Want to entertain the kids on a day off without breaking the bank or take a spur-of-the-moment outing with your significant other? Des Moines is full of fun things to do that don't cost a dime. Here is a list of some of our favorite places and events that are perfect for rain or shine.
This 1,500-acre park is a glorious natural oasis just minutes from downtown. The Raccoon River borders the north edge of its open wooded areas with trails for hiking, biking and jogging. Several picnic areas equipped with tables and grills are located throughout the grounds. Be sure to take a walk through Arie den Boer Arboretum, one of the world's largest collections of flowering crabapple trees.
This amazing contemporary facility houses a potpourri of arts and entertainment activities such as classes in break-dancing and pop-up art galleries. Many of the classes and events do require a fee, but the calendar always includes a variety of free activities such as Happy Hour jazz festivals, pop culture discussion groups and board game and trivia nights.
The jewel of the summer festival season is the Des Moines Art Festival, taking place this year from June 26-28. It features a juried art fair with 195 of the best artists from across the country displaying their works. The Performing Arts Stage is hosting an eclectic line-up of music, acrobats, dancers and comedy acts while the Hy-Vee Main Stage has headliners Eddie Money and Mat Kearney. Since it wouldn't be a festival without food, two food courts will be offering culinary treats along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Reading is a timeless activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The library offers a regular schedule of storytime hours, author lectures and book discussion groups, but it doesn't stop there. You can also find a variety of activities such as teen Internet cafés, craft time for kids, bridge club and family movie nights.
The market has become a Saturday morning tradition for countless residents of Des Moines. Support Iowa farmers and food producers by shopping their fresh assortment of produce, meat, cheeses, baked goods and dairy products. Visitors also come by to enjoy the eclectic street entertainment provided by belly dancers, jugglers, musicians and more. Hours at the market are 7 a.m. - noon from May through October.
Have you discovered some great free activities and events in our area? Add them to our list in the comments!