Ankeny is located north of Des Moines and is broken into four quadrants. The southeast and northeast quadrants have easy access to I-35 making the commute to downtown less than 15 minutes, and there is easy access on the north to Ames.
Ankeny was ranked as the third fastest growing city in the Midwest in 2016. The population has doubled over the last 16 years to more than 50,000. Ankeny has the feel of a small-town community with the amenities of a larger city, making it one of the top 10 towns for families, according to Family Circle Magazine.
Ankeny has also been one of the top 10 school districts in the state of Iowa and ranked one of the best places to raise kids, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Ankeny has over 40 parks, including two aquatic centers and a 7.5 acre dog park.
What is your favorite part about raising kids here?
Moving to Iowa from St. Louis, we didn’t know anything about Des Moines, but we knew church, schools, and community were the most important things for our family. We found all that and more in Ankeny.
We hit the jackpot with my son’s school, Rock Creek Elementary. The teachers truly have a passion to provide students with the best environment and education. Speaking from the special needs and IEP side, every step of our journey has been a true partnership to ensure the best education while maintaining the health of my son as the priority.
What makes Ankeny family friendly?
We love having more than 40 parks to choose from. The Miracle League Park for Special Needs is one of our favorites. It is open to anyone, but features sensory equipment and wheelchair ramps to provide access and play for everyone. There is also a rec league that promotes inclusion and diversity by offering a non-competitive baseball team for children with special needs ages 5-18. There are also extensive programs the aquatic centers and recreation leagues offer.
What events does your community have?
We love our Easter celebration with First Family Church. Summerfest is always fun, which offers live music, carnival, parades, and more. Movie Under the Stars, a free summer movie series for families is another favorite.
Why would you recommend it for other families?
Everything you need is close by so you get to spend more time at home. Whether it’s running to the grocery store or getting quick playtime for your child, you have the amenities to do it without sacrificing time.
What makes your community unique?
Historic Downtown Ankeny (Dogtown) has tons of character and showcases the history of the city with great local businesses. The new Prairie Trail complex offers a wide variety of new restaurants and shops.
What are some of your favorite businesses, restaurants, or shops in Ankeny?
Main Street Café & Bakery
I love Main Street Cafe’s great food and quaint environment to connect with friends.
Porchlight Coffee House
Porchlight is a new favorite in downtown Ankeny for a great cup of coffee.
The Prairie Trail District
The Prairie Trail District is one of our favorite destinations for a date night!
*Photos from Ankeny Miracle League & Prairie Trail District
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This post is part of a 10 part series about why Des Moines and the surrounding suburbs are a great place to raise a family. Check out the other communities featured in our Ultimate Guide to Des Moines Neighborhoods and Suburbs and learn more about our series sponsor, Ingrid Williams.