10 Things to Do in Des Moines: Fall Favorites


This post was originally published on October 5, 2012.

Things to Do in Des Moines: Fall FavoritesFall is here. With it comes a crispness in the air, gorgeous displays of color, and the excuse to spend a whole morning baking something with pumpkin.

Fall lends itself to so many good things: last trips to the farmers market, amazing days at the orchard, simple ways to talk about nature and the seasons with my daughter.

There are so many places in and around Des Moines to help us experience this season, so…

Here are 10 of my favorite things to do out and about in Des Moines this fall.

1. Visit the Downtown Farmers Market. It ends next month, so cherish those chilly mornings while you can. I love to grab a coffee or tea at Grounds for Celebration or Zanzibars and head downtown to shop for local fruits and veggies.

2. Take a drive across the mile long bridge at Saylorville Lake. The color display is absolutely stunning. If you’re up for a jaunt, bike or walk the numerous nearby trails.

3. Take a stroll around Grey’s Lake. Breathe in the cool crispness in the air. At dusk or dawn, both times of day provide equal ambiance and awe.

4. Eat lunch on the lawn. We love to grab take out from Gusto or Gateway Market and relax at one of the parks nearby. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park, The Art Center Rose Garden, or Waterworks Park have plenty of things to see.

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

5. Visit Center Grove Orchard. This isn’t your ordinary pumpkin patch, friends. The orchard offers hayrides, a jumping pillow, apple shotguns, farm animals, activities and more. My husband is particularly fond of the apple cider donuts but I defer to the apple slushie. Better yet, we’d love to have you attend our Fall Playdate at the orchard on Wednesday, October 16th, to meet other mommies and their kiddos.

6. Sip some vino at a local winery. JasperSummersetPrairie Moon, or Snus Hill are only a few of the many in the area. Most offer live music at varied times on the weekends. Grab the family, a group of friends, your picnic basket and relax!

7. Shop the East Village. There’s something about outdoor shopping in the crisp air that leaves you refreshed. Some of our favorite stores are Kitchen Collage, Aimee, Raygun, Ephemera, and Eden. After you shop grab a tea at Gong Fu Tea. YUMMY!

8. Park-It: Jester Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the Des Moines area. We love the different paths as well as the playground! Get to a park near you SOON to see the fall colors and grab a bench for a picnic. Check out area parks near you here.

9. Get cultured at Living History Farms. Beautiful any time of year, but fall is our favorite!

10. Wherever you might be in town, have an outdoor scavenger hunt with your kids. Check out this great template to use for your hunt.

What are YOUR favorite fall activities in and around Des Moines? Please share in the comments below!


  1. I have one to add! We just visited Ledges State Park for the first time and enjoyed it thoroughly! The slightly cooler air of this time of year made for perfect hiking temperatures–not too hot, not too cold–and the water temperature was still pleasant for walking the creek. What a great little “getaway,” and only 40-45 minutes from my home in NE Ankeny!

  2. When it starts getting cold outside everyone should come inside and play at Pump It Up. There is lots of open play time. Great exercise for the kids and parents too.


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