Ah, fall… the crispness of the leaves, the smell of pumpkin spice, Halloween costumes, and football. Fall brings back so many fond memories for me and hopefully for you, too. It’s important to give our kiddos those fun memories as well. Make the kids put down their tablets and video games. Get out and about in the Des Moines area with these fun fall faves for families!
Fall brings a few fun yearly festivals to the area that have something for every age and are definitely family-friendly.
Beaverdale Fall Festival: September 18-19. This annual festival isn’t just for the Beaverdale residents. People come from all over for the parade, street games, carnival rides, food and product vendors, and more.
- World Food & Music Festival: September 18-20. This East Village favorite features foods from around the world. Entrees are $5 or less and tastes are $1. There will also be live music and cooking demonstrations.
- Madison County Covered Bridge Festival: October 10-11. The world famous “Bridges of Madison County” are on display for this annual festival. Enjoy the season’s changing colors, live music, a car show, spelling bee, great food, and more.
The options for families to enjoy the Halloween holiday are really endless in the Des Moines area, but here’s the short list.
- Beggars’ Night. This tradition of door-to-door trick-or-treating offers various dates and times depending on your area/community.
- Mall trick-or-treating and events. Malls and other indoor venues offer alternatives to the standard door-to-door begging for candy.
- Family Halloween at Living History Farms: October 22-31 (various days and times). Horse-drawn wagon rides, storytellers, pumpkin bowling, scarecrows, and jack-o-lantern displays delight all during this non-scary family event.
Night Eyes at Blank Park Zoo: October 22-25, 2015. Night Eyes, the fun, kid-friendly event held at Blank Park Zoo, will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. See magical characters, take a ride on the train, and gather sweet treats.
- Pumpkin Walk at Valley Junction: Sunday, October 25, 2015. Kids parade their costumes through Valley Junction in a fun daytime treat-or-treating event featuring children’s activities and free pumpkins to take home.
Best for older kids/teens who can handle the super scary stuff:
- Sleepy Hollow’s Haunted Scream Park: October 9-31 (various days and times). Marketed as “The Midwest’s Largest and Most Elaborate Halloween Theme Park,” this popular attraction features a Fog Maze, Castle of Blood, and more ghoulish activity NOT for the faint of heart (or young children).
- Waukee Halloween Haunted House: October 23-24. The Waukee Park Board sponsors its annual haunted house at the Centennial Park Enclosed Shelter. Enter if you dare, but be prepared to be scared (not for young children).
Pumpkin Patches and Apple Orchards
Rachel did a great roundup of pumpkin patches and apple orchards last year. If you’re interested in picking your own apples or checking out any of the fun things that go on at Iowa’s great pumpkin patches, check out her post. She’s got quite the list.
Also, it’s a little bit more of a jaunt to Grinnell, but one of my personal faves is Uncle Bill’s Farm. They have a corn maze, super funny goats, the “big orange pillow” to jump on, a pumpkin catapult, and more!
Other Outdoor Exploring
Fall in Iowa offers such beautiful scenery that just wandering freely in the leaves is an event in itself! Stroll, walk, run, or ride bikes at these great area attractions:
- Ledges State Park – Madrid
- Bike Trails – All over
- Gray’s Lake – Des Moines
- Jester Park – Granger
- John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park – Downtown Des Moines
Now, get going! Winter’s just around the corner (I know — don’t say that!). Take advantage of the amazing Iowa autumn while you can, and create memories that will last a lifetime.