Family-friendly Activities in Des Moines: 12 Fun Things to Do with Kids!

Des Moines, the county seat of Polk County and the capital of Iowa, is referred to as the Hartford of the West.

Fort Des Moines was the city’s original name; it was shortened to Des Moines in 1857.

The 801 Grand, the tallest building in Iowa, as well as several other locations, including the Hotel Fort Des Moines and the Fort Des Moines Provisional Army Officer Training School, are located here.

It is a popular vacation destination thanks to the many festivals, museums, and rich cultural history that draw millions of tourists each year.

Do you want to know why people go to Des Moines, Iowa?

Check out this list of enjoyable activities for families in Des Moines to learn why you should plan your next family vacation here.

  1. Science Center of Iowa

The Science Center of Iowa is a science museum that opened its doors in 1970 and housed several exhibits, including Small Discoveries and Brick by Brick.

A 50-foot planetarium that shows programs about space and beyond is also housed in the museum.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

Visit the Science Center of Iowa if science is a subject that appeals to you.

You’ll enjoy what on Earth? The exhibit at the museum features cold-blooded creatures and leaf rubbings from different Iowa trees.

Activities for Kids

At the Bubble Bay at Small Discoveries, the little ones will love blowing bubbles and playing with them.

In Des Moines, Iowa, this museum unquestionably offers some of the best family activities.

Suitable Ages

All children, teenagers, and adults are welcome at the Science Center of Iowa.

  1. Water Works Park

The Water Works Park, one of the largest urban parks in the US, has a total area of about 1,500 acres and was established in 1933.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

Consider spending the day at the Water Works Park if you’re looking for a place where you can amuse yourself and relax.

You can engage in a variety of activities, including biking, hiking, and more.

You can even go to the Arie den Boer Arboretum, which has the largest collection of crabapple trees anywhere in the world.

Activities for Kids

Children can burn off energy and develop their motor skills in the play area located in the Water Works Park.

Additionally, they will enjoy playing in the sandbox.

These are just a few of the top family-friendly activities in Des Moines.

Suitable Ages

All ages can have fun at Water Works Park.

  1. Jester Park

Jester Park opened to the public in 1958 and quickly gained enormous popularity among residents and tourists.

The park’s 1,661 acres of land offer a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, boating, and even golfing!

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

If you appreciate being outside and want to visit a location in Des Moines that offers enjoyable family activities, think about heading to Jester Park.

You may camp, have a picnic, and take an equestrian trip in the park!

Activities for Kids

The children will enjoy the Jester Park Natural Playscape area in Jester Park.

Natural resources make up this kid-friendly area where they can climb rocks, dig in the sand, and splash around in the fountain; it’s not your typical play area.

Just be careful to watch them because the stepping surfaces are rocks and can become slippery.

Suitable Ages

Anyone who likes to spend time outside is welcome to visit Jest Park.

  1. Blank Park Zoo

The Blank Park Zoo, which was established in 1966, is a favorite vacation spot for families.

More than 1,000 animals can be found at the zoo, which also has exhibits like The Meredith Alpine Exhibit and The Cave.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

Are you taking the whole family to Des Moines and unsure of where to go?

Even if you’re traveling with a baby, you should check out the Blank Park Zoo, where you can see a variety of animals like red pandas and penguins.

Activities for Children

The Kids’ Kingdom, a playground equipped with slides, monkey bars, mazes, and more, will be a big hit with the little ones!

Even farm animals like llamas, donkeys, and hens can be fed here.

Suitable Ages

All ages are welcome to visit the Blank Park Zoo and have a great time exploring it.

  1. Union Park

Union Park is a beloved historic park that is regarded as a gem in Des Moines.

The park is well-known for its Heritage Carousel and famed Rocket Slide, two of the top family-friendly activities in the area.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

If you wish to relax outside in the morning, go to Union Park.

In particular, if you have a few young children in the family, this park is ideal.

It’s a wonderful location for a picnic or just spending a leisurely morning outside.

Activities for Kids

As soon as you enter the park, the Rocket Slide will grab the interest of the kids.

The nicest thing is that they are free to glide as far as they want.

The Heritage Carousel, another infamous building nearby in the park, will be popular with children.

One of the greatest free, family-friendly things to do in Des Moines, Iowa, is to spend the day at Union Park, which only costs 0.50 cents per ride on the Heritage Carousel.

Suitable Ages

Everyone of any age may have fun in Union Park.

  1. State Park Ledges 

The Ledges State Park is famous for the stone buildings and bridges that the Civilian Conservation Corps built in the 1930s. It was one of Iowa’s first state parks, which opened in 1924.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

Plan a camping trip to the Ledges State Park right away if you’re feeling brave and want to spend a night or two admiring nature.

Once you’ve pitched your tents in your preferred camping location, you can go hiking in addition to camping there.

Camping at this famous park is a great way to have fun as a family without spending a lot of money. Teens, kids, adults, and even dogs will enjoy it.

Activities for Kids

The kids will have more fun on your camping trip if you check out the waterfalls and do some wading.

Suitable Ages

Ledges State Park welcomes everyone to enjoy a day full of exploration, but for everyone’s safety, keep the kids close by at all times.

  1. Adventureland Park

Adventureland Park first welcomed visitors in 1974.

More than 100 rides are available at the amusement park, including the Outlaw, Tornado, and Monster roller coasters.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

This weekend, take the family to Adventureland Park if you enjoy roller coasters and water rides.

While riding The Monster, you can raise your hands in the air while sliding down the Typhoon water slide and getting splashed.

With strollers available for hire inside Adventureland Park, visiting this theme park with a baby won’t be a problem.

Activities for Kids

Children are also catered for at Adventureland Park!

For the younger children who are less afraid, the Shakin’ Bacon and the Frog Hopper are ideal.

Suitable Ages

Adventureland Park offers a day of fun for people of all ages.

The Shakin ‘Bacon and the Frog Hopper, on the other hand, demand that children be at least 36″ tall to ride.

  1. Park Altoona Aquatics

The Altoona Aquatics Park is a well-liked tourist and local attraction that offers slides, a leisure pool, and other enjoyable water sports.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

Are you a Des Moines local looking for somewhere to cool off?

You can drive to the Altoona Aquatics Park to splash around in the cool water and go down their twisty water slides.

When you hop up and down before diving into the water, you can even hone your diving techniques.

This is a wonderful addition to your list of family-friendly activities in the area.

Activities for Kids

Additionally, the Altoona Aquatics Park provides swimming lessons that can help kids develop their abilities.

They might turn out to be the next Michael Phelps!

Suitable Ages

The Altoona Aquatics Park is open to everyone who wants to escape the heat.

Keep the children near you at all times, though.

  1. Ashby Park

Ashby Park, which is located at 3200 38th St. in Des Moines, is well-known for its splash pad.

In addition, the park has picnic tables and charcoal grills, ideal for a weekend BBQ.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

Ashby Park is great for families who just want to relax without having to deal with crowds.

Bring only the necessities for your picnic, your swimsuits and sunscreen, then spend the rest of the day eating and cooling off in the splash pad.

Activities for Kids

Children who enjoy the water will enjoy the splash area, but Ashby Park also has a playground where they may swing and slide all day.

It is unquestionably among the top venues in Des Moines to take children.

Suitable Ages

At Ashby Park, everyone can relax and have a good time.

  1. Capitol Building

The Capitol Building, often known as the Iowa Statehouse, is where legislators have their formal meetings.

The National Register of Historic Places has had this beautiful building on its list since 1976.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

The Capitol Building is worth seeing if only for the spectacular structure itself.

Aside from that, the guided tour teaches you more about Iowa’s past and other things.

Activities for Kids

At the Capitol, both adults and kids will enjoy seeing the dolls that were made to look like each governor’s wife.

If you’re unsure about what to do in Des Moines with kids, visiting this architectural gem is a great option.

Suitable Ages

Visitors of all ages are welcome to the Capitol Building if they wish to have a close look at this stunning structure.

  1. Raccoon River Park

The Raccoon River Park, which is situated in Des Moines’ southwest section, is a well-liked recreation place for both locals and visitors.

There are many water sports available at the park, including kayaking, fishing, and others.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

The Raccoon River Park is the place to go if you enjoy engaging in enjoyable water activities.

You may swim in the river and have fun splashing around in addition to kayaking.

However, if you prefer being on land, spend the day riding or trekking the paths of this well-known park.

Activities for Kids

Consider taking your kids fishing at Raccoon River Park while you’re there.

One of the best activities to do with toddlers in Des Moines is fishing, which they will undoubtedly enjoy.

Suitable Ages

The enjoyable activities at the Raccoon River Park are suitable for all age groups.

  1. Iowa State Fairgrounds

The 450-acre Iowa State Fairgrounds, where the infamous Iowa State Fair is held every year, is where the event has been held since 1886.

Why You Should Take Your Family to This Destination

Don’t miss the annual Iowa State Fair if you’re in the neighborhood around the second week of August. Your family will undoubtedly enjoy the fair’s many rides, foods, and activities.

Activities for Kids

There is something for everyone at the Iowa State Fairgrounds with all the rides and activities.

Of course, you shouldn’t pass on the venue’s culinary options, which include kid-friendly treats like ice cream and funnel cakes.

One of the best family-friendly activities in Des Moines can be found at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, so be sure to stop by.

Suitable Ages

The Iowa State Fairgrounds events are open to both children and adults.


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