It’s fall, and that means it’s time to get out and soak up the last of the warm weather. And, of course, everything that goes along with the season—great food, stunning fall foliage, and campfires. The good news is, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in the fall in Des Moines!
Below is what we think are the 10+ best things to do in the fall in the Des Moines area. And the great thing about these things is—they’re outdoors!
Things to Do in the Fall in Des Moines
Visit Local Apple Orchards
There are excellent apple orchards in Central Iowa! If you want to get out and pick your apples, many have you-pick options. Most also sell pre-picked apples and other apple-related goodies, like pies and cider. And for a day of family fun, several area orchards have fun fall activities that everyone will love.
Picnic at a Des Moines Park
Fall is the perfect season for a picnic—the weather is still warm, and the bugs have dwindled. And, of course, the fall colors make it even better. The great thing is, many Des Moines parks have fantastic picnic areas, and you’re sure to find one near you!
Take a Fall Hike in Des Moines
What is fall without hiking? A fall hike is a perfect way to see the spectacle of fall colors. And if you’re looking for a great fall hike near you, you won’t have to look far. Des Moines has lots of great hiking trails, and many are right here in the metro area.
Spend the Day at a Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkin patches are about more than pumpkins! They’re about the experience. And many local pumpkin patches give you just that. It’s all about fun at the pumpkin patch, from corn mazes and hayrack rides to farm animals and corn pools.
Bike the Trails
Hundreds of miles of bike trails in Central Iowa offer the perfect opportunity to enjoy fall. Take a short, peaceful ride through Des Moines, or venture through surrounding communities. Either way, it’s a great way to get away from it all and enjoy autumn’s beauty.
Take a Drive to See Fall Colors
In Des Moines, you don’t have to drive far to see stunning fall foliage. Walnut Woods State Park, McRae Park, and Yellow Banks Park are just a few local parks to drive through to see the fall colors. And if you want to go a bit further, head up to Jester Park and Saylorville Lake to spend the day!
Go to Ledges State Park
Ledges State Park is, well, legendary around Central Iowa. Its 100-foot sandstone ridges provide extraordinary panoramic views. Add in the park amenities, and it’s the optimal spot to experience fall in Iowa. So, if you’re looking for a place to enjoy a fall day (or weekend!), Ledges is an ideal getaway.
P.S. When you’re at Ledges, you’re super close to the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad. Talk about autumn views! Relax and take in the sites as you ride a train through the Des Moines River Valley.
If you ask us, fall is the best time to camp in Iowa! Sunny warm days and chilly nights make for amazing camping weather. Hike through the colorful trees, float a river, or take a bike ride during the day. And warm yourself by the campfire with a hot cider at night.
Visit Living History Farms
Fall is an excellent time to visit Living History Farms. Watch the farmers harvest the crops. Savor the smells of fall food drifting from the farm kitchens. And, in late September, you can attend Applefest at the farms. Learn about the apple harvest, apple preparation/preservation, and, of course, eat some apple goodies while you’re there.
Go to the Downtown Farmer’s Market
The sites and smells of fall are everywhere at the Downtown Farmers Market! You can find everything from produce and baked goods to flowers and art at over 100 local vendors. Find the best apples and pumpkins from local growers. And, of course, pick up some delicious homemade baked treats too.
Rent a Cabin
Cabins make the ideal fall getaway. So whether you want a cozy fall weekend away from home or an entire week in the woods, a cabin rental is the solution! The good news is, there are several great cabin rentals not far from Des Moines! And just up the road at Jester Park are some of the best cabin rentals in the area.
Take in the View from the High Trestle Bridge
Walk or bike to the High Trestle Bridge for sweeping views of the Des Moines River Valley. It’s one of the largest pedestrian bridges in the world! And it provides a great vantage point for viewing fall colors. The bridge is about one mile from parking near Madrid (on QF Lane). Or you can bike the 25-mile High Trestle Trail from any one of the trailheads.
Get Outdoors This Fall in Des Moines!
Take a fall hike, visit a pumpkin patch, or drive to see the fall colors. No matter what you do, there are plenty of fun things to do in the fall in Des Moines! And getting outdoors is the best way to make the most of the season, in our opinion. So get out there and soak it up!