Free Things to do in Greater Des Moines
There is no shortage of free things to do in Des Moines! If arts and culture is your thing, explore the Des Moines Art Center, Moberg Gallery, or the John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines. Learn about the history of Iowa at the State Historical Museum or check out the long list of Iowa athletes that have made a lasting impact at the Iowa Hall of Pride. Meander shopping districts such as Historic Valley Junction, Historic East Village and West Glen Town Center where exploring is free! Enjoy the Des Moines Public Library who hosts an array of unique events every week. Enjoy a long list of free attractions in Des Moines year-round. Save on your budget and do more for less in Greater Des Moines.
- Des Moines Art Center
- Ankeny Art Center
- Moberg Gallery
- John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
- State Historical Museum of Iowa
- World Food Prize Hall of Laureates
- Iowa State Capitol
- Iowa Hall of Pride
- Carnegie Library Museum
- Celebrate! Innovation Exhibition
- Historic Swanson House and Clive Depot
- Iowa Gold Star Military Museum
- Free Events
ART CENTERS, GALLERIES, & SCULPTURE PARKS
The widely respected Des Moines Art Center houses an impressive collection in a building that has grown with additions by world-class architects. Browse the art or try to create it! Sign up to participate in an art class for an additional charge.
The Ankeny Art Center, just minutes from downtown, features gallery space for local artists work. With new exhibitions every 6-8 weeks, it’s easy to catch something new each time you are there. They also offer art classes for an additional charge.
Moberg Gallery is a contemporary gallery representing fine Midwest artists that work in various mediums including paintings, metalworks, glass and more.
The John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in the heart of downtown Des Moines. This 28-piece art park features the work of world renowned artists. It’s a great place to snap a photo!
Historical Museums & Exhibits
The State Historical Museum of Iowa features large interactive exhibits that engage children and adults. Discover Iowa’s history and culture with permanent and rotating exhibits.
Experience the stunning World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. The century-old library building honors Norman E. Borlaug and his global achievements in science, agriculture and humanitarian efforts.
With a 23-karat gold dome top, it’s hard to miss the beautiful Iowa State Capitol on the edge of downtown. This building houses the governor’s office, legislature and the old Supreme Court room . Guided tours are available.
From Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson to NBA All Star Fred Hoiberg, the Iowa Hall of Pride showcases some of Iowa’s greatest natives. All ages can enjoy interactive exhibits. This is free to all Iowa students.
Built more than 100 years ago, the Carnegie Library Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places. Explore the history of Perry, Iowa through temporary exhibits on display.
The Celebrate! Innovation Exhibition is designed to highlight the importance of creative thinking and innovation. Browse exhibits and artifacts, photos and more on America’s innovative spirit.
Explore the historic center of Clive, which was platted in 1882 by touring the Historic Swanson House and Clive Depot. Guided tours are available to learn more about the history of the people and businesses of the city of Clive
The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum displays artifacts and tells the story of Iowa veterans from the Mexican War of 1846 to present day. The museum also houses a reference library on military subjects and Iowa veterans.