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Key Info

7401 SW 9th St.

Price & Hours

$14 for adults; $8 for kids ages 2-12; free for children 1 and younger
9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily


Zoos and Aquariums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend


  • 3.5Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 3.5Atmosphere

A hit with locals and visiting families, the Blank Park Zoo sits on 49 acres, 22 of which are home to animal facilities and exhibits. Nearly 1,500 animals representing more than 100 species live here. Among the zoo's residents are red pandas, African lions, giraffes and Magellanic penguins. In addition to the animals, the zoo offers a variety of kid-friendly experiences, including train, carousel and camel rides, as well as animal feedings with parakeets and giraffes.

Though a few past visitors bemoaned the zoo's small size, reviewers also said it's a great place to take kids. Others appreciated the modest entry fees.

The Blank Park Zoo is located about 5 miles south of downtown Des Moines. If you don't have your own set of wheels, DART route No. 7 stops within walking distance of the zoo. The zoo welcomes visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; last admission is at 4 p.m. Tickets cost $14 for adults, $8 for kids ages 2 to 12 and are free for children 1 and younger. Rides and animal feedings cost extra. For more information, visit the zoo's official website.

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Despite chilly Midwestern winters, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden remains a year-round top attraction thanks to the site's domed conservatory, which is kept consistently balmy to nurture the tropical plants housed within. Along with palm trees and a waterfall, the conservatory houses a variety of bright flowers, cactuses and succulents, among other plants. Outside the conservatory, there are numerous themed gardens interspersed with sculptures, including a rose garden and a water garden. In total, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden spans 7 acres.

According to recent visitors, the garden is a worthwhile stop year-round. Many who visited during winter referred to the conservatory as an oasis. Reviewers frequently used words like "beautiful" and "relaxing" to describe the garden.

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Courtesy of Catch Des Moines
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