Can we let you in on a little secret? Des Moines has got it going on this October.
We’ve curated our must-visit Des Moines kids’ events and family activities for this month. Here’s the scoop on where to get free pumpkins, the top places for family-friendly trick-or-treating, where to have a safe Halloween adventure, and more. Whether you prefer food trucks or want to try your hand at a farm crawl, there’s plenty to do in Central Iowa this October. Grab your kids and have some fall fun!
(And be sure to visit our Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard Guide and our list of 50 Fall Things to Do With Your Family in Des Moines!)
Send us an email if we missed anything, and we’ll add your event to the list.
October 2017 events and activities
October 1 | Farm Crawl, Marion County
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Seven independent family farm operations, all within an easy drive of each other about an hour south of Des Moines, are jointly hosting open houses. Enjoy a leisurely autumn day “crawling” from farm to farm to take tours, visit animals, meet farmers, and purchase locally-grown products.
October 6 | Food Truck Frenzy, Western Gateway Park, Des Moines
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
It’s time for the 2017 Food Truck Frenzy! Stop by for a wonderful Friday lunch from top Des Moines food trucks and stay for the Friday night street party. Admission is free.
October 7 | Fishing with a Firefighter, Terra Park, 6300 Pioneer Parkway, Johnston
9 a.m. to noon
The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill, and they’re waiting for your bait! Attendees can fish in the pond and are encouraged to stay for lunch with the firefighters to watch the water rescue demonstration. There will be fishing poles and tackle for use at the event. Residents under sixteen years of age can fish without a license. There will also be a raffle prize drawing during lunch. Freewill donations will be accepted by the Johnston Professional Fire Fighters Local 4835 and used to benefit the community.
October 7 | Taco Festival, Western Gateway Park, Des Moines
Noon to 6 p.m.
A $12 general admission (plus fees) ticket provides access to taco-topia. Enjoy local restaurants dishing out $2 tacos, and beverage stations serving margaritas, beer, water, and soda. This is an all ages event; kids 12 and under are free!
October 7-8 | Vintage & Made Fair, Living History Farms, Urbandale
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
An outdoor market inspired by indie crafts and all-things vintage. Find antiques and vintage home décor, jewelry, handcrafted goods, outdoor accents, seasonal flora, local eats, and more. Admission is $6. Kids under 12 are free.
October 7, 14, 21, 28 | Saturday Story & Sketch, Cowles Commons, Des Moines
9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Join Drake Theatre People for live readings of imaginative children’s literature and family-friendly art activities.
October 7, 14, 21 | Pumpkin Express Train, Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad and Museum
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Get into your Halloween costume, and take the family on this one hour and thirty-minute journey (across a 156′ tall Bass Point Creek High Bridge, and the Des Moines River Bridge) to the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad’s pumpkin patch. Once at the patch, children will be able to select their perfect pumpkin before returning to town. On the return trip, children will receive an activity booklet and a treat.
October 8 | Walk to Remember
Join other families at Mercy’s Central Campus to remember babies lost through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, or newborn death as a part of the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in October.
October 8 | Family Superhero Day, Granger Community Center
Noon to 3 p.m.
Spend a day in Granger and take part in the 1 mile or 5K run, bounce house, bake sale, silent auction to honor Lael Justus Thesing, who was diagnosed with Arthogryposis Multiplex Congenita.
October 8 | Annual Haunt Fair, Nobbies, Clive
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Free carnival games, a bounce house, and crafts will entice and entertain your family at this annual Halloween-themed carnival. Popular characters will be in costume for photos, and carnival snacks and raffle prizes round out the event. It’s dog-friendly, so bring your pup in a costume!
October 12 | Thursday Night Fun: Insect Zoo, Clive Public Library
6:15 p.m. to 7 p.m.
October tends to give insects a bad rap. Join Iowa State bug experts to get up-close and personal with the exciting world of Arthropods. Learn about the basics of the arthropod (insects, spiders, tarantulas, millipedes, centipedes, scorpions, etc.) form and function. Due to the length and structure of the program and delicacy of the insects, this program is highly recommended for children ages five and older. Registration required.
October 13 | Family Night, Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Explore SCI with your family with $5 general admission, documentary IMAX films and Food Chain Cafe specials. Kick off your weekend by building a rocket, traveling through outer space in one of SCI’s dynamic experience platforms, or experiencing a larger-than-life IMAX film (for $5) with extended hours until 8 p.m.
October 14 – 15 | Madison County Covered Bridge Festival
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bring the whole family for a parade, live music, food, horse and wagon rides, and more. Admission is $2. Children 11 and under are free.
October 17-18 | The Great Pumpkin Party, Two locations: Valley Church, 4343 Fuller Rd., West Des Moines and Valley Community Center, 4444 Fuller Rd., West Des Moines
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Get the kids in their non-scary costumes and enjoy giant inflatables, pony rides, a petting zoo, Jesse Joyner Juggling and Illusions, carnival games, free popcorn, and more! Plus, the Iowa League of Heroes is back and the princesses are joining them! Don’t miss this free event. Special Needs Night, a special Great Pumpkin Party for children with special needs and their families, will be Oct. 16 at the Valley Church location.
October 19-22, 26-29 | Family Halloween, Living History Farms, Urbandale
5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Horse-drawn wagon rides, storytellers, trick-or-treating, pumpkin bowling, and games delight all ages during this non-scary family event. Save money and avoid long lines – get your tickets in advance! Advanced ticket sales begin September 27. Tickets also available at the door.
October 19-22 & October 26-29 | Night Eyes, Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines
Thursdays & Fridays: 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. | Saturdays & Sundays: 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
The 27th year of Night Eyes is sure to continue the tradition as Central Iowa’s sweetest, merry-not scary, Halloween event! Gather treats throughout the Zoo as it is transformed into a world of lights, castles, and magical characters. Non-member tickets are $5, advance tickets are $4 and are available online, at the Zoo and participating Hy-Vee locations on October 1. (Children 12 months and under are free.)
October 20-21 | Outlets of Des Moines Grand Opening, 801 Bass Pro Drive NW, Altoona
Friday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Saturday: Noon to 4 p.m.
Be one of the first to check out Altoona’s new outlet mall at their grand opening event. Bring the kids — superheroes from MisFit Studios will be around providing meet-and-greets and photo opportunities!
October 21 | Ar “Boo” Ween, Iowa Arboretum, 1875 Peach Ave., Madrid
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Put on your favorite super hero, princess, or creative costume and join the parade of activities and treats at the Arboretum. Enjoy hayrides, the hay maze and games at this free event.
October 21- 22 & 27-31 | Halloween at Bass Pro, 1000 Bass Pro Dr NW Altoona
Get your photo taken with the Peanuts gang and enjoy free crafts, costume parade and trick-or-treating.
October 21 | Princess Party, Jordan Creek Town Center food court, West Des Moines
8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
A special morning with the little princess in your life with breakfast, crafts, games, dancing, and lots of fun for tiara-wearing sweethearts. General admission is $15.
October 22 | Mother-Son Ball, Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines
6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The first-ever Mother-Son Ball is a great way to foster a special bond between you and your loved ones. Create magical memories together at a special evening where several photographers will be on board to capture an atmosphere where there is something for everyone. Formal wear is strongly encouraged but not enforced. Cost is $20 for adults and $10 for children.
October 26 | Homemakers Trick-or-Treat Night, Homemakers, 10215 Douglas Ave., Urbandale
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Put your Halloween costumes on and bring the whole family for our 9th annual Homemakers Trick-or-Treat Night! Kids can show off their costumes and fill bags with fun toys, treats, and goodies. Gather your pirates, superheroes, and princesses to stop by Homemakers for a free Trick-or-Treat extravaganza.
October 26 | Halloween in Uptown, Ankeny
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Go trick-or-treating at Ankeny’s uptown businesses marked with a lit pumpkin. For children 12 years old and younger.
October 27 | Friday Funday: The Little Red Hen, Des Moines Community Playhouse
9:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m., and 1:30 p.m.
Join the Clubhouse at the Playhouse Gang each month as they dramatize a favorite story using their imaginations and the costume pieces and props they find in their Magic Trunk. Kids learn the Clubhouse pledge and secret handshake, and listen for the word of the day.
October 28 | Mysteries of the Castle, Salisbury House, 4025 Tonawanda Dr., Des Moines
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This family-friendly Halloween party encourages children to come in costume and enjoy interactive craft activities, science experiments with Mad Science of Iowa, museum scavenger hunt, games, mascots, face painting, storytelling, magic show, University of Iowa Mobile Museum, live children’s entertainment, Des Moines Children’s Museum interactive play area, trick-or-treating through the mansion, and more. This is a fun, festive, and safe activity for the whole family to enjoy. Cost is $5 a person; children two and under are free.
October 29 | Pumpkin Walk, Historic Valley Junction, West Des Moines
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Join the Halloween fun as children show off their costumes and walk through Historic Valley Junction for this free event. Attractions include a hayride, interactive activities for kids, trick-or-treating, and free pumpkins.
October 29 | Trunk ‘N Treat, Lutheran Church of Hope, West Des Moines
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Get your little ones dressed in their friendly Halloween costumes and experience the fun of fall with Lutheran Church of Hope’s annual Trunk ‘n’ Treat! Children in sixth grade and under are invited to trick-or-treat in the church parking lot in a safe, free, and family-friendly environment. Photo opportunities will add to the fun, too.
October 30 | Beggars Night at the Barn The Simpson Barn, 6169 Northglen Dr Johnston
5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Enjoy a costume contest, trunk or treat, games, and more at this free event.
October 30 | Trick or Treat Event, Valley West Wall, West Des Moines
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Enjoy inflatable rides by TJ Party Rentals, crafts, balloon animals by Magician Jonathan May, temporary tattoos, and more! Star 102.5 will broadcast live and have a coloring contest for prizes. All activities are located on the lower level and are free to Valley West Mall customers. Children can come in costume and trick-or-treat from store to store. For more information, call Guest Services at 225-3632.