With fall upon us, we’re craving more than just a change of seasons. Sometimes, fresh scenery—even just for a day—can do wonders to reboot and re-energize the whole family. Whether fall in your house means an afternoon harvesting nature’s bounty at local farms, heading out for a hike, or staying close to home to explore a new-to-you corner of the City, we’ve got daycations sure to satisfy any mood. Read on for 25 picks sure to inspire your love of the season.
Fall Family Day Trips from Des Moines:
- Enjoy cider doughnuts, crisp fall air, and the sweet smell of apples visiting one of these nearby orchards for a day of harvest fun.
- Head to the Amana Colonies, for Oktoberfest, complete with German music, food and a parade.
- Take your Lego lover to the Science Center of Iowa to check out their new permanent exhibit Brick by Brick.
- In search of inexpensive fun? No problem! These destination-worthy museums are always FREE to visit!
- Breathe in some fresh air while attending a fall festival in Des Moines.
- Hit a pumpkin patch near Des Moines.
- Drive over to West Branch to learn about Iowa’s only president, Herbert Hoover. The foliage on the grounds is fantastic.
- Enjoy a step back in time (and more farm fun) at Living History Farms.
- You don’t need not get too far out of city limits to run through a corn maze at Geisler Farms.
- Spend the day at Wills Family Orchard in Adel, where kids can pick apples and pumpkins, but also see the barnyard animals (free) and hitch a wagon ride.
- Marvel at what they do with pumpkins during Spirits in the Gardens at Reiman Gardens in Ames.
- View historic aircraft at the Iowa Aviation Museum. Stay the day to explore the rest of Greenfield.
- Glimpse into Iowa’s geologic past at the Devonian Fossil Gorge in Coralville.
- Explore a new-to-you park such as Waubonsie State Park. Part of the national Lewis and Clark Historical Trail, there’s stunning views of the river and the fall foliage dotting the Loess Hills.
- Visit the Des Moines Art Center. Enjoy the art, let the kids run around outside, picnic, and marvel at the changing leaves.
- If the weather is iffy, explore a children’s museum in Iowa.
- Snuggle up to a four legged friend at one of these kid-friendly places where you can get up close to animals.
- Take a scenic drive or hike through these leef-peeping hot spots around Des Moines.
- Soak up a little history in Mason City. Visit a home and hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Meredith Wilson’s Boyhood Home.
- Pack up the family truckster and see a movie under the stars at Valle Drive-In in Newton.
- Hike or bike the High Trestle Trail between Woodward and Madrid.
- Take a ride on a river boat down the Iowa River in Iowa Falls and enjoy the fall foliage surrounding the river’s edge.
- Board the Pumpkin Express in Boone and take a scenic ride through Central Iowa. You’ll cross over the Des Moines River on the Bass Point Creek High Bridge.
- Visit all of the beautiful, historic Bridges of Madison County.
- Tour historic barns. The last full weekend in September, more than 60 of them across the state are open during the All-State Barn Tour.
What are your favorite fall day trips from Des Moines? Share the love in the comments below!