5 Outdoor Spaces in Des Moines to Find Peace and Quiet


Quiet Spaces
I crave quiet. Lack of noise. Sound’s absence. Eradication of the endless voices screaming off the news page and inside our house.  

It’s a nice idea.

But the reality is children come with noise and if they didn’t, we’d probably worry. After a long winter indoors, where the sounds are coming off a screen if not directly from the kids, I cannot wait to head outside. 

While most public options are off-limits these days, even the experts suggest playing outside in limited numbers is acceptable and beneficial to sanity.  

We’re blessed with plenty of park options in the metro area. However, when busy playgrounds can pose risks, there are still a few outdoor spaces where you can avoid the crowds and hear yourself think.

5 Outdoor Spaces to Find Quiet in Des Moines

  1. Water Works Park (2201 George Flagg Pkwy, Des Moines) – With 1,500 acres available around the park, you can easily find your own spot to explore. It just keeps going. I know it’s in various stages of development, but if you follow the road, you’ll find lots of green space, a pond to gaze into, and endless woods and open areas to roam. 
  2. Saylorville Visitor Center Trails (8250 NW Horseshoe Rd, Polk City) – You might want to skip the actual Visitor’s Center right now, but the views of Saylorville Lake and the trails through the woods are easy and accessible for your little adventurer.  The bike trails hook up to the center and there’s a butterfly garden not too far down the trail.  
  3. Brown’s Woods (465 Brown’s Woods Dr, West Des Moines) – Every time we’ve visited here, we seem to have the place to ourselves. There are marked trails ranging from .5 mile to 4.4 miles and great views of the Raccoon River. My kids’ favorite is when you can see a train going across the nearby bridge. 
  4. Fort Des Moines Park (7200 SE 5th St, Des Moines) – We took a random detour near the zoo one day and discovered Fort Des Moines Park. It was fairly cold so we had it to ourselves. There’s a pond, a manageable trail to wander, and shelters for your picnic. We toured the arboretum and played on the playground before heading out. 
  5. Brenton Arboretum (25141 260th St, Dallas Center) – Hands down, this is my favorite outdoor space in the area. It’s a bit of a drive from the metro area, but there’s a playscape for the kids and if it’s busy (I’ve never seen it busy), there are so many other trails to explore. There’s also a labyrinth to meander and turtles at the pond, and trees to identify and bridges to cross.  The first time we visited, I took a deep, refreshing breath for the first time in a very long time.   

Where is your quiet outdoor space in Des Moines?



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