Every time we drove by the Iowa State Fairgrounds, I noticed the brown sign for Strasser Woods State Preserve and wondered what it was. I finally drove out to check it out in person, and what a pleasant surprise to find actual trails! This whole area was lush, leafy, and peaceful.
The Iowa State Fairgrounds’ playground is fun to explore year round! When we first moved here, a local mom tipped me off to the cheapest way to check out the Iowa State Fair with young kids: going the night before they open! The animals are all there, the playground is open, and some of the food vendors are happy to serve up some food on a stick. I prefer the fair in all its sweaty, crowded, crazy glory during the week, but it occurred to me that the playground would be great to visit when it wasn’t so busy. We had a great time playing on the wooden train playground and the climbing wall; it would be a great place to take a walk with strollers too. The fairgrounds often host animal shows and the barns are free to walk around in, check their calendar to see what else you might check out after the playground!
I’m excited to announce my first local geocache challenge! I worked with Erin at Des Moines Parent to pick fun spots on the west side of the metro and then hid a cache at each one. All caches are less than a half mile from the parking lot, and hidden in an easily accessible spot (as in, you could bring a kiddo in a stroller and get to them) with lots of kid treasures inside. Also visit this post on Des Moines Parent for my thoughts on each park and why I love it – as well as the coordinates if you would prefer those.
Are you ready for summer weather and looking for free places to get wet around Des Moines? I have the list for you! Sharing free play fountains, spraygrounds, and wading pools with pictures. There is a link to a DSMOF page with more information about the site listed under each one. I’ll be doing round-ups of area pools, area beaches, and area creeks to creek stomp in as well, so subscribe to my newsletter so you don’t miss them! Be sure to stay safe and check out some of our favorite summer gear essentials in this post here.