There’s so much to do this month in Des Moines! We’ve curated our July event guide with local moms in mind. Browse our guide for the best family events and activities Des Moines (and surrounding suburbs) has to offer this month.
Banish the “Mom, I’m boooored!” comments with these top event calendar picks for July in central Iowa, featuring summer celebrations, fireworks, carnivals, and more!
(We’ve included some fun date night events, too, like the Moon Float at Gray’s Lake and the Lobster Boil at Exile Brewing Co.)
Looking for 4th of July fireworks? Don’t miss our guide to Des Moines fireworks.
Looking for things to do in Des Moines this summer? Be sure to check out our just-for-you summer guides:
- 2018 Summer Guide to Farmers Markets
- 2018 Summer Guide to Splash Pads and Spraygrounds
- 2018 Summer Guide to Outdoor Summer Yoga
- 2018 Summer Guide to Pools
- 2018 Summer Bucket List
July 2018 events and activities
July 1, 8, 15, 22 | Live at the Creek, Jordan Creek Town Center, West Des Moines
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Relax in the Jordan Creek Amphitheater or at one of the five lakeside patio restaurants as Jordan Creek Town Center kicks off its Sunday summer concert series on July 1. Live music will be provided by Decoy and a fireworks display will happen at dusk. The music series (sans fireworks) will happen every Sunday this month.
July 6-7 | 80/35 Music Festival, Western Gateway Park, Des Moines
4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday
Check out live music (and two free stages with local bands!), enjoy local food and drink, shopping and art, and even free activities for the kids. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, visit the Fairlife YUP! Kids Zone, featuring large inflatables, face-painting, hula hooping, arts and crafts, and large grassy shaded areas.
July 7 | Iowa State Fair Corndog Kickoff, Varied Industries Building, Des Moines
6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
This unique fundraiser for the Iowa State Fair is one you won’t forget! Sample favorite fair foods, take home a complimentary photo, and ride on the Sky Glider. There’s also a live and silent auction. Tickets are $125.
July 12 | Ice Cream Happy Hour, The Tea Room, Des Moines
5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Celebrate National Ice Cream Month with a summer date night or moms night out. This fun event will boast wine-infused ice cream treats and boozy root beer floats. The grown-up goodies will be served out of a restored 1950s vintage ice cream bike and Ichi Bikes will display other unique vintage bicycles. No drinking and riding, though! (See what we did there?)
July 12-15 | Ankeny SummerFest, Ankeny
5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to midnight Friday; 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday; 7:45 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
Ankeny’s annual SummerFest is a four-day celebration with carnival rides, parades, bands, food, and tons of opportunities for family fun. On Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., enjoy a free family day featuring superheroes, balloon artists, The Little Mermaid, face-painting, petting zoo, a bubble bash, and more. (And don’t miss the fireworks on Sunday night!)
July 13 | Norwalk Summer Bash, St. John the Apostle Catholic Church West Parking Lot, Norwalk
7 p.m. to midnight
Enjoy a summer evening and raise money for the Norwalk fireworks fund with live music, food, and a kids’ corner. Cost is $5 for adults, $3 for kids 4-10, and kids 3 and under are free.
July 13 | $5 Family Night, Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Cool off with some inside fun! This evening features $5 admission, $5 documentary IMAX films, and $5 cafe specials.
July 13-14 | Waukee Arts Festival, Centennial Park, Waukee
5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Enjoy a Friday night concert by The Nadas, art from more than 90 regional artists, food trucks, a free magician and balloon-animal artist on Saturday, and more.
July 15 | Camel, Zebra & Ostrich Races, Prairie Meadows, Altoona
1 p.m to 4 p.m.
Arrive early to this popular (and free!) family event. The track opens at 11 a.m., with live racing kicking off at 1 p.m. Camels, zebras, and ostriches will race between the regularly-scheduled live horse races.
July 19-21 | Clive Festival, Clive
This three-day summer celebration is filled with fun events for the family. Our picks? Bring the whole family to the Clive Aquatic Center for just $15 on Friday night, and on Saturday visit the giant slip ‘n’ slide hosted by the Clive Fire Department and check out the Kid’s Corner for circus-themed activities, crafts, and snacks from the Des Moines Children’s Museum. (And don’t miss Clive’s 15th annual “Thunder Over Clive” fireworks display on Saturday night!)
July 19-22 | International Babywearing Conference, HyVee Hall, Des Moines
8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to noon Sunday
More than 400 babywearers from around the world will gather in Des Moines for this year’s International Babywearing Conference (IBC) 2018. The jam-packed weekend features education, community, shopping, networking, and more. Tickets for the four-day event are $165.
July 21 | Pleasant Hill Family Fun Fest, Copper Creek Lake Park, Pleasant Hill
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
This free kid-friendly summer celebration features a parade, carnival, bouncy houses, laser tag, an outdoor movie showing of Coco, and fireworks!
July 25–26 | Driving Skills for Life, Adesa Auto Auction, 1800 SE Gateway Dr, Grimes
This is a free teen driver training program for newly licensed drivers. It is presented by Ford Motor Company and Farm Bureau Financial Services. Participants will drive specifically equipped vehicles on road courses under the supervision of professional instructors. Registration required.
July 25 | Lobster Boil, Exile Brewing Co., Des Moines
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Try something new with Exile’s first-ever lobster boil! Their head chef will be on the patio boiling fresh lobsters and serving them up with red potatoes and Iowa-grown corn on the cob! Tickets are $35 per adult.
July 27 | Moon Float, Gray’s Lake, Des Moines
8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Relax under the stars and enjoy the great outdoors under the full moon at Gray’s Lake! Boat rentals are $6 per boat, per half-hour.
July 28 | Valley Classic Car Show, Valley Community Center, West Des Moines
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This community-wide event will feature cars of all kinds, a free barbecue lunch, and family-friendly activities.
July 27 – August 4 | National Balloon Classic, Memorial Balloon Field, Indianola
Gates open at 5 a.m. for morning attendees and 4 p.m. for afternoon and evening attendees
Watch nearly 100 hot air balloons paint the Iowa sky with brilliant colors and playful shapes. Cheer on skilled pilots as they compete for points and prizes, enjoy live music, and maybe even buy a balloon ride for a one-of-a-kind view. The event also features Dawn Patrol, Nite Glow, Kids Land, and, of course: food and fireworks! Cost is $5 for adults and children over five.
Send us an email if we missed anything, and we’ll add your event to the list.
We work hard to ensure the accuracy of this information. However, you should always call ahead to confirm dates, times, location, and other information before heading to an event or activity, since it may change.