8 Winter Activities in Downtown Des Moines for Kids

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8 Winter Activities in Downtown Des Moines for Kids

As winter settles into Iowa families may not realize all of the fun that can still be had in the heart of Des Moines! There is so much to do in Des Moines, Iowa all year round, but what about winter activities?! I have gathered 8 of our favorite winter activities to do in Downtown Des Moines for kids. Bonus! Most of these are listed in my newly published book 100 Things To Do in Des Moines.

Bookmark these other fun Winter Guides to keep you busy this season in Des Moines.

Brenton Skating Plaza

Address: 520 Robert D. Ray Drive in Des Moines

Lace-up those skates and get some exercise! Ice skating at Brenton Skating Plaza should be on your winter bucket list. Beautiful views of the Des Moines skyline located along the Des Moines River. Not sure how to ice skate? They offer Buddy Mates to rent for the little ones and ice skating lessons throughout the season.

Winter, Des Moines, Iowa, ice skating, Brenton Skating Plaza, downtown Des Moines
Photo Credit: Des Moines Parks & Recreation

Des Moines Performing Arts

Address: 221 Walnut Street in Des Moines

Catch a family show at Des Moines Performing Arts. There are many show options for families to attend all year-round. One of our favorite series is the Wellmark Family Series which is a series of short shows throughout the year. Each show includes a FREE Discovery Party 1-hour before each show. Perfect for littles who may be new to live theater. They also offer other Broadway shows. They have had The Lion King, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and more. Take a look at the event calendar.

Hike the Skywalks

Address: Throughout Downtown Des Moines

The downtown Des Moines skywalk system is quite impressive and incredibly beneficial in the frigid Iowa winters. The skywalk system is 4.2 miles in and length and connects 55 buildings and 12 parking ramps. Not only do the climate-controlled skywalks enable for you get to different restaurants, hotels and attractions in downtown Des Moines, many use the system as a form for physical activity. You will find many walkes and families with you kids burning off energy on a cold Iowa day. Grab some scooters and see what you can find! View the interactive map.

Holiday Promenade

Address: The Historic East Village

Several Fridays during the Holiday season The Historic East Village lights up and businesses stay open late. Families are invited to walk the streets, shop locally, and participate in several activities planned. For 2023 the Holiday Promenade starts November 17 and is every Friday through December 15. Such a fun way to shop and take in Des Moines.


Address: 505 East Grand Avenue in Des Moines

Located just next door to Storyhouse Bookpub is RAYGUN. I never knew how much my kids would enjoy this fun shop until we walked in one day. They love to look at all the fun shirts, stickers, and toys. In addition, they have a small kids’ area with a kid’s hideaway. If you have littles, this is such a fun spot for them to explore. Parents! Do not leave without walking into Daisy Chain Coffee for a caffeinated beverage or a Honey Lemonade for the kiddos.

State Historical Museum of Iowa

Address: 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines

The State Historical Museum of Iowa just went under a large renovation, so if it has been some time since you visited now is the time! We love to visit to get away from the heat and cold weather of Iowa. It is a fun place to learn the history of Iowa and they have a fun hands-on kids area. No matter how many times we visit, I always walk away learning something new. Take an inside look at our fun experience.

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Storyhouse Bookpub

Address: 505 East Grand Avenue, Suite 102 in Des Moines

If you have been following Des Moines Parent for a while, you know we have a special place in our hearts for Storyhouse Bookpub. It is such a cozy place to visit, pick out a book, or stay for one of their many special events and storytimes. Their little kid’s nook is so much fun. Take a look at their Facebook page before you visit to see what they have planned!

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Zombie Burger

Address: 300 E Grand Avenue in Des Moines

Big fan of Zombie Burger! It is one of the few restaurants with a theme for kids and the entire family. Bonus! They have delicious burgers and no one can leave without an over-the-top shake.

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BONUS! Vibrant Coffeehouse and Kitchen

Address: 520 E Grand Avenue in Des Moines

If you are looking for a cozy spot to grab breakfast or lunch, head to Vibrant Coffeehouse and Kitchen. We love the vibes at this coffeehouse. Grab something yummy to eat, sit on one of their cozy couches, and play some games as the snow falls. Kids can grab hot cocoa, ice cream, and more!


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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