Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Place/Event: Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
Location: 909 Robert D. Ray Dr, Des Moines, IA 50309
Cost: See website 
Grade/age range: All ages.
Group size: small or large 
Hands-on: Limited
Stroller friendly: Yes
Bathrooms: Yes
Food: Limited

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a iconic highlight in the downtown metro area. Seated along the Des Moines River, the Garden encompasses seven acres of beauty and nature. 

I have vivid memories of visiting the “botanical center” as a child. It was a joy to wander the paths with my children, take in the established plants, and make new memories. 


The Conservatory houses the Rainforest and Desert Garden. Climbing the stairs to the balcony level offers a wider perspective. My son is fascinated by the architecture of the glass dome. He thinks it looks “futuristic”. I am planning to do a follow up study on glass dome buildings as an addition to our trip.

The children participated in the scavenger hunt. I love visiting a location and hearing their delight as they discover new things. Several times the kids would exclaim, “Wow, look at that!” or “Mom check this out!” 

A highlight in the Conservatory is the fish pond and waterfall feature. The fish are a bright orange with blue fins. 

An impressive collection of desert plants are located near the exit to the outdoor gardens. The kids loved spotting some of the succulents we have growing in our home. 

Outdoor Gardens

The Outdoor Gardens are just as impressive as the Conservatory. Since I have typically visited the Botanical Garden in the winter, I had no idea how beautiful and large the Outdoor Gardens are. We didn’t even end up covering all of them.

Tucked in behind the glass dome, the busyness of the city noise fades away and serene quietness settles around. On display in the Outdoor Garden are bonsai trees. The children had fun reading the plaques and discovering the age of the trees. 

In addition, my kids were fascinated with the cavernous plant display. There was a wasp who was flying in and out of the plants. The kids were watching to see if it got caught. 


The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a family friendly stop with strollers available for little ones and two family restrooms. Come prepared for the Conservatory temperature while also enjoying the outdoor gardens. 

The Garden offers a variety of educational programs year-round. Make sure to check out their web page and calendar of events. 

Make a fun day out of a visit to the metro and look for more Science Field Trips in Des Moines. We used our local library Adventure Pass option to receive free admission to the Botanical Garden. Visit with your local librarian to find out what opportunists are available for you. 

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