30+ things to keep the kids busy this summer in Des Moines

Summer is coming! The kids are super excited. They look forward to sleeping in, playing all day, swimming, camp…and most of all the freedom from the school routine!

But as parents, we know that excitement will wane. It won’t be long before we start to hear “I’m bored!” or “There’s nothing to do!” or we see them parked on the couch in front of a screen.

Now is the time to plan for that. And we’re here to help. We’ve created a list of creative activities for kids to do this summer – that won’t break the bank. The kids will be pleasantly surprised when they find out you have a few tricks up your sleeve! :)

If you live in or near the Des Moines area, check out all of the FREE summer activities for the kids to do!

30+ fun & frugal things to keep your kids busy this summerboy books

Go to the park. Better yet, take a summer park tour. Visit all the parks within a 30 mile radius of where you live. You might be surprised to find a hidden treasure out there that your kids will love.

Play in the wading pools and spraygrounds in your area.

Visit the local library. And check out their summer programs. If you live in a city, take a tour of all the local libraries.

Sprinklers anyone? Younger kids particularly love to run under the sprinklers.

Hike the trails. To make it more exciting, do a nature scavenger hunt or build a shelter (with permission, of course). Or take a compass and have the kids navigate the trail map.

Watch a movie. Don’t forget the popcorn.

Learn a new skill or dive deep on a particular topic. Learn to knit, cook, write poetry or play guitar. Or hone in on everything there is to know about one subject. (For example, learn as much as possible about the night sky – read, visit planetariums, take photos, find the constellations.)

Make homemade popsicles. Of every kind.

Have a lemonade stand.

Read a book in a new spot. Create a reading nook out of pillows and blankets in different areas of the house. Or find a nice shady spot on the lawn, spread out a blanket and enjoy.

Build a shelter or fort. You could build one outside out of sticks and leaves. Or inside, out of furniture, pillows, and blankets.lemonade

Visit free museums in your area. Here in Des Moines, we have the Art Center and Historical Building, just to name a couple.

Write a book. Illustrate a book or comic. Buy kids a blank journal or notebook, bind their pages into their very own book.

Blow bubbles. There are all kinds of creative ways to blow bubbles. Who knew?

Make crafts to sell. Start an Etsy shop – or just sell to friends and neighbors. Who knows? Your kids might have quite the entrepreneurial spirit!

Garden! Kids LOVE to play in the dirt. And they will learn to care for the plants they nurture from seed.

Ride bikes. Helmets required!

Create sidewalk art. You can buy sidewalk chalk, or you can make your own. Get creative and you’ll be surprised how long this keeps your kids busy!

Have a picnic. You don’t necessarily have to leave the house to have a picnic – find fun places outside your home to dine.

Enter local fair competitions. Check out your local county or state fair to see what kids’ competitions are available. You’ll be surprised what a little competition does for kids’ motivation.

Volunteer. Animal shelters often allow kids to volunteer after they’ve had some training. Or you could help out a food bank, collect donations, mow a neighbors lawn, or pick up trash along a trail. Find a way for kids to help out in your neighborhood.

Go fish. It doesn’t take a lot of equipment for kids to fish – they could even make their own pole. Even if the kids lose interest in the fishing, they’re sure to find something to keep them entertained near the water. Don’t forget the free fishing days in each state (early June here in Iowa).

Go to a parade. Or organize your own little neighborhood parade.

Check out free workshops at local chain stores. Home Depot, Michael’s, Bass Pro Shop, and more offer kids workshops and activities. These are often free or low-cost.

Try yoga. Family yoga workshops or yoga in the park is a fun way for kids to enjoy exercise.

Walk a downtown area. The skywalk in Des Moines can provide an entire afternoon of adventure for kids. Especially if it’s topped off by ice cream.

Have a tea party. Complete with little tea sandwiches or snacks kids can make on their own.

Build something. For the little woodworker in your family, you can find a kit or project for any age or interest. Here’s another list of projects.

Tour a family farm. And take farm fresh food home to eat!

Visit a farmer’s market. In the Des Moines area, there are several to choose from. From the big Downtown Farmer’s Market to the Valley Junction Farmer’s Market to surrounding towns, you’re sure to find one near you.

Fly a kite. You could make your own.

Get a job. With vacation season, many families need someone to care for their homes, pets, and gardens while they’re away. While the younger ones might need a little help, this is the perfect summer job for kids. Other ideas include dog walking, mowing, babysitting, or various one-off tasks in the neighborhood.

Paddle a lake or river. Learn to canoe or kayak (this is often free through local parks and rec departments).

Tour a local business or factory.

Explore local history. You can find local programming or explore on your own.

Go bowling. Bowling can be kid friendly. There’s a great national program that allows kids to bowl for free during the summer.

Read more for rewards. There are a plethora of summer reading programs that will reward your kiddo for the number of books he/she reads. Pizza Hut’s Book It Program is a popular one. Because who doesn’t love pizza. Other businesses to check out include Scholastic, Half Price Books, Barnes & Noble, SYNC (free audio books for teens) And don’t forget to check your local library for information on their summer reading program.

Looking for more things to do in Des Moines? Check out The best things to do and see in Des Moines, all right here.

If you’re selling your house this summer – you’ll also want to know Our 10 best tips for selling your house when you have kids!

Whether you’re selling or buying a home, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to. At Coluzzi Real Estate, we answer all your questions and simplify the process. We’re here for you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today!


About the Author:

Amanda has lived in the Des Moines area since 1999, where she and her husband have bought and sold a handful of homes over the years, including a recent flip. Amanda enjoys writing, obsesses about personal finance and is fond of looking at houses. She loves sharing useful tips and info to make life easier for anyone wanting to buy or sell a home. In her spare time, Amanda cherishes time with her family, volunteers with IHYC, gardens, hikes, and practices TaeKwonDo. You can read more of her writing at whywemoney.com