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7 Date Night Ideas In Des Moines

One of my favorite things about Des Moines is that there are so many unique things to do. From memorable dining experiences and incredible craft breweries to award-winning arts and cultural attractions, central Iowa has lots of activities to choose from. That also means that there’s no reason to be stumped when it comes time to plan your next date night.

Consider switching up your routine to try something new, create something together or get moving in order to spend quality time with your partner.The next time you’re planning an evening on the town, consider one of these seven date night ideas in Des Moines. 

Kim’s note: Call ahead before going to a business right now. Some have adjusted hours or are temporarily closed.

Plan a Game Night

You deserve a date night that makes you feel like a kid again! Des Moines has a number of date night options for indulging your playful side.

Head to downtown Des Moines’ East Village for an evening of throwback fun at Up-Down. This two-story arcade bar has all of your favorite nostalgic arcade games, skeeball lanes, giant Jenga sets and more.

A couple plays shuffleboard at Smash Park in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo courtesy Smash Park Marketing

Or spend an evening enjoying yard games in West Des Moines at Smash Park. This indoor venue has lots of tasty options to eat and drink alongside a wide variety of yard games including pickleball, cornhole, shuffleboard, bocce ball, ping pong and more. 

Up-Down Des Moines, 500 E. Locust St., Des Moines, Iowa

Smash Park, 6625 Coachlight Dr., West Des Moines, Iowa

Head to the Cinema

In addition to lots of lovely first-run movie theaters, Des Moines is also lucky to have the Fleur Cinema, an independent art house theater that shows films you might not typically find at larger chains. Note: Fleur Cinema is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

In addition to these indies, they also have special shows for Oscar-nominated pictures each year as well as screenings of cult classics. Round out your date night with one of the Fleur’s next-level desserts or an alcoholic beverage of your choice to sip during the movie. 

Fleur Cinema, 4545 Fleur Dr., Des Moines, Iowa

Get Creative

What better way to spend an evening than by creating something together? Des Moines has a number of places to indulge your creative side.

The interior of the Des Moines Art Center, the city's contemporary art museum that hosts a variety of art classes.
Photo courtesy Catch Des Moines

While a stroll through the Des Moines Art Center is another great date idea, the city’s contemporary art museum also hosts a wide variety of classes. Consider signing up for a multi-week class to learn a new skill or opt for one of the Art Center’s three-hour Make + Mingle classes.

Des Moines also has a number of great shops like The Knotty Nail and AR Workshop that offer DIY classes or take-home kits so you can make something together. 

Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa

The Knotty Nail, 232 5th St., West Des Moines, Iowa

AR Workshop, 1631 SW Main St. Suite 104, Ankeny, Iowa

Make a Date to See a Show

Des Moines is full of great places to experience live music and theater! Whether you’re looking for a cozy jazz club like Noce or a venue like Wooly’s to experience your favorite rock group, an evening of live music makes for a great date night.

Note: Noce is currently operating at 35% capacity with 6 feet between guests and a mask policy requiring guests to only have their mask off while actively taking a drink.

The audience at Noce, a cozy jazz venue in Des Moines.
Photo by Eva Lewin

If you’re in the mood to laugh, head to Teehee’s Comedy Club for a bit of standup. And if you happen to be a theater buff, you’re in luck. Des Moines offers a variety of theater options through Des Moines Performing Arts and the Des Moines Playhouse.

Noce, 1326 Walnut St., Des Moines, Iowa

Wooly’s, 504 E. Locust St., Des Moines, Iowa

Teehee’s Comedy Club, 1433 Walnut St., Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines Playhouse, 831 42nd St., Des Moines, Iowa

Plan Your Own Beer Tasting

Des Moines is lucky to have tons of incredible craft breweries. Plan a beer-lovers date night by grabbing beers from several local breweries and setting up your own tasting at home.

The beer silo inside Iowa Taproom in Des Moines.
Photo courtesy Iowa Taproom

Many local breweries offer bottles or growlers to go, or you can swing by the Iowa Taproom to find a variety of brews from around the state. Or plan an evening of brewery hopping around town.

Downtown Des Moines has a number of breweries in close proximity including Peace Tree Brewing Co., Exile Brewing Company and Lua Brewing.

Iowa Taproom, 215 E. 3rd St. #100, Des Moines, Iowa

Peace Tree Brewing Co., 317 E. Court Ave., Des Moines, Iowa

Exile Brewing Company, 1514 Walnut St., Des Moines, Iowa

Lua Brewing, 1525 High St., Des Moines, Iowa

Travel Internationally—Without Leaving Des Moines

Enjoy an evening of international cuisine without leaving Iowa at one of the city’s many amazing eateries. If you’re in the mood for Indian and Nepalese food, check out Kathmandu Restaurant.

Or head to South America with Ecuadorian food from Mi Patria Ecuadorian food or Peruvian delicacies from Panka Peruvian Restaurant. Enjoy a taste of Russia with infused vodkas, pierogies and more at Irina’s Restaurant and Bar. Or experience a German-style beer hall at Hessen Haus in downtown Des Moines. 

Kathmandu Restaurant, 7229 Apple Valley Drive, Windsor Heights, Iowa

Mi Patria, 1410 22nd St., West Des Moines, Iowa

Panka Peruvian Restaurant, 2708 Ingersoll Ave., Suite #200, Des Moines, Iowa

Irina’s Restaurant and Bar, 2301 Rocklyn Drive, Urbandale, Iowa

Hessen Haus, 101 SW 4th St., Des Moines, Iowa

Related post: Looking for a meal to impress your date? Here are the 10 must-try restaurants in Des Moines!

Opt Outside

Des Moines is full of beautiful outdoor places perfect for a date. Pack a picnic and head to Gray’s Lake Park or Water Works Park near downtown Des Moines.

Women of Achievement Bridge Downtown Des Moines, Iowa
Photo courtesy Catch Des Moines

If you’d like to stay closer to downtown, take a stroll along the Des Moines Riverwalk or end your evening with a walk around the grounds at the Iowa State Capitol.

If you’re heading further west, the 3.2-mile trail loop at Raccoon River Park is also a great option for a longer walk no matter the season. 

Gray’s Lake Park, 2101 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, Iowa

Water Works Park, 2201 George Flagg Pkwy, Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa State Capitol, 1007 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 

Raccoon River Park, 2500 Grand Ave., West Des Moines, Iowa

About the Guest Blogger

Megan Bannister is a freelance writer and blogger at Olio in Iowa based in Des Moines, Iowa. When she’s not sampling and writing about food, Megan enjoys visiting unique destinations, roadside attractions, and “world’s largest” things across the Midwest and beyond. Her book, Iowa Supper Clubs, highlights classic eateries past and present from around the state.

Looking for a unique date in Des Moines or something totally fun like a date at Smash Park? Here are some recommended stops for future date nights or romantic getaways to DSM.

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