A perfect spot for families and outdoor enthusiasts, enjoy the outdoor options this city has to offer as well as the many family attractions. There’s also an art gallery, historical places, and city landmarks. Des Moines is a place filled with culture and it welcomes all visitors.
1. Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo opened to the public in 1966 at the site of an old fort. The zoo offers animal feedings for ostriches, small birds and giraffes, along with camel rides, a train that’s open on the weekends, a gift shop and a cafe. There are lots of animals to see: tigers, bald eagles, flamingos, lions, otters and penguins. The zoo closes Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Christmas Eve.
Blank Park Zoo
Address: 7401 SW 9th St, Des Moines, IA 50315
Hours Open: 10 am to 4 pm daily from October till April and 9 am to 5 pm May till September.
Admission: adults pay 14 USD while kids are 8 USD, with children two and under free. Senior Citizens pay 11 USD.
Website: Blank Park Zoo
2. Adventureland Park
Adventureland has been family run for forty years and opened in 1973, and it’s now Iowa’s biggest attraction with over 100 rides and attractions. There’s thrill rides, kiddie rides, family rides and adventure bay for water-related attractions. Chicken Shack, Main Street Creamery, Dippin Dots ice cream, and Petunia Pig are some of the eateries at the park.
Address: 3200 Adventureland Dr, Altoona, IA
Hours Open: Weekends from end of May till the start of September
Admission: Seniors and children 37 USD and adults 42 USD for one day, and two days are 62 USD for seniors and children, adults are 67 USD. Children three and under are free.
Website: Adventureland Park
3. Cascade Falls Aquatic Center
The Cascade Falls Aquatic Center is in nearby Ankeny. The pools have heated water, a diving well, kiddie slide and a flowrider surf machine. There’s also concessions, an area for picnicking and lounge chairs.
Cascade Falls Aquatic Center
Address: 2350 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy, Ankeny, IA 50023
Hours Open: End of May till the start of September
Admission: Seniors 5 USD, adults 8 USD, and children two and under 1 USD
Website: Cascade Falls Aquatic Center
4. Heritage Carousel
The Heritage Carousel has been open to the public since 1998, run by a nonprofit organization. The carousel is hand carved and painted with an old fashioned pipe organ sound and can be found in Union Park. People can ride the carousel and enjoy the magic of this ride.
Address: 1801 Pennsylvania Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309
Hours Open: The season runs from May to August, Tuesday to Thursday noon to 7 pm, Friday to Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm. The carousel closes on Mondays and has limited hours in September and October.
Admission: 0.50 USD for children and 1 USD adults. Prepay six rides for 3 USD.
Website: Heritage Carousel
5. Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
The Des Moines Botanical Gardens opened in 1979 and were operated by the City of Des Moines Parks for the first 25 years, before being taken over by Des Moines Water Works in 2004. The gardener’s show house opened three years later and in 2013 it was under its third owner and got its current name. The gardens have a conservatory, and indoor and outdoor gardens that showcase the diversity of tropical and temperate flora from all over. There are horticultural exhibits showing off plants from different areas, as well as garden designs. A garden shop and cafe are available to guests.
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
Address: 909 Robert D. Ray Dr, Des Moines, IA 50309
Hours Open: 10 am to 5 pm daily
Admission: Adults 8 USD, military personnel and seniors 7 USD, students 6 USD and those three and under get in free
Website: Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
6. Pappajohn Sculpture Park
John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park features artwork from many celebrated artists, on four acres of land it’s along a pathway that leads to the downtown area. It’s a popular location and is visited by lots of visitors yearly.
Pappajohn Sculpture Park
Address: 1330 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309
Hours Open: Tours from the start of April till the end of October. Open sunrise to midnight
Website: Pappajohn Sculpture Park
Culture & entertainment:
7. Artisan Gallery 218
See the table with the papers on it? There is still time to sign up for classes at Artisan Gallery 218. We have classes for kids and adults in drawing, felting, jewelry making, and on other topics. All details are on the website and even if you can't join us this month, we will continue to hold classes each month.
Artisan Gallery 218 is a cooperative gallery for Iowa artists, where they can display their works. They also offer demonstration classes and different art classes.
Artisan Gallery 218
Address: 218 5th St, West Des Moines, IA 50265
Open hours: Open 11 am to 5:30 pm daily
Website: Artisan Gallery
8. Terrace Hill Historical Site
Terrace Hill, known as Iowa’s Home, was completed in 1869 and at the time was the tallest building in town. The building serves as a national landmark and home to the governor. Tours include historic gardens and the first two floors of the home, taking visitors back to life in the 1800s and they last an hour. There is also a gift shop on site.
Address: 2300 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312
Hours Open: Tours from March to December at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, noon and 1:30 pm
Admission: Students get in free when on a school trip, kids 2 USD and adults 5 USD
Website: Terrace Hill
9. Jasper Winery
The Jasper Winery is near the downtown of the city and specializes in premium quality wines made from grapes curated from all over Iowa. The winery offers a 90 minute educational tour of the premises on a VIP tour, which can be booked with 15 USD per person charge. The other tours are Wine and Chocolate Pairings, Wine and Cheese Pairings and the Bachelorette Special.
Address: 2400 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines, IA
Hours Open: Monday to Saturday 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday 1 to 5 pm
Website: Jasper Winery
Des Moines offers fun for all ages
No matter what your age, Des Moines has something fun for everyone. If you like arts, history or just family fun there is an attraction for you to enjoy.
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