Editor’s note: This blog originally appeared in November 2020 and was updated on November 16, 2023.
We get it. It’s tempting to avoid the chill and hibernate indoors during the winter season. But what if this year we donned our coziest layers and embraced winter instead? Des Moines offers plenty of opportunities to indulge in the activities and excitement of the season, so check out our list and make plans to welcome winter with open arms.
ICE SKATE AT THE BRENTON SKATING PLAZA
It’s time to lace up your skates and do your best Michelle Kwan impression. Ice skating at the Brenton Skating Plaza, located between the heart of downtown Des Moines and the Historic East Village, is a family favorite for a reason. Ice skating is the perfect winter activity that lets you be physically active outdoors. Double-check the plaza’s capacity and get ready for the rink!
TEST YOUR LUCK ON DES MOINES’ SLEDDING HILLS
Famous for its softly rolling fields of corn, Iowa actually isn’t all flat. There are some great hills for sledding right here in the Des Moines metro, including the storied Waveland Golf Course. Grab your crew, your fastest sled, and a thermos of hot chocolate. Sledding is always a great way to make winter more fun.
HIT THE SHOPS DURING HOLIDAY PROMENADE
A highlight of the season each year in the East Village (our agency home) is the holiday promenade. It’s the perfect opportunity to browse local shops, have a few holiday treats, and enjoy a great time. We recommend grabbing a drink or dinner from one of our favorite East Village spots before browsing the many shops in the neighborhood. Throughout the five Fridays of promenade, there are numerous activities to enjoy, including the inaugural tree lighting.
CATCH A SHOW AT THE DES MOINES PLAYHOUSE
You’ve supported local businesses. Now it’s time to support your neighborhood actors. The Des Moines Playhouse provides a perfect evening getaway when cabin fever starts to get too real. This year they are bringing A Charlie Brown Christmas to life, so get tickets and relive the magic of this holiday classic.
SEE THE SPARKLE AT JOLLY HOLIDAY LIGHTS
Nothing feels more like winter than holiday lights. And this year’s Jolly Holiday Lights has moved to a new home at the Outlets of Des Moines, so you can enjoy this holiday tradition while crossing off items from your shopping list. Walk around the outlet mall to view the lighting displays, with a lights-to-music show that happens every 30 minutes, and support Make-a-Wish® Iowa by purchasing special event tickets!
RAISE A TOAST TO WINTER
Holiday-themed pop-up bars are a big trend, and Des Moines has several great offerings that are sure to make you feel jolly. Miracle on Ingersoll, SnowGlobe DSM, The Naughty List, and The Nice List are a few of our favorites to check out. Many of these holiday hot spots take reservations, so be sure to get your name on the list; they tend to get popular into December.
Even when the temperatures start to fall and the winter chill sets in, Des Moines is a bustling city with plenty to do. Interested in becoming a part of the Greater Des Moines community? Visit our careers page today.