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Things To Do With Kids in Des Moines

The capital city of Iowa, Des Moines is packed full of fun and exciting activities for the whole family. You and your loved ones can explore the sculpture garden at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park or check out one of the many historic buildings and monuments for a quick and interesting history lesson. No matter what your family is interested in, there’s something for everyone offered here. Read on for all of the fun things you can do with kids in Des Moines:

There are plenty of incredible experiences for your kids to choose from. One of the best options is the Blank Park Zoo with its train rides, petting areas, and many other enjoyable things to do. Take a look at the list below for more activities to do with kids in Des Moines:

  • Pappajohn Sculpture Park: this park is home to a sculpture garden, dedicated chess and picnic tables, the Central Library, and more
  • Blank Park Zoo: here you’ll find train rides, petting areas, a carousel, concessions, and more
  • Walnut Woods State Park: a 260-acre nature reserve with trails, camping, river boating, and fishing
  • Get Air Des Moines: come here for high-flying fun across a sea of indoor trampolines
  • The Jordan House: this Landmark Victorian home features guided tours with Underground Railroad history exhibits and artifacts

Des Moines offers something for everyone. You can walk along Walnut Creek on the Clive Greenbelt Trail and then head over to Living History Farms to learn about Iowa’s farm history. Take a look at more kid-friendly attractions in Des Moines below:

  • Union Park: there’s an old-fashioned carousel, a water play area, and BBQ grills at this public park open since 1892
  • Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden: come here for educational programs and seasonal blooms in and outdoors
  • Living History Farms: an Iowa farming-history exhibits on a 500-acre site with an 1875 village and educational programs
  • Clive Greenbelt Trail: this is an 11 mile trail on the outskirts of the Campbell Recreation Area and Walnut Creek
  • Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens: an Asian-themed garden with pagodas, waterfalls, and more

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Des Moines interesting history has been preserved in the form of many historic buildings and monuments. The Salisbury House and Gardens is one of the best places to go as it is complete with its own art museum and botanical garden. Keep reading for more cheap things to do with kids:

  • Salisbury House & Gardens: a furnished 1920s stone mansion housing an art museum, library, concert venue, and a botanical garden
  • Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden: a vibrant, seven-acre public garden in the heart of downtown Des Moines
  • Ashby Park: an 11-acre park featuring a splash pool, tennis courts, a playground, grills, and trails
  • Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge: links the east and west sides of Des Moines at the northern edge of the Principal Riverwalk loop
  • The Bennett School: one of the last one room schools to be built in West Des Moines built in 1926

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Your kids will have a hard time choosing between all of the great activities available for them in Des Moines. They can pick anything from 18-hole mini golf at West Grand Golf or delicious frozen treats from Granny’s Sweet Freeze Shoppe. Find more fun activities for kids in Des Moines below:

  • Des Moines Children's Museum: provides a fun, safe, and educational environment for young children and their families
  • West Grand Golf: an 18-hole mini golf course set in beautiful, natural surroundings
  • The Learning Post: the best place to bring your kids to make learning fun
  • Ewing Park: this spacious park has playgrounds, an 18-hole disc golf course, a pond, and a lilac arboretum
  • Granny's Sweet Freeze Shoppe: stop here to end the day with a sweet, frozen treat

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Kid-friendly activities for large groups are abundant in Des Moines. Take your group to Valley View Aquatic Park for a 600 foot lazy river and multiple waterslides or go for a swim and get grilling at Copper Creek Lake Park. Find more kid-centric attractions to take your family or group below:

  • Valley View Aquatic Park: there’s a 600 foot lazy river, multiple pools, and waterslides
  • Prairie Meadows: your kids will love cheering on your pick to win the horse races
  • Des Moines Art Center: engages diverse local and international audiences with the art of today through its museum and school
  • Raccoon River Park: several hundred acres of green space and natural area to explore
  • Copper Creek Lake Park: a large park with a lake for fishing and boating, a playground, a grill pavilion, and forest trails

There are many places in Des Moines that are both fun and educational. They can learn about Iowa’s aviation history at the Iowa Aviation Heritage Museum or about African-American WWI officers at the Fort Des Moines Museum. Look below for the educational experiences for kids in Des Moines:

  • State Historical Museum: discover Iowa’s rich heritage through a variety of exhibitions, tours, collections, and unique programs
  • Wells Fargo History: highlights the role Iowa played connecting the nation, from trails west to stagecoach lines and railroads
  • Science Center of Iowa: bringing science to life with engaging and enjoyable exhibits
  • Iowa Aviation Heritage Museum: displays and restores antique and rare aircraft from Iowa’s past
  • Fort Des Moines Museum: this fort museum showcases history exhibits on African-American WWI officers and WAC women of WWII

A class can be a great way to unlock the creativity in your children. From painting and ceramics classes to dance and horseback riding lessons, Des Moines has a wide selection of classes to choose from. Keep reading for some of the best creative arts classes for kids available in Des Moines:

  • Whatta Dish: bisque pottery items ready to design and paint
  • Glazed Expressions: offers classes in pottery painting, candle and soap making, paint & sip canvas painting, and wood decor
  • Des Moines Young Artists' Theatre: introduces students and their families to the transformative power of live theatre and the arts
  • Valley Park Stables: spend the day learning how to ride horses
  • Dance-a-Cross: consistently ranked one of the best dance studios in the Des Moines Metro area

If you want to get out of the sun for a bit, there are numerous options for indoor fun in Des Moines. Sky Zone and Monkey Joe’s will have your kids playing, jumping, and running around for hours. Check out the following list for the best indoor attractions for kids in Des Moines:

  • Sky Zone: offers a warehouse full of trampolines and other things to keep your kids entertained
  • The Old School Arcade: show your kids how to play these classic arcade games
  • Monkey Joe's: a play area of wall-to-wall fun featuring inflatable slides, jumps, and obstacle courses, and more
  • EC Tactical Laser Tag: features indoor multi-level buildings, and objective-based game play
  • Great Escape Bowling Center: see which one of your kids is the best at bowling here