Sometimes it’s too cold to stay out very long but my kids still desperately need some open space to jump, run, and move their bodies. If you’re looking for ways to expend energy indoors with gross motor play but not necessarily find nature, there are quite a few options around the area, and I decided to make a list! I included indoor play gyms, indoor playgrounds, trampoline parks, bounce houses, gymnastics open gyms, mall play gyms, bowling lanes, indoor ice skating, roller skating rinks, laser tag, indoor golf, and rock climbing. Please click through to check on prices, times, and seasons. The local YMCAs, each city’s parks & rec department, and all of the libraries offer sporadic classes for all ages, as well.
Take a look at the official, most updated list of Indoor Play in Des Moines below.
If you’re looking for places to play inside that have nature (and not playgrounds or opportunities for big physical movements, like this list), go check out this post of where to find nature indoors around Des Moines, Iowa! If you combine these two lists with all of the local libraries, I feel like you have a pretty comprehensive list of where to keep kids entertained indoors.
Indoor Play Options around Des Moines, Iowa
- The new Des Moines Children’s Museum! I’m so excited about this, we have visited while I volunteered and my kids loved it. There isn’t a ton of big movement stuff but there is a Pikler triangle to climb, a bridge to stomp over, and some fun pretend play camping sets (along with lots of other things).
- Two wood playground showrooms that allow for open play.
- Rainbow of The Heartland- Iowa Rainbow has trampolines, is more expensive, and a denser play area with bigger structures.
- Backyard Adventures Backyard Adventures is more open so it’s easier to see your kids, cheaper, and busier.
- Several indoor play gyms, all of them free except Imagination Playschool (cheap) and Playground for Kids (pricier) and with different age recommendations. We have been to almost all of these, so I’ll put a blurb about what is included after each one.
- Valley Community Center Free, a small play gym next to the coffee shop with soft blocks for babies, tunnels, a slide, and a soft climbing incline, similar to a fast food place. It can be quite crowded, parents frequently leave their kids unattended. They also have regular, inexpensive classes and a ‘tot town’ open play in the much larger gym that we have enjoyed much more.
- Imagination Playschool Cheap, nice big space with lots of bikes and small climbers. Soft foam blocks to build with and a small swing set.
- West Des Moines Community Center (pg 17 of their brochure). Free, haven’t been in several years, at the time it was pretty bare-bones with a few riding toys and a teeter-totter.
- Playground for Kids
- Several inflatables bounce house type places
- Pump it Up There are two separate rooms with large inflatables, at least one of which is difficult to see when your kids are inside. There are a few candy/crane-type games up at the front. There aren’t any inflatables geared towards younger kids, but my scrappy 2-year-old enjoys it. Super clean, the staff are friendly and engage with the kids, we enjoy this place.
- Hop-a-lot Rentals
- Two indoor trampoline parks
- Get Air
- Sky Zone We have attended their toddler time and had a good time, they limit the number of people inside so it never feels too crowded. You do have to purchase special socks on top of admission.
- Urban Air Adventure Park
- Gymnastics centers with open gyms
- Triad Gymnastics
- Mid-Iowa Gymnastics (pictured above) The open gym at Mid-Iowa is so much fun, my kids love the climbing net, long trampoline, and balance beams. We have been a few times, even when my littlest was under 1 and a confident walker, and had a great time.
- Sapphire Gymnastics
- Malls with indoor play gyms
- Valley West is Usually busy and pretty crowded with several medium-height climbing elements.
- Merle Hay is the youngest of the 3, with lots of low, easy elements and a fair amount of open space for running.
- Jordan Creek is very busy, with the largest area and most varied elements, including a few small slides and the best climbing options.
- Bass Pro was very pricey but my kids had fun with the ambiance.
- Warrior Lanes Very clean and family-friendly, my kids have enjoyed bowling here.
- Val Lanes
- Bowlerama Lanes
- Great Escape
- Indoor Ice Skating with open skates (there are other locations that offer lessons)
- Roller skating rinks around Des Moines, Iowa. We haven’t visited any of these, but I know Skate North has special events where toddlers can bring riding toys and zoom around, check out how DesMoinesParent.com got along at their open skate!
- Indoor Laser Tag
- Rock Climbing in Des Moines, Iowa
- Climb Iowa
- Jester Park (Granger, Iowa)