How to enjoy the cold weather in Des Moines

 Brenton Skating Plaza in Des Moines, Iowa.

Brenton Skating Plaza in Des Moines, Iowa.

Adventures in the cold – four ways to enjoy the winter season

Winter is one of those seasons that typically brings a collective grown to most, followed by the temptation to retreat indoors and do nothing but hibernate until Spring shows us a glimpse of her beautiful face.  If you’re like me and you’re ready to brave the cooler air to get your adventure on, these outdoor escapades can turn winter into the season of FUN.

 A fun way to enjoy the cold weather is to get on the ice and try out ice skating.

A fun way to enjoy the cold weather is to get on the ice and try out ice skating.

Brenton Skating Plaza

If the air isn’t too chilly, lace up your ice skates and go for a twirl around the Brenton Skating Plaza. I was a former roller skating champ back in my day and I naively assumed I would have no trouble navigating my way around the ice. One tumble onto my back side and I humbly accepted that my less than graceful attempts at ice skating needed some practice. The one-of-a-kind open canopy allowed for spectacular views of downtown Des Moines and twinkling stars in the distance. Admission runs from $5.50 – $7.00, depending on the day you go.

 Bundle up and take a hike. Just be sure to have a thermos of hot coffee when you return.

Bundle up and take a hike. Just be sure to have a thermos of hot coffee when you return.

Hiking

Pick your park, bundle up and strap on your (snow) shoes for a winter hiking adventure! Discover your favorite hiking destination through a vibrant new lens. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources sponsored a first day hike across the state this year on Jan. 1. I grew up picnicking at the Ledges State Park but I’ve never experienced it during the winter. The air was crisp and the ground was dusted in a soft white blanket of powder creating an entirely new experience for me. Don’t let the chill in the air prevent you from venturing outdoors, winter is an excellent time for a hiking expedition. And the movement will get your blood pumping so you’ll get used to the cooler air in no time at all.

 Surround yourself with greenery at the Des Moines Botanical Center.

Surround yourself with greenery at the Des Moines Botanical Center.

Des Moines Botanical Center

If your thoughts turn tropical during the winter months, an exotic oasis awaits you at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Give in to every one of your senses and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the gardens. The gardens will take you “on a botanical tour of the globe,” giving you the opportunity to see the natural wonders of the world, without leaving your own backyard. No matter the season, the Botanical Garden celebrates beautiful plants, trees and flowers from everywhere and at just $6.00 for the cost of admission, these beauties are a must-see!

 Take a self-guided tour available Monday - Saturday at the Iowa State Capitol.

Take a self-guided tour available Monday - Saturday at the Iowa State Capitol.

Iowa State Capitol

If an adventure in architecture and history is more your speed, make plans to tour through the Iowa State Capitol building. Free tours are available Monday through Saturday and are entirely self-guided, which means you can wander at your leisure. Whenever I see the Capitol building, it brings me back to a college trip to Europe. There’s a hotel in Paris, France called Hôtel national des Invalides that has the same style of Baroque architecture as the Iowa State Capitol. One glance at the golden dome towering above the city and it felt as though I’d stepped back home. Make it a point to get lost in the architecture on your trip to the Capitol. There’s so much beauty to appreciate in the fine details surrounding you that you’ll feel like you too have stepped back into a different time and place.   

There you have it, a few ideas to break you out of the winter doldrums and back into the adventure game. Tell Mother Nature to take her own nap, you’ve got places to see and things to do! Adventure on, ladies!

Shawnna R. Stiver