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12 Family-Friendly Activities In Des Moines, Iowa


by Chrystel Spalding


Des Moines, Iowa, is a vibrant city brimming with family-friendly activities that cater to all ages. From captivating museums and scenic parks to interactive attractions and lively events, there's no shortage of entertainment for families to enjoy. Whether you're a local resident or visiting from out of town, Des Moines offers an array of experiences that are sure to create lasting memories for you and your loved ones. In this article, we'll explore 12 family-friendly activities in Des Moines, Iowa, providing you with an insider's guide to the best ways to spend quality time with your family in this dynamic Midwestern city. So, pack your sense of adventure and get ready to uncover the exciting opportunities that await in Des Moines!

Blank Park Zoo

Located in Des Moines, Iowa, Blank Park Zoo is a captivating destination for families. The zoo is home to over 800 animals from around the world, offering an educational and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages. With its focus on conservation and animal welfare, Blank Park Zoo provides a unique opportunity for families to learn about wildlife while enjoying a fun day out.

Adventureland Park

Adventureland Park is a thrilling amusement park in Altoona, just a short drive from Des Moines. This family-friendly attraction features a wide array of rides and entertainment options, catering to visitors of all ages. From exhilarating roller coasters to gentle kiddie rides, Adventureland Park offers a diverse range of experiences, ensuring that every family member can create lasting memories.

Iowa State Capitol

The Iowa State Capitol stands as a symbol of history, architecture, and governance in Des Moines. Families can explore the stunning building and its grounds, delving into the state's rich heritage and political significance. The Capitol's striking dome and grand interiors provide a picturesque backdrop for educational tours and insightful experiences.

Science Center of Iowa

The Science Center of Iowa is a hub of interactive learning and exploration, offering families a chance to engage with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in a hands-on environment. With engaging exhibits, an IMAX dome theater, and educational programs, the center sparks curiosity and fosters a love for learning in visitors of all ages.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Families can immerse themselves in the beauty of nature at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. This serene oasis showcases a diverse collection of plants from around the globe, providing a tranquil setting for leisurely strolls and educational experiences. The garden's captivating displays and themed gardens offer a delightful escape for families seeking natural beauty.

Principal Park

Principal Park, home to the Iowa Cubs minor league baseball team, offers an exciting sporting experience for families. Watching a baseball game at this iconic stadium is a quintessential Des Moines activity, allowing families to enjoy the thrill of the game in a vibrant and family-friendly atmosphere.

Des Moines Art Center

The Des Moines Art Center is a cultural gem that welcomes families to explore a world of artistic expression. With its diverse collection of modern and contemporary art, the center offers a stimulating environment for families to appreciate creativity and visual storytelling. Engaging exhibitions and educational programs cater to visitors of all ages, making art accessible and enjoyable for families.

Living History Farms

Living History Farms provides an immersive journey into Iowa's agricultural heritage, inviting families to step back in time and experience rural life in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Through interactive exhibits and demonstrations, families can gain a deeper understanding of Iowa's farming traditions and the evolution of agricultural practices.

Gray’s Lake Park

Gray’s Lake Park offers families a picturesque retreat in the heart of Des Moines. With its scenic views, walking trails, and recreational activities, the park provides an ideal setting for families to enjoy outdoor adventures and leisurely picnics. Boating, fishing, and playgrounds add to the park's allure, ensuring a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.

Salisbury House and Gardens

Salisbury House and Gardens is a historic estate that invites families to explore its architectural splendor and lush surroundings. The estate's grandeur and timeless elegance offer a captivating backdrop for guided tours and special events, allowing families to appreciate the cultural heritage and artistic legacy preserved within its walls.

Iowa State Fair

The Iowa State Fair is a beloved annual event that draws families from across the state for a celebration of agriculture, entertainment, and community spirit. With its diverse array of attractions, including livestock shows, concerts, carnival rides, and culinary delights, the fair provides families with a vibrant and memorable experience that captures the essence of Iowa's rich traditions.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a captivating outdoor gallery in downtown Des Moines, showcasing a remarkable collection of contemporary sculptures. Families can wander through the park's open spaces and engage with thought-provoking artworks, fostering a sense of wonder and appreciation for public art in a family-friendly setting.


Des Moines, Iowa, offers a plethora of family-friendly activities that cater to a wide range of interests. From exploring the interactive exhibits at the Science Center of Iowa to enjoying the natural beauty of Gray's Lake Park, there's no shortage of fun-filled experiences for families to enjoy. Whether you're seeking educational adventures or outdoor escapades, Des Moines has something for everyone. With its vibrant cultural scene, rich history, and welcoming community, Des Moines is the perfect destination for families looking to create lasting memories together.


Q: Are there any outdoor activities suitable for families in Des Moines?
A: Yes, Des Moines boasts numerous outdoor activities for families, including exploring the scenic trails at Gray's Lake Park and picnicking at the picturesque Water Works Park.

Q: What indoor attractions are available for families in Des Moines?
A: Families can visit the Science Center of Iowa, where interactive exhibits and educational programs provide engaging experiences for visitors of all ages.