50 Things to Do This Fall Under $5 in Des Moines

50 Things to Do This Fall Under $5 in Des Moines

Find a list of 2019 fall activities here.

Just about mid-September everyone is in the mood to celebrate autumn, so we’ve rounded up some cheap and free ways to help you get in a fall frame of mind. If you’re looking for even more fall fun, be sure to check out our Fall Fun Guide with links to fall festivals, pumpkin patches and more!

  1. Go apple picking (set a budget of up to $5/person which is easy to do at the u-pick price)!
  2. Whether there’s a fall chill in the air or not, you’ll definitely feel like its fall when you attend a Des Moines area Fall Festival.
  3. Volunteer together! It won’t cost you anything but your time and it will enrich your community and make you feel great.
  4. If you think it’s impossible to visit a museum for less than $5, think again. Admission to the Des Moines Art Center is always FREE!
  5. Help tag a Monarch Butterfly during their fall migration to Mexico.
  6. Celebrate Applefest at Penoach Winery in Adel. Saturday, September 17th, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is FREE.
  7. Find your “Great Pumpkin” at a local pumpkin patch.
  8. Get outside and take your kid’s on a fall outdoor scavenger hunt
  9. Enjoy FREE admission to Reiman Gardens on the second Wednesday of every month and make tons of fall family memories.
  10. Run through the water at spraygrounds and fountains managed by Des Moines Parks and Recreation until October 11th.
  11. Try one of these easy, delicious and no camp fire required S’mores treats in Des Moines.
  12. Give archery a shot at a local shooting range in Des Moines.
  13. Break out the popcorn and blankets and attend the Fall Family Movie Series for FREE at the Valley Junction Activity Center.
  14. You don’t have to spend a dime to peruse the aisles of a local book store.
  15. Test your creativity on Super Fun Sundays at Central Library, which features a DIY craft activity. For kids ages 3 and up. No reservations necessary. 1:00 to 5:00 pm.
  16. Find a new indoor play place. Several of the places on this list are FREE or very low-cost and offer a new environment for play no matter the weather.
  17. Cider is an autumn staple and when you visit Upstream Gardens & Orchard, you’ll taste cider that is made the old-fashioned way.
  18. Fall is the ideal time to curl up with a good book. Des Moines has plenty of public story times that are offered FREE of charge!
  19. Navigate through every nook and cranny of a corn maze.
  20. Camping is an essential fall experience. If you already have the equipment, this activity is essentially free. Pick one of these kid-friendly camping spots to set up your tent and spend a few nights.
  21. Schedule a playdate! It doesn’t cost you anything to get together with friends at a public park. Here are some of our favorite spots to meet up to play.
  22. Play outdoor games, craft, snack and see live critters for FREE at UCAN’s annual Fall Frenzy! Sunday, October 9th at 1:00 – 3:00pm in Walker Johnston Park.
  23. As long as the weather cooperates, there’s no excuse not to take your dinner outside. So go ahead and pack up that slow cooker meal and head out to a prime picnicking spot at a local park. 
  24. Play a couple of rounds of mini golf at Toad Valley Golf Course.
  25. A favorite fall activity is eating fresh baked goods! Molly’s Cupcakes will be opening soon in the East Village.
  26. Spend a day in nature at a local garden or arboretum.
  27. Stroll through the Farmers’ Market and find one new food to try before they close for the season.
  28. Bundle up and enjoy a crisp autumn evening stargazing.
  29. Take a tour of local historic barns located here in Central Iowa for FREE (Sept. 24&25).
  30. Treat the kids to a caramel apple from Garden of Eatin Apples, LLC.  They can be found around town at local farmers’ markets or you can place an order on their website.
  31. Spend a day leaf peeping at one of Des Moines’ most scenic fall hangouts.
  32. Savor a scrumptious bowl of Des Moines’ best soup.
  33. Go on a Fall Hike through Brown’s Woods led by a naturalist with Polk County Conservation. (October 18th at 10:00 am).
  34. Attend a $5 movie at Des Moines area theatres. Both Carmike and Cinemark offer discounted movie tickets on Tuesdays.
  35. Let your kids play games and improvise at MadCap Improv at CAP Theater in Altoona.  The classes are offered the 3rd Saturday of the month at 7:00 pm and are $5 at the door.
  36. Make story time mobile and go on a story walk.
  37. Taste test every flavor of ice cream at Black Cat Ice Cream until you find your favorite.
  38. Take the family on a bike ride on the Trestle Trail.
  39. Take a free class or explore the exhibits and trails at the Annett Nature Center.
  40. Go roller skating (Wednesday night is $1 night at most local roller rinks).
  41. Spread some Halloween cheer and “Boo” your neighbors!
  42. Get your fill of the ubiquitous apple and pumpkin fall concoctions before the last leaf drops.
  43. Spend a day on the prairie at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge.
  44. Attend a youth matinee performance at CY Stephens Auditorium in Ames.  Performances are open to the public and cost $5 by reservation or at the door.
  45. Watch them feed the fish in their Main Aquarium at Bass Pro Shops in Altoona. If you have a kiddo (4 years of age or older) who would like to help feed the fish, call the store at 515-957-5500 to reserve them a spot for one of their fish feedings days!
  46. Stoll around Valley Junction and make it a point to visit during its Pumpkin Walk (Sunday, October 23 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm).
  47. Let your dog have some fun too during Yappy Hour. Every Friday in September, 4: 30 to 7:30 pm at the Windsor Heights Dog Park.
  48. Take a bite of an Apple Cider Dount at Wills Family Orchard in Adel.
  49. Make a fall craft for $2 at Michael’s Kids Club, offered every Saturday, 10:00 am -12:00 pm.
  50. And remember to search for Events on dsm4kids’ Calendar, where there are FREE (and cheap) things to enjoy every day.



Help us out and give us your suggestions for things to do this fall under $5 (with kids) in Des Moines!

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