Now that school is officially out and summer has arrived, many of us are looking at a season of cancelled activities and scratching our heads trying to come up with ways to fill the time. Whether you’re seeking at-home activities or safe adventures away from home, you can find something for everyone with these 100+ ideas for summer fun!
Editor’s note: Due to COVID-19 precautions, some of the following events and venues may have adjusted their hours or programming. Please check with each venue directly to verify.
Looking for even more summer-time family fun? Check out our Summer Fun Guide to help you plan your perfect summer!
Here’s 100+ ideas to have fun with your kids this summer in Des Moines:
1. Sail across Easter Lake in a pedal boat or paddle board rented from the recently opened Easter Lake Boat Rental.
2. Get growing by starting a garden.
3. Take a nature walk through a local park.
4. Catch a lightning bug.
5. Host an outdoor movie night.
6. Take a twilight family walk with glow sticks or anything else that lights up.
7. Check out a local disc golf course.
8. Visit a local farmer’s market and plan a meal involving your finds.
9. Go fishing.
10. Make friendship bracelets.
11. Explore the grounds of the Kuehn Conservation Area and count how many different plant and animal species you can identify.
12. Spend time stargazing.
13. Ride bikes as a family.
14. Pack a picnic and enjoy your favorite sandwich at a local park.
16. Go geocaching.
17. Celebrate the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice, on June 20 by soaking up some sunshine. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
18. Take part in a local virtual story time program until they can be held in person again. We have several listed on our Event Calendar.
19. Take a FREE tour of public art around the metro.
20. Take a day to plan random acts of kindness as a family.
21. Eat al fresco at your favorite locally-owned restaurant.
22. Run through the sprinklers.
24. Say hi to your favorite Blank Park Zoo animals.
25. Rent a canoe or kayak and navigate local central Iowa bodies of water.
26. Create a compost pile or bin in your backyard.
27. Take a trip to Howell’s Greenhouse & Pumpkin Patch in Cumming where kids can make some mud pies, swing on the swings, slide down the slides, peddle around on the tractors and more all summer long.
28. Take a road trip to the American Gothic House in Eldon.
29. Grab a decorate-your-own tasty confections kit from a local bakery like Sweet to Eat Bakery & Cake Shop.
30. Enjoy a day trip to Winterset and visit the famed Bridges of Madison County.
31. Make homemade ice cream.
33. Pick up everything you need to get crafty at home with Artfull’s to-go kits.
34. Find socially distant waterfront fun at one of the Des Moines area’s best “beaches.”
35. Head north to Ames to explore open spaces and fresh air at Reiman Gardens.
36. Build with LEGOs.
37. Relive the pioneer days at Living History Farms.
39. Enjoy an outdoor adventure at Jester Park.
40. Set up a canned food drive on your front porch and invite friends and family to make donations. Donate items collected to your local food bank or pantry.
41. Make marshmallow and toothpick houses.
42. Participate in a summer reading program at your local library.
43. Pick your own berries at a local farm in the Des Moines area.
44. Go camping at a local park or in your own backyard.
45. Walk, jog or bike the High Trestle Trail.
46. Make paper airplanes – have a contest to see who’s flies the furthest.
47. Fly a kite.
48. Play some outdoor games.
49. Write letters or draw pictures to mail to grandparents or other friends and relatives that are high risk and still in self isolation.
50. Get creative with one of Michael’s Kids Club online classes.
51. Shred it at a local skate park.
52. Paint rocks.
53. Host a family or neighborhood talent show.
54. Enjoy an urban oasis at Greenwood/Ashworth park.
55. Have the kids wash the car.
56. Create your own Independence Day parade! Decorate your bike, scooter or wagon and take a spin around your neighborhood.
57. Take advantage of the Kids Bowl FREE Program at a local bowling alley.
58. Learn how to cook with an online class with Real Food 4 Kids.
59. Sign up for an on-line art camp with the Des Moines Art Center.
60. Walk a neighbor’s dog.
61. Enjoy Live Drive-In Theatre by the Des Moines Playhouse.
63. Workout and stay fit with Opportunity on Deck’s Virtual Sports Program.
64. Keep kids fit, flexible and focused all summer with Gogo Yoga for Kids FREE Summer Games for Kids.
65. Improve your cup stacking time.
66. Celebrate dad or the father figure in your life.
67. Join Goldie and explore the state together through new online activities to bring history alive from the comfort of your own home.
69. Enjoy big family fun at Big Creek State Park.
70. Play a card game.
71. Plan a park play date.
73. Take swimming lessons at Goldfish Swim School.
75. Give back by volunteering, donating, and spreading kindness.
76. YouTube Karaoke.
78. Enjoy a day of amusement at Adventureland.
79. Avoid the summer brain drain with the help of a local tutor.
80. Jump rope.
81. Stop and smell the roses at the Clare and Miles Mills Rose Garden.
82. Have a smashing good time playing pickleball.
83. Take an outdoor nap (in the shade).
84. Strike a pose at Yoga by the Lake.
85. Enjoy live music at an outdoor concert.
86. Practice your instrument.
86. Go puddle stomping after a storm.
89. Go vertical at Climb Iowa.
90. Create a terrarium at home with a DIY kit from Art Terrarium.
91. Have your fourteen or fifteen-year-old practice driving.
92. Chill out with some ice cream from a local shop.
93. Make some fruity popsicles.
94. Go on a wildflower hunt.
95. Play golf at a local public course.
96. Create a fairy garden.
99. Clean out the garage.
100. Read, read, and read some more.
Whew! What’s your summer plans? Let us know!