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Soak Up the Sun: 5 Free Things to Do in Downtown Des Moines in August

Five Free Things to Do

Soak up the sun with these free things to do in Downtown Des Moines this August! A parade, a cultural food and music festival, incredible skyline views, shopping, volunteering — it’s about to be an epic month in Downtown Des Moines.

Don’t Miss the Fair Parade in Downtown Des Moines

Wednesday, Aug. 9 | Downtown Des Moines
You won’t want to miss this beloved tradition! The Iowa State Fair parade in Downtown Des Moines is free and welcoming to all. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket to sit on while you enjoy the sights of 200 parade entries ranging from floats to vehicles, performers to animals, even novelties you’ve just got to see for yourself! The parade route runs from the Iowa State Capitol Complex heading west along Grand Avenue to 15th Street. See you there!

Season Your Ear Drums at World Food & Music Festival

Friday, Aug. 25 – Sunday, Aug. 27 | Western Gateway Park
Take a trip around the world without leaving DSM with a visit to the World Food & Music Festival! This free Downtown Des Moines festival is taking place in August this year, with 55 food vendors representing 26 countries from across the globe. A full stage line-up of cultural music and dance will keep you vibin’ all weekend long. Don’t miss Friday’s headliner Flor de Toloache and Saturday’s big performance by Chicago Afrobeat Project.

Find the Best Downtown Des Moines Skyline Views

With back to school just around the corner, take advantage of the sights of Downtown Des Moines and the warm summertime weather! Check out this bucket list of great places for Downtown Des Moines views (Hint: Make it a family-friendly scavenger hunt!)

Window Shop ‘Til You Drop

When’s the last time you strolled around the streets and the shops of the Historic East Village in Downtown Des Moines? There have been tons of new developments in the neighborhood recently, and stores both old and new are waiting for you to give ‘em a wave from the sidewalk. (Oh, who are we kidding … we hope you’ll pop into the stores and buy a thing or two, but looks from the window are free so don’t think on it too hard. Just give it a go!)

Find Volunteer Opportunities in Downtown Des Moines

This month marks the 16th Annual Hunger Fight held annually by Meals from the Heartland. Spanning four days, Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, you and your crew can participate by helping to package 4 million meals (read that again!) for those in need at Hy-Vee Hall in Downtown Des Moines. Sign up with friends, your coworkers or your family. Must be 14 years and older to participate, or 8 years and older with an adult.

Beyond Meals From the Heartland, other ways to engage with community service Downtown Des Moines is just a few clicks away. Visit the United Way of Central Iowa website to view volunteering opportunities near Downtown Des Moines, including venues like Central Library, Catch Des Moines, Science Center of Iowa, the Downtown Farmers’ Market’s Meals From The Market program and even hospitals including UnityPoint and MercyOne. Find even more volunteering options across the region at greaterdsmusa.com.

For these upcoming events and more, find tips on Downtown Des Moines (DSM) parking and navigation. For additional upcoming events, visit the Downtown DSM events calendar. Plus, 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.