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Beat the Heat! Guide to Des Moines Area Pools

Des Moines Swimming PoolsThese scorching Iowa temperatures have thrust us into summer mode. If you’re heading to one of the Des Moines Area pools to cool off, here are some tips to give you that extra push into the deep end.

Refuel

If you’re staying for a long trip to the pool, pack waterproof sunscreen and snacks for break time, if the pool allows outside snacks. Almost every pool listed below has a concession stand where you can purchase food, and some let you bring in your own food – just not into the pool itself.

My little one only liked certain snacks when I brought her to the pool last year, so I called ahead and asked if I could bring them in the diaper bag and they said yes. 

That face when you experience the pool break for the first time in your life.

Safety

Keep your child’s age and swimming ability in mind when thinking about what gear to bring. The lifeguards are there to protect you, but they appreciate your help keeping everyone safe as well.  

Before you pack up, consider calling the pool to ask what gear they allow. For example, some places don’t allow the arm floaties and prefer float suits. For your adventurous divers consider bringing goggles and dive toys.

Apply sunscreen before you leave the house so kids are ready to jump in as soon as you arrive. If you’re staying for a long day, consider bringing an umbrella for shade. 

Swimwear

If your child is not toilet trained, most pools require that they wear a swim diaper. If you forget one, some of the concession stands have some for sale. Pools also have rules against wearing street clothing in the pool but do allow for shirts if the pool supervisor allows it. Some moms coordinate bright swimsuit colors with each child so they are easier to pick out in the crowded pool.

But don’t worry about packing the entire house for your trip. All you really need for the pool is a swimsuit and a towel. Speaking of, keep some towels in the car to have a dry set ready when you head home.

Which pool is best for me?

The list of Des Moines Area pools and splash pad options below might seem scary. How do you weed through so many great options? The first time I took my toddler to the pool I just started with the pool closest to our house. I met a friend there so she could show me the ropes and I felt more comfortable exploring new waters.

Another good place to start is to look for options that suit your child’s age and ability. If they are an avid swimmer, bigger pools will keep them occupied. If they are new to the water, then it might be best to start with a zero-depth entry pool or splash pad. If you have a wide range of ages in your family, there are a variety of options at the big centers.

Each pool has a wide range of prices depending on if you’re a resident, what age you are, etc. Some offer season passes, or punch cards if you plan on being a frequent swimmer. Just check with each pool for specifics on pricing.

Altoona

Altoona Aquatics Park
Along with the typical zero-edge pool, slides and lap lanes, this park has a sand play area and a shipwreck slide.
Hours: Monday – Friday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ankeny

Cascade Falls Aquatic Center
Cascade is the larger of the two Ankeny aquatic centers, and has features for adventurous swimmers including a surf machine, tube slides, lazy river, geyser field, lap pool, diving well, and a children’s wading pool.
Hours: daily 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Prairie Ridge Aquatic Center
This kid-friendly complex also offers a Splashpark you can access for free Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Hours: daily 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Clive

Clive Aquatic Center
Includes two large pools perfect for swimmers of all ages and abilities. The zero-depth entry kiddie pool features a small “treehouse” slide, sprays, and fountains. There is a lap pool with three slides and a lazy river.
Hours: Monday–Thursday, 11:30 a.m to 7 p.m.; Friday, 1:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Des Moines

In addition to the swimming pools listed below, the City of Des Moines offers staffed splash pools and wading pools across the city, along with spray grounds and fountains that are not staffed. Review the full list, including hours of operation, here.

All Des Moines pools and aquatic centers are open until August 20, 2017 with the following exception:

Nahas Aquatic Center stays open through August 22, 2017, and on weekends August 26 & 27, and Labor Day Weekend (September 2, 3 & 4). 

Ashworth Memorial Swimming Pool
This pool has history (it was built in 1926), and is nestled in the woods next to a trailhead if some of your family wants to swim and others may want to bike.
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Birdland Swimming Pool
Birdland has something for every swimmer – a kiddie pool, two water slides, and a 50-meter pool for laps.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Nahas Family Aquatic Center
Nahas has water slides and the zero-depth entry pool with a covered play area, making this pool ideal for smaller children.
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Northwest Family Aquatic Center
This center has a water slide, a zero depth entry pool, a water mushroom, and a shaded swim area.
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Teachout Family Aquatic Center
This pool is next to the East side library if you want a day of learning, then play. It has a zero-depth entry pool, two slides, and a plunge pool.
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Indianola

Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center
This park has something for every ability with a zero depth pool, a small slide for toddlers and preschoolers, a play structure, and a sand play area. There are also two tube slides and a lap pool with a diving board.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

West Des Moines

Holiday Aquatic Center
Features include three slides, a zero-depth entry pool, a large deck pool, and even a grass sunning area.
Hours: Monday – Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays 12 p.m. 12 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.

Valley View Aquatic Center 
This large aquatic facility boasts a ten-lane competitive pool with diving board and drop-slide, a large leisure pool with spray features, four water slides including the “speed slide”, and a lazy river.
Hours: Sunday – Friday, 12 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

What’s your favorite pool? 

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