25 Fun Indoor Activities for Kids in Central Iowa

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When it’s cold in central Iowa, parents are always on the hunt for indoor activities for kids. Where do we take our children to keep them entertained so they don’t drive us crazy? Here are 25 indoor places for kids near Des Moines!

Kids playing in an indoor playground.

Central Iowa Malls

The mall can be a great place for the kids to burn off some energy. As a bonus, these all have specific areas for the kids to play.

  1. Valley West Mall – Walk around, play in the kids’ area, create art at Artfull, and stop at the Des Moines Children’s Museum located in the mall.
  2. Jordan Creek Mall – Grab a Starbucks while the kids play in the kids’ area, explore the newly renovated Scheel’s and grab a sample of fudge, then go read some stories at Barnes and Noble.
  3. Merle Hay Mall – Bring some quarters for the little mechanical rides, and play in the fun kids’ area.

Sports and Indoor Playgrounds Near Des Moines

These fun places for kids will give them the chance to get some exercise indoors.

  1. Pump It Up – Inflatable jumping is fun for all ages. They also offer a Parents’ Night Out where you can drop the kids off and head out for date night.
  2. The Playground for Kids – Five giant inflatables and a huge treehouse climbing structure to make-believe in.
  3. Urban Air –  With trampolines, Ninja Warrior challenges, climbing walls, ziplines, and more, this is one of our family’s favorite places to play indoors.
  4. SkyZone Indoor Trampoline Park – Jump away all the energy.
  5. GetAir – Trampoline park with dodgeball, ninja activities, foam pit, slamball, fidget ladder, massage chairs, and more!
  6. Skateland or Skate South – Roll around the rink with your kids and relive your younger days.
  7. RecPlex – Visit the new RecPlex in West Des Moines for indoor ice skating, open basketball, and much more.
  8. Climb Iowa – This rock climbing gym will have the kids burning energy and gaining confidence.
  9. Rainbow of Iowa – Visit Rainbow’s showroom of playground equipment and let the kids test it all out.
Kids playing at trampoline center.

Educational Indoor Fun

Museums, gardens, and more places where your kids can learn while having fun indoors.

  1. Reiman Gardens – Head north and enjoy the outdoors indoors at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa.
  2. Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden – Walk through the gardens and smell the plants. Grab lunch at their super cute cafe. Check their event calendar for other fun activities.
  3. Des Moines Art Center – A collection of art from the 19th century to the present, with a major emphasis on contemporary art.
  4. The Science Center of Iowa – Centrally located in downtown Des Moines, SCI features hands-on exhibits, special-format theaters, and unique programming to encourage learning and fun for all ages.
  5. Jester Park Nature Center – Spend hours exploring the beautiful nature center or head to the Outdoor Recreation Center for bouldering!
Young girl looking at nature museum display.

More Indoor Things to Do with Kids

  1. Go Bowling – There are lots of great bowling alleys in the Des Moines area and it’s one of the best indoor activities for kids!
  2. Movie Theater – Try Screen Play at B&B Theatres or one of the many movie theaters around central Iowa.
  3. Chuck E Cheese – An old stand-by for games, games, games, and pizza!
  4. Valley Community Center – Coffee, indoor play area for the kids, couches and a warm fireplace. Check their website for special events.
  5. Bass Pro Shop – So much to see, plus a giant aquarium and bowling alley. 
  6. Barnes & Noble (University in WDM) – Grab some coffee and head upstairs to the kid’s area. Play with the train table, read on the stage, and check out the toys.
  7. Your Local Library – Stock up on books, music, and movies for free.

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Thomas Brogan

Thomas Brogan, a native of Des Moines, was the original founder of Des Moines Parent and is a father to an 8 & 10-year-old. In his free time, he likes to explore nature, try new local restaurants and enjoy life as best as he can. Check out more of Thomas at www.broganlist.com.

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