20 Places to Visit in Des Moines with the Grandparents

20 Places to Visit in Des Moines with the Grandparents

20 Places to Visit in Des Moines with the Grandparents

Are the Grandparent’s coming to town? Are they babysitting for the weekend? In celebration of National Grandparent’s Day, I have put together a list of 20 fun things to see, eat and do in Des Moines with the grandparents. Now, let us be honest these 20 things are great for anyone who wants to explore Des Moines.

Des Moines, Iowa

Gray’s Lake; 2101 Fleur Drive, Des Moines

This park is a great place to enjoy a picnic and take a walk around the lake. There are a ton of activities available such as fishing, sailing, canoeing, and swimming. There is also a small playground for kids to climb on. Although they offer many activities, children have just as much fun by just walking across the huge bridge. Gray’s Lake also offers a lot of shady areas and plenty of parking options.

Hours: Daily 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Bowling at Warrior Lanes; 190 SE Laurel Street, Waukee


Want to get out of the heat this summer? Take the kids bowling at Warrior Lanes. During the Summer each child can register for Kids Bowl Free. When you register each child receives 2-free games of bowling every day, all summer long. Must pay for shoe rental and for yourself, if you would like to bowl too.

Hours: Monday-Thursday and Sunday Noon – 10 p.m.; Friday Noon-Midnight; Saturday Noon-Midnight

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden; 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines


Take the outdoors indoors at the Des Moines Botanical Garden. This is a great place to explore and walk around if it is too hot or rainy outside. Walk around the gardens at your own pace. They also offer a Story Sprouts program most Friday’s. Take a look at their event calendar for dates. This class is an additional $3 on top of admission. Story Sprouts is an interactive story time that explores nature and plants. Take a break and enjoy lunch at the Trellis Cafe! Eat inside or sit out on their patio overlooking the Des Moines River.

Hours: Daily from10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission: Children ages 4 to 17 $7; Children 3 and under free; Senior Citizens $9; Adults $10

Des Moines Central Library + Pappajohn Sculpture Park; 1330 Grand Avenue, Des Moines

You can spend an entire morning in Western Gateway Park which includes Central Library and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Enjoy a morning storytime and activity at the library, then walk through the several pieces of artwork in Pappajohn Sculpture Park. There are several picnic benches and green space, so pack a lunch to enjoy. Bring a change of clothes for the kids, because there is a fun water feature in the park where the kids and walk through and get wet.

Hours of Des Moines Central Library: Monday – Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday & Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday Closed (June-August)

Des Moines, Iowa, Pappajohn sculpture park

Bass Pro Shop; 1000 Bass Pro Dr. NW, Altoona


You would not think there would be so many fun things to do at a store! Wander around the store and look at the several taxidermies, mounts, wildlife facts and more. Watch the fish and even feed them during scheduled fish feedings. Bowl and eat at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill. This is another great option to beat the heat.

Fish Feedings: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 3 p.m.

Store Hours: Monday – Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Playground for Kids; 2401 SE Tones Drive #7, Ankeny


The Playground for Kids is a fun place to bring the kids to burn off some energy. There is a cafe area where you can sit back and relax while they climb, run and play. There is not much activity needed from you except watching them enjoy themselves.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday & Friday 10 a.m to 8 p.m.; Tuesday & Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission: 2-12 years old $8.99; Walkers up to 23 months old $5.99

Valley Community Center; 4444 Fuller Road, West Des Moines


The Valley Community Center is a great place to grab a coffee while the kids play in the indoor play area. The play area is free and includes a small cafe of coffee drinks, juice and snacks at a small cost. They also have fun classes/activities throughout the week including Kids Zumba, Creative Movement and more. Classes available start for children ages 3 and older. The cost is $5 per class or $3 per class with a punch card. Take a look at the schedule by clicking the link above. 

Hours: Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Greenwood/Ashworth Park + Sprayground; 4500 Grand Avenue, Des Moines

The Des Moines Parks and Recreation completed renovating this park last year. Greenwood/Ashworth Park is tucked behind the Des Moines Arts Center with a lot of shade and trees. There is a playground, sprayground, shelter and bathroom facility. Pack a lunch and enjoy a day at the park!

Greenwood Park, Des Moines

Ashby Park; 3200 38th Street, Des Moines

Are the kids looking to swim, but not interested in getting in yourself? Ashby Park is the perfect option! This park located in Beaverdale offers a splash pool about 1 to 2 feet deep. It also has two great playgrounds, tennis courts, shelter, shade, and bathroom facility.

Wading pool hours: Monday – Friday; 10 a.m to 7 p.m; Saturday & Sunday; 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Splash pool open seasonally. 

The Historical Building; 600 East Locust, Des Moines


This is a great place to explore and learn about this history of Iowa. Get out of the heat and/or rain and walk through the several exhibits at The Historical Building. There is also a specific hands-on area for the children to play which includes a large tractor, a huge train table, rubbing fossils, story nook and much more.

Hours: Monday – Saturday; 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday Noon to 4:30 p.m.

Admission: Free

State of Iowa Historical Building, Des Moines

Chick-fil-A; Various locations

This is a great place to grab lunch or dinner and let the kids play in the play area. The staff brings out your food and will often stop to ask and refill your beverage. Bonus, their food tastes pretty good!

Note: Closed Sunday’s

Chocolaterie Stam; 2814 Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines


What child doesn’t love chocolate? Chocolaterie Stam is much more than just chocolate, it is also a fun experience. Take the kids to the local chocolate shop to pick out their favorites and enjoy them right in the store. Make sure you check their website for special events.

Hours: Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday Noon to 5 p.m.

Union Park & Heritage Carousel; 725 Thompson Avenue, Des Moines

A Des Moines original park offers a ton of activities for everyone. Ride the Heritage Carousel ($0.50 admission), walk through the Union Park Floral Garden, watch the kids climb and play on the rocket slide or splash in the water play area. There are a lot of picnic benches and shady areas available.

Carousel hours: May 28 – August 23; Tuesday & Thursday Noon – 7 p.m.; Friday – Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Downtown Skywalk

Walk through the downtown skywalks. The kids will love walking across the bridges and watch cars drive underneath, grab lunch or a snack at the many restaurants available.

Art Terrarium; 106 11th Street, Des Moines


Take the kids to learn about plants and create their own terrarium. Art Terrarium’s staff is knowledgeable and patient with small kids. Let the kids get their hands dirty and create their own growing masterpiece.

Hours: Sunday Noon to 4 p.m., Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday & Saturday 10 a,.m. to 5 p.m.

Art Terrarium, Des Moines

Bauder’s Pharmacy; 3802 Ingersoll Avenue; Des Moines

Take the kids to enjoy an old-fashioned soda fountain at Bauder’s Pharmacy on Ingersoll. They also offer delicious ice cream. A great experience for the entire family.

Hours: Monday – Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Des Moines Community Playhouse; 831 42nd Street, Des Moines


Take the kids to their first theater performance at the Des Moines Community Playhouse. They offer several great shows for the entire family each year. A few that are coming up are The Music Man and Disney’s the Little Mermaid.

Barnes & Noble; Various locations

Barnes & Noble is a great place to find some great children’s books and educational toys. They have a great children’s area where they offer storytime each week and a small area for kids to explore and use their imaginations. Most locations also offer a small cafe with lunch, drink, and dessert.

Barnes & Noble, West Des Moines, Iowa

Java Joe’s Coffeehouse; 214 4th Street, Des Moines


Java Joe’s is a great place to grab breakfast or lunch. Afterward, let the kids use their imaginations and let them play in the small playhouse located in a special area.

The Brenton Arboretum; 25141 260th Street, Dallas Center


Spend the day wandering through beautiful trees and connect to nature. Nature play is encouraged with the children and there are plenty of opportunities available. There is a bench and shaded Pavilion, where you can relax as they play.

Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to sunset

Admission: Free

Brenton Arboretum, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa

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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