Tag Archives: Heritage Carousel

Family fun for $1.50

The early morning storm that whipped through central Iowa rained out our plan to head down to Indianola and watch the balloon launch for the third year running, but a few hours later it was shaping up to be a beautiful morning and we were eager to get outside.

Ashby Park in Beaverdale is our go-to splash pad spot, but friends in our babysitting co-op have been recommending McHenry Park (1012 Oak Park Ave. in north-central Des Moines, near Highland Park*), and today felt like a good morning to scope it out.


McHenry Park is easy to get to from the downtown trail system (we drove this time) and features several shelters shaded by old Oak trees with views of both the 801 building, river and prairie flowers.


The splash park is great fun for little kids, and an awesome alternative to putting the sprinkler out in your front yard.


A big frog, gigantic turtle and fake old tree are the splash area’s main features. Just touch the sensor on the green pole to get them started and fountains all around burst to life.


Emmett ran squealing around, and I liked that there’s less of a need for parents to be in a swimsuit to participate. I got my feet wet perched on the tortoise shell.

wpid-20150725_105310.jpgThe water runs into a natural drainage area that was closed off for our visit, but it looks like it’s a kind of faux creek-walking experience when accessible.

The park has standard equipment, but the thing that sets it apart is a nature-inspired play area that looks more like a beaver’s Adventureland.


Huge hollowed trees, stumps and a faux rock formation are perfect for bigger kids to pretend they’re wildlife.


After we dried off, we headed to Union Park for a few spins around the Heritage Carousel. Union Park also has a splash pool, if you aren’t water-ed out. It’s home to a huge rocket slide, too, and Birdland Park just down the hill (2100 Saylor Rd.) features Ding Darling shelter and a playground more appropriate for tots.)


Today was apparently National Carousel Day (who knew?!). Emmett got three rides for $1.50, and the day proved to be a cheap, toddler-friendly blast.

Heads-up: The Heritage Carousel is hosting Clowns at the Carousel next Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 from 4-7 p.m. It looks like they’re still seeking volunteers, too.

*Bring a few more dollars in cash and you should definitely stop by the Highland Bakery for doughnuts. They’re open until Noon on Saturdays, but closed Sunday/Monday.

Do you have any favorite parks in central Iowa? I wrote a story once for The Register about a couple of families who set a goal to visit 100 Parks in one summer, which seems like a great boredom-buster.

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Filed under Family Fun, I love Des Moines

Des Moines date-in-a-box: Eastside Art

This is the first installment in a new series of Des Moines dates*. Each will include something to do/somewhere to eat and another fun element to make your evening with someone even more delightful. *Although I will reference romance, clearly these could also work as friend dates!

This Eastside Art Date is easy on your pocketbook and will probably take you out of your typical Saturday night element, which is great for getting to know someone.

Dinner: Thai Flavors, 1254 E. 14th St. (Picnic it!)
Yes, it’s tucked in a strip mall, but this unassuming spot has inspired a pretty loyal fan following. (For some reason, I feel like this is owned by the same people who do Cool Basil on the west side, too.) I like the Hawaiian Fried Rice and crab rangoons, myself.

The dining room here is decent, but if the weather is perfect and you’re feeling extra romantic, I recommend ordering ahead and getting the dish to go. Pack a big blanket and some drinks and head a couple blocks west to Union Park. It looks like the Heritage Carousel will be open until 8 p.m., which will make for a super fun backdrop to dinner. Bring $2 cash so you can both ride it!

Photo via Jenny with a Camera. Check out her Flickr set to decide which animal you want to ride!

Then, ready yourself for some art!

The activity: Sensory Overload ( 7 p.m.-Midnight, Saturday, May 12)
Experience a mind-bending art ambush in an abandoned school. Installation art, a costume contest, performances — it’s an evening that’s going to give you and your date a LOT to talk about. I highly recommend clicking through the fab Art Beacon Des Moines to get a sense of the vibe. Suggested donation is $5 per person, but pony up a $20 for the two of you to show you’re generous. Karma will reward you.

The sensory overload site.

Designed to stimulate all of your senses, I have a feeling this event is going to be one that people talk about for awhile. I mean, rumor has it there’s going to be a fake meth lab and I think I saw something about bubble wrap? Regardless, if your date is going well, you should try to fashion hats or something out of recycled/found materials together and wear them to this.

Thanks to my new friend Brian for suggesting I start up this series. It’s fun to meet people who still remember my writing in Juice and want me to help them be all romantical 🙂


Filed under Des Moines Dates, I love Des Moines