As the snow melts and the trees begin to bloom, there’s a certain energy that returns to the air, especially in a place with harsh winters like Iowa. But no more so than in the early days of summer. As a kid, that meant never wearing shoes, devouring endless books for summer reading, picking raspberries in the backyard, and escaping to the lake for a long weekend.
Even though I no longer have summers off, I try to approach summer with the same sense of excitement. And while I’m not a big fan of the oppressive humidity or buzzing mosquitos that accompany the season, there are a lot of things I absolutely adore about Des Moines in the summer.
So to celebrate the first day of summer, I decided to compile some of my favorite activities around Des Moines that take full advantage of the season.
Loads of Live Music
One of my favorite parts about warmer weather arriving is the return of live music outdoors. Des Moines is lucky to have not only a handful of quality music festivals like80/35 and Hinterland Music Festival, but also great outdoor concert series like Nitefall on the River and Jasper Winery‘s summer concerts throughout the summer.
Exercise & Explore
Even in the heat, summer in Iowa is the best time to get outdoors and be active. If you have a yin for yoga, check out POP UP YOGA DSM or catch a class in a local park courtesy of the Des Moines Parks & Recreation. If cycling is more your calling, hop on one of the city’s many trails and make a night of it. My personal favorite ride is to Cumming Tap in Cumming, Iowa for their Wednesday steak night.
No matter your age, there are certain activities that become seasonal staples. For me those Des Moines essentials are spending an afternoon watching the Iowa Cubs at Principal Park, chilling with some cute animals at one of Blank Park Zoo’s weekly Zoo Brews, and enjoying a free flick on the lawn of the Des Moines Art Center.
Fantastic Festivals & Fairs
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good summer festival. Luckily in Des Moines and its surrounding area, we have a lot of them. While the Iowa State Fair is a favorite of many, my personal picks include the Des Moines Arts Festival and Indianola’s National Balloon Classic.
There’s nothing better than dining al fresco in the summertime, and now Des Moines has more options than ever. From the Downtown Farmers’ Market to the city’s many food trucks, there’s no shortage of options for nontraditional dining. Feeling overwhelmed? Some of my favorite restaurants around also have fantastic patios perfect for the warmer weather.
Share Your Thoughts
I would love to hear from you! What are your favorite things to do in Des Moines during the summer? What do you love most about summer in your city?