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5 Free Things to Do in Downtown Des Moines — April Edition

Five Free Things to Do

Spring is here in Downtown Des Moines (DSM). Explore these five Downtown DSM free things to do in April, including both indoor and outdoor ideas!

Enjoy the Outdoors at Water Works Park

Water Works Park, 2251 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines
Traipse through 400+ acres of woods, trails and waterways in and around the park to enjoy all that springtime has to offer. Stop by the Arie Den Boer Arboretum to see nearly 800 crabapple trees as they bloom with fragrant and colorful blossoms — typically the last 1-2 weeks of April into the first part of May. Visit the Water Works Park website to learn more about fishing, horseback riding, mountain and road biking, hiking trails and many more outdoor recreation opportunities available at the park. Mark your calendar for the Earth Day Eggstravaganza Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 20!

Explore Iowa’s History at the State Historical Museum

600 E. Locust St., Des Moines
Open Tuesday through Friday, explore roughly 1,500 Iowa-centric objects on display from the museum’s collection of 80,000 artifacts. Several exhibits on display including:

  • You Gotta Know the Territory: What life in Iowa was like before it became a state
  • Delicate Balance: Iowa’s natural resources
  • Iowa and the Civil War
  • Hollywood in the Heartland: Famous Iowans on the big screen, from the 1900s to today
  • Riding Through History: The Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI®)

On a sunny day, venture onto the outdoor Grand Terrace for a great view of the Downtown DSM skyline, and of the Iowa State Capitol as well! For even more programming and can’t-miss events, visit the museum’s calendar.


State Historical Museum

Find the Car of Your Dreams at American Dream Machines

1500 Locust St., Des Moines
Located in the historic Packard car dealership building built in 1929, you’ll be awed by the 41,000 square feet of American muscle cars on display. The show room, open Monday through Saturday, typically features 80 cars viewable at any given time, with an inventory that is constantly changing as unique classic cars are acquired and sold.

American Dream Machines

Skate or Spectate at the Lauridsen Skatepark

901 2nd Ave., Des Moines
This world-class skatepark is the largest skatepark in the United States, located along the Principal Riverwalk in Downtown DSM. Whether you come to watch skaters or want to try your skills on a skateboard, you’re sure to find tons of action here. There is more than 88,000 square feet of skateable terrain including competitive street and park courses, a snake run, junior flow bowl, an amoeba pool and a skateable “WOW” art sculpture, too. As an added cool factor, the Lauridsen Skatepark hosted the Dew Tour in both 2021 and 2022, which was the only Olympic skateboarding qualifying event in North America ahead of the 2021 Olympics.

Lauridsen Skatepark

Celebrate Agricultural Pioneers at the World Food Prize

100 Locust St., Des Moines
Wander the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates to learn about the building’s rich history as the former Des Moines Public Library and now as the global destination where agricultural and humanitarian pioneers are celebrated annually drawing leaders from around the world. The tour highlights the robust collection of art and murals on display, as well as a full suite of interactive exhibits where visitors will be entertained and engaged in the global challenges of feeding the world. Free and guided tours are offered weekly on Tuesdays with four tour times to choose from, as well as Wednesday and Thursday by appointment. As the weather is warm, step outside to see the gardens begin to bloom, as well!

World Food Prize Building

We think you might also be interested in these upcoming free events taking place this month in Downtown DSM:

James Patterson at AViD

Looking for even more budget-friendly adventures? You can also find live music happening each week thanks to the "Live Music This Week in DSM" blog series, including free opportunities to hear local musicians. 

Plan your visit to Downtown Des Moines (DSM) with these tips for parking and navigation and follow @downtownDSMUSA on Instagram for more epic, things-you-just-can’t-miss happening around Downtown.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

DSM USA is the regional identifier for Greater Des Moines (DSM). DSM USA is a bold statement to the world: This is a welcoming, diverse and vibrant community with affordable and accessible amenities for residents and businesses. This regional identifier is the result of significant quantitative and qualitative research. The Partnership will champion the DSM USA message, and encourages its Investors, its more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and DSM USA Ambassadors to help share the region's story with One Voice.