I admit I thought, “What is there to do in Des Moines?” I was wrong. It’s really a beautiful state and I loved that it’s laid back and a great place for families. If you are planning to spend a little time in the city, here are some of our picks for a great time.
Spend a day roaming the land at the Living History Farms. This is a unique experience that is basically a 500 acre outdoor museum about the history of Iowa Farming. You will find full costumed interpeters around to answer questions and help kids learn. You will also see the Blacksmith, General Store, Print Shop and Flynn Mansion and Barn, which are both on the National Register of Historic Places. There are picnic tables around the farm, so you may want to pack lunches. Otherwise there is The Flynn Cafe and plenty of vending machines.
Grey’s Lake is a lovely place to pack a picnic and spend the day or evening. You will find a small playgound, picnic tables and grills, a swimming beach area and plenty of well kept walking trails around the lake. You can rent a variety of watercraft like pedal boats and also bicycles. You might even see a bald eagle!
I have to point out another awesome area park and that’s Jester Park, as it is home to one of the most awesome playgrounds. Jester Park Natural Playscape is completely nontraditional using only natural materials such as boulders, earth mounds, and water features. You won’t find slides, monkey bars, or sea saws here! Children that climb trees, roll down hills, scramble up rocks, dam up water, and hide in grass experience natural play. My kids could spend all day here. Bring a towel, a change of clothes, and some water shoes in the summer because you won’t be able to keep those kids out of the water and shoes are required. Jester Park also offers horseback riding and winter sleigh rides, as well as bison and elk.
Enough with nature? Need to shake things up a bit? Check out Des Moines Adventureland Park. This is a nice local amusement park with everything from roller coasters to a full scale recently added waterpark. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be in the lazy river for the rest of the day!
Fong’s Pizza is a unique concept . . . is it Pizza or is it Chinese food? I’m not really sure, but it’s good! They have a huge variety including the Thai Chicken Pizza, the Egg Roll Pizza, or the Moo Shu Pork Pizza, the list really goes on and on! The crab rangoon pizza is one of the most popular dishes and don’t get me started on the mac n cheese. Don’t worry if you have picky kids, they do offer a build your own pizza option too.
For some great BBQ, you’ll want to stop into Woody’s Smoke Shack. For real it might be the best BBQ in America. The brisket is so tender you could eat it without teeth and that’s not even the best part! Want to guess the best part? FREE cornbread! The downside is that the restaurant is really small so I wouldn’t recommend visiting during peak times.