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Close Out One EPIC Summer in Downtown Des Moines (DSM)

One Epic Summer

August 3, 2022

It is crazy to think that in a few short weeks, the kids will be back in school, and we will be thinking of all things fall. Before the kids head to school plan one more EPIC adventure in the heart of Des Moines. Here is your family-friendly guide to exploring everything Downtown Des Moines (DSM) has to offer for kids and families.

Explore the Flavors of Local Restaurants

There are a ton of great places to eat in Downtown DSM, but here are a few of our favorite places to eat as a family.

  1. Grab breakfast before you explore the Historic East Village at Cinnaholic. Cinnaholic offers over-the-top, delicious cinnamon rolls, cookie dough and more. Bonus! They are all freshly baked and 100% vegan. They also offer local coffee from Daisy Chain.
  2. Another family favorite to grab breakfast or lunch is Scenic Route Bakery, also located in the Historic East Village. They offer delicious coffee drinks and baked goods.
  3. Looking for lunch or dinner? Zombie Burger is a must for all families! You will love the themed restaurant, unique burgers and over-the-top milkshakes. Definitely a family favorite!
  4. If you love craft brews, head to the newly opened Big Grove Brewery just north of Downtown DSM off Ingersoll. They offer a great kids' menu, a beautiful patio overlooking the city and fun vibes.

Get Lost in a Book at Storyhouse Bookpub

Next door to Cinnaholic is the cutest independent bookstore, Storyhouse Bookpub. Our family has been huge fans of this cozy shop for a while. You will fall in love with the art and books. They have a wonderful children’s section and offer story time most Saturday mornings and other fun activities such as scavenger hunts and more. Stop in to purchase a new book to read or sit down and read your favorite children’s story with the littles.

Address: 505 E Grand Ave Suite 102, Des Moines, IA 50309

Take in Iowa History at the State Historical Museum of Iowa

Just around the corner from Cinnaholic and Storyhouse Bookpub is the State Historical Museum of Iowa. Admission into the museum is free! Walk through the several exhibits and learn about Iowa’s rich history. The kids will enjoy seeing the taxidermy animals and artifacts. There are a lot of hands-on displays, too, including a children’s area.

One of my favorite parts of the museum are the ‘Goldie’s Tweets’ which bring up questions and talking points to chat with your kids about while you explore the museum. Do not forget to grab your free Goldie’s Activity Book when you enter.

Address: 600 E Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50319

Make Some Music with a City Sounds Public Piano

As you walk through the Historic East Village in Downtown DSM, you may come across a public, brightly painted piano on the street. These pianos are provided by City Sounds. My kids love when we come across one. It is a great way to share music with others.

Climb to New Heights at Climb Iowa in the East Village

Looking for something active to do? Head to Climb Iowa in the Historic East Village! This is the perfect activity to do on a hot summer day or in the dead of winter. Your kids will have fun challenging themselves with different levels of courses. Of course, you can join in on all the fun, too, with an activity that adds a little competition into the day.

After climbing head across the parking lot for a local brew and/or local root beer for the kids at Peace Tree Brewing Co.

Address: 150 E 4th St, Des Moines, IA 50309

Get Your Hands Dirty at the Art Terrarium

After you spend some time exploring the Historic East Village, head to the Southwest corner of Downtown DSM and get your hands dirty at the Art Terrarium. The Art Terrarium is a plant oasis that offers a fun Potting Bar, Build Your Own Terrarium Bar, classes and more. You do not need to know a lot about plants, the staff are super friendly and helpful. Your kids will have so much fun picking out all the pieces and building their own terrarium to take home!

Address: 106 11th St, Des Moines, IA 50309

Explore a Downtown DSM Park

Des Moines is blessed with some amazing parks, including a few great spots in Downtown DSM! If we know we are spending some time downtown, we love to throw the kids’ scooters and helmets in the cars and head to Lauridsen Skatepark or Western Gateway Park. Both are great places to roll around, get some fresh air and take in the city views.

Lauridsen Skatepark Address: 901 2nd Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309

Western Gateway Park Address: 1205 Locust Street, Des Moines

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.

More Downtown Des Moines (DSM) restaurants are opening all the time. Don’t miss out on bakeries, brunch, breakfast, lunch, dinner, pizza, seafood, bars and breweries in downtown. Here’s the in on where to eat locally in Downtown DSM.

Erin Huiatt

Erin Huiatt is President of Des Moines Parent, a local, online resource for parents and families across the Midwest. She is a resource for parents to find support and make connections. When she is not out exploring Des Moines, you can find her traveling in the family popup camper.