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



With temperatures dropping and autumn in force, what can families do to get out of the home safely – and warmly – when the pandemic remains a very real threat?

Fortunately, the metropolitan area offers a plethora of places and activities that offer a family day or evening while keeping COVID-19 precautions a top priority.

Watch a movie

Movie theaters are starting to open, and restrictions like social distancing with seat reservations and changes to concessions make watching a movie a safer activity for the family.

The Palm Theaters (200 NE Eastgate Dr., Waukee) shows favorite classic and family movies, or you can call ahead and enjoy their curbside popcorn and goodies drive and watch a movie in your living room. On Tuesdays, The Palms offers bargain prices. See what’s playing

Flix Brewery (Merle Hay Mall, 1300 Merle Hay Road) has used a host of preventative measures to ensure customers are safe, with social distancing, using single-use items to order and eat food and even in installing a high-tech air ionization air purification system. Flix also streams seasonal family favorite movies as well as other new movies on a limited basis. On Thursdays, each seat costs just $ 5.25. Reserve your place at

A Ankeny 12 B&B Theaters (1580 SW Market St., Ankeny) Find kids ‘movies and favorite family vacation movies soon at B&B Theaters’ Ankeny location. Children can also take advantage of the Outtakes Arcade to play games and win prizes. Visit to see what is displayed.


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

The Monks Children Museum is back at Valley West Mall (1551 Valley West Drive, West Des Moines). The museum provides a great space to socially distance yourself while playing and exploring. Children aged 5 and over are requested to wear a mask. The current hours are 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. and Fri, and 10 am-5pm Sat An annual family membership is $ 125. Learn more about

Let the children let off steam at The playground for children (2401 SE Tones Dr., Suite 7, Ankeny), a 9,000 square foot indoor play area with inflatables, huge tree play structure and other fun activities. From November 2, they will offer extended hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday. and 9 am-12pm Sat. Follow their Facebook page on to see specials and upcoming special events.

Although there is a 21 and over zone at Smash Park (6625 Coach Light Dr., West Des Moines) Children and families are welcome in all other areas of the huge food and entertainment center. The owners just invested in an improved ventilation system to better ensure the health of their guests, as well as additional outdoor heaters so The Yard can stay open longer with its outdoor games. Indoors, kids can play board games, card games, and even video games. Read Erin Huiatt’s review of their family’s experience at and follow the Smash Park Facebook page on for updates on promotions and any changes.

Start 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 each other between bends on the tracks is an added bonus.

Airway (4200 Fleur Drive) offers affordable family entertainment with lanes open at various times of the week and weekend. Buy 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 for bowling opening hours.

Enjoy comfy sofas, neon lights, huge TV screens, and bowling balls that look like billiard balls in B-Roll Bowling, located with Ankeny 12 B&B Theaters (1580 SW Market St., Ankeny). Rent a track for $ 25 an hour for up to six people. Book a lane online and get a glimpse of the unique bowling experience at

Bowl under the ocean at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill (1000 Bass Pro Drive, Altoona), featuring custom bowling balls that include likenesses of octopuses, mermaids, and more, as well as underwater 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 Monks Art Center (4700 Grand Ave.), you can take a free outing to explore art and culture. Book a timed ticket up to 30 days in advance to ensure social distancing and be sure to bring a mask. Instead of wandering through the galleries on your own, you’ll find a path to follow through the collections. The store is also open for social distance shopping, with restrictions on the number of visitors at a time. Find out more and plan your visit on

The Iowa Science Center (401 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway) is currently open Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays and requires face masks for ages 2 and up. You’ll want to be there before January 10 to see “Sue: The T. Rex Experience,” as well as the other Science Center activities and exhibits. Children and adults alike will enjoy hands-on experiences that include almost all branches of science, engineering, and technology. Visit to buy tickets in advance.

The animals are always outside at Pristine park zoo (7401 SW 9th St.), so bundle up and pay them a visit. Masks are compulsory at the entrance. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is recommended to purchase a ticket anytime before traveling to Before your visit, visit the website or their Facebook page to learn more about the animals you will see and special events to come, especially during the holiday season.



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