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Things to Do During Spooky Season in Downtown Des Moines

Halloween Things to Do

Spooky, scary skeletons are shivering their way through Downtown Des Moines (DSM) this fall! If you’re feeling superstitious (or just looking for some fun!), check out these Halloween-themed attractions and events happening in Downtown DSM throughout October — including spooky venues, family friendly events, date ideas and fun outings for a group, too!

Spooky Venues

Black Sheep
This underground bar in the Historic East Village has been described as “vampire themed” and gives off a definitive goth vibe. Check it out during the spooky season … if you dare.

John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
Look closely and you will find a few spooktacular sights in the Sculpture Park! Grab a selfie in front of Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkin (L), or Spider by Louise Bourgeois. The white, twisted tree-like sculpture titled Air Gets Into Everything Even Nothing gives off haunted forest vibes, and the two Ugo Rondinone pieces look like friendly (or scary!) spirits. The Post Balzac sculpture depicts an empty dressing gown, which perhaps feels a little ghost-like once the sun goes down.

Slaughter House
Not for the faint of heart! This haunted attraction has been bringing screams and scary dreams to Iowans for the past 10 years.

Escape Chambers
Are you up for a little scare? At Escape Chambers in Downtown DSM, you and a group of friends can choose from several scary, creepy and eerie room themes and escape reality for a little while.

Fright-Night Friends' Outing

Downtown DSM Halloween Bar Crawl
Saturday, Oct. 29 | Various Downtown Bars
Don your best costume and check out Downtown DSM’s nightlife scene! Participating bars include VooDoo Lounge, PBR Country Bar, Hessen Haus, Tipsy Crow, Nightingale Cocktail and several more.

Halloween Drag Brunch
Sunday, Oct. 30 | Fresko
Join the fun for tricks, treats and Halloween spirit! Your ticket includes brunch and choice of coffee, tea or soda or purchase an upgrade for bottomless mimosas!

Halloween on the Hill
Monday, Oct. 31 | Sherman Hill
The historic homes of Sherman Hill are putting on a real thriller! This all-tricks, no-treats event includes a self-guided walking tour of the neighborhood where homeowners have decked out their houses and lawns with haunted décor. The event will raise funds for the Des Moines Area Religious Council food pantry through special partnerships, including Lua Brewing’s release of a limited-time Halloween on the Hill beer and Big Grove Brewery’s promotion of their Sherman Hill champagne.

Halloween-y Date Ideas

An Afternoon with Ghost Hunters
Saturday, Oct. 8 | Central Library
Learn about paranormal research and investigation with Iowa City Ghost Hunters. You’ll hear firsthand tales from their experiences across the state of Iowa.

Monday, Oct. 3 – Saturday, Oct. 8 | Des Moines Civic Center
Based on the Tim Burton film starring the famous demon in stripes, this Broadway production, a part of the Willis Broadway Series, is in Downtown DSM for a limited time!

SALEM by Ballet Des Moines
Oct. 20-22 & 27-29 | Stoner Theater
The Ballet Des Moines troupe will create an immersive exploration of the infamous story of the Massachusetts witch trials.
WEBSITEHalloween Party at Confluence

Halloween at the BOOery
Saturday, Oct. 29  | Confluence Brewing Co.
Beer for the adults and candy for all! Wear your costume — free beers to anyone in costumes, a costume contest at 7 p.m. and more! — and take in the festive atmosphere, including lots and lots of Halloween décor. Kids are also welcome before 9 p.m.  There will be a photo booth from 6 - 9 p.m.

Family-Friendly Costume Fun

Bark Before Dark Halloween Pawty
Oct. 25-27 | Riverwalk Dog Park and More
This costume contest is for pups only! Des Moines Parks and Recreation will dole out a dog-friendly goodie bag for each furry friend, and dogs can also participate in Halloween activities and win prizes.

Dress Up at the Downtown Farmers’ Market
Saturday, Oct. 29 | Historic Court District
It’s a costume party at The Market! During the last Market of the regular season, many vendors will share candy with children (while supplies last). Farmers’ Market hours are 8 a.m. – Noon, and remember to have your joke ready!

Trick or Trees Presented by VOYA
Saturday, Oct. 29 | Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
Head over to the BOOtanical Garden for a family friendly Halloween festivity! There will be trick-or-treating, creeptastic activities and spooky botanicals. Costumes are encouraged!

Beggar’s Night in Des Moines
Sunday, Oct. 30 | City of Des Moines
Downtown DSM will be abuzz with trick-or-treaters going door-to-door on the metro’s Beggar’s Night, which takes place the night prior to Halloween. Check City websites for details on sanctioned times.

Make it one epic autumn in Downtown Des Moines (DSM) by exploring, experiencing and enjoying what Downtown DSM has to offer. Plan your visit to Downtown DSM with these tips for parking and navigation and discover restaurants and nightlife, things to do and events!

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.