Shop Local – Gift Guide for Outdoorsy Folks

A local gift guide in Des Moines, Iowa for nature lovers!

I love shopping small businesses, and Des Moines has a great selection for nature lovers! I know from personal experience how exciting it can be to get an order in when you are a shop of 1, and also how valuable it is to have experienced staff in local shops to help people get the right gear.  I wrote this list based on my own experiences as well as recommendations from readers and friends. A few businesses paid to include photos and their social media profiles, but no one paid to be on the list! If you know of a shop that belongs here, please say so in the comments and I’ll be happy to add them if I think they are a good fit.

The gift guide is separated into several categories, so keep scrolling and start taking notes! If you start shopping, please let them know that Des Moines Outdoor Fun sent you.

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How We Dress for Fall Outdoor Hiking

Check out these tips and product links for how to dress kids and adults to stay warm (but not too warm!) in fall weather. Fall hiking with kids can be fun if everyone is dressed right! #hikingwithkids #hiking #hikingtips #hikinggear

Think the end of summer means the end of playing outside? The temperature dropped below 50 this week and several of my friends have already started posting “what can we do inside?”, “looks like winter is here, let’s reschedule the park playdate”, etc. Think again!  I have lots of suggestions for kids (and adults!) to wear when playing outside in fall. We really try to get outside daily, all year, and everyone can still enjoy it if you’re dressed right! There is so much fun to be had with crunching leaves, talking about the seasons changing, seeing different colors on the trees, and watching the wind blow sticks up in the air.

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1 Mile Semi-Loop Trail at Walnut Woods State Park

trail for kids at walnut wood state park des moines iowa

Walnut Woods State Park is a gem, and one of our favorite parks when my kids were younger. There are several trails, but we like this one so much we haven’t ever explored further! This is a loop-ish trail; the trail itself is a U and then it’s an easy walk through the open grass to get back to the beginning. My kids love this trail because the way we hike it, there is a playground at the end! It makes for a great motivator. It’s also a great place to see fall leaves, earning it a spot on this list!

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Best Kids Waterproof Boots for Fall

best kids waterproof boots

Boots! This is a list of the best waterproof boots for kids that are on the market right now. My kids feet grow quickly and we are always outside, so I’ve gotten to try all sorts of boot options as they grow up. Even if you don’t hike, I think waterproof boots are a great option since it can be slushy and damp just walking from the car to the library. A few things I avoid are furry linings (they attract burrs and generally look gross after being washed), leather boots (even if they are waterproof, they stay wet, which leads to wet pants and generally sogginess, you can’t dry them very easily), and non-flexible soles (I don’t think they’re good for little feet, and I assume they make it harder to be nimble and climb). Be sure to check out what other gear we wear in cooler temperatures, over in this post about fall hiking clothes!

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Best Places to see Fall Leaves in Des Moines

Places to see fall leaves around Des Moines, Iowa -- tips for fall foliage in Central Iowa!

The leaves are starting to turn so I thought I’d share a list of my favorite places to see fall foliage around the Des Moines area! Several of these have observation towers or taller trails where you can see for miles, and all of them have pretty trees with lots of colors. If you’re really feeling the fall mood, you can also check out 11 places to pick pumpkins around Iowa.

Traditionally, the best time for fall colors in central Iowa is the first through third weeks of October – you can see more about fall color forecasting and information about different tree leaves on the Iowa DNR website. Please let me know if I’ve missed any of your favorite spots! I will be exploring lots of these and adding pretty fall pictures, but I’ve found the closest I could on Instagram for each location.

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