Urbandale Parks and Recreation comprise 48 local parks and 38 miles of trails, so citizens always have a way to take in nature's kaleidoscope. Decorate flowerpots during Arts in the Park, jump into the area?s only indoor pool, go to roller-derby camp, take a fitness class like Zumba, or learn a new skill like stop-motion animation.
Since 1998, Jester Park Equestrian Center has welcomed guests for horse-related activities year round. Part of Polk County Conservation, the facility includes a large indoor arena available for rental, as well as 40 stalls in stables, an inside patio, and a full-service kitchen, where chefs prepare elaborate meals for parties and the picky horses. May through early November, groups bestride the friendly steeds to explore the surrounding countryside's trails. And for those who would like some pointers, the staff leads English- and Western-style riding lessons.
Val Lanes Recreation Center has been in business for more than 50 years, and its knowledgeable staff draws upon a wealth of knowledge and history while overseeing the alley's 36 lanes. Automatic scoring tracks bowlers' progress and ability to silence pins singing 10-part show-tune harmonies during daily open-bowling hours. Automated bumpers buffer gutters against sore egos and upset youngsters, and upbeat rock music serves as a sonic backdrop to the jovial thunder of scattering pins.
Since 1972, Skate West has been giving skaters of all ages the chance to join hands and cruise along to tunes spun by live DJs. During open skate, skaters can roll at their own speed or take a break from making figure eights and prime numbers to challenge their skills in games like limbo. Off the rink, guests can have fun in the arcade or jump in the bounce house, and Skate West and Skate south also feature a snack bar and space to accommodate birthday parties.
When it first opened it doors in 1970, the Science Center of Iowa was among the first interactive science museums in the world. It engaged the community with hands-on exhibits and programs. In 2005, the center moved to its 110,00-square-foot downtown location, where it fills its halls with a variety of experience platforms, each demonstrating different scientific principles. The When Things Get Moving exhibit invites visitors to build rockets and conquer a domino obstacle course, and Why the Sky? demonstrates the science of space with a digital planet-exploration globe and the Cosmic Jukebox, which allows you to create your own show. Interact with exhibits that demonstrate the basic principles of physics in the themed scenario, the Eureka! Lab. The renovated Small Discoveries exhibit features Dahl's Produce Market and Edna's Kitchen, a favorite of younger visitors.
Blank Park Zoo educates the public about the wonders of the wild by re-creating far-flung habitats and ecosystems that house more than 1,000 animals and 104 different species ranging from Siberian tigers to hissing cockroaches. Zookeepers lead chats about animals and offer conservation tips, while exhibits include hands-on feedings that allow humans to go face-to-face or nose-to-beak with hungry giraffes and parakeets. Recent new arrivals welcome curious kids to commiserate with the growing pains and early bedtimes of young wallabies, camels, and seal pups, setting a foundation for learning that may be continued in classes designed for those aged 6 months to 5 years.
In addition to raising awareness about the environment, Blank Park Zoo contributes to conservation efforts to preserve the future of native animals and their natural homes. The zoo participates in seven endangered-species breeding programs and donates a portion of admissions proceeds to several different wildlife initiatives.