Hello, and Happy Summer!

As a childcare provider in the Des Moines metro, we are always looking for new activities our families can do to stay busy throughout the year. We wanted to share 50 different things to do around central Iowa for you and your little ones this summer. We just ask that you share this post with a friend or family member and enjoy! Have a memorable summer!



1. Iowa Hikes

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2. Heritage Carousel

Location: 1801 Pennsylvania Ave., Des Moines

Hours: Tuesday-Thursday noon-7 p.m., Friday-Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. until Aug. 20

Admission: 50 cents per ride per child, $1 per adult (Note: Adults can stand next to small kids with no charge)

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3. Story Walk

Location: 3520 86th St., Urbandale (Begin behind the Urbandale Library)

Hours: 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Admission: Free

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4. Ashley Okland Star Playground

Location: 5300 Indianola Road, Des Moines

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Admission: Free

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5. Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Location: 909 Robert D. Ray Dr., Des Moines

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Admission: Adults $8, Students (ages 4-17) $6, Kids 3 and under are free (prices valid April 4-Oct. 31), Senior Citizens $7

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6. Miniature Golf at Toad Valley

Location: 237 NE 80th St., Pleasant Hill

Hours: Sunrise to sundown, 7 days a week

Admission: Ages 4 and up $5, Kids 3 and under are free

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7. Backyard Adventures Open Play

Location: 3135 99th St., Urbandale

Hours: Weekdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (not including holidays)

Admission: $5 (kids ages 2-17), Adults 18 and older are free

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8. Reiman Gardens

Location: 1407 University Blvd., Ames

Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. through Labor Day (Summer Butterfly Wing hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)

Admission: Adults (18-64) $8, Kids (ages 4-17) $4, Kids 3 and under are free, Seniors (65+) $7

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9. Valley Community Center

Location: 4444 Fuller Rd., West Des Moines

Hours: Play area open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Admission: Free

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10. Science Center of Iowa

Location: 401 W Martin Luther King Jr Pkwy., Des Moines

Hours: From Memorial Day to Labor Day: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m.

Admission: SCI General Admission Only: Adult (13-64) $12, Child (2-12) $8, Seniors (65+) $8

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11. Storytime Swim

Location: 1200 Venbury Dr., Altoona

Hours: 11:15 a.m.-noon Wednesdays through July 29

Admission: Free, registration required

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11. Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse

Century 20 Jordan Creek

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12. Carmike Cinema Summer Kids Series

Wynsong 16 only in Johnston

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13. Carmike Cinema Summer Kids Series

Ankeny & Pleasant Hill theaters

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14. Ankeny Park Band Shell Outdoor Movie

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15. Newton, Valley Drive-In

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16. Waukee Movies in the Park

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17. Fairytale Time in the Park – West Des Moines

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18. Nature Friends  

Join a naturalist in a nature adventure! Explore nature with a guided exploration, stories, sharing time, and more. It’s $7/program and comes with a complimentary snack.


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19. Family Swim Night

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20. Nature Story Time in the Park

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21. Visit Blank Park Zoo


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22. Jester Puppets presents The H.E.R.O.s

This puppet show features amazing superhero’s while serving as a great family outing!

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23. Bike Scavenger

Clive will be hosting our first annual Scavenger Bike Ride to promote fit and healthy lifestyles for families of all ages. Click the link to learn more!

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24. See the Show! Become the pro! (Juggler)


 25. Bubble Wonders

An awe-inspiring show that combines bubble wizardry with a fantastic message. You won’t want to miss it!

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26. Super Hero Party

Dress up and hang out with some super hero friends!

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27. Splash Pads, Beaches and other Water fun

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28. Easter Lake Park

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29. Grays Lake Beach

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30. Saylorville Lake

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31. American Legion Park

Location: 301 Vine St. West Des Moines, IA 50265

Hours: Open Memorial Day through Labor Day; 11 am – 7 pm daily!

Playground equipment, large open field, shelter, bathrooms, tennis court, and more!

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32. Altoona Aquatics Park

Location:  1200 Venbury Drive, Altoona

Hours: Open Monday – Friday: Noon – 7 pm and Saturday & Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm

Admission: Resident Day: $5.75  |  Non-Resident Day: $7.75

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33. Adventure Bay In Adventureland Amusement Park

Pool, lots of slides, and lots of fun!

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34. Prairie Ridge Aquatic Center

Location: 1220 NW Prairie Ridge Dr, Ankeny

Hours:  Noon – 6 pm everyday  |  Splash park only: Monday – Friday 10 am – 11:45 am

Admission:  Daily $4  |  Seniors $3  |  Children 2 and under $1.00

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35. Clive Aquatic Center

Location: 1801 NW 114th Street, Clive

Hours: Monday – Friday 11:30 am – 7 pm  | Saturday & Sunday 11:30 am – 6 pm

Admission:  Daily $8  |  3-12 years old $5.00  |  Children 2 and under free  |  Seniors & Military $6.00

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36. Five Des Moines Public Pools

Daily admissions pertain to all Des Moines aquatics and pools: 2 years and under – FREE, 3 – 20 years – $2.00, 21 years and over $4.00. After 5 pm Monday thru Thursday 1/2 price

Nahas Aquatic Center, Northwest Aquatic Center, Teachout Aquatic Center, Ashworth Pool, and Birdland Pool.

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37. Indianola Veteran Memorial Aquatic Center

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38. Holiday Aquatic Center

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39. Ankeny Summerfest

July 9th – 12th   Admission is FREE!

Near Prairie Ridge Middle School. Talent show, carnival rides & games, fireworks, and more!

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40. Clive Festival’s 40th Celebration

July 16th – 18th

Admission is FREE!

Located at the Clive Aquatic Center.

Clive Festival’s popular Kid’s Corner will return on Saturday with expanded crafts, story-telling, tug-of-war, inflatables, and two giant slip-and-slides hosted by the Clive Fire Department.

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41. Celebrating Waukee: Unlock Yours

June 5 – 6   Admission is FREE!   Centennial park and downtown triangle.

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42. City Of Grimes, Governors Days

June 11th – 13th – Admission is FREE! – Held within the Governors District.

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43. Johnston Green Days

June 18th – 21st – Admission is FREE! – Held next to the Johnston Public Library.

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44. Des Moines Arts Festival

June 26th – 28th – Admission is FREE! – Western Gateway Park.

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45. Urbandale 4th of July

July 2nd – 4th – Admission is FREE! – Lions Park in Urbandale, Iowa. Races, carnival rides & games, fireworks Saturday evening to celebrate!

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46. Polk City – Four Season Festival

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47. Indianola National Balloon Classic

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48. Ashby Park

Location: 3200 38th Street, Des Moines

Hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Admission: Free

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49. Jester Park Natural Playscape

Location: 11407 NW Jester Park Dr., Granger

Hours: 6:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Admission: Free

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50. Top 10 Central Iowa Farmers’ Markets

Downtown Des Moines: Court Avenue District  |  7 am – Noon  | Saturday’s May to October

Adel: Courthouse Square  |  8:30 am – 11 am  |  Saturday’s June to October

Ankeny: Corner of SW 3rd Street & Maple Street  |  8 am – Noon  |  Saturday’s May to September

Indianola: Highway 92 at the Fairground West gate  |  8 am – Noon  |  Saturday’s June to October

Pella: First Reformed Church  |  9 am – 11 am  |  Saturday’s May to October

Winterset: Historic Courthouse Square  |  7:30 am – 11:30 am  | Saturday’s May to October

Beaverdale:  3422 Beaver Ave  |  4:30 pm – 7:30 pm  |  Tuesday’s June to September

Des Moines:  3200 Delaware Ave  |  4 pm – 7 pm  |  Tuesday’s May to September

Johnston: The corner of NW 62nd Ave and Merle Hay Rd  |  3 pm – 7 pm  |  Tuesday’s May to October

Des Moines:  13th St between Locust and Grand  |  10:30 am – 1 pm  |  Wednesday’s August to October

Des Moines:  First Christian Church on 25th St and University  |  4 pm – 7 pm  |  Wednesday’s June to September

Waukee: Waukee’s Downtown Triangle  |  4 pm – 7 pm  |   Wednesday’s June to September

Ames: 526 Main St  |  2 pm – 6pm  |  Thursday’s May to October

Boone: 528 Story Street  |  3 pm – 6 pm  |  Thursday’s June to October

Grimes: 410 SE Main Street  |  4 pm – 7 pm  |  Thursday’s June to Agust

Polk City: Town Square  |  4 pm – 7pm  |  Thursday’s May 23 to October 29

Perry: 1st and Willis  |  4 pm – 6 pm  |  Thursday’s June to September

Valley Junction:  On 5th Street in Valley Junction  |  4 pm – 8 pm  |  Friday’s May to October

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