Fun and safe indoor family activities in the Des Moines area this winter

Des Moines Register

Published 6:43 p.m. CT Oct. 26, 2020


With temperatures falling and autumn in full force, what can families do to get out of the house safely — and warmly — while the pandemic is still a very real threat?

Fortunately, the metro area offers a multitude of venues and activities that provide a day or night out with the family while keeping COVID-19 precautions a top priority.

Catch a Flick 

Movie theaters are beginning to open up, and restrictions such as social distancing with seat reservations and changes to concessions make catching a movie a safer activity for the family.

Buy Photo

The XLDigital theater at the Palms Theatres and IMAX in Waukee. (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave, The Register)

The Palms Theatres (200 NE Eastgate Dr., Waukee) is showing favorite classic and family-friendly movies, or you can call ahead and take advantage of their curbside pickup of movie popcorn and treats and take in a movie in your living room. Tuesdays, The Palms offers bargain prices. See what’s playing at 

Flix Brewhouse (Merle Hay Mall, 1300 Merle Hay Road) has employed a host of preventive measures to make sure patrons are safe, with social distancing, using single-use items to order and eat food and even installing a high-tech air ionization air purifying system. Flix is also showing seasonal family favorites as well as other new movies on a limited basis. Thursdays, each seat is just $5.25. Reserve your seat at

Buy Photo

Flix Brewhouse at Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines. (Photo: Brian Powers/The Register)

At Ankeny 12 B&B Theatres (1580 SW Market St., Ankeny) look for kids’ movies and family-friendly holiday favorites coming soon at the Ankeny location of B&B Theatres. Kids can also take advantage of the Outtakes Arcade to play games and win some prizes. Visit to see what’s showing.

Play Around

Find a safe place to play inside at one of these establishments.

The Des Moines Children’s Museum is back at Valley West Mall (1551 Valley West Drive, West Des Moines). The museum offers a large venue to socially distance while playing and exploring. Kids ages 5 and over are asked to wear a mask. Current hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs. and Fri., and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. A family yearly membership is $125. Learn more at

Buy Photo

Jackson Powell, of Ankeny, makes his way down an inflatable slide at The Playground For Kids in Ankeny. (Photo: Holly McQueen/The Register)

Let the kids run off some steam at The Playground for Kids (2401 SE Tones Dr., Suite 7, Ankeny ), a 9,000-square-foot indoor playground facility with inflatables, an enormous treehouse play structure and other fun activities. Beginning Nov. 2, they will offer extended hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Sat. Follow their Facebook page at to see specials and upcoming special events.

Although there is a 21-and-over area at Smash Park (6625 Coach Light Dr., West Des Moines), kids and families are welcome in all other areas of the huge food and fun entertainment center. Owners just invested in an upgraded air ventilation system to better ensure the health of their patrons, along with added outdoor heaters so The Yard can stay open longer with its outdoor games. Inside, kids can play board games, card games and even video games. Check out Erin Huiatt’s review of their family’s experience at and follow Smash Park’s Facebook page at for updates on specials and any changes.

Buy Photo

Guests play pickleball at Smash Park, an activity-based restaurant and bar in West Des Moines. (Photo: Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register)

Throw a Strike

Bowling is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening with kids of all ages without having to stretch the budget too much. And visiting with one another between turns at the lanes is an added bonus. 

Air Lanes (4200 Fleur Drive) offers affordable family fun with open lanes at various times throughout the week and weekend. Purchase a family pack and get two hours of bowling, shoes and a bag of popcorn for up to six people for $59.95. Call 285-8632 to find out open bowling times. 

Enjoy comfy couches, neon lights, huge TV screens and bowling balls that look like pool balls at B-Roll Bowling, located with Ankeny 12 B&B Theatres (1580 SW Market St., Ankeny). Rent a lane for $25 an hour for up to six guests. Reserve a lane online and get a preview of the unique bowling experience at

Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl and Grill in Altoona. (Photo: Special to the Register)

Bowl under the ocean at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill (1000 Bass Pro Drive, Altoona), with custom bowling balls that include the likenesses of octopuses, mermaids and more along with under-the-sea decor. During COVID-19, apply for the Kids Bowl Free program at, which is good for 60 minutes for up to four guests per lane. 

Learn a Thing or Two

With the reopening of the Des Moines Art Center (4700 Grand Ave.), you can enjoy a free outing learning about art and culture. Reserve a timed ticket up to 30 days in advance to ensure social distancing, and make sure to bring a mask. Instead of wandering through the galleries on your own, you’ll find a path to follow throughout the collections. The shop is also open for socially distanced shopping, with restrictions to the number of visitors at one time. Learn more and schedule your visit at

The Science Center of Iowa (401 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway) is currently open Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and requires face masks for ages 2 and older. You’ll want to go before January 10 to see “Sue: The T. Rex Experience,” along with the other activities and exhibitions at the Science Center. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the hands-on experiences that include nearly all branches of science, engineering and technology. Visit to purchase tickets in advance.

Buy Photo

Thousands drive though the Blank Park Zoo parking lot to see lighted displays Thursday, April 2, 2020. (Photo: Zach Boyden-Holmes/Pool, The Register)

The animals are still out at Blank Park Zoo (7401 SW 9th St.), so bundle up and pay them a visit. Masks are required upon entry. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. It’s encouraged to purchase an anytime ticket before you go at Ahead of your visit, visit the website or their Facebook page to learn about the animals you’ll see and find out about any special upcoming events, especially during the holiday season. 

Read or Share this story:

Source Article

Wednesday November 2, 2022