Big Creek State Park – Park Visit

big creek state park big creek beach des moines iowa polk city

Did you know there is a big wooden playground right here in the Des Moines area! We discovered it a few summers ago by accident and have returned ever since, it is so unique and fun. Big Creek State Park has a swimming beach, the big playground, paved trails, and lots of boating options. It’s pretty big, and we actually spent over and hour looking for the trails last time we went, so keep reading for pictures of what to expect and where to look!

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Indoor Hike at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

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We love the Des Moines Botanical Center! I didn’t have very high hopes for it being kid friendly when we visited for the first time, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a great way to feel like you’re outside, even when the weather is gross. They have specific kid programming regularly, which we’ve never attended, and then random enrichment stations spread around the indoor area. I did take an adult class that I loved, you can see the pressed flower art I made over at my crafting blog.

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Hiking in Winterset City Park

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I love Winterset City Park!! I don’t remember why we drove down there last summer, and we couldn’t find much information about the hike, but I’m so glad that we did. Clark Tower is super unique and fun, and I have some helpful tips about the hike up to see it. This park has something for everyone with a hedge maze, bocce ball court, covered bridge, stone bridge, playgrounds, and of course the trail to see the tower.

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Ironwood Park (aka the Pirate Ship Park) in Altoona, Iowa – Park Visit

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When we first moved here from Cedar Falls, I always asked new acquaintances what their favorite local park was and “the pirate ship park” was one of the most frequent responses. It took a little digging to figure out what park that actually was (and there are a few other ship – themed playgrounds in the area) but Ironwood Park is it! This park isn’t huge, but it has some quirky art and fun pirate details that make it well worth the drive.

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Miracle Park in Ankeny, Iowa – Park Visit

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Miracle Park in Ankeny is one of the two large playgrounds in the area that were designed to be inclusive of all children (the other is Ashley Okland Star Playground) and it is full of unique things to play with and climb. There are elements for kids of all ages and my only warning would be that I think it would be tricky with kids who tend to run off. The larger playground is very dense and it’s easy to lose sight of kids, I was glad that my son had bright green shorts on when we went. The rubber footing is great for younger kids who eat wood chips, for when you want to avoid mud, and for kids who struggle with uneven terrain. It is open during school hours; there is a school nearby but new fences have been installed to separate their playground from Miracle Park (see an update on this here).We visited this park last summer, so the pictures are all from then.

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