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12 Fun & Best Things to Do in Ankeny, Iowa

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 that these outskirts are boring and aren’t worthy of a visit. However, Ankeny is a beautiful exception.

With hiking trails and beautiful parks, there are many best things to do in Ankeny. Besides, it also has a huge lake perfect for all kinds of water sports.

If you are planning to visit West Des Moines soon or are already there, dig into our recommendations for things to do in Ankeny, Iowa.

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.

Lucky for you, we have covered all the fun things to do in Ankeny Iowa within this guide! So, without further ado, explore and then plan.

1. Experience the Ankeny Art Center

Ankeny Art Center Exhibit
Management / TripAdvisor

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 as well. 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.

To reach the center, you can book a vehicle from Kayak and enjoy your visit.

2. Iowa Culinary Institute

Iowa Culinary Institute Entrance
image by Iowa Culinary Institute/Facebook

Among the best activities in Ankeny Iowa, you can also visit the Iowa Culinary Institute located on Ankeny Blvd- St Ankeny IA 50023, United States.

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 the Institute is housed in. The campus is huge and a treat for hungry eyes. What’s more, 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 take part in a gourmet lunch experience if you are visiting the city on a weekday. You can also join the Mid-American Wine competition which may make your trip to Ankeny quite 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 to offer.

3. Spend a Day in the Backspin Indoor Golf

Backspin Indoor Golf Entrance
Management / TripAdvisor

Located quite 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 different golf courses, and each offers unique difficulty levels. What’s more, 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 make sure you check the official website before your visit. Moreover, the ticket price ranges from $30 – $40 but you can also recheck for current rates.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa

4. Enjoy the Ankeny Miracle Park with your kids

Small Girl in a Park

Still thinking, “What to do in Ankeny Iowa with my kid?” One location that will fit the bill is Miracle Park. So, what can you find in this park? For starters, 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 in Hampton Inn and Suites located in Ankeny. This place has well-equipped rooms so you can have a comfortable stay.

See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November

5. Craft Beer at the Famous Firetrucker Brewery

Delicious Craft Beer

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.

The opening hours of the place vary every day, so make sure to visit the website before you book a vehicle from Kayak to visit this attraction.

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

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 around the world. You can experience biking, cycling, and hiking on this trail which is almost 25 miles in length.

There is also a bridge, almost 0.5 miles long, that 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.

According to visitors, this place has a friendly staff that is always ready to assist you in every way. You can also get your kids some snacks that aren’t overpriced, unlike other indoor playgrounds.

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

9. Experience an Adrenaline Rush at The Escape

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. So, whether you are with your folks or a friend, this place will give you an adrenaline rush from the immersive experience.

Every visitor gets a coach who guides them to break the codes and escape different rooms. It is like being Sherlock Holmes for a day, and there is nothing more fun than that!

The suggested duration to stay in this place is a maximum of two hours. This means you can plan a shopping trip afterward to have some food and enjoy some 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

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. This huge place is one of the best things to do in Ankeny, Iowa if you are coming in the summer.

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.

What’s more, 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 to eat after burning many calories while doing your favorite things in the water.

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

11. Enjoy a Relaxing Day at the Beautiful Dean Park

Ankeny has many beautiful parks for visitors to spend their weekends surrounded by greenery and nature. So 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, there are many hotels 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 and offers free parking.

12. Be Dramatic at the Ankeny Community Theatre

Theater Performance

Among the best things to do in Ankeny IA, is visit the Ankeny Community Theatre to witness great art and acting. This is a small arts club, nothing fancy, but it is 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, 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 work as a volunteer and play a role in developing art in this small suburb. Before you plan a visit, make sure to check all the schedules and timings of the shows on the Ankeny Community Theatre’s website.

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