The Best Ways to Spend the Day Off With Your Family in Des Moines

The Best Ways to Spend the Day Off With Your Family in Des Moines

Whether your family tribe enjoys outdoor adventures or prefers quiet creative activities, the city of Des Moines offers a host of inexpensive and free ways to have a blast. From museums to zoos to parks and libraries, the entertainment choices stretch on nearly endlessly.

Kids of all ages love spending time with their folks even when they outwardly roll their eyes and groan. Whether you enjoy a vacation away for home or looking to take advantage of the weekend, the following locales make great places to start your exploration of the city. Next time you have a family day on the town, try some of these Des Moines attractions.

Des Moines, Iowa, things to do, family


1. Visit the Capitol


Families who enjoy learning more about how our government works can schedule a guided tour of the Iowa Capitol. The website for booking tours also contains a host of history and video guides that younger family members can explore. Visitors can even take an audio cell phone tour if they lack a human guide.


2. Check Out the State Historical Museum


History buffs will adore visiting the Iowa State Historical Museum. Here, visitors can enjoy learning about Iowa’s background even before the state was officially founded. The museum displays over 80,000 relics, and it hosts educational programs as well as tours. The facility features eight different historical sites for families wishing to dive into a more in-depth study of Iowa’s past.


3. Get Wild at Blank Park Zoo


The Blank Park Zoo allows animal-loving families the opportunity to view anything from African lions to Asian red pandas. Parents on a tight budget delight in the relatively low admission prices for different activities and exhibits. Young family members can partake in helping zoo employees feed the animals.

The Blank Park Zoo offers after-school educational programs and summer camps which help working parents manage childcare needs. It also provides a home school safari class so those who study online can still enjoy a field trip.


4. Catch a Flick at the Science Center


While the Blank Imax Dome Theater and Science center experienced flood damage in 2018, once it reopens, budding young Einsteins can enjoy expanding their science knowledge on the big screen. Until the theater reopens, though, families can still enjoy a wide range of science-related activities for children of all ages.

The Science Center offers a Girls in Science camp to encourage more young women to learn about STEM fields. Parents desperately needing some adult time can take advantage of overnight science activity programs so they can hit the town — or catch up on sleep.


5. Enjoy a Quiet Sunday Breakfast in Bed


When the excitement becomes too much, taking a bit of downtime on your day off — before rushing off again — benefits children and adults alike. Spend Saturday evening whipping up delicious breakfast treats the whole family can enjoy as breakfast in bed. Since many tasty breakfast items travel well, the family can enjoy leftovers like hearty breakfast bars during weekday commutes to school and work.


6. Or Check Out the Ritual Cafe


Vegan and vegetarian parents can treat the entire family for a delicious breakfast or lunch at the Ritual Cafe. The menu boasts of serving all vegetarian dishes all the time. The chill, easy vibe of this locally-owned restaurant paired with the local artwork lining the walls and their to-die-for organic coffees create a memorable experience.


7. Get Fresh Fruits And Veggies at the Farmers Market


The Des Moines Farmers Market officially reopens in May although some winter programs also exist. Ranked as one of the top two farmers markets in the nation, the market hosts over 300 vendors selling everything from locally-sourced meats, fresh produce and arts, and crafts.

Create a full day of family fun by visiting the market in the morning, then cooking a delicious meal with the yummy ingredients you bought. You’ll enjoy bonding time with the kids while keeping the planet a bit cleaner.


8. Identify Plants at the Botanical Gardens


Enjoy the beauty and harmony of nature at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens. Because the founders believe that the love of science and the natural world knows no income boundaries, the gardens offer free admission for those who present their SNAP benefits card.

The Botanical Gardens offer multiple educational programs for youth and adults alike. They also offer travel-along field trips to other points of interest. This year’s tour will explore the Pacific Northwest and the plants of that region at several stops in the Seattle area.


9. Get Books at the Public Library


The branches of the Des Moines Public Library offer another free way to enjoy family time. Sign up for a library card and enjoy a wide range of books and digital media on nearly any subject of interest. Inspire your kids to develop a love of reading by participating in book groups and other activities.


10. Enjoy Adventureland Park


The Adventureland Resort offers all the joys of going to Disneyland for less than half the ticket price for entry into Mickey’s kingdom. The resort features over 100 rides and also boasts food vendors and fantastic shows. If your budget permits, invest in season passes so your family can enjoy fun and sun all summer long.


Enjoy Your Family Fun!


The Hawkeye state boasts family activities for everyone, and residents of the largest Iowa city can enjoy tons of fun within easy traveling distance. Book your tickets now and reap the rewards of deepening your bond with your kiddos by exploring all Des Moines has to offer together.


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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