Things to do in Des Moines October 2023

This article is sponsored by Living History Farms.

OCTOBER EVENTS GUIDE DES MOINESLiving History Farms has a townful of treats for your little tricksters!

Visit storefronts in the 1876 town of Walnut Hill, where you’ll collect treats and trinkets. Try old-fashioned games in the 150-year-old barn. Take a twilight ride in a horse-drawn wagon. Listen to enchanting storytellers in the Prairie Gothic church.

October EventsDates and times:

  • Friday, October 20, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 21, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 22, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Friday, October 27, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 28, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 29, 4p.m. – 7 pm.

Cost: $9 per person or $8 for members. Children 1 and under are free.


For Halloween-themed events happening in the metro, check out our haunted houses guide and Halloween events guide.  

Ongoing Events in Des Moines

Tuesday & Thursdays | Toddler Time, Get Air
10 a.m.
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
11 a.m.
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.

2nd Friday of the Month | Parent & Me Drop-In Art Class, Valley Community Center
10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Join in as they explore simple techniques for beginner artists.

Things to Do in Des Moines October 2023

October 1 | Fall Family Fun, Brenton Slough
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Celebrate fall with your family at Brenton Slough with INHF and Polk County Conservation! Families can enjoy an interpretive hayrack ride, nature crafts, and other activities, all celebrating the interesting plants and animals found on the 1,100-acre property near Grimes that may become central Iowa’s newest park.

October 1 | Beautiful Land Pop-Up Market, Fareway Ames
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Join them for their biggest outdoor market yet! A carefully curated market featuring over 70 local makers, vintage collectors, food trucks, and live music in the heart of Ames.

October 3 – 8 | Beetlejuice, Des Moines Civic Center
With an irreverent book, an astonishing set, and a score that’s out of this Netherworld, BEETLEJUICE is “SCREAMINGLY GOOD FUN!” (Variety). And under its uproarious surface (six feet under, to be exact), it’s a remarkably touching show about family, love, and making the most of every Day-O!
October 6 | Pie in the Face 4.0, Key Potential Chiropractic Waukee
5 p.m.
Join them for their 4th annual Pie in the Face at Key Potential Chiropractic, bring your family, children, and neighbors! There will be pie, ice cream, live music, games and more!
October 6 | Moonlit Movies: The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jaime Hurd Amphitheater
7 p.m.
The movie will begin at 7 p.m., but join in starting at 6:15 p.m. for free popcorn, soda, and a spooky craft. Bring chairs or blankets to sit on and a blanket to keep warm. You are welcome to pack your own snacks and beverages to enjoy as well – no glass containers, please. Costumes are welcome and encouraged!
October 6 | Movie in the Park – Hocus Pocus, Colby Park
6:15 p.m.
Head to Windsor Heights for a Movie in the Park. They will show Hocus Pocus and serve free pizza, popcorn, soda, and cookies.

October 6, 13 | Homeschool Session, Jester Park Nature Center
October 6 at 10 a.m., October 13 at 1 p.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.

October 7 |  Wauktoberfest, Waukee Downtown Triangle
4:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
The Waukee Area Historical Society is hosting a good old-fashioned German Fest. Bring your beer steins and lederhosen. Suede takes the stage at 8 p.m.
October 7 – 8 | Iowa State Fair Flea Market, Iowa State Fair
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Find antiques, collectibles, home décor, jewelry, purses, bags and more at the Iowa State Fair Flea Market in the newly renovated 4-H Exhibits Building.
October 7; 14; 21; 28 | Outdoor Cinema Halloween Series, Uptown Ankeny 
7:30 p.m.
Enjoy a free, spooky outdoor movie! 
October 10 – 11 | Bluey’s Big Play, Des Moines Civic Center
6 p.m.
Join the Heelers in their first live theatre show made just for you, featuring brilliantly created puppets, this is Bluey as you’ve never seen it before, brought to real life.
October 11 | The Night Before Christmas, Doe a Deer
4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Join them for their big HOLIDAY reveal before they open up to the public. This is a TICKETED EVENT with 2 time slots (4:30-6 & 6:30-8). Tickets are $25 and go on sale on September 26 at 9 a.m.
October 14 | Wine Not, Rustic Swan Ankeny
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Lucky Wife & Rustic Swan are joining forces to bring you a day full of adult slushies and shopping what more could you want?

October 14 | Raccoon River Rally, Raccoon River Park
11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Don’t miss this free family-friendly event at Raccoon River Park celebrating West Des Moines’ community and waters. Attractions for the event include a morning bike ride, live music, cardboard boat races, a vendor fair with fun activities for kids, a beer tent, and food trucks.

October 14 | Royal Flooring Fall Festival, Royal Flooring
12 p.m.
Join in at the Royal Flooring Fall Festival, where the best of local craftsmanship meets the warmth of the autumn season. Discover unique finds, support local talent, and elevate your home’s style as you prepare to welcome the changing seasons with open arms.

October 15 | Halloween Boo-quet Centerpiece with Wildflower Factory, The Brenton Arboretum
2 p.m. 4 p.m.
Embrace the spooky month of October and create your very own pumpkin centerpiece. Learn the ins and outs of creating a floral arrangement using a pumpkin as your vase. Each ticket will go home with one “spooky” looking pumpkin centerpiece.

October 20 | Goats! No School Day Camp, Kids Create
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Join in for this incredibly fun camp all about Goats and Art! Students will use a variety of mediums to create their masterpieces, cuddle the baby goat guests, play at the park, and more! Students will create, learn, play, and relax during this memorable camp.

October 21 | A Spook-tacular Consignment Event, 4100 Merle Hay Rd
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Get everything you need for every stage from infant to teen in one location.

October 21-22 | Great Iowa Pet Expo, Iowa State Fairgrounds 4H Building
If your family recently added a pet to the family (or are considering a new furry friend), you should check out the pet expo for product ideas and info on training and adoptables. Tickets are $6-$10 and available online.

October 22 | DMLS – Gem, Jewelry, Mineral & Fossil Show, Iowa State Fair Elwell Family Food Center
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
This event is family-friendly, with children’s activities, speakers, demonstrations, displays, and much more to see. 20+ Vendors from across the United States.

October 25 | New Point Church Fall Festival, New Point Church
6 p.m.
Join in for games, trunk or treat, chili cook-off, inflatables, and much more!

October 25 | Dirty Dancing in Concert, Des Moines Performing Arts
6:30 p.m.
Enjoy the digitally remastered hit film like never before on a full-size cinema screen, with a live band and singers performing the film’s iconic songs. With a soundtrack that marked a generation, Dirty Dancing in Concert promises to bring a thrilling new and unique experience to the 80s classic.

October 25 | Paint and Sip, Pots & Shots
6 p.m.
Join in at Pots & Shots — a gorgeous plant shop and cocktail lounge — for an evening of painting fun and plant shopping! Paint “Cacti Help You?” on canvas. Registration includes two hours of instruction, all supplies, and an 11×14-inch canvas to take home. Enjoy Pots & Shots’ full menu, for purchase before/during/after the event.

October 26 | Family Workshop: Pumpkin Bread, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
Full of familiar fall spices and fresh pumpkin flavor, this homemade pumpkin bread is sure to be a winner for all ages. Learn more about the iconic pumpkin as we explore basic cooking skills, create fresh pumpkin purée, and prepare a loaf to take home and enjoy. Youth must be accompanied by an adult. One adult is required for every three youth participants. Registration required.

October 27-November 5 | Seussical the Musical, Des Moines Playhouse
This show is geared toward young audiences. 

October 29 | Let’s Go West, Central Iowa Wind Ensemble, Franklin Jr. High
3 p.m. 
Get ready for an exhilarating musical journey. This foot-stompin’ extravaganza will take you on a wild ride through the heart of the Wild West.

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.



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