Greater Des Moines Attractions

If you’re the type of traveler who hates missing out, you’re in the right place! We’re here to ease your FOMO with a glimpse at the amazing variety of attractions Des Moines has to offer. Whether you’re planning for family fun, a getaway with friends, or a night out on the town, we’ve got you covered.

Most-Visited Attractions in Des Moines

With more than 100 animal species, Blank Park Zoo is one of the top attractions in Des Moines. See tigers, penguins, sea lions, giraffes, and many more residents at Iowa’s largest zoo! You’ll also find family-friendly activities and special events throughout the year.

Located in Downtown Des Moines, the Science Center of Iowa brings science to life with interactive exhibits, a stunning 50-foot domed screen at the Star Theater Planetarium, and unique programming for kids and adults. Don’t miss their exciting traveling exhibitions and special events!

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden offers a vibrant collection of indoor and outdoor gardens on 12 acres downtown. Dive deeper into the world of horticulture with a workshop, class, or special event.

Did you know the country’s largest skatepark is in the heart of Des Moines? Lauridsen Skatepark spans five acres along the Des Moines River, at the northern edge of the Principal Riverwalk. Our state-of-the-art public facility features Olympic-caliber obstacles and street courses with thrilling elements and is open year-round, weather permitting.

Other top downtown attractions you won’t want to miss include guided tours of the Iowa State Capitol, strolling through Pappajohn Sculpture Park, shopping at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market with over 300 vendors, viewing modern and contemporary art at the Des Moines Art Center, and enjoying theatrical and musical productions, as well as nationally-touring artists, at the Des Moines Civic Center.

Seasonal Favorites

From April through September, catch a minor league baseball game at Principal Park, home of the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate, the Iowa Cubs. Another summertime favorite is Adventureland in Des Moines, Iowa’s answer to Disneyland. Find mascot Bernie the Beagle welcoming all ages to an amusement park with more than 100 thrill rides and a water park with a dozen more rides. Gray’s Lake Park is another local favorite for getting outside. The centerpiece is the 167-acre lake and surrounding two-mile path. Rent bicycles or get on the water with seasonal watercraft rentals including kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, pedal boats, row boats, and sailboats.

Find even more outdoor fun at Seven Oaks Recreation, an all-seasons adventure outfitter just a short drive from Des Moines. Canoe, kayak, river tube, and play paintball during the warmer months. Take advantage of our cold temperatures to ski, snowboard, and go snow tubing! From November through March, ice skate at Brenton Skating Plaza near downtown. The rest of the year, it’s a great outdoor venue for live music and special events.
Looking for more travel inspiration for your time in Des Moines? Discover more blog posts like this one packed with insider intel, lists spotlighting top restaurants and attractions, curated itineraries, and a year-round events calendar.

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