Many of our favorite summer Des Moines activities have been postponed or canceled for 2020. But don’t you worry. We’ve got your back. Here is a list of some of the ways you can have a fun and socially distanced summer while enjoying some of the best Des Moines has to offer — virtually.
Do your kids miss going to the zoo to see Misha the tiger or to watch the seals splash around? You can bring the Blank Park Zoo to your kids with their virtual education programs and zoo webcams.
For activities your family can do at home, head over to the zoo’s YouTube channel for a library of educational videos and arts and crafts projects. Spend a Saturday learning about Donald the Alligator. Then head into the kitchen and test your kids’ culinary skills by whipping up some hedgehog quesadillas. Yum!
Don’t worry, the zoo hasn’t forgotten about all the adults working from home. Need to liven up your next Zoom meeting? Invite a sea lion, llama, or rhino to your next video conference call. It’s sure to be a hit.
The State Historical Society has taken their youth and family programs online. The Goldie’s Kids Club, starring Goldie the eastern goldfinch, introduces children 12 years and younger to Iowa history. Goldie’s summer expeditions allow children to visit state historic sites and Iowa museums, and explore Iowa history topics from home.
In March, the art center launched virtual tours of their permanent collections and special exhibitions. The tours allow visitors to click through the extensive collections as if they were at the museum. Spend a Saturday morning walking through the John Brady Print Gallery taking in drawings, photographs, and prints that explore the work of women artists who found their creative inspiration in science. The Des Moines Art Center is also offering virtual summer camps for children ages 6 to 15, for either a one week or six-week program. Youth will explore and grow in their creativity through painting, drawing, cartooning, and mixed media.
Every Saturday morning from May to October, thousands of Des Moines residents and tourists head to Court Avenue to visit their favorite vendors, listen to live music, and meet up with friends and family.
You can’t enjoy the farmers’ market live, but you can still connect with your favorite local small businesses through the Downtown Farmers’ Marketplace Online. The virtual marketplace allows you to order from vendors and coordinate delivery and pick-up options.
The Des Moines Arts Festival began in 1958 and has since become one of the signature art events in the city. While in quarantine and working from home, festival staff have been busy finding ways to still connect artists with the community.
Head on over to the festival’s YouTube page for episodes of @ Home With the Des Moines Arts Festival, interviews with artists, and highlights from past festivals.
The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa aka RAGBRAI is going virtual! Everything that makes RAGBRAI fun and memorable has been moved online. From Saturday, July 18 to July 25 participants will receive daily mile challenges, can participate in a daily theme, and partake in events like the Rhubarb Rumble virtual pie-eating contest. Because what is RAGBRAI without pie?
The Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO) will not be going dark this summer. Their annual summer opera festival that typically runs from May through July will be shared online and through televised productions.
In partnership with Iowa PBS, recent productions of Billy Bud, Rusalka, Manon, Le Comte Ory, and Bon Appetit! will be available to watch starting Sunday, June 28. You will also have access to artist recitals, cast reunions, interviews, prelude talks, and digital versions of annual DMMO events.
Let us know some of the other ways you’ve been
enjoying Des Moines virtually this summer.