Are you looking for the best and most enjoyable activities in Des Moines, Iowa?

Discover the Heartland’s Hidden Gem, Des Moines! From captivating cultural experiences to thrilling outdoor adventures, this city will surprise and delight you at every turn.

No matter what your interests are, Des Moines has something to offer. From cultural experiences to outdoor adventures and delectable culinary delights, this vibrant city is sure to leave you with cherished memories. So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and get ready to explore the best and most enjoyable things to do in Des Moines, Iowa!

Best & Fun Things To Do In Des Moines

Des Moines, the capital city of Iowa, offers a plethora of exciting attractions and experiences that are sure to delight visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a fan of art and culture, outdoor adventures, or delicious culinary delights, Des Moines has something for everyone. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor passing through, there are plenty of fun things to do in this charming city that will leave you with lasting memories.

41. East Village

East Village is a trendy neighborhood in downtown Des Moines known for its unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Explore the boutiques, grab a bite to eat at a local cafe, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this lively district.

40. Iowa State Capitol Building

The Iowa State Capitol Building is a stunning architectural gem that offers guided tours for visitors. Marvel at the beautiful interiors, climb the dome for panoramic views of the city, and learn about the state’s political history.

39. Des Moines Botanical Center

The Des Moines Botanical Center is another beautiful botanical garden that features an extensive collection of plants, including tropical and desert species. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, visit the conservatory, and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.

38. Sleepy Hollow Sports Park

Sleepy Hollow Sports Park is an adventure park that offers a range of outdoor activities. Visitors can try their hand at zip-lining, go-karting, miniature golf, and more, making it a great destination for thrill-seekers and families alike.

37. Des Moines Art Festival

If you happen to be in Des Moines during the Des Moines Art Festival, it’s a must-visit event. This annual festival showcases works by local and national artists, offers live music performances, and features a variety of food vendors.

36. Des Moines Symphony

Catch a performance by the Des Moines Symphony for a night of beautiful music. The symphony performs a range of classical and contemporary compositions, showcasing the talent of local musicians and visiting guest artists.

35. Iowa State Historical Building

The Iowa State Historical Building houses exhibits that delve into Iowa’s history and cultural heritage. Learn about the state’s pioneers, Native American tribes, and important milestones through interactive displays and artifacts.

34. Valley Junction

Valley Junction is a charming neighborhood in West Des Moines that is known for its unique shops, boutiques, and antique stores. Browse through the eclectic mix of shops, dine at local restaurants, and experience the vintage charm of this historic area.

32. Simon Estes Amphitheater

The Simon Estes Amphitheater is an outdoor venue located on the riverfront. It hosts concerts, festivals, and cultural events during the warmer months, offering a scenic setting

30. Salisbury House & Gardens

Salisbury House is a historic mansion built in the 1920s that now serves as a museum. It showcases an extensive collection of art, literature, and historic artifacts. The surrounding gardens provide a tranquil setting for visitors to explore.

29. World Food Prize Hall of Laureates

The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates is dedicated to honoring individuals who have made significant contributions to improving global food security. The interactive exhibits highlight innovations in agriculture and the fight against hunger.

28. Blank Park Zoo

The Blank Park Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals from around the world. Visitors can see animals like lions, giraffes, and penguins while learning about wildlife conservation efforts. The zoo also offers educational programs and events for all ages.

27. Des Moines Art Center

The Des Moines Art Center is a renowned museum that houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. It features works by prominent artists such as Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The museum also offers educational programs, exhibitions, and a sculpture park.

26. Des Moines’ Downtown Farmers’ Market

Held every Saturday morning from May to October, the Downtown Farmers’ Market is a vibrant and bustling event. Visitors can explore a wide variety of stalls offering fresh produce, baked goods, crafts, and more. Live music and entertainment add to the lively atmosphere.

25. Des Moines Civic Center


The Des Moines Civic Center is a performing arts venue that hosts a range of theatrical performances, concerts, and other live events. From Broadway shows to ballet and symphony performances, the Civic Center offers a diverse cultural experience for visitors.

24. The Science Center of Iowa


The Science Center of Iowa is an interactive museum that combines education and entertainment. Visitors can engage in hands-on exhibits, planetarium shows, and educational programs that cover a wide range of scientific topics.

23. Terrace Hill

Terrace Hill is the official residence of the governor of Iowa and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Guided tours of the mansion provide visitors with a glimpse into Iowa’s political history and the architectural beauty of the building.

22. Gray’s Lake Park

Gray’s Lake Park is a popular outdoor destination in Des Moines. It features a picturesque lake where visitors can rent paddleboats or kayaks. The park also offers walking and biking trails, picnic areas, and a play area for children.

21. Water Works Park

Water Works Park is a large urban park that offers ample green space and recreational opportunities. Visitors can enjoy walking trails, fishing ponds, and open areas for picnicking or playing sports. The park also hosts events and festivals throughout the year.

20. Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Located in the heart of downtown Des Moines, the Pappajohn Sculpture Park features a collection of contemporary sculptures by renowned artists. The open-air park provides a unique urban art experience and is free for the public to enjoy.

19. Jasper Winery

Jasper Winery is a local winery that offers wine tastings, tours, and events. Visitors can sample a variety of wines produced on-site and learn about the winemaking process. The winery also features a beautiful outdoor patio where guests can relax and enjoy the scenery.

18. Adventureland Resort

Adventureland Resort is an amusement park and resort that offers thrilling rides, water slides, and live entertainment. It’s a perfect destination for families and thrill-seekers looking for a day of fun and excitement.

17. Iowa State Fair

The Iowa State Fair is one of the largest and most famous state fairs in the United States. Held annually in August, it offers a wide range of attractions, including livestock exhibits, agricultural displays, amusement rides, concerts, and a variety of food vendors.

16. Hoyt Sherman Place

Hoyt Sherman Place is a historic venue that hosts concerts, performances, and art exhibitions. The building itself is an architectural gem, and visitors can enjoy a diverse range of cultural events in a beautiful setting.

15. Principal Park

Principal Park is a minor league baseball stadium and home to the Iowa Cubs, a Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Baseball fans can catch a game and enjoy the lively atmosphere while indulging in classic ballpark food.

14. Jester Park

Jester Park is a beautiful nature reserve located just outside of Des Moines. It offers a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing. The park also features a golf course, an equestrian center, and a nature center.

13. Ashby Park

Ashby Park is a charming community park with lush green spaces, picnic areas, and playgrounds. It’s a great place for families to relax and enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, biking, and playing sports.

12. Chocolate Storybook

Chocolate Storybook is a local confectionery that specializes in handcrafted chocolates and candies. Visitors can explore the shop, indulge in sweet treats, and even watch the chocolate-making process.

11. Franklin Avenue Library

The Franklin Avenue Library is a modern public library that offers a wide range of books, digital resources, and community programs. Visitors can explore the library’s collection, attend events, or simply find a cozy spot to read or study.

10. Living History Farms

Living History Farms is an interactive outdoor museum that showcases Iowa’s agricultural history. Visitors can explore historic farm sites, participate in hands-on activities, and learn about farming techniques from different eras. The museum also hosts special events and demonstrations throughout the year.

9. Des Moines Skywalks

The Des Moines Skywalks are a network of elevated walkways that connect various buildings in downtown Des Moines. It’s a unique way to explore the city and access shops, restaurants, and attractions while staying indoors.

8. Center Grove Orchard

Center Grove Orchard is a family-friendly destination known for its apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and seasonal activities. Visitors can pick their own apples, navigate corn mazes, take hayrides, and enjoy homemade treats.

7. Big Creek State Park

Big Creek State Park is a scenic outdoor retreat located just outside Des Moines. The park features a large lake where visitors can swim, boat, or fish. It also offers hiking trails, camping sites, and picnic areas.

6. Snookies Malt Shop

Snookies Malt Shop is a local favorite for ice cream and classic malted milkshakes. Visitors can indulge in a wide variety of delicious frozen treats and enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere

5. Raccoon River Park

Raccoon River Park is a spacious park that offers a range of recreational activities. Visitors can enjoy walking and biking trails, go fishing or boating on the lake, play sports in the open fields, or have a picnic in the scenic surroundings.

4. Brenton Skating Plaza

Brenton Skating Plaza is an outdoor ice skating rink located in downtown Des Moines. During the winter months, visitors can lace up their skates and glide across the ice while enjoying the festive atmosphere.

3. State Capitol

The Iowa State Capitol is an architectural masterpiece and a symbol of the state’s history and government. Visitors can take guided tours to explore the grand interior, admire the stunning artwork, and learn about Iowa’s political heritage.

2. Iowa Cubs Baseball Game

Catching an Iowa Cubs baseball game at Principal Park is a fun and lively experience. Enjoy the thrill of America’s favorite pastime while cheering on the local minor league team.

1. Des Moines Playhouse

The Des Moines Playhouse is a community theater that produces a variety of stage plays and musicals throughout the year. Visitors can enjoy performances by local actors and immerse themselves in the vibrant theater scene.

Unforgettable Adventures: Exploring Des Moines’ Hidden Gems

One of the must-visit destinations in Des Moines is the Des Moines Art Center. This renowned museum showcases an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, featuring works by renowned artists such as Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Art enthusiasts will be captivated by the diverse range of artistic expressions on display.

For those who appreciate fresh produce, vibrant colors, and a lively atmosphere, the Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market is an absolute must-see. Held every Saturday from May to October, this bustling market offers a wide array of stalls selling everything from farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to artisanal crafts. Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of the market, sample delectable local treats, and interact with friendly vendors.

If you’re a fan of performing arts, a visit to the Des Moines Civic Center is a must. This premier venue hosts a variety of theatrical performances, concerts, and other live events throughout the year. From Broadway shows to symphony performances, there’s always something captivating happening on stage.

Nature enthusiasts will find solace in the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. Explore the stunning indoor and outdoor gardens, featuring a wide variety of plants and flowers from around the world. The peaceful ambiance makes it a perfect place to relax and reconnect with nature.

In addition to these fantastic attractions, Des Moines offers an array of other remarkable experiences. Discover the fascinating history of Iowa at the State Historical Museum, explore the scenic beauty of Gray’s Lake Park, or embark on an adventure at Adventureland Resort, a thrilling amusement park that guarantees a day full of fun and excitement.


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