Tag a butterfly. See a raptor up close. Study pond ecosystems. Learn about water conservation. Hike through a prairie. Indulge in a FREE s’more! This year at Grow Wild you can celebrate the natural world in all its fascinating, beautiful wildness.
Hosted on September 16 at Jester Park Nature Center in Granger, Grow Wild features more than 30 hands-on activities.
New this year are more than 20 educational programs in our indoor and outdoor nature classrooms. Learning about the earth sciences has never been more fun and engaging.
Get your tickets now at GrowWildIowa.com. Thanks to the event sponsors, admission this year is reduced to $5 per person ($7 at the gate). Children two and younger are free.
Ongoing Events in Des Moines
Tuesday & Thursdays | Toddler Time, Get Air
Little jumpers get special access to the trampolines on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Admission is $8.99 (free for a parent). It’s a great way to burn some winter energy!
Thursdays | Caterpillar Club, Reiman Gardens in Ames
Get outside and have some fun with a weekly storytime at Reiman Gardens. This program is designed for kids ages 2-5 with an adult. Program is included with general admission to Reiman Gardens.
Thursdays | Tot Town, Valley Community Center
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Bring the little ones out to play for a morning at the Valley Community Center. This event is free!
2nd Monday of the Month | Storytime with Ruby the Reading Red Panda, Blank Park Zoo
Once a month, join in for Ruby’s Story Time at the Zoo! Each month they will read a story and you’ll meet a special live ambassador animal from the Zoo’s education department.
1st Friday of the Month | First Fridays in the East Village
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The shops, businesses, restaurants, and bars will showcase products and fun events. Parking is free!
10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Things to Do in Des Moines in September 2023
September 2 | Direct from Sweden: The Music of Abba, Water Works Park
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Grab your picnics and blankets as the Orchestra, joined by a full rock band, takes the Lauridsen Amphitheater stage for a free, family-friendly performance of ABBA’s favorite hits.
September 5 | Block Party, Johnston Public Library
It’s play time! Head to the Johnston Public Library for an hour of fun for kids to play with a variety of blocks and other building materials. Perfect for ages 2-5, but all ages welcome.
Join in for their monthly Nationwide Pet Insurance Adoption Night, featuring their fur-iends at AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & Transport! Meet some of the adorable puppies up for adoption.
September 8, 15 | Homeschool Session, Jester Park Nature Center
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Enrich your homeschool experience with a nature lesson at Jester Park Nature Center. This program series will be delivered in a flexible format that is specially designed for homeschool students in grades K-5. The event is free, but registration is required.
September 8-10 | Just Between Friends Sale, Iowa State Fairgrounds
Thursday (presale, tickets required):
Friday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Grab your BFF, a couple of large shopping bags, and check out this savings extravaganza. You’ll find aisles and aisles of gently used clothes, toys, baby equipment, books, and so much more.
FYI: On Sunday, many items are 50 percent off!
September 8 | Safari Soirée, Blank Park Zoo
Join the Zoo for an evening of wild adventure and marvelous company in support of Blank Park Zoo. The party will get started with the pop of champagne before you and your guests embark on the Safari Soirée.
September 8–24 | Once, Des Moines Playhouse
7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays & 2 p.m. Sundays
Featuring all the magical songs from the critically acclaimed film, including the Oscar-winning “Falling Slowly,” this achingly beautiful, joyously uplifting show strikes an unforgettable chord in audiences and speaks to the power of music to connect us all. A show like that only comes around Once.
September 9, 10, 15 – 17 | Day out with Thomas the Train, Boone Scenic Valley Railroad
Have a train lover in the house? Head to Boone for a day of family fun with Thomas the Train. A ticket for Day Out With Thomas includes a ride behind Thomas the Tank Engine, storytelling and video viewing, temporary tattoos of Island of Sodor friends, an Imagination Station with arts and crafts, a trolley ride, museum admission, and more. Tickets start at $14 per person.
September 9 | Touchdown Tailgate, Cowles Commons Des Moines
11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Head to the best tailgate in town and watch the Iowa vs. Iowa State football game on two Jumbotron TVs. Food trucks and local entertainment will be present. Bring chairs. No outside food or drink permitted. Admission is free. This is a family-friendly event.
September 10 | Vintage in the Valley, Valley Junction
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A fun-filled day for everyone to shop on the streets filled with your favorite vintage sellers, artists, and food vendors.
A Fuzedologist will weld on a custom-fitted piece using a painless, quick, and easy process. So grab your BFF, mom, grandma, sister, or partner, and come on over for your #GetFuzed experience.
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
See five local bands at Heritage Park on Thursdays this fall, beginning September 14 and ending October 12. There will be multiple food trucks with food available for purchase. Please bring a nonperishable food item or a monetary donation to the Grimes Storehouse for admission.
Friday, September 15, 6:30 pm – Jamie Hurd Amphitheater – West Des Moines
Saturday, September 16, 10:30 am – Doanes Park – Pleasant Hill
Come out and enjoy the music of Grammy award-winning children’s performer Dan Zanes and Haitian-American music therapist/jazz vocalist Claudia Zanes. This free event is presented by Des Moines Performing Arts.
The annual festival is a community celebration, steeped in tradition, riddled with charm, and defined by offering an amazing experience for all ages including a carnival, car show, inflatable slides, rides, obstacles, bake sale, pie corner, and more!
Calling all monarch butterfly lovers! Volunteer to assist refuge staff with capturing, tagging, and releasing monarch butterflies. Tagging monarch butterflies enables scientists to track their migration. Event registration is required.
September 16 | Tail Waggin’ Readers, Grimes Library
9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
15 minutes of reading aloud and 5 minutes of play with our therapy dog, Liesl. This event will take place inside and is limited to one child at a time. Call the library to reserve your spot.
Wagon rides, craft fair, and live music.
Listen to music, eat, and enjoy drinks from the Des Moines Biergarten! Bike down, bring the kids, and come have some fun!
Join Des Moines Parks and Rec for a FREE tagging event to learn more about the Monarch butterfly and participate in some hands-on Monarch tagging.
September 22-23 | Oktoberfest, Downtown Des Moines
The annual Oktoberfest returns to Des Moines with all the favorite celebrations including a huge selection of German and craft beers, delicious German food, live music, competitions, a Silent Disco, and much more.
September 23 | Illumifest, West Des Moines
4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Illumifest, A Fall Festival of Light, offers a variety of activities and events for people of all ages! Join them for this family-friendly event from the City of West Des Moines.
September 23 | Vintage and Handmade Fair, Dallas County Fairgrounds in Adel
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visit the best makers and vintage finders from across the Midwest. From antiques and handcrafted goods to food vendors and music, there is much to enjoy. Get a discount on tickets if you buy them in advance online.
September 23-24 | Latino Heritage Festival, Western Gateway Park
Experience the diversity within the Latino community at this festival that showcases performers, artisans, and food vendors. The entire family will enjoy a variety of activities at the cultural booths that offer insights and education into the many countries and cultures that make up the Latino community.
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Swapping, shopping, and more.
September 24 | Grow Wild, Jester Park Nature Center
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This year Polk County Conservation’s largest annual event is being re-imagined to bring you even closer to nature in the broadest of daylight. Catch a butterfly, see a live raptor, study pond ecosystems, investigate prairie insects and flowers, meet a live raptor, learn about sustainability, and so much more.
10 a.m. – 2 p.m
Send us an email if we missed anything, and we’ll add your event to the list.
We work hard to ensure the accuracy of this information. However, you should always call ahead to confirm dates, times, location, and other information before heading to an event or activity, since it may change.