Fun Things to Do in Des Moines Iowa IA

Des Moines, Iowa offers a wide range of exciting activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. From cultural experiences to outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this vibrant city. Here are some of the fun things to do in Des Moines:

– Visit the Science Center of Iowa: Explore interactive exhibits and engage in hands-on learning at this popular science museum.

– Explore the Des Moines Art Center: Immerse yourself in the world of art and discover a collection of modern and contemporary artworks.

– Take a Stroll in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park: Admire an impressive collection of outdoor sculptures set in a beautifully landscaped park.

– Enjoy Nature at Gray’s Lake Park: Take a leisurely walk around the lake, rent a paddleboat, or simply relax in the peaceful surroundings.

– Experience Adventure at the Blank Park Zoo: Get up close with a variety of animals and enjoy educational exhibits and shows.

– Attend a Show at the Des Moines Civic Center: Catch a live performance ranging from Broadway shows to concerts and ballets.

– Discover History at the State Historical Museum: Learn about Iowa’s rich history through exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays.

– Shop and Dine at the East Village: Explore unique boutiques, art galleries, and enjoy delicious cuisine at the local restaurants.

– Watch a Baseball Game at Principal Park: Cheer on the Iowa Cubs, a Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, at their home stadium.

– Experience Nightlife at the Court Avenue District: Enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene with bars, clubs, and live music venues.

For getting around Des Moines, there are various transportation options available including car rentals, public buses, and rideshare services. Des Moines offers a variety of top-rated restaurants, outdoor activities, annual events, family-friendly attractions, and shopping options for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a culture enthusiast, nature lover, or foodie, Des Moines has something to offer everyone.

Visit the Science Center of Iowa

Visit the Science Center of Iowa - Fun Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa

Photo Credits: Anxiousandabroad.Com by David Roberts

The Science Center of Iowa is a must-visit attraction in Des Moines. Visit the Science Center of Iowa and explore interactive exhibits, engage in hands-on activities, and learn about various scientific principles. This center offers a unique opportunity to enhance your scientific knowledge and cultivate a love for STEM subjects. Whether you’re interested in astronomy, physics, or biology, visit the Science Center of Iowa as it has something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Science Center of Iowa, this educational and engaging venue, during your time in Des Moines. Experience the wonders of science firsthand and broaden your horizons at the Science Center of Iowa.

Explore the Des Moines Art Center

Explore the Des Moines Art Center - Fun Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa

Photo Credits: Anxiousandabroad.Com by Daniel Martinez

When exploring Des Moines, Iowa, be sure to explore the Des Moines Art Center. Here are some reasons why you should explore this cultural hub:

  • Discover a diverse collection of over 5,000 works of art from around the world.
  • Experience exhibitions that showcase various mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, and more.
  • Immerse yourself in the beauty and creativity of modern and contemporary art.
  • Learn about renowned artists such as Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Andy Warhol.
  • Engage with interactive installations and participate in educational programs.
  • Appreciate the stunning architecture of the Richard Meier building, which is an artwork in itself.
  • Enjoy the beautiful outdoor sculpture park that features sculptures by artists like Louise Bourgeois and Jaume Plensa.
  • Support local artists and the vibrant art community in Des Moines.

Visiting the Des Moines Art Center offers a unique and enriching experience for art enthusiasts and those seeking inspiration. Take the time to explore the diverse collections and engage with the creative expressions on display.

Take a Stroll in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Take a stroll in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park to appreciate the exquisite art pieces on display. Experience the captivating beauty of various sculptures created by renowned artists. Engage with the art as you walk through the park and admire the unique designs and forms. Immerse yourself in the artistic atmosphere and let the sculptures inspire your creativity. Discover the diverse range of sculptures that make up this enchanting outdoor gallery. Explore the park at your own pace and take in the tranquility of the surroundings. Enjoy a leisurely walk amidst stunning artistic creations. Indulge in the opportunity to connect with art and nature simultaneously. Rediscover the magic of sculptures as you take a stroll in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

Enjoy Nature at Gray’s Lake Park

When visiting Gray’s Lake Park in Des Moines, Iowa, nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat will thoroughly enjoy their time. The park offers a beautiful lake surrounded by picturesque scenery, where visitors can partake in leisurely walks, jogging, or simply sitting and embracing the tranquil environment. Spanning over 167 acres of lush green space, Gray’s Lake Park is also an ideal spot for bird watching and enjoying a picnic with loved ones.

Remember to bring your camera along when exploring the park to capture the breathtaking views of the lake and its surroundings. Who knows, you might even have the opportunity to spot rare bird species during your visit.

Experience Adventure at the Blank Park Zoo

Experience Adventure at the Blank Park Zoo - Fun Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa

Photo Credits: Anxiousandabroad.Com by Jonathan Mitchell

Embark on an exciting adventure at the Blank Park Zoo, where you can fully immerse yourself in the world of fascinating animals. Get up close and personal with a variety of creatures, including lions, giraffes, monkeys, and more, as you explore their natural habitats. Gain insights into conservation efforts and learn about the importance of protecting wildlife. Enhance your connection with these incredible beings through interactive experiences like feeding and petting sessions.

Did you know that the Blank Park Zoo is home to over 1,000 animals from around the world? This exceptional zoo not only lets you experience the wonders of the animal kingdom but also actively supports valuable initiatives for education and conservation.

Attend a Show at the Des Moines Civic Center

If you want to enjoy a live performance in Des Moines, it is highly recommended to attend a show at the Des Moines Civic Center. The Des Moines Civic Center proudly hosts a variety of shows throughout the year, including Broadway musicals, concerts, and ballet performances. Purchasing tickets for these incredible shows can be done online or at the box office.

The Des Moines Civic Center offers a top-notch venue with comfortable seating and outstanding acoustics, guaranteeing an unforgettable experience for all attendees. Whether you have a passion for theatre, music, or dance, attending a show at the Des Moines Civic Center is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene of Iowa’s capital city.

Discover History at the State Historical Museum

When you visit Des Moines, Iowa, you have the opportunity to discover history at the State Historical Museum. This museum showcases the rich history of the state through interactive exhibits and engaging displays. Visitors can explore various artifacts, photographs, and documents that highlight important moments in Iowa’s past. By visiting the State Historical Museum, you can gain a deeper understanding of Iowa’s history and its impact on the present day. It’s an educational and enriching experience for history enthusiasts and anyone curious about the state’s past. Don’t miss out on the chance to discover history at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines.

Shop and Dine at the East Village

Shop and Dine at the East Village - Fun Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa

Photo Credits: Anxiousandabroad.Com by Ralph Hall

If you’re looking for a great place to shop and dine at the East Village in Des Moines, Iowa, you’ve found the perfect destination. Here are some must-do activities:

  • Explore the unique boutique shops that offer a wide range of clothing, accessories, and home decor.
  • Indulge in the local cuisine at the various restaurants that offer a diverse selection of dishes, from farm-to-table to international flavors.
  • Visit the local galleries and art studios to discover the vibrant art scene in the area.
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee or a sweet treat at the charming cafes and bakeries scattered throughout the East Village.
  • Don’t miss the weekly farmers market where you can buy fresh produce, artisanal products, and handmade crafts.

Pro-tip: If you want to fully experience the East Village, plan your visit on a weekend when the area comes alive with live music performances and community events.

Watch a Baseball Game at Principal Park

Watching a baseball game at Principal Park in Des Moines, Iowa is a must-do activity for sports enthusiasts. Experience the thrill and excitement of live baseball games. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and cheer for your favorite team. Witness talented players showcasing their skills on the field. Enjoy the camaraderie and sense of community among fellow baseball fans. Indulge in classic ballpark snacks like hot dogs and peanuts. Take in the breathtaking views of the stadium and the city skyline. Create lasting memories with friends and family while watching a game. Support the local sports scene and contribute to the vibrant sporting culture in Des Moines.

Experience Nightlife at the Court Avenue District


Court Avenue District in Des Moines offers an exciting nightlife experience. Experience the vibrant nightlife at the Court Avenue District, where you can enjoy a variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues. There is something for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re looking for a casual evening with friends or a lively night of dancing. Dance the night away at popular clubs like Wooly’s or check out the live bands at the Vaudeville Mews. The Court Avenue District is known for its diverse range of entertainment options, ensuring a memorable night out. So, venture into the Court Avenue District and experience the vibrant nightlife it has to offer.

How to Get Around Des Moines?

When visiting Des Moines, there are several ways to get around and explore the city.

  1. Public Transportation: Des Moines offers a reliable bus service called DART, which covers various routes throughout the city. It’s an affordable and convenient option for getting around.
  2. Biking: Des Moines is known for its bike-friendly infrastructure and offers many bike lanes and trails. You can rent a bike from the B-cycle stations located throughout the city.
  3. Walking: Des Moines is a compact city with many attractions, shops, and restaurants within walking distance. It’s a great way to explore the downtown area and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  4. Rideshare: Services like Uber and Lyft are available in Des Moines, providing a convenient and quick transportation option wherever you need to go.
  5. Driving: If you prefer to have your own transportation, renting a car is a reliable option. Des Moines has well-maintained roads and parking facilities.

Des Moines has always been a city that values accessible transportation. The city’s first streetcar system was introduced in the late 1800s and became an important mode of transport for residents. Over time, the streetcar lines expanded, connecting different neighborhoods and contributing to the growth and development of Des Moines.

How to Get Around Des Moines?

What Are the Top-rated Restaurants in Des Moines?

Looking for the top-rated restaurants in Des Moines? Look no further! Des Moines offers a diverse range of cuisines and dining experiences.

The Republic on Grand: If you’re in the mood for delicious modern American cuisine and a vibrant atmosphere, The Republic on Grand is the place to be. Don’t forget to check out their rooftop patio!

Amano Pizza Bistro: Craving Italian cuisine? Amano Pizza Bistro is a must-visit. Indulge in their highly recommended wood-fired pizzas and homemade pasta dishes.

Malo: Mexican food lovers, rejoice! Malo is a popular choice known for its creative tacos, enchiladas, and flavorful margaritas.

Centro: Are you a fan of Italian food? Centro is a trendy Italian restaurant that offers a blend of traditional and contemporary dishes. You’ll love their homemade pasta and sauces.

Proof: Celebrating a special occasion? Make it memorable with a visit to Proof, a classy steakhouse known for its top-quality cuts of meat and extensive wine selection.

Alba: Experience the farm-to-table concept at Alba. They focus on seasonal ingredients and locally sourced produce, bringing you the best of Iowa’s culinary offerings.

Baru 66: Craving French cuisine? Baru 66 is the place to be. Enjoy classic French dishes with a modern twist at this fantastic restaurant.

Harbinger: Looking for a unique dining experience? Head to Harbinger, where they offer globally inspired small plates. Their menu changes regularly, ensuring a fresh and exciting experience.

HoQ: Passionate about sustainability? HoQ is a farm-to-table restaurant that serves locally sourced, organic dishes. Discover the flavors of Iowa with each bite.

What Are Some Outdoor Activities in Des Moines?

These are just a few examples of the outdoor activities you can enjoy in Des Moines. From educational experiences to artistic immersion and outdoor adventures, the city offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, art enthusiast, or wildlife enthusiast, Des Moines has plenty to offer. So get outdoors and make the most of your time in this vibrant city!

Are There Any Annual Events or Festivals in Des Moines?

Yes, there are several annual events and festivals in Des Moines that highlight the city’s vibrant culture and community spirit.

  • The Iowa State Fair: Every August, the iconic Iowa State Fair takes place, attracting over a million visitors each year. This event showcases livestock shows, concerts, carnival rides, delicious food, and more.
  • World Food & Music Festival: Celebrating diverse culinary traditions and music from around the world, this festival offers attendees a chance to indulge in a wide array of international cuisines and enjoy live performances.
  • 80/35 Music Festival: Known as one of the Midwest’s premier music festivals, 80/35 brings together national and local artists for two days of incredible live music. The genres featured range from indie rock to hip-hop.
  • Des Moines Arts Festival: This three-day event exhibits the works of talented artists from various disciplines, including visual arts, music, and performing arts. It also offers interactive art activities and food vendors.
  • Des Moines Farmers’ Market: Taking place every Saturday from May to October, this lively market offers a broad selection of locally-grown produce, artisanal products, delicious food, and live music.

These annual events and festivals not only celebrate Des Moines’ rich history and vibrant culture but also provide opportunities for the community to come together, appreciate art, enjoy great music, and savor delicious food from around the world. Consequently, they significantly contribute to the thriving cultural scene and foster a sense of community pride in Des Moines.

What Are Some Family-Friendly Attractions in Des Moines?

What Are Some Family-Friendly Attractions in Des Moines? Des Moines offers numerous family-friendly attractions that are sure to keep everyone entertained. Here are some options to consider:

1. Visit the Science Center of Iowa where kids can engage in hands-on activities and explore interactive exhibits that promote learning and scientific discovery.

2. Explore the Des Moines Art Center to expose children to various forms of art and stimulate their creativity. They can admire paintings, sculptures, and interactive installations.

3. Take a stroll in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, which features fascinating sculptures in a beautiful outdoor setting. Kids can enjoy the artworks while also enjoying the fresh air.

4. Enjoy nature at Gray’s Lake Park, a picturesque destination with a scenic lake, walking trails, and a playground. Families can go for a picnic or rent paddle boats for a fun-filled day.

5. Experience adventure at the Blank Park Zoo, home to a wide variety of animals. Children can learn about wildlife conservation and get up close to their favorite animals.

6. Attend a show at the Des Moines Civic Center, where family-friendly performances like musicals, plays, and concerts take place. It’s a great way to introduce children to the arts.

7. Discover history at the State Historical Museum and learn about the rich heritage of Iowa. Kids can engage with hands-on exhibits and discover interesting facts about the state.

Remember to check the availability and any safety guidelines before visiting these attractions. Des Moines offers a multitude of family-friendly options, catering to both educational and entertainment needs.

What Are Some Shopping Options in Des Moines?

When visiting Des Moines, there are several shopping options that you can explore:

  • 1. Jordan Creek Town Center: This shopping mall offers a wide range of stores, from designer brands to popular retail chains.
  • 2. Valley West Mall: Another shopping destination in Des Moines, Valley West Mall features a variety of stores and dining options.
  • 3. Historic Valley Junction: This charming district is known for its unique shops, boutiques, and antique stores. It’s a great place to find one-of-a-kind items.
  • 4. East Village: This neighborhood is a hub for local boutiques, art galleries, and specialty shops. It’s the perfect place to support local businesses and discover unique treasures.
  • 5. Merle Hay Mall: Located in the heart of the city, Merle Hay Mall offers a mix of national retailers and local businesses.

What Are Some Shopping Options in Des Moines? These shopping options in Des Moines provide diverse choices for all your retail needs. Whether you’re looking for high-end fashion, unique gifts, or everyday essentials, you’re sure to find something that suits your taste and budget in Des Moines.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some fun things to do in Des Moines, Iowa?

Des Moines, Iowa offers a wide range of activities and attractions to enjoy. Whether you’re into arts and culture, live music, outdoor adventures, or shopping, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

What are some popular downtown attractions in Des Moines?

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is known for its arts and culture scene. You can catch Broadway shows at the Des Moines Civic Center and admire renowned artwork at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. The Art Route DSM is also a must-visit, featuring nearly 100 pieces of art from local and international artists.

What are some regional food specialties in Des Moines?

Des Moines offers a variety of regional food specialties that you must try. Don’t miss out on the famous zombie-style burgers and Steak de Burgo. These unique and delicious dishes are sure to satisfy your taste buds.

Are there any popular music venues in Des Moines?

Yes, Downtown Des Moines is a hotspot for music and entertainment. The Historic East Village, Historic Court District, Downtown Core, and Western Gateway are popular areas for live music acts in all genres. Wooly’s is a local favorite music venue where you can catch performances by talented local performers.

Where can I go for shopping in Des Moines?

If you’re in the mood for retail therapy, Des Moines has you covered. Jordan Creek Town Center is one of the premier shopping malls in the Midwest, offering a wide range of stores and boutiques. The hip Historic East Village is also a great place for a leisurely stroll and discovering unique shops.

What are some family-friendly attractions in Des Moines?

Des Moines is a great destination for families with kids. You can visit Adventureland Park, a thrilling amusement park, the Science Center of Iowa for interactive exhibits, and Blank Park Zoo to see a variety of wild animals. Don’t miss the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park and Brenton Skating Plaza for outdoor family fun.

By Jennifer Ian

Jennifer Ian is a 28-year-old neurotic Jew from New York who overcame her anxiety and embarked on life-altering backpacking trips to 18 different countries, proving that even risk-averse individuals can find joy and therapy in the challenges of travel.

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