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Top 10 Ways to Spend Fall in Downtown DSM in 2021

Fall 2021 Things to Do

September 17, 2021

For some, the end of summer is a sad event. For others, the ones who love a pumpkin spice latte or jumping into a pile of leaves, the end of summer means one thing: the return of a most beloved season: Fall. We have some ideas for things to do so you can make the most of this frequently too-brief season. Check out 10 ideas to enjoy fall in Downtown DSM below:

1. Shop Local for Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin spice has become synonymous with fall, so we’re here to offer a few ideas on where to find pumpkin spice in Downtown DSM. Try hitting up Java Joe’s at 214 Fourth St., Horizon Line Coffee at 1417 Walnut St., Ste. B, or Scooter’s Coffee at 700 Locust St. And pumpkin spice is hardly limited to coffee beverages. For an extra dose of pumpkin spice, try the pumpkin spice center-filled cupcake from Molly’s Cupcakes, the seasonal Harvest Pumpkin flavor at Menchie’s or stop by Hy-Vee for pumpkin donut holes from the bakery! Looking for something on the healthy side? Check out All About My Kitchen’s Kicked Up Nut Mix, which uses pumpkin seeds to add antioxidants, protein and more to a recipe perfect for fall!

2. Experience Fall Foliage Across Downtown DSM

In Downtown DSM, there are plenty of areas to enjoy fall foliage. Start with Gray’s Lake, then cross Fleur Drive and make your way to Waterworks Park before heading to the Principal Riverwalk to search out unique public art along the Des Moines River. Check out the EMC Overlook at MacRae Park, which is currently only accessible by foot through the south end of the park. The Overlook will be fully accessible again later this month, making it a perfect place to stop if you’re on the nearby Kruidenier and Bill Riley trails.

3. Find Thrillers at the Des Moines Public Library

The Des Moines Public Library offers books of all kinds, but nothing beats a good thriller this time of year as we approach Halloween! Check out this DMPL blog post for 17 Books That’ll Make Your Spine Tingle or listen to this podcast for six spooky book recommendations. This list of The Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2021 will also help you find your next read this season.

4. See a Ballet Des Moines Production

The 2021-2022 Ballet Des Moines season will welcome the production kiss. Together, with, and for Des Moines on Friday, Oct. 29 at the Des Moines Civic Center. Don’t miss Ballet Des Moines’ partnership with Stephanie Martinez and her company Para.Mar.

5. Gear Up for Hockey Season

Wells Fargo Arena in Downtown DSM will welcome back the Iowa Wild for the hockey team's first 2021 game against the Rockford Icehogs on Friday, Oct. 22. The first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive a schedule cup so don't miss out on the fun! See the schedule for more games this fall!

6. Embrace Colder Weather with the Help of Downtown DSM Shops

Shop for local warm weather attire at the boutiques and stores in the Historic East Village. Wanderlust has cozy sweaters to keep you cozy on the chilliest of nights, while the last months of the Downtown Farmers’ Market offer local finds, too.

7. Celebrate Halloween at the BOOtanical Garden

From Friday, Oct. 29 through Sunday, Oct. 31, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden will hold Trick-or-Trees, featuring on-site activities for all ages throughout the outdoor gardens. Don’t miss the showing of Little Shop of Horrors on the Koehn Garden Celebration Lawn at 7 p.m. the first night of the event!

8. Take a Self-Guided Tour of Salisbury House

See the art collection and architecture at beautiful Salisbury House, a historic house museum originally constructed by Carl and Edith Weeks. Self-guided tours are open to the public on a walk-in basis during regular hours (10 – 11:30 a.m. and Noon – 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; Noon – 5 p.m. Sunday). A preview of Salisbury House grounds in the fall is available under the SHG Today photo gallery here.

9. Schedule a Family Photo Op at the Sculpture Park

The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is always a great photo op, but during the fall, it’s got the perfect mix of culture and fall foliage. Bring the whole family for a photo you’ll love to look back on throughout the years.

10. Prepare for the Holidays at the Des Moines Holiday Boutique

In early November, the official Des Moines Holiday Boutique takes place at the Iowa Events Center November 5-7. This fall event is the perfect way to prepare for the holiday season. Find unique gifts, apparel, toys and jewelry, along with holiday decor that will turn your home into a festive oasis.

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.