Are you looking for something to do over Christmas break?
You’re in the right place! There are lots of fun things to do over winter break in the Des Moines area – outdoors and indoors – you can’t do them all.
Fun things to do over winter break in Des Moines
Below are some of our best ideas for fun things to do and see! There’s no excuse for you to be bored this Christmas break!
See the holiday lights.
There are options from drive-through holiday light displays to dazzling neighborhood spectacles! So put on the holiday music, grab your hot cocoa, and see all the terrific Christmas lights around Des Moines! Check out our guide to local holiday light displays. (You can even take a limo for a holiday lights tour!)
Pick out the perfect Christmas tree.
Choosing a real Christmas tree is a seasonal tradition! The experience of picking the perfect tree, taking it home, and decorating it – plus the lovely smell – creates memories that aren’t soon forgotten. The good news is there are several fun Christmas tree farms near Des Moines.
Go ice skating.
Ice skate under the stars at Brenton Skating Plaza in downtown Des Moines. Also, try the new synthetic ice rink at Johnston Town Center! Both have ice skate rentals. And if you have your own ice skates, there are even more options. For more, see our article on local ice skating rinks. There are more local ice skating rinks than you would imagine!
Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride.
Head to the Jester Park Equestrian Center for a winter experience like no other! Take a thirty-minute horse-drawn sleigh ride through the woods of Jester Park. Rides are available from December through January (ride in a wagon if there’s no snow). Book your ride online!
Skate at the Lauridsen Skate Park.
Lauridsen Skate Park is free and open to the public when there’s not an event! It’s in downtown Des Moines on the north end of the Principal Riverwalk. Skate year-round, 6:00 am to 10:30 pm, except during inclement weather conditions.
Go skiing, snow tubing, or sledding.
Even if it hasn’t snowed much yet, you can have fun on the slopes at Seven Oaks Recreation in Boone and the hills of Sleepy Hollow’s Snow Park in Des Moines. And if there’s snow, head to a popular sledding hill, like Winter Park, Waveland Golf Course, or Ewing Park, to name and few.
Experience a winter hike.
Contrary to what many people think, winter is an ideal time to go hiking in Iowa. Experience the stillness, look for animal tracks, and spot Iowa’s winter birds. And if it’s snowing? Even better. There’s nothing quite like a hike in the woods when it’s snowing. So put on your layers and explore (And don’t forget the hot chocolate!)
There’s no better feeling in the world than giving back to our community! Look for volunteer opportunities at local organizations. For options, check the United Way of Central Iowa opportunities board.
Explore all the fun places!
Museums, creative endeavors, and physical challenges await! There are so many places to go and see, and there’s something for everyone. Below are a few fun places to go over winter break!
Des Moines Art Center
The Art Center has free admission, with guided and self-guided tours available. Explore the galleries and see an array of art collections and special exhibits. Virtual tours are also available!
You can also venture to Pappajohn Sculpture Park, a one-of-a-kind outdoor art exhibit at Western Gateway Park (downtown).
Science Center of Iowa
The Science Center’s interactive exhibits, planetarium, and programs are fun and educational. It’s a day of fun for all ages!
State Historical Museum
The State Historical Museum has fascinating exhibits on Iowa’s history, people, and land. Thousands of objects are on display. And admission is FREE!
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
Whether you love gardening or not, you’re sure to enjoy a visit to the Botanical Gardens. Strolling the beautiful, lush gardens is the perfect way to spend a winter day in Central Iowa.
Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo has exhibits open in the winter. You can see the otters, flamingos, gibbons, a tiger, and more! Check their website for hours and to see what exhibits are open.
Whether you’re an expert climber or want to give it a try, Climb Iowa is the place to go! They have a range of routes, with equipment rentals and newbie orientations.
Skyzone and Get Air Des Moines have super-fun attractions for burning off some energy!
To tap into your creativity or make a one-of-a-kind gift, head to a local pottery studio! Glazed Expressions and Five Monkeys are a couple of places to paint your own piece.
Break out of an escape room
Get a group of friends together to help you solve puzzles and escape! There are a few escape rooms in Des Moines, like The Escape Rooms, Breakout Games, and Escape Chambers.
Attend a winter camp or program
Check out some of the local camps and programming. Look for options at the Des Moines Art Center, Science Center of Iowa, CodeNinjas, Living History Farms, Polk Co. Conservation, and area City Parks and Rec departments, to name a few.
There are so many fun things to do over winter break in Des Moines – you won’t be able to do them all!
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