtually shut down on Sundays. Try Walnut for Sunday antiquing Boone for beautiful parks, trains and family eats or Iowa City for college campus art, bookstores, shopping and eats. There are also so many recreational areas and parks nearby.
It looks to me like there are at least three weeks of fun outings here. Thanks again Christi!
Things To Do With Kids In West Des Moines Ia
- TripBuzz found 62 things to do with kids in or near West Des Moines, Iowa, including 52 fun activities for kids in nearby cities within 25 miles like Des Moines, Urbandale, Altoona and Ankeny.
- From Monkey Joe’s to West Grand Golf, the West Des Moines area offers 48 different types of family activities, including: Mini Golf, Bowling, Children’s Play Area and Movie Theaters.
- Outdoor recreation and historic sights coexist to make West Des Moines a cultural and adventurous travel destination. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy archery, swimming, fishing, hiking trails and scenic parks, while history buffs can explore the nearby historic homes, landmarks and antique shops. The city is also home to modern retail shops and an array of dining options.
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Do A Little Shopping At The Downtown Farmers Market
Kids love food, so you know they will love walking around the Downtown Farmers Market if they are going to get something to eat. There are lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as cheeses and baked goods. If you plan your visit right, you might be there when live performances are taking place.
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About The Guest Blogger
Megan Bannister is a freelance writer and blogger at Olio in Iowa based in Des Moines, Iowa. When shes not sampling and writing about food, Megan enjoys visiting unique destinations, roadside attractions, and worlds largest things across the Midwest and beyond. Her book, Iowa Supper Clubs, highlights classic eateries past and present from around the state.
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Watch A Performance At The Des Moines Performance Arts Center
As you are looking for the top things to do in Des Moines, you will be happy to know that performances at the Des Moines Performance Arts Center is near the top of the list. The people performing offer everything from shows that are part of the Willis Broadway series, the Dance Series, and the Family Series. You can check their schedule to see what is being offered during your visit.
Frequently Asked Questions And Answers
What are people saying about kids activities in West Des Moines, IA?
This is a review for kids activities in West Des Moines, IA:
“We typically love pump it up and have been to many glow nights and a Halloween event. Today’s New Year’s Eve event was a bit nutty for my 3 year old. I’d recommend a toddler only event or decreasing the number of kids. It was hard to keep track in the chaos and my little was knocked down several times.”
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Ride The Carousel At Union Park
One of the best things to do in Des Moines with kids is riding the carousel at Union Park. The Heritage Carousel was built in 1998 and features hand carved animals. There is even a band organ with a snare drum that plays Sousa marches. Adults are free unless they are riding on an animal, so you can save some cash during this Des Moines adventure.
Things To Do In Des Moines With A Baby Or Toddler
Baby Carter is loving the Iowa State Fair | Photo: Christi Jensen
Hey small town folks this ones for you! Christi from the site formerly known as small.town.fun wrote up a bunch of excellent suggestions to get you through the good days and the rotten-weather days with your small child in Iowa. Here are some great ideas of what to do with your baby or toddler in Des Moines, whatever the weather.
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Visit Our Famous Iowa State Fair
The Iowa State Fairgrounds are an under-utilized, but ideal place to take little ones. Paved sidewalks for strollers, lots of grassy area and theres usually some animal show or another going on. Its free in the off-season and opens at 8am. During the Fair, go during the early morning hours to get a close-to-the-farm experience and to avoid crowds. Discount tickets available. Evenings feature free entertainment, so grab some other parents and head out for a babysitter-free night on the town. PS. We love to hit the area county fairs. Most are free, have a ton of kiddie rides and sell good food at half or less the price of the big state fair. Try the Warren County Fair in Indianola for starters.