Iowa State Fairgrounds Playground

the playground at iowa state fair

The Iowa State Fairgrounds’ playground is fun to explore year round! When we first moved here, a local mom tipped me off to the cheapest way to check out the Iowa State Fair with young kids: going the night before they open! The animals are all there, the playground is open, and some of the food vendors are happy to serve up some food on a stick. I prefer the fair in all its sweaty, crowded, crazy glory during the week, but it occurred to me that the playground would be great to visit when it wasn’t so busy. We had a great time playing on the wooden train playground and the climbing wall; it would be a great place to take a walk with strollers too. The fairgrounds often host animal shows and the barns are free to walk around in, check their calendar to see what else you might check out after the playground!

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Strasser Woods State Preserve

strasser woods state preserve

Strasser Woods State Preserve is a 40 acre chunk of heavily wooded land with dirt paths, making it a nice place to take a hike if you’re over by the Iowa State Fairgrounds. There is no published trail map; the trail we explored to the right had relatively steep wooden steps for quite a while.

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Margo Frankel Woods State Park – Des Moines, Iowa

margo frankel woods state park des moines iowa saylorville (1)

Margo Frankel Woods State Park is a hidden gem with minimal internet presence, but I have been there myself and can promise it’s worth the trip! The first playground, right as you drive in, is fun, with a shaded shelter tucked back in the woods. The trail is a little hidden, tucked behind the red gate on the south side of the parking lot. Along that trail, you’ll see a long wooden staircase going up, and there is another playground and shelter up there.

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