The best place to visit in Des Moines IA
Tourist Attractions

15 Places in Des Moines IA That Are A Must-Visit

Des Moines IA is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. With so many amazing places to choose from, it can be hard to know where to go. To help make your decision easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to visit in Des Moines IA based on traveler ratings and reviews. So whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway spot or an adventure playground, there’s something for everyone in this metropolis!

The Best Place to Visit in Des Moines IA

Adventureland Park

  • Address: 3200 Adventureland Dr, Altoona, IA 50009, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.4 (7109)
  • Phone: +1 515-266-2121
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: Closed
    Tuesday: Closed
    Wednesday: Closed
    Thursday: Closed
    Friday: Closed
    Saturday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
    Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
The best place to visit in Des Moines IA
The best place to visit in Des Moines IA

5 Replies to 15 Places in Des Moines IA That Are A Must-Visit

  1. I was hesitant on coming after seeing so many bad reviews. I’m glad we came anyways! It’s under new management as of 2022. Parking was $20. Tickets online are $15 cheaper than at the gate. It’s a cute little town feeling park. Not too many thrill rides but perfect for younger. Most are 36in or taller to ride alone and some are allowed shorter with an adult. The park was clean and rides were short lines which was nice. Many workers seen throughout and all were helpful to find rides the littler kid could ride. There is a small playground area with two rides and a sandbox and many shaded picnic tables. Only thing that would make that area better would be shade for the playground as the slides and toys were hot in the sun. The water park is nice. Cabanas we’re $175 or $300 if you want wait service. There are tubes to rent for the lazy river for $6 or if you ride a slide that requires a tube it comes with it. The water was warm and the lines were short. There is a kid splash pad area and a larger one with slides.

    There are ample places to purchase alcohol all around the park.

    Overall the park was wonderful and great for our young kids!

  2. Great amusement park! It’s not quite 6 flags, but still has a great selection of rides for kids and adults. Went with wife and 5 & 8 year old boys and we all had a great time. Prices for food and other “extras” are ridiculous. Save some money by bringing your lunch and a few water bottles. We will be back!

  3. It was an average amusement park but it is well-maintained and the staff are friendly. There are a few roller coasters but quite a fee carnival level rides. There’s am arcade as well as a good variety of food options.

    If the price of admission didn’t include the water park I would say it is overpriced. However the $54/person seemed okay with the water park.

    Probably a once and done for our family but it was a fine day out at the park.

  4. This was an absolutely wonderful family friendly and fun activity. There were plenty of rides and activities for people of all ages. The circus is $5 to see and parking is $20. There are several water refill stations throughout the park so bring a reusable water bottle. The food at the is expensive so be aware that you will pay $12 for a cheeseburger. The park is completely cashless place so bring cards and e-pay options. The staff is very friendly and attentive and the park is clean.

  5. We went to Adventureland Phantom Fest with a group of 7 people & it was okay. Not bad, not great. The haunted house lines moved really quickly which was awesome but the haunted houses were pretty bland. Some of the park rides were open but many of them were closed. Some of the food stands had humongous lines & others had almost none. It was an alright experience that was kind of fun but probably not worth the price of admission. I probably wouldn’t do this again unless they offer substantially discounted or free tickets.

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Top 15 Tourist Attractions in Des Moines IA

The best place to visit in Des Moines IA
The best place to visit in Des Moines IA

Blank Park Zoo

  • Address: 7401 SW 9th St, Des Moines, IA 50315, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.5 (5280)
  • Phone: +1 515-285-4722
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    Thursday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    Friday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    Saturday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    Sunday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    Went on a Tuesday, and not crowded at all. Easy to park, enter and get around. Could see it perfect for strollers or even wheelchairs. Great for toddlers, and younger children. We enjoyed seeing the giraffes and lions most of all.
    Staff was very friendly in the gift shop and as we excited.
    Very clean park overall. From the restrooms to the walking paths.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By A (a month ago)
    This is a nice little zoo that you can easily take in over the course of a couple hours. We went in when it opened, saw pretty much everything, ate a picnic lunch outside the zoo, and then went back in for the sea lion show before ending our time there. The zoo keeper woman we talked to after the sea lion show was excited to answer our questions and a joy to talk to.

    We didn’t do everything there is to do (feed the giraffes, play on the playground, ride the train), so you could do more than we did and easily stay longer (and spend more money).

    It’s certainly worth a trip, especially if you are either in the area or live nearby.

    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Tyler Teske (4 months ago)
    This is just the right size zoo to enjoy an hour or two out with your family, or just by yourself. Many larger city zoos are just too big to get around and see what you’d like to see. At Blank Park, every exhibit is well done, on a natural circle path that allows you to see all the exhibits, and the animals are all very accessible and easy to see! A very good indoor tropical rainforest and aquarium exhibit which a lot of zoos don’t have. Definitely worth a visit.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Chuck Baumgart (a month ago)
    I had a great time at this zoo. It’s a small zoo easily walked in 1-2hrs. All the animals were out and having fun in the sun. Lots of summer camp kids there today, who would occasional squeeze in too close. I recommend.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Michael (5 months ago)
    Nice little zoo! Don’t expect anything near the level of the Henry Doorly Zoo, but there’s plenty going on. It’s clean, the animals have quality enclosures, and the kids can enjoy playgrounds and other interactive pieces. Great way to spend an afternoon!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Jessica Biggs (a month ago)

Pappajohn Sculpture Park

  • Address: 1330 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.6 (4501)
  • Phone: +1 515-237-1386
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 6:00 AM – 12:00 AM
    Tuesday: 6:00 AM – 12:00 AM
    Wednesday: 6:00 AM – 12:00 AM
    Thursday: 6:00 AM – 12:00 AM
    Friday: 6:00 AM – 12:00 AM
    Saturday: 6:00 AM – 12:00 AM
    Sunday: 6:00 AM – 12:00 AM
  • Reviews:
    Awesome park for people to enjoy some cool sculptures. Free admission, street parking all around the park for a small fee. The park is not very big but well maintained by the city. Some people complained in the reviews that all the sculptures are metals and plastics. It kinda has to be because the sculptures are outdoor and the materials has to be able to withstand the test of time. All the sculptures looks pretty new and it’s free to enjoy. The only thing that did bothered me was the amounts of homeless people walking and hanging around the park. I was alone at 9:30am and didn’t feel safe. When I got closed to the girl sculpture by one corner of the park; one homeless guy was yelling “it wasn’t me” repeatedly to me. I was a bit freaked out because there wasn’t anyone else close by at the moment. There was a few people on the other side of the park and some passing by cars though. Overall, I did enjoyed my visit at the sculpture park. I would highly recommend not going there alone if you are a woman.
    ✭✭✭✭ By m c (4 months ago)
    LOVED it. gorgeous views. great distance between all sculptures! kids took amazing photos! sculptures are giants & look even better in person! aBout 70degrees , nice breeze , sunset walk , good views of the downtown city. SUMMER NIGHTS – awesome! the lights coming on around 8/9:00 near sculptures was such a scene. super beautiful! PEACEFUL resting/break space also!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Kendra Harris (5 months ago)
    We stopped in on our road trip and were lucky enough that the art festival was going on the same weekend. We had such an awesome time, we spent most of the day there. The sculpture park is awesome. Def recommended.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Joel Collishaw (5 months ago)
    Beautiful park with quite a few sculptures in a large, open, green area. It was a great day to wander around and appreciate the artwork, even with the extreme winds.

    It’s funny what one person sees in art versus what the creator had in mind. I was sure one of the sculptures was a dog rolling over, but apparently it’s a person with one arm on the ground and a leg in the air.

    Several of the sculptures here appear very Burton-esque, like they could be in one if his movies, and we liked that very much.

    I highly recommend stopping here if you’re in the area. Give yourself at least an hour to really take everything in.

    Many Pokestops and gyms here. This would be an excellent place for events.

    ✭✭✭✭ By Nathan Flaminio (6 months ago)
    A nice green open park downtown with a lot of amazing sculptures to look at. There are some man made hill/ berms that are fun to walk up and enjoy the view. Great work on Des Moines for funding the arts and incorporating into a public park.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Trevor Hyatt (4 months ago)

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

  • Address: 909 Robert D. Ray Dr, Des Moines, IA 50309, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (2521)
  • Phone: +1 515-323-6290
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: Closed
    Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Thursday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Friday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    For a small city botanical center, they have some spectacular specimens. Their lily pad display is stunning. And I have been to Vietnam and Bali so I have photographic memories for comparison. There are a couple of cactus species I have never seen before and I have spent a lot of time in desert environments. My preferred camping areas. At a very reasonable 10$, I was totally satisfied with my visit. Well Done!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Debbie Drives and Travels (4 months ago)
    This botanical garden center was beautiful. The plants were well maintained and there was a nice variety. They could be a bit better with their labeling but overall it was a good experience.

    There isn’t a whole lot to see during the winter so I recommend going to the gardens in the summer when the outside gardens are in full bloom.

    ✭✭✭✭ By Brittany Roseke (9 months ago)
    I’ve been here several times. Most recently I came for Dome After Dark. This is such a wonderful idea! It’s really cool to see the plants quite literally in a different light. The restaurant was also open so that we could have drinks as we walked around the gardens. Super relaxing, super beautiful evening excursion. I also highly recommend coming here during the day!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Melinda Bianchi (9 months ago)
    We have a fantastic time looking at all the varieties of plants throughout the entire Garden. See you in the actual bananas on the trees with super cool! Lots of fun little spaces to walk through and around. Wonderful views and a very clean well-kept environment
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Rocio Kreie (a month ago)
    Beautiful place to relax and unwind. Inside the dome is warm and humid, the outdoor spaces are quaint and inviting. There’s a waterfall with a bench behind it so you can beat the heat. A beautiful sculpture of a leaf that’s gotta be fifteen feet tall made out of steel; a memorial to a major contributor. Inside there’s a “hidden” greenhouse filled with exotic plants sprinkled with places to sit. I totally recommend visiting here.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Joe Puglisi (3 months ago)

Gray’s Lake Park

  • Address: 2101 Fleur Dr, Des Moines, IA 50315, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (1828)
  • Phone: +1 515-242-2855
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Tuesday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Wednesday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Thursday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Friday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Saturday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM
    Sunday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    Wonderful place for a stroke. Very well lit and colorful at night. Unfortunately they close the park at 10. So you get very little time to view the lights.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Roman Smikh (5 months ago)
    Great place in Des Moines to go for a walk or just relax outside. It has multiple sitting spots to enjoy the water or if you want to wait until dark you can watch the bridge light up with multi-colored lights which are very cool!
    ✭✭✭✭ By Tony Scaglione (3 weeks ago)
    I really like this lake park. Lots of green in may/June, lively and a great 2 mile run or walk. Bring fish food for the carp along the lake when crossing the bridge, you will likely see some near you.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Christian (5 months ago)
    This place is so beautiful. It’s peaceful, beautiful scenery, paths to walk on, lots of parking space. It’s definitely a must go to place to see. Love the beautiful water and the sand.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Diane Davidson (3 months ago)
    My “go to” place. It’s super close by to where I live. Can’t wait till Spring actually arrives, so I can get more colorful pictures. But, I love trees (whether bare or full of color)
    ✭✭✭✭ By Michelle B (7 months ago)

Des Moines Water Works Park

  • Address: 2201 George Flagg Pkwy, Des Moines, IA 50321, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.5 (1199)

Iowa State Capitol

  • Address: 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (1193)

Living History Farms

  • Address: 11121 Hickman Rd, Urbandale, IA 50322, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.6 (875)

Cowles Commons

  • Address: 221 Walnut St, Des Moines, IA 50309, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.5 (584)

Robert D. Ray Asian Garden

  • Address: Robert D. Ray Dr, Des Moines, IA 50309, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.4 (487)

MacRae Park

  • Address: 1021 Davis Ave, Des Moines, IA 50315, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.4 (436)

Salisbury House & Gardens

  • Address: 4025 Tonawanda Dr, Des Moines, IA 50312, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (377)

Des Moines Art Center

  • Address: 4700 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.6 (310)

Science Center of Iowa

  • Address: 401 W Martin Luther King Jr Pkwy, Des Moines, IA 50309, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.3 (297)

World Food Prize Hall of Laureates

  • Address: 100 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (255)

Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge

  • Address: Principal Riv Walk, Des Moines, IA 50309, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (127)

Des Moines IA is a world-famous tourist destination, and it’s no wonder why. Here is our list of the top 15 best place to visit in Des Moines IA – based on expert opinions and customer reviews. Did your favorite spot make the cut? Let us know in the comments above!