Passionate About Des Moines
and the Moms Who Live Here

Fall Bucket List for Des Moines Families

Make family memories this fall with Des Moines Moms Blog’s ultimate fall bucket list.

We’ve compiled 65 things to do in Des Moines this fall.

That’s right: We’ve done our homework to help you plan your best fall, ever! No more generic fall bucket list: This Fall Bucket List was made with Des Moines families in mind. These budget-friendly, kid-friendly bucket list ideas include special central Iowa locations, must-try fall foods, experiences to remember, and more.

How many can you check off our fall bucket list for Des Moines families? Save this list, share with your friends, and start makin’ memories.

Fall Bucket List: 65 Ways to Enjoy Fall in Des Moines

  1. Get nostalgic at the Valleyfest fall marching band competition.
  2. Take a class at Yarn Junction Co to learn how to knit a scarf just in time for cooler temps.
  3. Satisfy your sweet tooth with some classic fall candy. (Are you team candy corn, or nah?)
  4. Spend a rainy day at the State Historical Society of Iowa‘s museum. (Bonus: It’s free!)
  5. Visit the 49th annual Madison County Covered Bridge Festival.
  6. Make cinnamon playdough with this easy recipe.
  7. Check out all the special events Center Grove Orchard is hosting this fall. (We love that they have sensory-friendly hours for kids with special needs!)
  8. Try these DMMB-approved tips for adding a little fall flair to your home.
  9. Treat yo’ self! Create a fall capsule wardrobe with these tried and true fall staples.
  10. Plant bulbs in your garden for next spring. (Never too early to think ahead!)
  11. Make a pinecone birdfeeder with your kids. (These directions from Martha Stewart make it easy!)
  12. Buy winter squash at the Downtown Farmers Market, which runs until Oct. 27.
  13. Enjoy Living History Farm’s Applefest in September.
  14. Opt for a teal pumpkin.
  15. Host a fall potluck with your friends. (Everyone brings some soup or bread, and everyone leaves full and happy!)
  16. Grab some friends and enjoy a mom’s weekend out with a tour of Iowa wineries.
  17. Visit a pumpkin patch. (Our central Iowa guide will help you pick which one!)
  18. Trek the trails of Ledges State Park.
  19. Head downtown and grab an apple pie or pumpkin spice cupcake from Molly’s Cupcakes.
  20. Try a handmade caramel from Beaverdale Confections.
  21. Check out fall-theme picture books from the library, grab some stuffed animals, and have a cozy, at-home story time with your preschooler.
  22. Attend a Drake Bulldogs football game.
  23. Get nostalgic and send a piece of your favorite childhood Halloween candy in your little one’s lunchbox.
  24. Buy a locally-made soy candle with your fave fall scent.
  25. Navigate the 10-acre corn maze at Geisler Farms.
  26. Warm up a pot of apple cider.
  27. Grab your costumes and visit the Blank Park Zoo for Night Eyes.
  28. Get a babysitter and attend Des Moines Oktoberfest.
  29. Get creative with your pumpkin decorating! Pull out paints, glitter, pom-poms, and more.
  30. Invite the neighbors over for a fall bonfire. (Load up on hot dogs and s’more supplies!)
  31. Give your kids a camera and take a nature walk around your neighborhood. Let them snap pictures from their point of view. Then, print a small photo book to remember your adventure!
  32. Add canned pumpkin to a spice cake mix for super-easy pumpkin spice cupcakes!
  33. Gear up for a family bike ride on the High Trestle Trail. (The views are amazing this time of year!)
  34. Rake the leaves…so you can jump in them. (Set your DSLR to a fast shutter-speed to ensure some top-notch photos!)
  35. Create a family theme for Halloween costumes and get ready for Beggars’ Night! (Des Moines newbies: Beggars’ Night is an Iowa thing we do for trick-or-treating. Might as well bone up on your jokes, while you’re at it!)
  36. Enjoy the fresh air with a walk around Gray’s Lake.
  37. Missing summer? Revive a rainy fall day with a trip to Backyard Adventures.
  38. Explore Ledges State Park and bring a picnic to enjoy in the fresh autumn air when you’re finished.
  39. Hit up the Des Moines Public Library for a good novel to crack open by the fire.
  40. Plan a night out with friends at a local winery. Most offer the chance to unwind with free live music. (Wineries to consider: Jasper, Summerset, Prairie Moon, or Snus Hill!)
  41. Gather coats your little ones have outgrown and donate them.
  42. Nosh some pumpkin pancakes at Drake Diner.
  43. Make an apple pie with your kids and deliver it to a someone who could use a smile. (Store-bought crust is okay!)
  44. Crack open the windows and enjoy the fresh air. (Simple, but sometimes we need the reminder to slow down and breathe!)
  45. Order a pumpkin spice latte at Friedrich’s. (You know you want to.)
  46. Take a hayride.
  47. Don your crimson and gold and join a tailgate party at an Iowa State football game. It’s just a short drive to Ames!
  48. Book an Airbnb for a romantic fall weekend getaway. (Central Iowa has lots of gorgeous options!)
  49. Toast pumpkin seeds after you’re done carving pumpkins.
  50. Jump on the giant jumping pillow at North River Adventures.
  51. Go old school and make a scarecrow. (Not too scary, obvs!)
  52. Create a playlist and play it while you drive over the mile-long Saylorville Lake bridge. The bold fall foliage will inspire you!
  53. Attend the Pumpkin Walk (it’s free!) in the Historic Valley Junction.
  54. Grab your slow cooker and make a big ol’ batch of chili.
  55. Get crafty! Gather your family to make (and decorate!) a list of everything you’re thankful for.
  56. Head to Beaverdale Fall Festival. (The parade = candy for days!)
  57. Ride the Boone Scenic Railway (kids love it!) and soak in the gorgeous fall foliage.
  58. Take a family hike in Jester Park.
  59. Spend a day picking apples and adventuring at Center Grove Orchard.
  60. Take advantage of cooler temperatures by giving back and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Central Iowa.
  61. Carve pumpkins.
  62. Book a family photography session to capture the beautiful changing leaves. 
  63. Don your flannel and go on a camping adventure at Walnut Woods State Park. (Enjoy the country experience within city limits!)
  64. Go thrifting for some vintage flair to add to your fall decor. (We love retro thermoses and plaid blankets!)
  65. Head up a fall adventure walk with your kids, collecting pine cones, acorns, leaves, and branches. Use them to decorate your fireplace mantel.

fall bucket listHow many of these fall bucket list ideas can you check off this year here in Des Moines? Which ideas were new to you? And most importantly — what did we miss? Let us know!


We work hard to ensure the accuracy of this information. However, you should always call ahead to confirm dates, times, location, and other information before heading to an event or activity, since it may change.

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