Nature Play Area at Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

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Nature Play Area at Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

The new Nature Play Area located in the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden opened in October 2023. This new play area gives kids another way to engage with nature by exploring, creating, playing, and moving while visiting the gardens. Learn more about this new feature in Des Moines, Iowa!

Take a look at some other fun Natural Playgrounds in Des Moines.

The Nature Play area is located on the northern side of the outdoor garden. This space includes two planters filled with soil, shovels, buckets and sticks, large stumps and logs to climb and run on, a tunnel to run through, a xylophone, and a nature loom. 

My kids spent most of their time playing at a play camp kitchen area that has a multitude of nature items for kids to interact with and lots of extra items in the play storage area. In this area, I saw my kids’ imaginations explode. They were cooking dream dinners with pumpkins, logs, bark, and pinecones and serving them to one another. They loved seeing what else they could discover in the storage area.

While checking out the new Nature Play Area don’t forget the rest of the Botanical Gardens. Get a scavenger hunt from the front desk, check out the hands-on kids’ area in the Garden Commons area, and see the art displayed in the North Gallery.


  • Adults $12
  • Seniors 65+ $11
  • Active Military $11
  • Children 2-12 $9
  • Children 1 and under Free

Access to the Nature Play Area is included with admission to the Botanical Gardens. Des Moines Botanical Gardens offers free admission for families who have WIC, EBT, or SNAP benefits. Bring your card with an ID and you receive four free admissions. Many central Iowa libraries also participate in the Adventure Pass program. We used this on our visit today and checked out four passes to use for the day from our local library. They also offer different membership options. This would make a great gift!


Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens is located at 909 Robert Ray Drive in Des Moines. 

Basic Park Details

Type: Places to play

Bathrooms: Yes, located inside

Shade: Shade trees

Playground: nature-scape

Trails: Walkways around the garden

Water: None

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday from 10 to 5 p.m., closed on Mondays

Official website:

Event Calendar: Throughout the year the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden offers special programming and activities. Take a look at their events calendar!

Explore Around the Park

  • Cross the Women’s Achievement Bridge over the Des Moines Rivers with your kids’ scooters.
  • Explore the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens on your way to the bridge!
  • Check out the Lauridsen Skate Park, 901 2nd Ave.
  • Drive a few blocks away to Whitmer Park, 526 Lyon Street, which has a unique playground C-structure not found anywhere else in the metro. 

Kaci Kennedy

Kaci Kennedy

Kaci is an adventurer and park enthusiast. She will often be exploring Central Iowa parks and finding hidden treasures with her five kids. Most of all, Kaci enjoys sharing all of her discoveries with those around her. Give her a follow on Instagram at @kennedysdoparks.

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