45 Ideas 4 FREE (and Cheap) Winter Fun in Des Moines - dsm4kids.com

45 Ideas 4 FREE (and Cheap) Winter Fun in Des Moines

We know parents are searching high and low for ways to keep kids entertained this time of year when the thermometer dips below freezing.  And, we want to help you do it all on a budget, so we’ve outlined 45 ideas for FREE (and cheap) winter fun in Des Moines. Looking for more family fun? Be sure to check out our calendar and sign up for our Weekend Fun Guide to get events sent straight to your inbox.

45 FREE (and Cheap) Things To Do With Your Kids This Winter in Des Moines

  1. Anytime, FREE:Stay Active this Winter with Fun Indoor Activities suggested by Blank Children’s Hospital.
  2. Jan. 1-21, FREE: Check out the Drawing in Space exhibit on display at the Des Moines Art Center before it ends on January 21, 2018. (Please note Interior of Tape Des Moines is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays for maintenance.)
  3. Anytime, FREE; A perfect indoor activity on a cold winter day is to visit a story time. They happen regularly all over the Des Moines metro and we’ve listed several here.
  4. Jan.- March $6: Join the Clubhouse at the Playhouse Gang each month as they dramatize a favorite story during Friday Funday.
  5. Jan. 6-7, FREE: Learn how to stick with those get-healthy resolutions at Des Moines’ Health & Fitness Expo.
  6. Anytime, FREE: Host family movie night and enjoy a night in!
  7. Jan. 6-27, FREE: Enjoy Family Movies in the Gardens on Saturday mornings at Reiman Gardens in Ames. (Free for all kids ages 17 and under).
  8. Jan. 7 – Mar. 25, Included with Admission: Take a break from the winter cold and warm up in the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s tropical conservatory while enjoying some of the best blues music in the Midwest during Botanical Blues.
  9. Anytime, FREE; Weather permitting – take the family sledding! Check out our list of sledding hills in Des Moines.
  10. Mondays, FREE: Ease into Monday by watching a FREE movie at Valley Community Center.
  11. Jan. 12, $5 (non-members): Kids can make Story Stones during Brenton Arboretum’s Nature Club for kids.
  12. Jan. 13, FREE: Kids ages 8 -12 can solve the History Mystery at the State Historical Museum of Iowa.
  13. Anytime, FREE: Go explore a local shop! Here are some of our favorite neighborhoods bursting with small businesses. Allow your kids to explore new spaces and don’t feel pressure to buy anything new!
  14. Jan. 19, FREE: Have Snow Much Fun at a Kids Yoga Class with Go Go Yoga for Kids at the Waukee Public Library.
  15. Jan. 20, FREE: Celebrate together at the Waukee FamilyFest. Enjoy games and prizes, and jump on inflatables.
  16. Anytime, $5: Get a cup of hot chocolate from Chocolaterie Stam at one of its two locations in Des Moines.
  17. Anytime, $5: Watch for family-friendly films on the schedule at Flix Brewhouse.
  18. Jan. 20, $10: Learn the basics of cross-country skiing and practice your skills on the trails with Polk County Conservation at Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge.
  19. Anytime, FREE: Go to your local library and find some fun books to read aloud at home.
  20. Anytime, $10 and under; We rounded up 10 Children’s Museums in Iowa where kids can burn off some extra energy this winter.
  21. Tuesdays, $5: See the newest flicks on Tuesdays when many area movie theatres offer $5 admission or other discounts.
  22. Feb. 1, FREE: Go on an Owl Prowl with Warren County Conservation.
  23. Feb. 5, FREE: Kids ages 2-12 can join the STEAM Team at the Altoona Public Library.
  24. Anytime, FREE; Go ice skating at a local rink. If you supply your own skates, it’s FREE to skate at local rinks managed by local parks and recration departments.  Or skate Monday thru Thursday at Brenton Skating Plaza when kids skate for just $5.00.
  25. Feb. 7, $15: Kids ages 8-12 can make an appetizer, meal item, drink, and dessert at Kids in the Kitchen at the Special Events Building, Clive Aquatic Center.
  26. Feb. 10, FREE: Build Your Own Boat and bring it to the Urbandale Pool and race it against other homemade vessels.
  27. Multiple Dates, $12: Attend a Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Family Series show at the Civic Center this winter and make sure to go early and attend a FREE Discovery Party.
  28. Feb. 11, FREE: Take your budding astronomers to a Star Party in Ewing Park.
  29. Feb. 13, FREE: Experience real cooking at a Kids Cooking Class at the Machine Shed in Urbandale.
  30. Multiple Dates, $10 and under: Embrace the cold and snow and try out a winter sport in Des Moines.
  31. Anytime, $5+: Baby, it’s cold outside and nothing warms you up like a bowlful of soup.
  32. Wednesdays, $1: Go roller skating at local roller rinks on Wednesday night, when they all offer $1 admission + skate rental.
  33. Feb. 16, $16-20: Let the kids spend Friday night with Ankeny Parks & Recreation during Friday Fun Nights.
  34. Feb. 18, $5: Is your tween or teen meant for the stage? Check out MadCAP Improv, a wild, fast-paced improvisation games workshop at the CAP Theatre in Altoona.
  35. Anytime, $10 and under: Call up some friends and head to an indoor playground for a playdate!
  36. Feb. 24, FREE: Kids ages 6-11 can attend a Junior Ranger Naturalist Program at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.
  37. Multiple Dates, $5+: Cheer on the hometown team at a Drake Women’s or Men’s Basketball game.
  38. Mar. 3, $10: Mothers and sons… get your adrenaline going at Des Moines Parks and Recreation’s Mother and Son Fun: Adrenaline Rush event.
  39. Anytime, FREE: Volunteer! Check out our list of family volunteer opportunities and take time to give back.
  40. Mar. 2-4, $7:  Have some fun AND help out a local family in need at Children and Families of Iowa’s Kidsfest!
  41. Mar. 9, $5: Enjoy $5 Admission at Science Center of Iowa’s $5 Family Night (second Friday of each month from 5:00-8:00 pm).
  42. Anytime, FREE: Eat out at a local restaurant using our Kids Eat Free Guide.
  43. Mar. 10, $9: Join area tweens and teens for sketch comedy, fast-paced games, and think-on-your-feet in spur-of-the-moment situations during Second Saturday at the Des Moines Playhouse.
  44. Wednesdays, $2: Tots can Bring Your Ride to Skate North Incrediroll and tootle around the rink.
  45. Anytime, FREE: Find a fun new idea on our calendar which is full of FREE (and cheap) things to enjoy every day.


How does your family enjoy some FREE or cheap winter fun in Des Moines?  Let us know!

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