One day you’re caring for a newborn and before you know it, you’re sending him or her off to college. They grow up fast and the teenage years can be some of the hardest for finding ways to connect with your kids. We’ve rounded up 18 local experiences to try with your kids before they turn 18.
1. Race to the finish
A little friendly family competition is good for everyone. Take your teen to Pole Position Raceway (1350 SE Gateway Dr. #108, Grimes) where you can each climb into a go-kart and battle to the finish line.
2. Pick produce
Des Moines’ Downtown Farmers’ Market is an exciting place for you and your teen to discover locally-grown produce and products. Visit the market May through October and select something to cook together.
3. Cheer on the boys of summer
Take your teen out to an I-Cubs game at Principal Park. The reasonable ticket prices, the special promotions, the excitement of a home run, and the on-field entertainment make for a great family outing, no matter your age.
4. Roll retro
More than a bowling alley, Uncle Buck’s at Bass Pro Shops (1000 Bass Pro Dr. NW, Altoona) offers an unforgettable bowling experience. Your teen will adore the underwater theme and delicious food delivered straight to the lanes.
5. Enjoy some food truck fare
Resolve any argument about personal dinner tastes and preferences and settle into The Foundry (111 S 11th St., West Des Moines) for a relaxing dinner with your teen. The Hall offers a rotating selection of food trucks serving up an assortment of cuisines, a pop-up space and a beer garden.
6. Do a little shopping
7. Get the high score
You and your teen can become pinball wizards at The Operating Room – Pinball Bar Arcade in West Glen (5515 Mills Civic Parkway #130, West Des Moines). All ages are welcome until 6:00 pm daily and it’s a perfect stop for video game loving teens.
8. Guarantee screams
Adventureland (3200 Adventureland Dr., Altoona) boasts thrills at every turn for older kids. Bring out the kid in yourself by boarding some of your teen’s favorite rides with them.
9. Give back
One of the most impactful things you can do for your community and for your children is volunteer together. There are endless opportunities for you to volunteer with your teen. Find a few ideas here.
10. Set out on a river adventure
Adventurous teens will love getting out on the water in a kayak or canoe during the warmer months. Local outfitters will help get your family to your starting point and then pick you up from your destination.
11. Experience nostalgia
Take your teen back in time with a trip to Valle Drive-In (4074 Hwy F48 W, Newton). Let your teen take the wheel to enjoy a family-friendly flick complete with classic concessions.
12. Listen to live music
It’s no secret that teens are into music, so why not listen to some live at a local Des Moines venue? Places like the Iowa Events Center, Hoyt Sherman Place and Noce; local festivals like 80/35 and Hinterland and concert series like Nitefall on the River are great places to hear some with your favorite adolescent.
13. Have a few laughs
Comedy XPeriment is the longest running improvisation troupe in central Iowa and has regular gigs at the Civic Center’s Stoner Theater. Kids ages 10+ can join them for a night of laughs!
14. Soak up some culture
Before they get too old, every Des Moines kid needs to experience a live production at the Des Moines Playhouse (831 42nd St., Des Moines). This Historic Roosevelt Cultural District icon has been putting local talent on stage for 100 seasons!
15. Grab a latte and chat
How often do you really get to have a deep meaningful conversation with your teen? Offer to buy them a cup of joe and hang out for the morning or afternoon at a local coffeeshop like Smokey Row, Ritual Café or Mars Café.
16. Explore a new neighborhood
Des Moines’ urban core has experienced a tremendous boom in recent years. There’s no better way to experience that than to climb onto a bike and explore the area. If you don’t have your own bike, pick up a rental from one of several Des Moines BCycle stations scattered throughout the downtown area. They offer easy access to areas like the East Village, Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the Drake Neighborhood.
17. Stroll a street festival
One of the best ways to discover some of Des Moines’ unique qualities and spark your teen’s curiosity is at one of the city’s many regular street festivals. From the Des Moines Arts Festival, to the World Food & Music Festival and many others, these events offer an exposure to local arts and culture in an environment older kids are sure to love.
18. Have an off-beat movie night
Most teens love going to the theater but upgrade to an extra-special movie night by finding a unique film at the Fleur Cinema & Cafe. This art house cinema offers a more refined theater experience that will stand out from all the rest.
What experiences are on your Des Moines teen’s bucket list?