75 Fun Things To Do In Des Moines

Welcome to Des Moines, the capital of Iowa! A financial business hub in the midwest, Des Moines is also home to a thriving arts scene. With plenty of pedestrian friendly downtown streets to walk around and explore all of the boutiques, cafes, and architecture, Des Moines offers plenty of great things to do when you want to pass some time.

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Iowa State Fairgrounds

Catch loads of entertainment at Iowa State Fairgrounds

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Blank Park Zoo

Become a little zealous at Blank Park Zoo

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Capitol Building

Take in the beauty inside & out of Capitol Building Des Moines

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Science Center of Iowa

Step inside an amazing world of science at Science Center of Iowa

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Gray's Lake Park

Relieve your stress by participating in a free yoga class at Gray’s Lake Park

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Des Moines Art Center

Check out impressive works by artists of the 19th and 20th centuries at Des Moines Art Center

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High Trestle Trail

Enjoy the sculpture on the bridge as well as the views of the Des Moines River valley as you bike or walk a 13 story high trail

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Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Take a leisurely stroll through Pappajohn Sculpture Park

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Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Let your summer evening bloom at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

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Principal Park

Catch a Minor League Baseball Game at Principal Park

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Metro Ice Sports Arena

Rent a 2 hour session of hockey and figure skate at Metro Ice Sports Arena

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West Grand Golf

Learn how to Tee it Up at West Grand Golf

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Court Avenue

Spend a night shopping, dining or attending an event at Court Avenue

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Funny Bone Comedy Club

Share some laughter at Funny Bone Comedy Club

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Des Moines Arts Festival

Spend time enjoying the performance art, interactive art, music, food and all the other activities the festival has to offer

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Downtown Farmers Market

Spend a Saturday morning strolling & listening to Live Music at Downtown Farmers Market

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Plaza Lanes Family Fun Center

Try your hands on COOL Lazer Bowling at Plaza Lanes Family Fun Center

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High Life Lounge

Grab a drink in a “70s feel” bar at High Life Lounge

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Prairie Meadows

Pull the slot machines at Prairie Meadows

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Salisbury House

Take a self-guided stroll through an impressive American replica of Salisbury Castle at Salisbury House

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Des Moines Civic Center

Witness a High energy show with lots of dancing and music at Des Moines Civic Center

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Iowa Wild

Round up your family and friends, and go watch the future stars of the Iowa Wild take the ice

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Des Moines River Trail

Walk Des Moines River Trail in the spring/summer/fall for a touch of green and “fresh” air in the city

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Historic East Village

Veg out at Historic East Village

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Des Moines Symphony

Cultivate your appreciation for the world class Orchestra performance at Des Moines Symphony

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Skate West

Roller Skate to music at Skate West

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Raccoon River Excursions

Go on a floating trip with Raccoon River Excursions

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Prairie Meadows

Attend some live horse racing at Prairie Meadows

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Iowa Gold Star Museum

Take your piece of history at Iowa Gold Star Museum

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Pump It Up

Celebrate your little one’s birthday party at Pump It Up

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Victors Sports Bar

Order some good food and check out live entertainment at Victors Sports Bar

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Terrace Hill

Watch history unfold right before your eyes at Terrace Hill

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State Historical Museum

Discover Iowa’s rich heritage through a variety of exhibitions, tours and collections at State Historical Museum

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Surf Ballroom

Get a music history lesson at the Surf Ballroom and Museum

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Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens

Sit back & share a lighter moment with a friend at Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens

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Valley Junction

Shop, Dine or Attend an event at Valley Junction

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Firetrucker Brewery

Enjoy the brewery’s atmosphere and the varying food options provided by the rotating food-truck vendors at Firetrucker Brewery

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RaceAway Hospitality

Witness the excitement & thrill of NASCAR racing at RaceAway Hospatality

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Prairie Ridge Aquatic Center

Shoot down a slide into the plunge pool below at Prairie Ridge Aquatic Center

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National Balloon Museum

Visit the colorful and inventive National Balloon Museum in Indianola, Iowa to celebrate one of the most adrenaline rushing activities known to man!

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West End Architectural Salvage

Grab a glass of wine & tour the 4 floors of antiques at West End Architectural Salvage

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Up-Down

Play old school style video games at Up-Down

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World Food Prize Hall of Laureates

Appreciate the beautiful architecture of World Food Prize Hall of Laureates

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Iowa Events Center

Catch the hottest tours and shows at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines

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Monkey Joes

Book a high energy bouncing party at Monkey Joes

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Clive Greenbelt Trail

Ride Clive Greenbelt Trail, a scenic trial that follows the creek

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Lake Ahquabi State Park

Feast your eyes on the beautiful sunset view while kayaking at Lake Ahquabi State Park

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Iowa Arboretum

Hike Linden Lane Trail at scenic Iowa Arboretum

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Richard Petty Driving Experience

Experience life in the fast lane at Richard Petty Driving Experience

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CMP Tactical Lazer Tag Des Moines

Blast your way through a game of laser tag with realistic simulated weapons at CMP Tactical Lazer Tag Des Moines

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Maquoketa Caves State Park

Wander through Dancehall Cave or get dirty as you crawl through Hernando’s Hideaway at Maquoketa Caves State Park

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Maytag Dairy Farm

Experience truly fresh dairy products at the Maytag Dairy Farm

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Ledges State Park

Plan on 3-4 hours of hiking and splashing in the creeks at Ledges State Park!

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Annett Nature Center

Hear the birds singing at Annett Nature Center

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BackSpin Indoor Golf & Bar

Play golf courses all over the country in the Golf Simulator room at BackSpin Indoor Golf & Bar

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Des Moines Metro Opera

Let the “prima donna” please you at Des Moines Metro Opera, in an outdoor setting at the Botanical Garden

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Prairie Ridge Skate Park

Show off your skating skills to impress your friends at Prairie Ridge Skate Park

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Ankeny Art Center

Visit Ankeny Art Center to see great pieces of local art

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Wells Fargo Arena

Get enchanted by a Live Concert at Wells Fargo Arena

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Thomas Mitchell Park

Plan a picnic in one of the Picnic Shelters at Thomas Mitchell Park

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Living History Farms

Explore early farming techniques and enjoy interacting with costumed staff at Living History Farms

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Iowa Culinary Institute

Help out the students of Iowa Culinary Institute by attending one of their gourmet dinners and providing feedback

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Iowa Hall of Pride

Take a top notch history lesson from the exhibits at Iowa Hall of Pride

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Confluence Brewing Company

Pull up a barstool & choose from tantalizingly unique beers at Confluence Brewing Company

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Walker-Johnston Park

Play Baseball, Softball, Tennis or just hang out around at Walker-Johnston Park

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Polk County Courthouse

Stop for a few minutes at Polk County Courthouse to see the architecture & lobby areas

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Brass Armadillo Antique Mall

Get lost inside Brass Armadillo Antique Mall

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Jasper Winery

Go bonkers over the wine at Jasper Winery

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Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden

Spend a fabulous 2 hours in heart of the city amid beautiful flowers at Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden

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Glow Golf

Enjoy some golf & other fun activities at Glow Golf

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Val Air Ballroom

Get on the dance floor at Val Air Ballroom

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Sleepy Hollow Sports Park

Grab some friends and play volleyball on one of the three sand courts at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park

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El Bait Shop

Chill out in the tap room and sample one of the 180 beers on tap at El Bait Shop

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Saylorville Trail

Enjoy the natural scenic beauty of this 26 mile multipurpose trail that extends from Des Moines through the Saylorville Lake area to Big Creek State Park

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Adventureland

Discover your beach within reach at Adventureland

This awesome state capital is a fantastic place to visit for an Iowa newbie. There’s plenty of awesome things to do during any time of the year in Des Moines! But if we happened to miss one of your favorites, make sure you send us a suggestion to get it added! While you’re in the state of Iowa, check out all of the things to see in Iowa City as well!