Places to play indoors around Des Moines, Iowa

If it's so cold you can't get all your kids' energy out at the playground, check out all these ideas for burning off steam. This is a huge list and map of all the indoor play gyms, indoor playgrounds, trampoline parks, bounce houses, gymnastics open gyms, mall play gyms, bowling lanes, indoor ice skating, roller skating rinks, laser tag, indoor golf, and rock climbing in Des Moines, Iowa and around central Iowa.

Sometimes it’s too cold to stay out very long but my kids still desperately need some open space to jump, run, and move their bodies. If you’re looking for ways to expend energy indoors with gross motor play but not necessarily find nature, there are quite a few options around the area, and I decided to make a list! I included indoor play gyms, indoor playgrounds, trampoline parks, bounce houses, gymnastics open gyms, mall play gyms, bowling lanes, indoor ice skating, roller skating rinks, laser tag, indoor golf, and rock climbing. Please click through to check on prices, times, and seasons. The local YMCAs, each city’s parks & rec department, and all of the libraries offer sporadic classes for all ages, as well.

If you’re looking for places to play inside that have nature (and not playgrounds or opportunities for big physical movements, like this list), go check out this post of where to find nature indoors around Des Moines, Iowa! If you combine these two lists with all of the local libraries, I feel like you have a pretty comprehensive list of where to keep kids entertained indoors.

Indoor Play Options around Des Moines, Iowa

  • The new Des Moines Children’s Museum! I’m so excited about this, we have visited while I volunteered and my kids loved it. There isn’t a ton of big movement stuff but there is a Pikler triangle to climb, a bridge to stomp over, and some fun pretend play camping sets (along with lots of other things).
  • Two wood playground showrooms that allow for open play.
  • Several indoor playgyms, all of them free except Imagination Playschool (cheap) and Playground for Kids (pricier) and with different age recommendations. We have been to almost all of these, so I’ll put a blurb about what is included after each one.
    • Valley Community Center Free, a small playgym next to the coffee shop with soft blocks for babies, tunnels, a slide, and soft climbing incline, similar to a fast food place. It can be quite crowded, parents frequently leave their kids unattended. They also have regular, inexpensive classes and a ‘tot town’ open play in the much larger gym that we have enjoyed much more.
    • Imagination Playschool Cheap, nice big space with lots of bikes and small climbers. Soft foam blocks to build with and a small swingset.
    • West Des Moines Community Center (pg 17 of their brochure). Free,  haven’t been in several years, at the time it was pretty bare bones with a few riding toys and a teeter totter.
    • Waukee Tot Lot (pg 13 of their brochure) Free, a mixture of smaller toys like puzzles and trucks with a few riding toys and soft foam blocks.
    • Grimes Community Center’s open gym Free, three separate rooms with one open gym including a small bounce house and a few bikes, one room with lots of soft foam blocks and large plastic slide/climbers, and one room with lots of smaller toys, dolls, books. It can be tricky to watch several kids if they want to be in separate rooms because there is low visibility between the two, and the third is across the hallway.
    • Playground for Kids
  • Several inflatable, bounce house type places
    • Monkey Joes There are several inflatables, with two designated for toddlers, and a small arcade. We have been a few times; my kids had fun but the place is very run down, dirty, and the employees are not thrilled to be there.
    • Pump it Up There are two separate rooms with large inflatables, at least one of which is difficult to see into when your kids are inside. There are a few candy/crane type games up at the front. There aren’t any inflatables geared towards younger kids, but my scrappy 2 year old enjoys it. Super clean, the staff are friendly and engage with the kids, we enjoy this place.
    • Hop-a-lot Rentals
  • Two indoor trampoline parks
    • Get Air 
    • Sky Zone We have attended their toddler time and had a good time, they limit the number of people inside so it never feels too crowded. You do have to purchase special socks on top of admission.
  • Gymnastics centers with open gyms
  • Malls with indoor play gyms
    • Valley West  Usually busy and pretty crowded with several medium height climbing elements.
    • Merle Hay The youngest of the 3, with lots of low, easy elements and a fair amount of open space for running.
    • Jordan Creek Very busy, with the largest area and most varied elements, including a few small slides and the best climbing options.
  • Bowling
  • Indoor Ice Skating with open skates (there are other locations that offer lessons)
  • Roller skating rinks around Des Moines, Iowa. We haven’t visited any of these, but I know Skate North has special events where toddlers can bring riding toys and zoom around, check out how DesMoinesParent.com got along at their open skate!
  • Indoor Laser Tag
  • Indoor golf (kid-friendly)
  • Rock Climbing in Des Moines, Iowa

If it's so cold you can't get all your kids' energy out at the playground, check out all these ideas for burning off steam. This is a huge list and map of all the indoor play gyms, indoor playgrounds, trampoline parks, bounce houses, gymnastics open gyms, mall play gyms, bowling lanes, indoor ice skating, roller skating rinks, laser tag, indoor golf, and rock climbing in Des Moines, Iowa and around central Iowa.

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