Welcome to the heart of Iowa, where family-friendly fun meets vibrant city life. Des Moines is not only the capital but also a hidden gem for families seeking exciting adventures with their little ones. In this extensive guide, we will explore a plethora of kid-friendly attractions and family activities, ensuring your weekend in Des Moines is filled with laughter, learning, and unforgettable moments.
Exploring Des Moines with Kids
1. Des Moines Botanical Center
- Website: Des Moines Botanical Center
- Address: 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA 50309
For plant lovers, the Des Moines Botanical Center is a haven in the middle of the city. Even though it might look like a peaceful place for adults to relax, it has fun activities and displays just for kids. Learn about different plant species, explore themed gardens, and take part in fun, hands-on activities that make learning about nature fun for the whole family.
Families who want to relax and learn at the same time should go to the Des Moines Botanical Center. For the best experience, I suggest that you go during one of their family events or workshops. Don’t forget to check out the themed gardens and play in the kid-friendly activities. Everyone in the family can enjoy this great mix of learning and being outside.
2. Blank Park and Zoo
- Website: Blank Park Zoo
- Address: 7401 SW 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50315
Kids can have animal adventures at Blank Park Zoo, where they can meet interesting animals from all over the world. The zoo has more than just regular exhibits. It also has special events like zookeeper talks and animal encounters that make it a fun and educational place for families.
Blank Park Zoo is a must-see for families with animal lovers. Check the zoo’s schedule for special events like tours behind the scenes or times to feed the animals to make your visit more fun. You can help your kids learn more about protecting wildlife by getting them involved in interactive programs. Today is a day full of fun and educational things to do.
3. Principal Park
- Website: Principal Park
- Address: One Line Drive, Des Moines, IA 50309
Do you have any baseball fans in your family? Main Park is where the Iowa Cubs play minor league baseball games. Both kids and adults will have a good time at the park, which is great for families and has fun things to do between innings.
A minor league baseball game at Principal Park is a great thing to do with your family if they like sports. You might want to get there early to enjoy activities before the game, and don’t forget to check to see if there are any special events or theme nights planned for the night you’re there. That’s a great way to enjoy sports in a place that’s also good for families.
4. The Iowa State Fairgrounds
- Website: Iowa State Fairgrounds
- Address: 3000 E Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50317
There are lots of fun things to do at the Iowa State Fair all year, but August is the best time to go. Families who want to learn more about Iowa’s rich culture can always find something fun to do, from agricultural displays to hands-on exhibits.
The Iowa State Fair is the biggest event at the fairgrounds, but they host many other events all year long. I suggest that you look at their event calendar to find activities that are good for the whole family, like festivals, fairs, or cultural events. If you visit the fairgrounds outside of the regular season, you and your family can have fun and unique experiences.
5. John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
- Website: Pappajohn Sculpture Park
- Address: 1330 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50309
Visit the Pappajohn Sculpture Park to enjoy art and play outside. Beautiful modern sculptures are placed in the large green area, turning it into an open-air museum where kids can play and explore. It’s a unique mix of culture and recreation.
There is a unique mix of art and outdoor play at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Bring sketch pads for the kids to use as inspiration for their own works of art while you’re there to get the most out of your trip. To learn more about the art installations, you might want to go on one of the park’s guided tours. Enjoy creative activities with your family in a lovely place.
Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Des Moines This Weekend
1. Science Center of Iowa
- Website: Science Center of Iowa
- Address: 401 W Martin Luther King Jr Parkway, Des Moines, IA 50309
The Science Center of Iowa has exhibits that kids of all ages can interact with, live demonstrations, and planetarium shows that are fun for everyone. This center has a lot of fun things to do over the weekend, from hands-on experiments to immersive learning experiences.
Plan your trip to the Science Center of Iowa around their live demonstrations and interactive exhibits to get people interested. Check the calendar to see when there are planetarium shows or other science-related events. You should encourage your kids to do experiments with their hands and talk to the knowledgeable staff. It’s a spot where everyone in the family can enjoy learning.
2. Gray’s Lake Park
- Website: Gray’s Lake Park
- Address: 2101 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, IA 50321
Families looking for fun things to do outside will love Gray’s Lake Park. Have a picnic by the lake with your family, rent paddleboats, and let the kids play on the playground by the water. The calm atmosphere of the park makes it a great place for families to spend quality time together.
Families who want to do things outside will love Gray’s Lake Park. Rent paddleboats and go for a relaxing ride on the lake. Bring a picnic for a family meal. If the park has any outdoor concerts or seasonal events, check the calendar. For kids, the lakeside playground is a must-see. This makes the trip fun for everyone.
3. Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden
- Website: Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden
- Address: 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
Take a peaceful family trip through the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden. This garden is well taken care of and provides a peaceful escape. It also gives kids a chance to enjoy the beauty of nature.
Take a peaceful family trip through the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden. Bring your camera with you for a quick photo shoot among the pretty flowers. For a relaxing time in the garden, you might want to bring a small picnic. It is a chance to make memories that will last a lifetime in a peaceful and beautiful setting.
4. Des Moines Art Center
- Website: Des Moines Art Center
- Address: 4700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312
Bring your kids to the Des Moines Art Center to help them be creative. This is a great place for families to learn and be creative because it has family-friendly art programs, interactive exhibits, and a wide range of art collections.
At the Des Moines Art Center, you can help your family be creative. Check their schedule to see when they have art workshops for families or kid-friendly exhibits that you can interact with. You can help your kids express themselves through art by getting them a small sketchbook or some art supplies from the gift shop. It’s a cultural activity that helps people use their imaginations and express themselves.
5. Jordan Creek Town Center
- Website: Jordan Creek Town Center
- Address: 101 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50266
At Jordan Creek Town Center, you can shop and have fun with your family. In addition to shopping, the center has a special play area for kids to make sure they have a great time while their parents look at all the different things on offer.
In addition to stores, Jordan Creek Town Center has fun things for the whole family to do. Plan your trip around their play area to make sure your kids have fun while you look at all the different stores. You might want to eat at one of the restaurants that is good for families and has outdoor seating. It has a lot to offer families who want to shop, play, and eat all in one place.
Family Activities in Des Moines This Weekend
1. Adventureland Park
- Website: Adventureland Park
- Address: 3200 Adventureland Drive, Altoona, IA 50009
Adventureland Park is the place to go for a day of exciting fun. With thrilling rides, water attractions, and shows that are good for the whole family, this amusement park is sure to be a fun day for everyone.
Everyone in the family is sure to have a fun day at Adventureland Park. For the most excitement, you might want to buy a day pass that lets you ride as many rides as you want. Check the schedule to see when you can meet characters or see live entertainment. Wear clothes that are easy to move around in and sunscreen for a day of family fun on roller coasters and water rides.
2. Living History Farms
- Website: Living History Farms
- Address: 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale, IA 50322
In Living History Farms, you can go back in time and experience history as if it were real. Take part in seasonal events that are fun for the whole family, do hands-on activities, and visit historic farms.
Visit Living History Farms with your family to learn about the past. Consider going to one of their themed events or workshops to make the experience better. Interact with the historical interpreters to learn more about how people lived on farms in different times. Bring a picnic to the farm for a sweet family meal.
3. Brenton Skating Plaza
- Website: Brenton Skating Plaza
- Address: 520 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA 50309
Visit Brenton Skating Plaza to enjoy winter activities. During the winter, the plaza comes alive with music and themed events, and there is an ice rink for skating during certain months of the year.
Enjoy activities in the winter at Brenton Skating Plaza. You might want to go during a themed skate night or other event. It’s more fun when the whole family rents skates together. After that, you can warm up with hot cocoa from the café on site. It’s a wonderful way to spend time with your loved ones in the winter.
4. Sleepy Hollow Sports Park
- Website: Sleepy Hollow Sports Park
- Address: 4051 Dean Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50317
Families who like to try new things love going to Sleepy Hollow Sports Park. This park has a lot of outdoor activities for people of all ages, such as go-karts, miniature golf, and zip-lining.
If your family wants to do something exciting, Sleepy Hollow Sports Park is the place to go. See if they have any go-kart races or tours with zip lines on the schedule. Think about getting a pass that lets you do more than one thing. Wear clothes that are easy to move around in and sunscreen for a fun day outside.
5. Des Moines Playhouse
- Website: Des Moines Playhouse
- Address: 831 42nd Street, Des Moines, IA 50312
Go to the Des Moines Playhouse with your family and get lost in the world of theater. With family-friendly shows and hands-on workshops, this playhouse gives kids and adults of all ages a cultural and fun time.
Involve your family in the world of theater at the Des Moines Playhouse. Check their schedule to see what shows are good for families or whether there are any matinee programs. Consider going to one of their theater workshops for kids. Experience the magic of live performances with your whole family, and maybe even find a future actor among you.
Des Moines Kids Activities
1. Iowa Children’s Museum
- Website: Iowa Children’s Museum
- Address: Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Avenue, Coralville, IA 52241
To make learning and having fun for kids, the Iowa Children’s Museum has exhibits that are interactive and suitable for a range of age groups. Families who want to learn and play at the same time should go there.
The Iowa Children’s Museum is made so that kids can learn and play together. Before you go, look at their schedule to see if there are any themed exhibits or workshops that you can attend. Tell your kids to look around at the different exhibits and think about getting a museum membership so they can come back again and again. A hands-on learning experience that makes kids think of new ideas.
2. Seven Flags Event Center
- Website: Seven Flags Event Center
- Address: 2100 NW 100th Street, Clive, IA 50325
The Seven Flags Event Center has concerts, shows, and events that are fun for the whole family. This place makes sure that the whole family has a great time by focusing on entertainment that kids will enjoy.
Go to a concert or show at the Seven Flags Event Center that is good for the whole family. Check their schedule to see what events are available for people of all ages. You could get there early to enjoy activities before the show or get a snack at the venue. It’s a chance to show your kids live entertainment in a place where everyone feels welcome.
3. Greenwood Park
- Website: Greenwood Park
- Address: 4500 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312
Have fun outside at Greenwood Park, which has playgrounds, trails, and open areas perfect for family activities. Every family size can enjoy this park, whether they want to take a stroll or play for the afternoon.
Greenwood Park has many outdoor activities that families can enjoy. Check their schedule to see when they have concerts or events for the community. Bring a frisbee or ball with you so that you can play games with your family in the open areas. The park is flexible and has activities for all kinds of people, so everyone can have a great time there.
4. Skate North Incrediroll
- Website: Skate North Incrediroll
- Address: 5621 Meredith Drive, Des Moines, IA 50310
Skating on roller skates is a classic family activity, and Skate North Incrediroll makes sure that kids have a safe and fun time. With events for the whole family and themed sessions, it’s a great way to get fit and have fun at the same time.
A classic family activity is roller skating at Skate North Incrediroll. Check the schedule to see when family nights or themed skate sessions are. Family skate rentals are available, and skating lessons are recommended for people who are just starting out. Sharing memories and being active together is a great way to spend time.
5. Valley Community Center
- Website: Valley Community Center
- Address: 4444 Fuller Road, West Des Moines, IA 50265
The Valley Community Center has fun activities like sports, recreational programs, and events that are good for the whole family. This center is great for families who want to be active and involved in their community because it has a lot to offer.
Check out the Valley Community Center’s fun activities and events that are good for the whole family. You might want to sign your family up for a sports program or go to a community event. For holiday events and activities, check their schedule. It’s a chance to meet people in your area and enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities.
Things to Do with Kids in Des Moines – Rain or Shine
1. Monkey Joe’s
- Website: Monkey Joe’s
- Address: 1600 NW 86th Street, Clive, IA 50325
If the weather keeps you inside, go to Monkey Joe’s, an inflatable play area with slides, obstacle courses, and lots of fun things to bounce on. This is a great place for kids to play and run around while parents take a break.
When you want to play inside, Monkey Joe’s has a fun inflatable play area. Check their schedule to see if they have any themed bounce dates or family events. You could make your child’s birthday party extra special by having it at Monkey Joe’s. Kids can let off steam in a lively and safe place.
2. Great Escape Game
- Website: Great Escape Game
- Address: 6515 University Avenue, Windsor Heights, IA 50324
Challenge your family to an adventure in an escape room at Great Escape Game. Families can enjoy these puzzles and challenges together, as they are fun and good for multiple age groups.
Great Escape Game has escape rooms where you and your family can have quite the adventure. If your family is interested in a certain theme, pick a room with puzzles and a mystery to solve together. To have a private experience with your family, you might want to book a private room. You can do it with your family, and it will be fun and interesting.
3. Pump It Up
- Website: Pump It Up
- Address: 4069 121st Street, Urbandale, IA 50323
If you want to bounce and slide, Pump It Up has what you need. This indoor inflatable arena has both open jump times and private birthday parties, so both kids and adults will have a good time.
Pump It Up has fun inflatables for the whole family. Check their schedule to see when they have open jump times or themed bounce parties. For a fun time, you could host a family event or play date at Pump It Up. It’s a lively and active way to spend time with your loved ones on important days.
4. Science Center of Iowa (Indoor Activities)
- Location: 401 W Martin Luther King Jr Parkway, Des Moines, IA 50309
Don’t let rainy days dampen your spirits; revisit the Science Center of Iowa for indoor science exhibits and shows. It’s a great way to keep the learning momentum going, even when the weather isn’t cooperating.
5. Val Air Ballroom (Family Events)
- Website: Val Air Ballroom
- Address: 301 Ashworth Road, West Des Moines, IA 50265
Visit the historic Val Air Ballroom for dances and events that are good for the whole family. It’s a great place for families to spend quality time together because the dance floor is big and the atmosphere is lively.
At the historic Val Air Ballroom, you can go to a dance or event that is good for the whole family. Check their calendar to see when they have themed dances that families can enjoy. For a fun and different family activity, think about taking a dance class together. It’s a chance to make memories that will last a lifetime in a beautiful and charming place.
Toddler Activities in Des Moines
1. Grays Lake Playground
- Address: 2101 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, IA 50321
The Grays Lake Playground is made just for kids. It has soft surfaces and equipment that is right for their age, so they can play safely and have fun.
The playground at Grays Lake is especially made for kids. You might want to bring a small picnic to the park for a family lunch. Let your toddler play on the soft surfaces and explore the structures that are right for their age. Your little explorer will love being there because it’s safe and fun.
2. Iowa State Capitol Grounds
- Address: 1007 E Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319
Explore the grounds of the Iowa State Capitol for a calm day trip that is good for toddlers. The well-kept lawns and gardens make for a beautiful place for a family walk.
Explore the grounds of the Iowa State Capitol for a calm day trip that is good for toddlers. Bring a blanket and have a picnic on the grounds with your family. Show your toddler interesting architectural features, and you might want to bring a small toy for them to play with. A family day outside would be nice in this quiet place.
3. Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge
- Address: 2500 Grand Avenue, West Des Moines, IA 50265
At Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge, you can do activities in nature and navigate trails that are good for toddlers. The place is great for showing kids the beauty of nature.
Engage in nature-based activities and toddler-friendly trails at Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge. Consider bringing a nature journal for your toddler to scribble or draw their observations. Pack a small backpack with snacks and water for a mini nature adventure. It’s a wonderful introduction to the outdoors for your little one.
4. Gigi’s Playhouse
- Website: Gigi’s Playhouse
- Address: 6507 University Avenue, Windsor Heights, IA 50324
Gigi’s Playhouse is an achievement center for people with Down syndrome that has programs for toddlers. It’s a place where families can go to find activities that are fun for everyone.
Families with young children are welcome at Gigi’s Playhouse. Check their schedule to see what toddler-friendly events or play dates are coming up. Take part in activities that encourage sensory exploration and being open to others. You might want to meet up with other families at Gigi’s Playhouse for a fun and helpful time.
5. Fort Des Moines Park
- Address: 7200 SE 5th Street, Des Moines, IA 50315
Discover a playground with age-appropriate structures for toddlers at Fort Des Moines Park. The park’s layout ensures a safe and enjoyable environment for little ones to explore.
At Fort Des Moines Park, you can find a playground that is good for toddlers. Bring a blanket for a cozy family picnic, and let your toddler play on the structures that are right for their age. For extra comfort, think about bringing a favorite book or toy with you. It’s a cute park made so kids can play safely and have fun.
Des Moines, with its rich tapestry of family-friendly attractions, beckons you to embark on a weekend filled with exploration and bonding. Whether your family enjoys the thrill of amusement parks, the tranquility of botanical gardens, or the creativity sparked by art centers, Des Moines has it all. Pack your bags, plan your itinerary, and get ready for a memorable adventure with your little ones in this charming city at the heart of Iowa. Your family’s next great story begins in Des Moines!