Why Des Moines is the root to Iowa family fun

“You can’t plant a seed without getting your hands dirty,” Mariah Dillard

So, let’s get to the root of the problem. Life is busy for both parents and kids. We manage our to-do’s and bury ourselves in technology. We are losing connection (no pun intended) with our children and our spouse. Instead, we should be planting the seed on quality family time.

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Here are 5 Dog Friendly Activities to try in Des Moines this Summer

Looking for some activities to do with “man’s best friend” this summer?  We’ve rounded up 5 fun dog-friendly Des Moines area activities to try. 

Cool down with a Puppy Cone from Snookies Malt Shop

1810 Beaver Ave, Des Moines

Snookies Malt Shop is a staple in the Beaverdale neighborhood and locals love its dog-friendly patio.  Snookies is only open from mid-April to early fall, so it’s the perfect summertime activity to do with your dog.  Need another reason besides the great soft-serve ice cream, shakes, malts and tasty desserts? How about free “puppy cones” to all good puppers who visit!  Puppy Cones are tiny little vanilla ice cream cones that also provide the perfect photo opp of your pup to share on Instagram.  Beaverdale resident Ashley Friday puts it best, “My dog Ruby looks forward to opening day as much as I do. It’s not really summer until we get our first pup cone!”

Spend a Saturday morning at the Des Moines Farmers’ Market

Court Ave, Des Moines

Ranked as the #2 Top Farmers’ Market in the US by Shape Magazine the Des Moines Farmers’ Market is a great way to spend a Saturday morning for both your and your pup.  The farmers’ market welcomes leashed and well-behaved pooches to visit and browse the over 300 vendors.  There are a lot of dogs that stroll around Court Avenue so it gives your dog plenty of opportunity to socialize.  Pro-tip: get there early! The Des Moines’ Farmers’ Market is a popular spot and can get crowded as the day goes on.  If your dog doesn’t like crowds, it could become a stressful situation.

Socialize for a good cause during the Animal Rescue League “Yappy Hour”

Multiple locations and times – Schedule here

Drinks on a patio for a good cause? Sign us up!  The Yappy Hour series is a dog-friendly patio event that benefits the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.  There are happy hour drink specials and admission is free.  It’s a great way to spend a sunny afternoon with friends and your pup can make some friends as well.   With multiple locations and dates, there’s sure to be one that fits your schedule.

Catch a fly ball during the Dog Days of Summer with the Iowa Cubs

Principal Park – 1 Line Dr, Des Moines

Each summer the Iowa Cubs offer a Dog Days of Summer event that benefits the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.  Principal Park goes “to the dogs” with a dog parade before the game, bandanas for all the four-legged participants, water stations and specials on hot dogs for hungry baseball fans. When asked about their favorite part of the event, Des Moines resident Jane Slusark said, “It’s so much fun to see all the dogs at the game.  We bring the whole family, and it’s a great way to spend a summer evening”. Tickets are $16 and 100% of the ticket price goes towards caring for homeless animals in the metro area.  It’s great family-fun, but don’t wait until the last minute.  This even usually sells out!

Sip Margaritas on the patio at MALO

MALO – 900 Mulberry St

There are quite a few dog-friendly patios in Downtown Des Moines, but we are partial towards MALO and their tasty margaritas!  MALO has 10 dog-friendly outdoor tables on their patio and they provide plenty of shade on sunny days.  Don’t forget to grab the churritos dessert with the Mexican chocolate dipping sauce…just don’t share that one with you dog!

Where is your favorite place to take your pup in Des Moines?  Share in the comments.

Top 5 low-cost summer activities in Des Moines

You don’t have to break the bank when looking for summer activities in the Des Moines area. You can choose from many great low-cost options. It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting the capital city for the first time or a local resident. You can have a lot of fun in the sun and still go easy on your wallet. You can start by looking into these five options in the Des Moines area.

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The One Street Challenge: Eat your way through Valley Junction

Welcome to our newest series: the One Street Challenge! Each month we challenge ourselves to eat every meal on one street in the Des Moines area. Per official challenge rules (that we wrote ourselves…) we’ll spend one day, eating three meals and after dinner drinks without leaving the area. This month’s destination is so good it almost feels like we’re cheating. Join us as we eat our way down fifth street in Valley Junction.

Breakfast anyone?

Start the day on a healthier note at Big Acai Bowl. This restaurant got its start as a food truck that’s grown into two brick and mortar locations. Jake, the owner, discovered a love for healthy eating after moving to California and lucky for us he brought that knowledge back to Des Moines. Here you’ll find the magic that started it all, the acai bowl (think a fancy smoothie in a bowl with stuff on top). You can also find an assortment of smoothies, coffee, and avocado toasts. We’ll take a classic bowl with mixed berries and a mango picante toast.

Big Acai Bowl
117 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Time for lunch!

Next up is The Tavern. It’s a notably less healthy option than breakfast but, as a true Valley Junction staple, it can’t be missed. The Tavern opened during the Great Depression and has only been owned by two families—first the Rileis who then sold it to Chuck Celsi in 1988. They’re known for their thin crust pizza but the true hero here is the onion rings—trust us on this one! We’re digging into The Works and side of onion rings with #noregrets.

The Tavern
205 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Dinner’s on!

Whether we’re spending the whole day or just stopping by for dinner, a visit to Cooper’s on 5th is pretty much required in our book. Cooper’s serves classy comfort food and boy are they good at it. We recommend the mac and cheese with kielbasa added (so good!) or the port braised short ribs and you can’t leave without trying one of their signature egg rolls. Erm..Egg rolls? Stick with us here—Cooper’s features a different egg roll each day and with flavors like chicken parmesan and Philly cheesesteak, these aren’t at all what you’re expecting. 

Pro-tip: Take a look across the street as you leave Cooper’s—Mr. Cooper himself is about to open up The Winchester Pub. We asked him about this new venture and he says he’s trying to fill a gap in the Valley Junction area. We have a great sports bar and dive bar but there isn’t a nice place you can go for a drink after work. We wholeheartedly agree and can’t wait to add The Winchester to our list of favorite places.

Cooper’s on 5th
227 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Time for a nightcap

We’re rounding out our perfect day of food with a stop at Vino209. Vino209 has an excellent lunch and dinner menu prepared by executive chef Andrew Phelps but we like to stop at the end of the night for dessert and glass of wine. They feature live music every Tuesday and free wine tastings on Wednesdays so plan your trip accordingly!

Pro-tip: Can’t decide which wine to try? We recommend a flight. For $18 you can sample four different wines which they assured me these aren’t your standard grocery store selections. Luckily, if you love you choice, you have the option to buy a bottle to take home!

Vino209
209 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Next up—we’re heading to the East Village! Let us know where we should go in the comments.

Seven family-friendly activities in Des Moines

Spring is finally here and the weather is warming up – don’t spend your weekend at home.  Check out these great activities in Des Moines for your whole family.

Blank Park Zoo

The Blank Park Zoo offers activities and sights to last your family a few hours or an entire day.  Don’t forget to visit the Kids Kingdom to give your kids some playtime.  You’ll pay a reasonable admission price based upon your kid’s ages – and kids age 2 and under are free!  For an additional fee, schedule a behind-the-scenes tour and check out animals like the giraffes, sea lions or wallabies.

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