October Family-Friendly Events in Des Moines

This post is sponsored by Living History Farms.

Halloween is not canceled! At least not at Living History Farms. Take part in a 33-year old tradition at Living History Farms’ Family Halloween on October 16-18 and 23-25! Join them in the 1876 Town of Walnut Hill to enjoy safe, non-scary trick-or-treating at the historic businesses, play fun games, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride. Living History Farms will offer “teal pumpkin” stops safe for trick-or-treaters with allergies. To ensure social distancing, purchase Family Halloween timed tickets in advance.

For even more fun, sign up for the Eats and Treats Dinner program! Families will enjoy a merry meal together at the Victorian Tangen Home, followed by a fun fall craft. After dinner, join in the fun of our Family Halloween activities in the 1876 Town of Walnut Hill. Spaces are limited, so sign up now!


With delicious events like the Taste of the Fair and the Bite-Size Farmers Market, fall has never tasted so good. Before the weather turns cold, get the kids out to a Muddy Boots storytime adventure in the park or take them to see the horses at Jester Park’s Pony Tale storytime.

One event you don’t want to miss is our Babes + Babies Virtual Baby Shower! There will be lots of great resources for new and expecting moms, plus SWAG bags and, of course, BIG GIVEAWAYS!!

October 16-18 and 23-25 | Family Halloween, Living History Farms
Fridays: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Sat/Sun: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Enjoy a merry (not scary) trick-or-treating experience through the historic businesses in Living History Farms’ 1876 town of Walnut Hill. There will also be games and horse-drawn wagon rides. Cost is $5.50 to $7.25. To ensure social distancing, purchase your tickets ahead of time online. 

October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 | Caterpillar Connection, Reiman Gardens (Virtual)
Tune in for a nature-themed storytime with the team at Reiman Gardens. This is a great way to supplement homeschool or remote learning days for preschoolers and early elementary-age kids.

October 2-4 and 9-11 | Taste of the Fair, Iowa State Fair Grounds
Fridays: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturdays: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sundays: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Enjoy your favorite fair foods as you stroll up and down the Grand Concourse. This is a great chance to fulfill that food-on-a-stick craving for 2020.

October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 | Sherman Hill Ghost Stories Tour, Iowa Tour Company
7 p.m.
This is a spooktacular date night idea or group outing! Follow a local guide on a walking tour of Sherman Hill and hear stories of unsolved murders and grave robberies.

October 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 | Drive-thru Bite-Size Market, Iowa State Capitol parking lot
8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Get a taste of the Downtown Farmers Market each Saturday morning through the end of October. You can pre-order produce, meat, eggs, cheese, artisan food items, baked goods, and flowers/plants. Then pick up specific purchased items at the Drive-Through Bite-Size Market. This is a great way to support your favorite local vendors.

October 3-4 | Family Overnight Adventures, Blank Park Zoo
7 p.m. to 10 a.m.
This is an adventure your kids will never forget. Sign up to spend the night in the zoo in your own tent, and experience the exhibits after hours. You’ll also have some old-fashioned camp fun with snacks around a campfire. Enjoy breakfast and a morning hike before you pack up and head home. Cost is $150 for a group of 4.

October 5, 12, 19, 26 | Candlelight Yoga Flow, Sylvan Theater at Greenwood Park
7 p.m.
Start out the week in peace with an outdoor candlelit yoga practice. #metime
Cost is a free-will donation.

October 5, 13, 17 | Muddy Boots Forest Camp
10 a.m.
Go for a toddler-paced hike at a local park and enjoy a healthy snack while you listen to storytime. With the $8 registration fee, your child will about get to choose a book to take home. Registration required.

October 6 and 20 | Pony Tales, Jester Park Equestrian Center
11:30 a.m.
Bring your horse-loving kiddo to storytime at the Jester Park Equestrian Center where they will hear stories about horses and meet a real pony. Bring a blanket or chair to sit outside for this event. The event is free, but you must register ahead of time. Masks are required.

October 7, 14, 21, 28 | Storytime Online, Waukee Public Library (Virtual)
Every Wednesday there is a new storytime video from the team at Waukee Public Library. Work this into your routine at home whenever it works for your family and enjoy an engaging storytime experience.

October 8 | Sweet Tooth Social, Scratch Cupcakery
4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Order cupcakes for the fundraising event that supports Dollars for Dentistry. Pre-orders are due by Oct 5, and you can pick them up during the curbside event on Oct 8.

October 9-November 8 | Weekend Comedy, Des Moines Playhouse
Live performances have resumed at the Des Moines Playhouse with paperless ticketing and a number of new procedures to keep patrons socially distant. With several seats between you and the next guest, this would make a great date night!

October 11 | Elevate Festival, Water Works Park
This event has a 5K race, yoga practice, and meditation session to raise funds for Above + Beyond Cancer. A community picnic and live music will follow the morning activities.

October 11 | Annual Fall Harvest, Franklin Jr High
2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Hosted by Veggie Thumper, this harvest celebration will include fried green tomatoes, red beans and rice, and more fall favorites. Bring your chairs and masks and be ready to enjoy all-vegan food dishes!

October 15-18 and 22-25 | Night Eyes at Blank Park Zoo
Thursday to Sunday; 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Timed tickets for Night Eyes will go on sale October 1, 2020.
Members: $5; Nonmembers: $6
There are two changes to the event this year. You must purchase timed-tickets in advance and Night Eyes will NOT have a Treat Safari this year. Get more details on their website. 

October 17-18 | Great Iowa Pet Expo, Horizon Events Center in Clive
If your family recently added a pet to the family (or are considering a new furry friend), you should check out the pet expo for product ideas and info on training and adoptables. Tickets are $6-$10 and available online. Masks required.

October 23-24 | Family Halloween Spooktacular, Puttmasters at the Pines, 2977 Northwest 66th Ave, Des Moines
5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
This event can be as merry or scary as your family prefers. Kids will receive treat bags to take to several treat and game stations. Dress as a family and get in the running for the costume contest (or just get the free Halloween family photo). If kids want a spookier experience, they can walk through a haunted forest. Tickets are $17 in advance or $18 at the door.

October 24 | GPS Great Pumpkin Hunt, Greenwood Park, Des Moines
10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Use a handheld Global Positioning Unit to find the “Great Pumpkin” hidden in the park. A series of smaller pumpkins, each containing an interesting fact about Greenwood Park and a prize, will guide you around the park and will lead you to your ultimate destination. Hosted by Des Moines Parks and Recreation.
Cost: $10. Registration cost only applies to participants who will collect prizes. Sign up at here.

October 25 | Babes + Babies Virtual Baby Shower (virtual)
6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
New and expecting moms are invited to join Des Moines Mom and our partners for a virtual baby shower. Log on from the comfort of home and enjoy an event with educational resources, giveaways and swag, fun experiences, and connecting moms and families with relevant local resources! 

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.

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Content Coordinator Megan doesn’t really fall into any one mom category. With three kids from ages 5 to 12, she’s been a working mom and a stay-at-home mom. She’s breastfed and bottle-fed. She’s kept kids on strict sleeping schedules in their own beds and also embraced the benefits of co-sleeping. She’s a big believer in finding what works for you and your kiddo (and it’s often different for each kid). Megan is an Iowa native and lives in Ankeny with her husband Darren. They love to travel and are often planning their next road trip (even it’s a year away). They also enjoy entertaining and are famous among their friends for throwing big bashes to celebrate the Olympic Games. But her everyday life is mostly comprised of playdates, trips to the park, and trying to stay ahead of the never-ending laundry pile.    


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