Central Iowa's FREE family fun

This page will be a work in progress to bring you information on all the fun things you and your family can do in the Des Moines (central Iowa) area for FREE! My hopes are that you can use this information when planning your next family night. Feel free to comment with any other idea's you have on free family fun.

1. Take a trip to the downtown Pappajohn Sculpture Park on 13th and Grand. There are many way to enjoy this all outdoor sculpture park. You could bring a picnic or take some fun family photo's You could even put the kids in swimming suits (in the summer) cause there is even some water features near by that they can play in.

2. Grays Lake is one of my personal favorite places in Des Moines to visit. You can walk the two mile trail around the lake, picnic, ride bikes, swim at the beach, play at the playground, take your dog out for a run, grill out and the list goes on. ( they also have some recreational things like paddle boats, you can rent to take out on the lake for a fee) Grays lake is located at the southwestern edge of downtown at 2100 Fleur drive.

3.Waterworks park is right across the street from Grays Lake. It host a big beautiful water fountain, which is a great scene for some fun family photo's. (This is the location that my husband, Josh and I were married!) As well as, many beautiful trees. Great place for a walk or some outdoor games. This park host the Jolly Holiday lights every winter as well. 

4. Visiting the Des Moines Art Center is a great way to spend your day! The Art Center is open 
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 11 am — 4 pm    
Thursday, 11 am — 9 pm / Saturday, 10 am — 4 pm / Sunday, Noon — 4 pm
And is closed on Mondays
The Art Center is located at 4700 Grand Avenue. Here is a link to there website where you can learn about all the great activities they offer.  http://www.desmoinesartcenter.org/default.aspx

5. Your local Library is a great place to visit with your family. Beside checking out great books, movies and music, libraries offer a variety of events through out the week. My favorite library in the Des Moines area is the Urbandale public library, located at 3520 86th Street. I enjoy the layout of this library. They have a small cafe where you can get small things like coffee and cappuccinos to entire lunches. (delish but a bit spendy) There children's area is my favorite. The book shelves are laid out well. You can check out fun shaped cake pans as well as puppets! They have had "sticks" a local objects, art and furniture store do their layout. And they have a small play area as well as a very large room where they do their story time with the kids.

6. American Legion Park is one we have frequented with our bible study the past few summers. This park is small but offers quiet a bit. There is a wading pool, open air shelter, 6 foot half-pipe skate structure. As well as a sand volleyball, tennis, basketball and horseshoe courts, a baseball field, open field for soccer and playground! American Legion Park is located at 4th and Vine Street in West Des Moines.

7. Ashby Park is another great one to take the kiddos too. They have a great splash/wading pool. Along with two different playground areas and some tennis courts. Ashby park is located at 3200 38th Street in Des Moines.

8. If you want to venture outside of Des Moines but stay in central Iowa you can take a day trip up to The Ledges State Park. Located at 1515 P Avenue, Madrid, IA 50156 Oh wow, I grew up spending countless day in this park. It holds beautiful memories from my childhood and I hope I can make it do the same for my children. This park is located at the bottom of a valley filled with beautiful sandstone cliffs! It has a wonderful camping area along with many area's to grill out/picnic.This is my favorite part... "The park road allows you to drive through the meandering creeks with a dramatic splash at several locations" Check out their website for more details into this memory making place in Iowa.  http://www.outdoorsiowa.com/ledges-state-park/

9. This one might sound silly but my family has done it and it was actually fun! Bass Pro Shop 1000 Bass Pro Drive Northwest, Altoona 515-957-5500 Open year round. You will find lots and lots of outdoor gear but even more fun than browsing all their merchandise is looking at all the "animals", giant fish aquarium and educational kids games. They do offer some fun at a small price, like the arcade games and carousel or a treat from the old fashion shoppe.

10. Iowa Gold Star Military Museum Camp dodge 7105 NW 70th Ave., Johnston