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12 Best Things to Do in Ankeny, Iowa

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Located in Polk County, Iowa, Ankeny is a small town with a population of only 67,887, as per the 2020 census. It is about 10 miles from Des Moines, the populous capital city of Iowa with many historical landmarks.

While this place is relatively small compared to major US Cities, don’t let its size fool you. Unfortunately, many tourists believe these outskirts are boring and aren’t worth visiting. However, Ankeny is a beautiful exception.

Many of the best things to do in Ankeny involve hiking trails and beautiful parks. Besides, it has a huge lake that is perfect for water sports.

If you are planning to visit West Des Moines or looking for a day trip from Des Moines, consider our recommendations for things to do in Ankeny, Iowa.

This list covers all the places you can visit with or without your family. Moreover, there are activities for history buffs, food enthusiasts, and even adventurers reading this article.

Luckily, this guide covers all the fun things to do in Ankeny, Iowa! So, without further ado, explore and then plan.

Things to Do in Ankeny, Iowa

1. Experience the Ankeny Art Center

Ankeny Art Center Exhibit
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 1520 SW Ordnance Rd, Ankeny, IA 50023, United States

Do you love art and are always enthusiastic about experiencing the creations of locals? If yes, the Ankeny Art Center is a great place to appreciate many artists who exhibit their art now and then.

This center is located in Westside Park and usually holds different exhibitions many times a month. If you like meeting new people, the place welcomes you with open arms.

In addition, the center conducts classes and summer camps. So, if you like the place, you can book a class and come back again to take it.

While you are in Ankeny, you can choose to stay at Sleep In & Suites Ankeny. It suits couples and also has a pool. This hotel is located quite close to the Des Moines International Airport.

2. Iowa Culinary Institute

Iowa Culinary Institute Entrance
image by Iowa Culinary Institute/Facebook

Address: Building 7 – Culinary Arts / Conference Center, 2006 S Ankeny Blvd Bldg 7, Ankeny, IA 50023, United States

Among the best activities in Ankeny is the Iowa Culinary Institute. So, why is this place on our list of top attractions in Ankeny? There are many reasons, and apart from the food, the major one is the beautiful building in which the Institute is housed.

The campus is huge and a treat for hungry eyes. Moreover, the place offers many opportunities for visitors to experience a unique culinary world. You can either book a five-course meal prepared by experts and students at the institute or participate in a gourmet lunch experience if you visit the city on a weekday.

You can also join the Mid-American Wine competition featuring wines from Iowa vineyards, which may make your trip to Ankeny worthwhile. If you want to spend a few days cherishing and enjoying the activities in this institute, book a room in a hotel close to the place.

The Holiday Inn Hotel Express in Ankeny is in the center of Polk City and has many great facilities, such as free breakfast, a jacuzzi, and an indoor pool.

3. Spend a Day in the Backspin Indoor Golf

Backspin Indoor Golf Entrance
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 106 SW State St, Ankeny, IA 50023, United States

Located close to the culinary institute, the Backspin Indoor Golf is a futuristic attraction and one of the best things to do in Ankeny, Iowa. You’ll love it for its TruGolf sensor simulations. These sensors produce unmatched accuracy and are a treat for any golf enthusiast.

At Backspin Indoor Golf, you will come across 95 golf courses, each offering unique difficulty levels. Moreover, there is also a bar with snacks and drinks that you can enjoy while witnessing casual matches on a nice, computerized, sunny day.

This golf park has fixed opening and closing timings, so check the official website before visiting. Moreover, the ticket price ranges from $30 to $40, but you can also recheck for current rates.

See Related: Things to Do in Des Moines

4. Enjoy the Ankeny Miracle Park with your kids

Small Girl in a Park

Address: 310 NW School St, Ankeny, IA 50023, United States

One location that will fit the bill for family-friendly activities is Miracle Park. So, what can you find in this park? It offers a good combination of a baseball field and a well-designed playground, with many play structures for young families.

In addition, the park also houses activity panels, slides, and climbers. So your kids will have a lot to enjoy and burn their energy. Moreover, if you are a baseball enthusiast, the themed roofs at this park are also quite attractive.

If you want to stay close to this attraction, you can book a family room at Hampton Inn and Suites in Ankeny. This place has well-equipped rooms so you can have a comfortable stay.

See Related: National Parks to Visit in November

5. Craft Beer at the Famous Firetrucker Brewery

Delicious Craft Beer

Address: 716 SW 3rd St, Ankeny, IA 50023, United States

Are you in Ankeny right now and looking for things to do in Ankeny today? Fret not. We have got you covered! If you love to craft beers, Firetrucker Brewery is the place to experience them. The attraction offers local products with authentic flavors brilliantly crafted only for you.

Unique signature beer flavors such as “Cat Dragon” and “Copper Cat” are always available at the brewery. In addition, you can always try some seasonal beers to get the real taste of Ankeny. Moreover, check with the administration for an event that might be happening at the brewery today.

See Related: Things to Do in Spirit Lake, Iowa

6. Praise the Artifacts and Historical Displays at the Ankeny Area Historical Society

Aerial View of Ankeny, Iowa

Address: 301 SW 3rd St, Ankeny, IA 50023, United States

The Ankeny Area Historical Society is one of the best Ankeny Iowa things to do and treat the history buff in you. This isn’t a very fancy or huge museum. Instead, the place is limited to a barn and house that exhibits different tools, photographs, artifacts, and antiques, defining the history of Ankeny. It is among the notable historical landmarks in Iowa.

This home was built in the 1900s and is filled with many period rooms with their own story. If you are interested in learning about the famous people who have lived in Ankeny, you can also visit the library designed within this property. This place also has a ticket and scheduled timings, so make sure you do your homework before paying a visit.

See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit

7. Visit the High Trestle Trail

A Hiker Hiking

We can’t forget to mention the grand High Trestle Trail in our list of Ankeny things to do. If the weather is good, experience this trail with your significant other and cherish the natural beauty this small city has to offer.

The place is perfect for runners and cyclists worldwide. The trail is almost 25 miles long and offers biking, cycling, and hiking opportunities.

A bridge, almost 0.5 miles long, showcases jaw-dropping views of the Des Moines River Valley. If you are not into fitness, you can visit the bridge every night and enjoy this structure illuminated by LED lights. I assure you that this site is not to be missed.

8. Let Your Children Enjoy The Playground for Kids

Children Playing in a Playground

If you are visiting Ankeny with small kids, this popular playground is a terrific indoor facility for your kid to have a great time.

The Playground For Kids (yes, that is the literal name) features bouncy houses and slides that will help burn your kids’ energies so they can sleep well at night while you can have a date with your partner in one of the hotels in Ankeny.

Visitors say this place has a friendly staff always ready to assist you. Unlike other indoor playgrounds, you can get snacks that aren’t overpriced for your kids.

See Related: How to Go on a Road Trip With Kids

9. Experience an Adrenaline Rush at The Escape

Players at The Escape Rooms in Ankeny, Iowa
The Escape Rooms / Facebook

Address: 1802 SE Delaware Ave Suite 115, Ankeny, IA 50021, United States

Are you looking for fun things to do in Ankeny? If yes, how about booking an adventurous session at The Escape? This place is unique and something you might have never experienced before.

The Escape offers an interactive indoor environment that challenges your problem-solving skills at different levels. Visitors get a coach who guides them to break the codes and escape different rooms. It is like being Sherlock Holmes for a day; nothing is more fun!

The suggested duration for staying in this place is a maximum of two hours. You can plan a shopping trip afterward to enjoy food and much-needed wardrobe upgrades.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Muscatine, Iowa

10. Spend a Day at Cascade Falls Aquatic Center

Little Boy in a Water Park

Address: 2350 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy, Ankeny, IA 50023, United States

Whether you are in Ankeny for a business meeting or visiting family, take some time off and spend a day at the Cascade Falls Aquatic Center. If you come in the summer, this huge place is one of the best things to do in Ankeny, Iowa.

This water park is filled with many exciting features. For instance, there is a heated water area, an entry pool with zero depth, water walking, and a place designed for sunbathing.

Moreover, you can experience a lazy river, kids can ride the kiddie slide, or the whole family can enjoy the FlowRider surf machine. There is also a small café where you can eat after burning calories while doing your favorite things in the water.

The ticket prices for this park vary according to different ages. Senior citizen tickets cost $8, and children under 2 have to pay only $1. This waterpark has friendly, helpful staff who are always ready to assist, so that’s a big plus.

11. Enjoy a Relaxing Day at the Beautiful Dean Park

Dean Park in Ankeny, Iowa
Dean Park /

Address: Corner of and, SW 18th St &, SW College Ave, Ankeny, IA 50023, United States

Ankeny has many beautiful parks where visitors can spend their weekends surrounded by greenery and nature. If you are visiting the town on a warm summer day, don’t forget to include a visit to Dean Park on the list of fun things to do in Ankeny.

This park is located in a great neighborhood and features lots of attractions for parents and children. Your kids can enjoy the baby swings and playground equipment. There is also a drinking fountain to keep you hydrated.

In addition, the park has many benches and picnic tables that can help you arrange a fun picnic under the warm sun. There is also a grill and an open space to cook delicious food while your kids enjoy the wonderful vibe of this park.

If you want to stay near Dean Park, many hotels are available in the region. The Residence Inn by Marriott Des Moines Ankeny is just 2.5km from Ankeny’s center and a great place to stay.

See Related: Iowa Travel Guide

12. Be Dramatic at the Ankeny Community Theatre

Theater Performance

Address: 1932 SW 3rd St, Ankeny, IA 50023, United States

Visit the Ankeny Community Theatre to witness great art and acting. This small arts club is not fancy but a wonderful place to connect with locals and enjoy a few gigs.

The good thing is that this club encourages performance, and there is always a live drama that you can watch to inspire your inner artist. Interestingly, the Ankeny Community Theatre started in the 1980s, and even after so many years, it is as fun as it was when it first started. This place offers cultural possibilities for people who want to follow their passion for drama and acting.

You can even perform on the stage, or if you have enough time in the city, you can volunteer to develop art in this small suburb. Before you plan a visit, check all the schedules and timings of the shows on the Ankeny Community Theatre’s website.

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