Free Activities for Families in Des Moines


free activities summer fun Des MoinesThere’s no denying that there are tons of kid-friendly places to go and things to see in Des Moines during the summer. The activities are endless, but at times can be expensive. Finding different options every day can add up!

Luckily, there are plenty of free activities that are not only fun and entertaining but take a break on the wallet as well.

Here are 6 free things to do in Des Moines

What are your favorite free family activities?

Watch an Outdoor Movie

All summer Des Moines Parks and Recreation is offering free outdoor movies at different locations. Bring your own chairs, blankets, snacks, and drinks and wear your comfortable pajamas while enjoying a flick outside! Movies begin after sunset (around 9 p.m.) and are shown on a 25-foot inflatable screen. Check out a list of other free outdoor movies in the area. 

Listen to a Story

One of Ava and my favorite free activities are the story times at our local library. We love the downtown library, but each library has its own schedule and story time. After story time, we roam around the library playing with the toys and searching for new books. Most local libraries have free summer reading programs too!

Cool off in a Wading Pool, Splash pad, or Spray ground

These are always a blast to take kids to, especially on those hot summer days. Hours of operation differ between locations so always check here for the most up to date hours. Learn more about some of our favorite splash pads, here

Visit a Museum

Des Moines has some great museums that are free! The State Historical Museum of Iowa, located in the East Village, is a free museum that takes you through the history of Iowa. There is a great hands-on exhibit for kids with a tractor to sit on, a train table, and hands-on kitchen. And there is free parking as well. 

The Des Moines Art Center is great for older kids. Check their website for current exhibits. Or head to the PappaJohn Sculpture Park downtown.

Did you know there is a Wells Fargo History Museum downtown? Sit in an authentic Concord stagecoach, see a treasure box and historic banking machine, and more!

Go Bowling

Kids bowl free! Register your kids and they will get two free games of bowling each day of the program all summer long. Check here for the participating locations. 

Home Depot’s Kids Workshops

On the first Saturday of the month, Home Depot stores put on a workshop for kids to create a DIY project. Kids receive a new apron and pin associated with the project for that month too! Check out their website here to register. 


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