Passionate About Des Moines
and the Moms Who Live Here

Jump into Summer: Things to Do in DSM!


Have I mentioned that I LOVE Des Moines? I am amazed at what this small but mighty city has to offer! Back when it was freezing cold, I told you about my favorite things to keep busy in winter, and now I am here to share some summertime fun. Fall is my favorite Iowa season, but SUMMER is a close second. There is just so much to explore. I hope my list helps you find something new to do with your family this summer. Enjoy!


Finnean and Hutchinson can’t get enough of digging in the sand! Hours of entertainment!

Parks and Beaches: Gray’s Lake and Raccoon River Park have beaches that are perfect for scooping sand and splashing in the water. We will be frequenting these spots. Big Creek also has a beach area and an AWESOME playground. Jester Park doesn’t have a beach, but is an amazing natural playground. They also have great trails for hiking through the woods and are easy enough for littles to walk along!

Free Flicks in Des Moines: Last year, we did an outdoor movie night with our neighbors and it was SO FUN. This year, I think I will suggest hitting up one of these Free Flicks! Less work but still the fun of staying up late to watch a movie outside with your friends!

The Downtown Library Water Feature: I do not know how to best describe what this is, but trust me – it is great and worth the trip downtown! Outside the Downtown Library is a little pool of water, and it runs down the block. We call it “splashing in the city,” and it is a MUST for summer. We always pack a lunch to enjoy with the skyline as our backdrop. The kids get soaking wet and they have a blast! {FREE!}

The Polk County Conservation Board has TONS of great resources to get you out of the house this summer! I love their programs because they get us to places that we don’t normally go to, and the boys get to explore and learn. Check out their website for more opportunities and details on times/dates. I have highlighted a few of our favorites.

  • Park Packs: This one is a take-home activity but still gets you outside. I haven’t tried these out, but I think they would be perfect for a little bit older kiddos or for families who want to add a little something extra to their homeschooling program. {FREE}
  • Nature Friends – Preschoolers Exploring Nature: This one is designed for three- to five-year-olds. I think it would be such a fun family date, as it happens in the evening. We are looking forward to checking one of these out, and they even go into the fall if your summer schedule has filled up! {$7 per child}
  • Nature’s Story Hour: YES! Reading books and being outside! My little Hutchinson will love this. Can’t wait to check this out! {FREE}
  • Nature Playdates: We went on the stream walk last year, and my boys can’t wait for this year. We ended up being covered in mud, and it was definitely one of our favorite memories from last summer. There are only four of these playdates left this summer, so check out the website and mark one on your calendar! {FREE}

    Stream walk fun!

The Principal Riverwalk: This is an excellent spot for a playdate with friends or a family date night! It is the perfect way to get moving and to explore another side of our city. Walk along the river, go over an old train-turned-pedestrian bridge, then hit up The Hub Spot for a great view of the river. We like to take the kids’ bikes along and let them ride around. They LOVE IT! There are so many places for fun photo ops, so bring your camera! {FREE!}


They love the city as much as I do!

Of course, we love hitting up the splash pools and wading pools (no sprayers like splash pools, just a big shallow pool) around Des Moines and checking out the Blank Park Zoo. We also have a goal this summer to hit up new-to-us parks. We drive by parks all the time and we are going to just stop and PLAY! Picnic lunches on the Iowa State Capitol building plaza are a must, along with many trips to the Sculpture Park.

So here’s to a summer of kids covered in sunscreen and dirt from all the fun they are having! I shared a few of the things we hope to do this summer; what do you have planned for adventures in our city?!


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3 Responses to Jump into Summer: Things to Do in DSM!

  1. kelsey June 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    I love all the fun things there are to do in Des Moines! Thanks for sharing – we will be trying a few of these for sure!

  2. Jennifer Howze June 23, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    Great tips for a family trip. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Tiffani June 25, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    I am new to your blog, and relatively new to Des Moines, and have been looking for a roundup just like this… Thank you so much!

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