We are fortunate to have so many amazing parks in Des Moines.
Des Moines has a thriving parks system that experiences constant reinvention, driven by national trends and innovative planners. Aging parks and empty spaces are regularly targeted for renewal. Each new park project includes extensive community input and participation, making it easy to be involved. Both the city of Des Moines and its partner Friends of Des Moines Parks welcome invested residents to help design, implement, and celebrate the parks system.
The city’s 77 parks offer something for everyone, but these five have most recently completed exciting renovations, and they could be perfect for your outdoor fall excursion.
Check out our Des Moines Parks Guide for more parks in and around the metro.
5 Des Moines Parks Worth a Visit
Have you noticed the new concrete soccer fields popping up at your local park? It’s called futsal, and it’s gaining traction as a great way to play soccer at a faster pace with no need for cut grass or soccer nets. Chesterfield has a futsal stadium, as well as a new basketball court, STEM-based sprayground, (our kids love the damming structure), and a built-in ping pong table.
Cohen has two new features that are the first in the state: a bouldering structure and an interactive Sutu Wall. If your kids have already mastered the meager rock wall in your regular park, they’ll love the challenge of the boulder wall.
The interactive ball wall called Sutu is guaranteed to appeal to your little gamer’s heart. It feels a little like an outdoor video game, complete with flashing lights. The best part? No screen is required and they have to move their body to use it.
If that’s not enough of a reason to check out Cohen, there’s also a historic watering trough that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You might be familiar with the EMC overlook at MacRae offering some of the city’s best views. However, there’s so much more to this newly renovated park. Keep following the road up the hill and you’ll find some fantastic STEM water features built out of natural materials. Your kids will love the swings and rock obstacles that are built into the side of the park. Take the road back down the hill and enjoy the new boardwalk and fishing pier.
Speaking of excellent city views, McHenry has its own impressive perch above the city. Its developments wrap up this month with a new playground (put together by volunteers like you) and reopened splash pad. The park’s improved accessibility welcomes all residents and the open-air shelter is a great place to dry off and enjoy the colorful fall view of the city.
This park has been under construction for a long time but it was worth the wait. This neighborhood park quietly nestled in Beaverdale has a new nature path, fishing dock, tennis and pickleball courts, and hilltop playgrounds. It’s also a stop on the Franklin Library’s Native Prairie Passport program, which works to promote awareness of native prairies in the area.