Your Guide to Visiting the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines, Iowa

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Your Guide to Visiting the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines has some amazing places to play indoors and explore for kids and families. Whether you live in or visit Des Moines, Iowa the Science Center of Iowa should be at the top of your list. I am sharing the top reasons we love to play, learn and explore at this science museum. Plan an entire day of fun with this ultimate guide to visiting the Science Center of Iowa.

Hands-On Exhibits

The entire Science Center is filled with hands-on exhibits for all ages. They offer many permanent exhibits such as Small Discoveries for the younger crowd where children can run around a small town grocery shopping and cooking in the kitchen. Everyone’s favorite (even my older children) is the food conveyer belt.

Children and adults will love making larger-than-life bubbles in Bubble Bay.

The Small Discoveries area also offers a family restroom and caregiver nook.

Brick-by-Brick is for those who love to build! Families can see iconic structures built of LEGOs including Cinderella’s Castle, Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam, One World Trade Center, and more.

Can you build a structure that will sustain an earthquake? And so many more interactive exhibits are offered in the Brick-by-Brick exhibit.

Head upstairs to explore the What On Earth? permanent exhibit which gives families a chance to come face to face with native cold-blooded critters such as snapping turtles or snakes. This is the perfect place to learn about Iowa’s native habitats. You can listen to prairie habitat, make leaf rubbings, and walk through a mock bat cave.

After learning about animals and Iowa’s habitat, it is time to get things moving! Head across the way to the When Things Get Moving permanent exhibit. Create and launch your own paper rocket, set up dominoes, wrap up a large egg and drop it to see if it will break, and so much more. The Ball Wall will keep everyone busy for hours and is a staple when you make a visit to the Science Center of Iowa.

No trip is complete to the Science Center without learning about our sky. The Why The Sky? exhibit is filled with hands-on activities to explore the planets and solar system. Families can look through telescopes, examine the Sun, and much more.

Rotating Exhibits

Rotating exhibits is the reason to keep coming back to the Science Center of Iowa! Every few months you will discover a new exhibit such as larger-than-life dinosaurs. One of our favorite special exhibits is the “ice skating” rink that is set up for kids to slide around and pretend ice skate indoors. Stay up to date with new exhibits coming to the science center on their website.

WHO-HD Weather Studio

While you are visiting do not miss your chance to be on a local Des Moines news station, WHO-TV 13. Meteorologists regularly broadcast the daily weather from the weather studio located in the Science Center and invite kids to join them on screen! Families can also try sharing the weather in front of the green screen when the camera isn’t rolling. This offering is a great time for all!


The Science Center of Iowa offers a 50-foot planetarium right next to the Why the Sky? exhibit. My children refer to it as the “star theater”. This 360-degree domed theater is one of the largest in the state of Iowa and offers different programming during the day including Seven Wonders, Flight Adventures, Reaching for the Stars, and more. The programming offers interactive experiences for all. Take a look at the science center’s website for an entire list of programming and times they are played throughout the day.

Live Science Demonstrations

The Science Center is a great place to learn science, especially during their live science demonstrations! Throughout the day visitors can catch a show in the John Deere Adventure Theater. Bookmark the daily event calendar so you can plan your day around planetarium shows and live science demonstrations.

Unique Programming + Special Events

Take it to the next step! The Science Center of Iowa offers a ton of unique programming outside of their daily hours including Noon Years Eve, sensory-friendly hours, mixology for adults, star parties, Girls in Science programming, Homeschool programs, and many more. Take a look at all the unique programming and mark your calendars.

Sensory Sources

The Science Center of Iowa does offer various sensory sources including a sensory guide, sensory backpacks, social stories, and more. Take a look at all of the offerings here.

A-ha! Store

Before you leave the Science Center make sure you make a stop at the gift shop. The A-ha! Store offers a ton of fun gifts for others or a souvenir to take home to remind you of all the fun you had at the Science Center of Iowa. You will find building sets, science rocks, microscopes, and so much more.

Science Center of Iowa Camp

Throughout the year the Science Center offers Summer Camp, Winter Camp, and Spring Break Camps. Camps are broken down by age groups and offer all sorts of themes. Take a look at the Camp Directory to find the perfect camp for your child to participate in.

How much is it to get into the Science Center of Iowa?

Advanced admission into the Science Center of Iowa is $13 per person 2 years and older. 2 years and younger are free. Members are free! Take a look at different membership options. Make sure to check your local library for a Library Adventure Pass to visit the library for free.

If you do not purchase advance tickets a general admission ticket is $15 per person 2 years and older at the door. It is recommended to reserve your tickets ahead of time before arriving.

What is the Science Center of Iowa hours?

  • Monday – Closed
  • Tuesday – Closed
  • Wednesday – Closed
  • Thursday – Sunday – 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Take a look at their website for special hours during school breaks.

Do they sell food at the Science Center of Iowa?

Currently, their food cafe is closed. You ARE able to bring food and drink into the Science Center. They do not allow food or drink around exhibits.

Where should we park when visiting the Science Center of Iowa?

There are a lot of streets, and metered parking around the area. The Science Center also has a parking ramp located at 4th Street and Market. It costs $3 for the first hour and $1 for every additional hour.

Where is the Science Center of Iowa located?

The Science center of Iowa is located in downtown Des Moines at 401 W Martin Luther King Jr Pkwy. If you have any questions call 515-274-6868.


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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