Whether it’s a vacation visit or an official relocation, there are tons of family things to do in Des Moines. From the famously attractive parks to the wonder art and science centers, you will find the perfect bonding activity for your family.

In Des Moines, Iowa, the allure of art and local togetherness in the neighborhood is a memorable experience for anyone witnessing it. You can become a part of this shared community, even if your stay in the state capital is brief.

Let’s get your groove on and your boots dusty as we take you through some of the top ten fun activities to experience with the whole gang.

Visit the Capitol Building

Topping the list and the first thing to truly welcome yourself while in Des Moines should be a stop at the Capitol Building. Iowa’s State Capitol is an amazing example of beauty, history, and wealth.

As a building of historical value and the seat of Iowa’s General Assembly, the Capitol Building holds an important significance to the state’s political influence.

Become a part of this history with your family by enjoying the stunning Renaissance Revival architecture with a 23 Karats gold-covered dome. To catch lovely pictures of your family together inside the building, you might want to plan your visit between 8 am and 5 pm on weekdays and 8 am and 4 pm on Saturdays.

Check Out the Iowa State Fairgrounds

Carnivals, concerts, auto shows, antique markets, and thrilling rides are some of the fun awaiting you at the state’s Fairgrounds.

Every year, over a million people from in and out of the state come to the fair looking to catch a glimpse at the spectacular games and events. If you want to experience such possible thrills, you should book 11 days in August from your regular schedule to become a part of this.

Ensure to witness the livestock exhibitions and partake in the rides with your family.

You can get free tips from Des Moines, Iowa, movers if you are relocating to the city and using a moving company. They could share ideas on the perfect time and day to engage in the outing activities of your choice. 

Explore John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

You will notice plenty of outdoor sculptures lining the pedestrian-friendly area by simply walking into this park. 

The Pappajohn Sculpture Park is one of the most notable outdoor art collections in the entire U.S. Sitting on 4.4 acres of land, you will find over 30 of Pappajohn’s donated artwork collection—the largest donation by a person to the Des Moines Art Center. 

It’s an extremely picturesque area, allowing your entire family to snatch a photograph with some pieces from iconic artists. Some of the significant collections you’ll notice at the park are from artists like Ai Weiwei, Barry Flanagan, and Jaume Plensa.

Enjoy A Day At Adventureland Park

At Adventureland Park, you will find some of the most fun things to do in Des Moines with family. There are plenty of exciting and unique attractions throughout the park to create lasting memories.

With over 100 thrilling rides like the Fly Viking and Draken Falls for adults and kids and live entertainment, the fun never stops!

Pack your sunscreen, get your game and fun faces on, and get ready to enjoy an entire day of laughter and heart-pounding experiences.

Engage with Animals At The Blank Park Zoo

Home to over a thousand animals across 104 species, there’s a lot more than just the wildlife to explore at the Blank Park Zoo. You will discover exhibits at the indoor Rainforest Discovery Center, Australia Adventure, Great Cats Complex, and many more.

Although it’s a sight that will be lovely for your kids, the parents and grandparents will love it as well. You will find giraffes, seals, and big cats like tigers and lions there.

Extra fun add-ons at the park to try with your kids include face painting, camel and train rides, and a carousel.

Attend A Cultural Festival At The Western Gateway Park

What’s better than a vacation to a city with a diverse culture? Witnessing a festival celebrating this diversity and rich creativity In the community. 

Going to Des Moines with kids for the cultural festival at the Western Gateway Park means you get to see live music performances, a dynamic urban oasis, vast art exhibitions, and mouthwatering varieties of food at the fair.

Admire History At The State Historical Museum

Travel to the past with your family with the rich history of popular figures and first-person accounts about major events affecting the state and individuals living in it. 

You can use this opportunity to teach your kids history if they haven’t been paying attention in school.

The museum showcases details about the natives’ cultures, the first settlers, the story of people inhabiting the territory, and the modern era.

There’s much more to discover here, and a visit here should be on your list.

Head Over to The Science Center of Iowa

If you are a family of philomaths or someone with a knack for hands-on exhibits in science and technology, you might want to make a quick stop here while in Des Moines.

The Science Center of Iowa is a perfect hub for encouraging curiosity in the minds of the people around Des Moines. Being in the heart of downtown, school groups, science enthusiasts, and families can easily explore the wonders and modernity of science and technology.

Go Through the Des Moines Art Center

With over 5,000 art collections in the Des Moines Art Center, there’s a lot to catch your attention. If you are familiar with popular artists, you can expect to find works By Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Andy Warhol.

Established in 1948, the building architecture has a unique and captivating exhibit that showcases diverse artistic experiences. Many of the common visitors to this place are school groups, families, community workshops, and art enthusiasts looking for inspiration.

Visit The Living History Farms

Enjoy spending time in the Living History Farms in Urbandale, which tells the story of Iowa’s 300-year-old history.

The unique museum/farm sits on 500 acres of land and has four different farms inside. Check out all the three eras or farms from the 1700s to 1850s and 1900s.

Every day, old farming activities are a norm here, and you can witness what it feels like by visiting. You’ll come across activities from milking cows to old-timey baseball games and an 1875 blacksmith shop.

In case you’re lost in any of the experiences, every farm site in this area has historical interpreters who help simplify any complex thing or hands-on experience there.


Already booked your flight to Des Moines? Well, all that’s left is to plan your outings in the big city.

If you are unsure where to go or what to do while in Iowa, there are many family things to do in Des Moines—in case you aren’t going alone. Whether you plan on staying a week or month in this city, best believe there will be no boring days during your stay. 

A pro tip would be to plan your trip. Determine the places you would be going first and the distance from where you’d be staying. Then, gradually use each day to engage in all activities to get an immersive experience.

Good luck and happy vacation!