There’s something about this time of year that makes parents’ start to twitch a bit. Even though trips to the park aren’t as easy this time of year, resist the urge to hunker down! Here are a few ideas to help Des Moines kids and families cure cabin fever and help everyone survive winter in Des Moines with a smile on your face!
Experience Winter Thrills, Spills & Chills
1086 222nd Drive • Boone, IA 50036 • (515) 432-9457
Think that there’s nowhere to downhill ski near Des Moines? Think again! Seven Oaks Recreation Center has been operating for 17 years and has everything you need to enjoy a day on the slopes without venturing too far from home, including lessons and equipment rental.
4051 Dean Avenue • Des Moines, IA • 50317 • (515) 262-4100
If you’re looking for something to really get your adrenaline pumping, Sleepy Hollow Sports Park will add some excitement to your winter. You can race down their runs on skis, snowboards, snow tubes or Zibob sleds.
Tip: You should always call ahead or check your destination’s social media to check weather conditions and hours of operation.
Take up a Winter Sport
520 Robert D. Ray Drive • Des Moines, IA 50309 • (515) 284-1000
There’s something especially exhilarating about skating at an outdoor rink in the winter. You don’t have to have a perfect double axel to have a great time zooming around the Brenton Skating Plaza operated by Des Moines Parks and Recreation.
Hit the Trails
Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or ice fishing could be just the fun new activity your family needs to have an adventure and beat the winter blahs. Hiking, Winter Biking and Snowmobiling are also great winter sports and will allow you to take advantage of Central Iowa’s great trail system. Trying a winter sport is a great way to get some exercise as a family, while enjoying Iowa’s winter landscape at the same time.
Tip: Take a class through your local county conservation board. They offer beginner classes and you can try out the sport with their equipment, at a minimal cost, before purchasing your own.
Get Back to Nature
11171 NW 103 Court • Granger, IA 50109 • (515) 999-2818
It’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together! When Mother Nature is providing enough snow, more than four inches, Jester Park Equestrian center offers 45-minute horse-drawn sleigh rides. Rides are $10 per person with a $50 minimum fee per reservation (3 years and younger are free). Different sleigh sizes are available depending on the size of your group.
Go Star Gazing
Take advantage of the longer evenings and get a glimpse of the stars. Bundle up your little astronomers and head out to your backyard or avoid the City lights and head to a more rural locale. If you’re looking for a more organized event, Dallas County Conservation is hosting Star Gazing on January 10th and The Brenton Arboretum is hosting Constellations & Cocoa on January 11th.
Tip: Make it a group effort. Invite friends and neighbors along to share in the fun.
7401 SW 9th Street • Des Moines, IA 50315 • (515) 285-4722
There are four seasons in Iowa AND at the Blank Park Zoo. Several animals like snow leopards and snow monkeys are more active during the winter months. Another bonus of going to the Zoo in the winter, the crowds of summer are gone and the zoo takes on a completely different feel. It’s a place of quiet solitude.
A lot of people think of winter as a time when most animals hole away and birds fly south. This isn’t completely true though. Not all birds are migratory and many animals enjoy the cool quietness of winter. You can go on an Owl Prowl, look for bald eagles, and gaze upon buffalo and elk at places like Saylorville Lake, Jester Park and Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge.
Tip: Be sure to bundle up and be prepared for the winter elements. You’ll also want to take the binoculars and a camera along on your outing.
Create Your Own Fun
There really are all kinds of fun ideas to while away a wintery afternoon. Shoo the kids outside and have them build snow sculptures or set up a hot cocoa stand. Another idea is to build a snow “golf course”. Dig holes in the snow and paint them with food coloring to make them stand out.
You can also get some neighborhood friends in on the act and create some fun “Winter Games”. Have a frozen pancake toss, hold a human “dog-sled” race, where two or more people pull with one person on the sled and race against another team to the finish lane. And, you can always build a snow man or have a good old-fashioned snow ball fight!
What other outdoor winter-time activities need to be added to this list? Tell us in the Comments section below.