Botanical Garden

Looking for a positively dazzling experience in downtown Des Moines? The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is just the ticket. Located amidst a vibrant cityscape and lovely river views, the 14-acre oasis is teeming with thousands of native plants and exotic greenery from across the world. Its verdant offerings also include a soothing waterfall and pond, one of the country’s most extensive bonsai collections, and brilliant seasonal blooms galore. The breathtaking gardens are open to the public Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. (except for major holidays) and also offer a range of fun seasonal and signature events.

About the Botanical Gardens 

In operation since 1979, the Botanical Gardens border the banks of the Des Moines River. The facility has recently undergone an $18.2 million renovation inside and out, making it an exceptionally lush place you’ll want to linger. Its iconic, 80 feet tall geodesic-domed conservatory has been modernized and includes the first living wall in the Hawkeye State. Inside, you can immerse yourself in a balmy paradise featuring over 1,000 tropical specimens. 

The outdoor gardens have also been reimagined. Interspersed with sculptures, its offerings include a vibrant and fragrant rose garden, a serene half-acre water garden, regal rows of shade trees, walking paths, a stunning orchid collection, and much more. 

You can easily spend hours exploring the flora and fauna, and even without letting hanger ruin your visit. If hunger strikes, onsite eatery Trellis Cafe is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. It serves up a rotating menu of  locally sourced, plant-based soups, pastas, salads, sandwiches, and desserts, plus craft beer and cocktails, all overlooking the water garden and beyond. You can also find snacks and fun gifts in its Garden Shop.

Events at the Botanical Gardens 

In addition to seasonal events, like its popular holiday-themed Dome for the Holidays and recurring Friday night event, Dome After Dark, the gardens also offer a variety of signature events that take place throughout the year that will make you want to repeat visits. 

To welcome the New Year, it hosts Botanical Blues, a Sunday concert series featuring live music inside the conservatory. The gardens welcome the spring season with the Spring Garden Festival, a celebratory four-day pop-up retail event and bid it adieu with its Garden Party. Music in the Garden, a summer-long outdoor concert series makes summertime even sweeter, and garden experts from across the globe usher in autumn with an informative Annual Symposium. The decadent Champagne and Chocolate event kicks off the holiday season.

The gardens also host an impressive array of rotating monthly events, ensuring there’s something for everyone. These include physical events like Yoga in the Park, educational events like the Science of Tea, and crafty events like Valentine Candle Making. There are also fun classes offered throughout the year. 

Know Before You Go

As with any visit to a place you’ll be strolling about, it’s best to wear comfy clothes and shoes. And if anyone needs a wheelchair or stroller, they’re available on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees will appreciate the ample and free parking at the garden. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for kids ages four to 17, and is free for children three years of age and younger. The gardens also offer free admission for members and EBT card holders through its Museums for All program. 

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