A Family Day in Western Gateway Park

Our city is pretty amazing. One of my favorite things is the fact you can drive 20 to 30 minutes from one spot and be in a totally different area, experiencing and exploring new things.

Have you spent time in Western Gateway Park? If you haven’t, add it to your bucket list this summer! Western Gateway Park is located on approximately 13 acres of land in the western part of downtown Des Moines. There is a ton of green space, picnic tables, restaurants, and more. Most commonly, the Des Moines Arts Festival¬†takes place here every year at the end of June.

We spent an entire afternoon splashing, walking and eating (of course) through Western Gateway Park and it brought to my attention how many things there are to do with the family!

Splash in water

If you are heading to Western Gateway Park, in the Summer, make sure you pack your beach towels and swimsuits in your park bag. There is a fountain that runs through the East part of Western Gateway park, where children can walk through, splash and cool off.

John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

This area of the park includes artwork from 22 artists from all over the world. This is just about 4 acres of the 13 acre Western Gateway Park. It is a great place to walk through and explore the artwork with your children. Ask a question about the artwork and begin a family discussion about what you see. It truly is amazing to see all the unique pieces!

Central Des Moines Library

Did you know that the Central Des Moines Library is located within Western Gateway Park? Make a day of it and stop for a fun children’s activity or story time in the library. Pick up some reading material and relax outside in the park.

Take a look at our event calendar for all dates and times of events, activities and story times happening at the library daily.


Packing a lunch is a great idea, but if you don’t plan ahead, there are a ton of options to eat and drink within Western Gateway Park.

  1. Americana; 1312 Locust Street
  2. +39 Restaurant, Market + Cantina; 1430 Locust Street
  3. Black Cat Ice Cream; 1501 Grand Avenue
  4. Proof; 1301 Locust Street, Suite C
  5. Jimmy John’s; 1230 Locust Street
  6. La Mie Express; 1220 Locust Street
  7. Smokey D’s BBQ; 1220 Locust Street
  8. Della Dolce Bakery; 1312 Locust Street
  9. Magnolia Wine Kitchen; 1420 Locust Street
  10. Ritual Cafe; 1302 Locust Street D

We happened to be exploring the day of Out to Lunch! During the Summer, a few dates are selected where you can enjoy live music and several food trucks in Western Gateway Park. The next event is scheduled for Thursday, July 13. Mark your calendars!

Note: I have also heard that food trucks often line-up in the Western Gateway Park during lunch on occasion. Don’t be surprised if you see one!


Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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