Passionate About Des Moines
and the Moms Who Live Here

5 things to do this summer around Des Moines

SUMMER in Des Moines activitiesSummer makes me giddy. I was born in the summer, and I promise I’ll die in the winter because I won’t be missing a day of warm sunshine.

So, what’s to do with the babes in the summertime in the great state of Iowa? Here is a short list to get you started.

1. Nitefall on the River: Simon Estes Amphitheater Des Moines

Music lovers unite. If you haven’t been to a show at Nitefall on the River before, let me set the mood for you: Summer nights on a green grassy hill, overlooking the river, the sun setting over the Des Moines skyline, beverage of choice in hand, your kids in sundresses or shorts, kids rolling down the hill with their buddies, the smell of food trucks and people talking and laughing, and then a sweet band starts playing while you chill on a blanket in the grass with your friends and take it all in.

nite fall on the river des moines

This year’s line-up is great. There’s a variety ranging from Hairball to Phillip Phillps, the Band Perry, and Blue October, but my night to go is for my band nearest and dearest to my heart…

The Nadas, June 10 at 8 p.m.

Want to go? You can get tickets through Tikly.

NOTE: the giveaway is closed. To make the deal even sweeter, Tikly is giving away two FREE tickets to one lucky reader! To enter, leave a comment below with what’s on your Des Moines summer to do list until Wednesday June 7. Winner will be chosen Thursday June 8.

2. Iowa State Fair music headliners

I have a couple of comments right out the gate that are likely going to make me unpopular to a lot people. I don’t like the fair a lot. Sigh…I know it’s un-American or whatever, but it’s so crowded and I spent $140 in an hour and a half and someone ALWAYS pees their pants. So…

But, we always go to see our favorite band on one night. So, this is on my list this year because I have a teenager, and she has been beyond excited about one thing and one thing only at the fair this year.



Not only has our sweet Des Moines landed this big name, but there are some other big ones up on the docket: Vanilla Ice and Little Big Town to name just a couple that caught my eye, which makes me feel like I should become a fair goer. Check out the full grandstand line up here.

3. Raccoon River tubing/kayaking

Watersports! We own a few kayaks, and we love packing a cooler and taking off down Raccoon River on a nice day. If you don’t have your own, there are a couple of businesses where you can rent tubes or canoes for a day on the river.

I have a couple of older kids and a six year old. This year I feel like we can attempt tubing. Grab a cooler of drinks/snacks, tether it to your tube, life jacket up, and float. Sounds like a legit way to spend a hot summer day.

4. Small town festivals

Nothing says summer like a small town festival. Some of my other favorites are the Adel Sweetcorn Festival and one summer my husband and I happened upon the fireworks display from the Celebrate Waukee Festival while we were out for a motorcycle ride, and now we know it is not to be missed.

What are your favorite summer festivals?

5. Adventureland

Last year for my July birthday, some friends and I went out to Adventureland to float around the waterpark and have some drinks. I had more fun than I ever expected to have. So much fun that I plan on taking my kids back with me this summer multiple times.

I looked into pass prices and this is the breakdown in the simplest terms: even though prices vary by age, if you plan on going two to three times in one summer, the pass will pay for itself easily. The pass includes parking which is a sweet deal as well. However, please keep in mind that for you moms with the littlest tots, ages 3 and under are free. 

Don’t forget to leave a comment below, for a chance to win a pair of tickets to see The Nada’s at Nitefall on the River!

That’s my short list. What’s on yours?

NOTE: the giveaway is closed. Remember all you have to do to enter to win a pair of tickets to see the Nadas at Nitefall on the River is leave a comment below with what’s on your Des Moines summer to do list by June 7! Good luck!

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12 Responses to 5 things to do this summer around Des Moines

  1. Kate June 2, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

    I hope to get my girls to as many parks as possible!!

  2. Karen F June 2, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

    Love your ideas. Would love to go see the Nadia’s perform. Have a safe, great summer

  3. Sarah June 2, 2017 at 7:05 pm #

    Great list Mel! Downtown Farmers market is a for sure!

  4. BA Lund June 5, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

    Outdoor music!!

    • Andrea Cooley June 8, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

      Congratulations! You are the winner! I will email you details.

      • BA Lund June 9, 2017 at 1:45 am #


  5. Lisa F June 5, 2017 at 4:28 pm #

    Nite Fall on the River, Zoo Brew, Des Moines Art Festival, Knoxville Sprint Car Nationals, Aaron Lewis at Lakeside, Adventureland, Goodguys Car Show, Iowa State Fair….so much fun in the summer!

  6. Jill June 5, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

    Annual ovarian cancer 5k in memory of my mom at Raccoon River Park the morning of June 10. Cold beers while listening to the Nadas after a hot 5k would be perfect!

  7. Becky Goerend
    Becky Goerend June 6, 2017 at 2:15 am #

    I love little festivals. I agree the fair is crazy, but there’s just something about it!

  8. Angie Bell June 6, 2017 at 3:52 am #

    Blank Park Zoo, camping, fishing, Iowa State Fair, 5k’s, live music events!

  9. Sarah McKeown June 7, 2017 at 12:34 am #

    Champions Tour, Iowa State Fair, and see the Nadas as many times as possible!

  10. Jessica June 7, 2017 at 4:23 am #

    The State Fair!

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