9 Best Things to do in Des Moines, Iowa


The capital city of Iowa, Des Moines is a vibrant and exciting place to visit. With a lively downtown, numerous parks and museums, and a variety of events and activities, there is something for everyone in this Midwestern gem. If you’re planning a trip to Des Moines, or even if you’re just curious about what the city has to offer, read on for a list of the 9 best things to do while you’re in town. From exploring the great outdoors to indulging in some delicious food, you won’t be disappointed with what this city has in store.

The State Fair

If you find yourself in Iowa during the late summer, a visit to the State Fair is a must. The Iowa State Fair is one of the largest agricultural fairs in the country and has been running annually since 1854. With over a million visitors each year, the fairgrounds are bustling with activity from open to close. From livestock shows and competitions, to food vendors and Midway rides, there is something for everyone at the Iowa State Fair.

The Science Center

The Science Center of Iowa is a great place to explore and learn about science. With interactive exhibits, a planetarium, and a variety of programs, the Science Center is perfect for all ages.

One of the best things about the Science Center is the interactive exhibits. You can touch, feel, and even smell your way through the exhibits to learn about different scientific concepts. The hands-on approach makes learning fun and engaging.

The planetarium at the Science Center is also a must-see. The theater-like setting lets you experience the night sky like never before. You'll be amazed at the stars, planets, and other celestial bodies you'll see during your show.

Finally, don't forget to check out the Science Center's programs. From hands-on workshops to demonstrations and lectures, there's something for everyone at the Science Center. No matter your age or interests, you're sure to find a program that piques your curiosity.

The Art Museum

The Art Museum is one of the best things to do in Des Moines, Iowa. The museum has a collection of art from all over the world. The museum also has a library and a cafe. The Art Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. Admission to the museum is free for all visitors.

The Zoo

The Des Moines Zoo is one of the best things to do in the city. It is home to over 100 animals, including lions, tigers, and bears. The zoo also has a reptile house, an aviary, and a children's zoo. The zoo is open year-round, and there are many special events held throughout the year.

The Botanical Gardens

If you love being outdoors and exploring different types of plants and flowers, you'll definitely want to check out the Botanical Gardens in Des Moines. The gardens are absolutely beautiful, and there's something for everyone to enjoy. There are a variety of different gardens to explore, including a rose garden, an herb garden, and a children's garden. You can also take a leisurely stroll through the butterfly garden or the Japanese garden. The Botanical Gardens are a great place to spend an afternoon, and they're definitely one of the best things to do in Des Moines!

Hiking and Biking Trails

There are plenty of great places to go hiking and biking in Des Moines, Iowa. Here are some of the best:

Raccoon River Park: This park is great for both hiking and biking, and has a variety of trails to choose from.

Saylorville Lake: This lake has plenty of trails for both hikers and bikers, and is a great place to get some exercise.

Yellow Banks Park: Another great option for both hiking and biking, Yellow Banks Park has something for everyone.

So whether you're looking for a place to take a leisurely walk or go for a strenuous hike or bike ride, Des Moines has plenty of options for you.

Shopping and Dining

There are many great places to shop and dine in Des Moines, Iowa. Downtown Des Moines is home to many great shops and restaurants. The East Village is also a great place to find unique shops and eateries. For those looking for a more upscale shopping and dining experience, West Des Moines is the place to be.


There are plenty of great things to do in Des Moines, Iowa, no matter what your interests are. From exploring the city's many museums and art galleries to enjoying its lively nightlife and dining scene, there's something for everyone in Des Moines. And with so many free and low-cost activities, it's easy to enjoy everything the city has to offer without breaking the bank. So whether you're a local looking for new things to do or a visitor planning your next trip, be sure to check out our list of the best things to do in Des Moines. You won't be disappointed!