Ankeny, Iowa may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of travel destinations, but this charming city located just north of Des Moines has a lot to offer.
Boasting numerous parks, recreational opportunities, and a thriving downtown area, Ankeny is the perfect destination for both business and leisure travelers alike.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend getaway or a fun-filled family vacation, you won’t be disappointed by the variety of things to do and see in Ankeny.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the top 12 best and fun things to do in Ankeny, from exploring local parks and hiking trails to discovering the city’s best restaurants and shopping districts.
Let’s dive in and find out why Ankeny, Iowa makes for an awesome travel destination.
- 1 Things To Do In Ankeny
- 1.1 1. High Trestle Trail
- 1.2 2. Saylorville Lake
- 1.3 3. Otter Creek Golf Course
- 1.4 4. Ankeny Farmers’ Market
- 1.5 5. Prairie Ridge Sports Complex
- 1.6 6. Ankeny Miracle League Field
- 1.7 7. Wagner Park
- 1.8 8. Ankeny Art Center
- 1.9 9. Summerset Winery
- 1.10 10. Cascade Falls Aquatic Center
- 1.11 11. Ankeny Kirkendall Public Library
- 1.12 12. Ankeny Community Theatre
- 2 Conclusion
Things To Do In Ankeny
1. High Trestle Trail
Located just a short drive from Ankeny, the High Trestle Trail is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a unique and memorable experience in Iowa.
The trail, which spans 25 miles between Ankeny and Woodward, is famous for its stunning views of the Des Moines River Valley and its one-of-a-kind art installation, the High Trestle Bridge.
The bridge itself is a true marvel of engineering and design. It spans 1/2 mile across the river valley and is illuminated by a series of LED lights that create a dazzling display at night.
The lights are arranged in a pattern that mimics the look of a mine shaft, paying tribute to the area’s rich mining history.
In addition to the bridge, the High Trestle Trail offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration.
The trail is perfect for hiking, biking, and jogging, and there are several picnic areas along the way where you can stop for a leisurely lunch or snack.
You’ll also find several interpretive signs and exhibits highlighting the area’s natural and cultural history.
2. Saylorville Lake
Among the best things to do in Ankeny is a visit to the popular Saylorville Lake, which promises an unforgettable adventure.
Saylorville Lake is a sprawling reservoir located just minutes from Ankeny, offering locals and visitors an endless array of recreational opportunities.
This stunning body of water spans over 5,000 acres and boasts more than 170 miles of shoreline, making it an ideal destination for fishing, boating, and water sports enthusiasts.
The lake is home to a vibrant ecosystem, with over 200 species of birds and numerous fish species, including catfish, largemouth bass, and walleye.
It is a haven for nature lovers, with various trails snaking around the lake ideal for hiking and biking.
The lake’s rich wildlife and beautiful scenery also make it an ideal spot for camping, with numerous campsites available for visitors to pitch up their tents and spend a night under the stars.
But Saylorville Lake is not just a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It also provides visitors with opportunities to immerse themselves in the area’s rich cultural history.
The lake is situated within the Wallace House and Gardens State Historic Site, where visitors can learn about the intriguing history of the site and gain insight into the area’s Native American heritage.
3. Otter Creek Golf Course
The third in our list of best things to do in Ankeny is a round of golf at the impressive Otter Creek Golf Course.
Located just 25 minutes from downtown Ankeny, this magnificent 18-hole championship layout offers an unforgettable experience for golfers of all skill levels.
This premier golf destination boasts an 18-hole championship course designed by legendary golfer and course designer, Johnny Miller.
With its beautiful landscaping, challenging layout, and top-notch amenities, Otter Creek Golf Course is a must-see for any golf enthusiast in the area.
But golfing isn’t the only activity that Otter Creek has to offer.
The course also features a driving range, putting green, and chipping area for practicing or warming up before a round.
The clubhouse offers a full-service bar and grill with delicious food and drinks for both golfers and non-golfers alike.
Beyond the course itself, Otter Creek Golf Course also hosts a variety of events and activities throughout the year.
From junior golf camps and leagues to corporate outings and charity tournaments, there’s always something exciting happening at Otter Creek.
So if you’re searching for the best and most fun things to do in Ankeny, Iowa, look no further than Otter Creek Golf Course.
4. Ankeny Farmers’ Market
Another most popular things to do in the city is to visit the local farmers’ market.
The Ankeny Farmers’ Market is located at Uptown New Ankeny at the corner of 3rd and SW Maple Street.
This outdoor market opens every Saturday from May to October, providing the community with a chance to experience the charm of a traditional farmers’ market.
The market features dozens of local vendors, selling their fresh produce, baked goods, handmade crafts, and more.
Visitors can browse through the stalls, sample some of the best local foods, and connect with the friendly vendors.
Besides a shopping experience, the Ankeny Farmers’ Market also offers entertainment and educational opportunities.
Live music can often be heard in the background, adding to the festive atmosphere.
In addition to supporting the local economy, shopping at the Ankeny Farmers’ Market has numerous benefits.
Customers get to enjoy fresh, locally-sourced produce and other goods that are free from preservatives and chemicals.
Furthermore, buying directly from farmers and vendors fosters a sense of community and encourages sustainable practices.
5. Prairie Ridge Sports Complex
The Prairie Ridge Sports Complex is one of the best places to go in Ankeny for some fun and adventure.
This expansive complex offers a variety of activities, including baseball diamonds, tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields, and a running track.
One of the most striking things about Prairie Ridge is its sheer size.
Covering a jaw-dropping 270 acres of pristine Iowa countryside, this sprawling sports complex offers plenty of space for visitors to explore and enjoy.
The complex features numerous fields and courts for a wide range of sports, including soccer, football, volleyball, basketball, and more.
These top-quality facilities are maintained to the highest standards, ensuring that visitors can enjoy a high-quality sports experience every time they visit.
But Prairie Ridge isn’t just about sports. The complex also offers a range of other attractions and amenities that make it a great choice for anyone looking for a fun day out in Ankeny.
Visitors can walk or cycle along the scenic trails that wind through the complex, take a picnic or lounge on the grassy lawns, or even drop by one of the many shops and restaurants that can be found nearby.
6. Ankeny Miracle League Field
Also, there are other activities that can be enjoyed in Ankeny such as the Ankeny Miracle League Field.
A unique concept, the Miracle League gives children with physical and mental disabilities the opportunity to play baseball, and the field in Ankeny is one of the best examples of the program’s success.
The field was built in 2010 through donations and volunteer efforts, and is equipped with a cushioned, rubberized turf to prevent injuries and accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
The outfield wall is lower than the regulation size to make it easier for players to hit home runs, and there are custom bases and dugouts designed for special needs players.
The field also has a playground and picnic shelter for families to enjoy.
Aside from the Miracle League games, the field is also open for public use when not in use by the league.
It’s a perfect destination for families, with plenty of fun things to do while you’re in the area.
The playground is designed for kids of all abilities and has plenty of equipment to keep them entertained.
They can climb, swing, slide, and play to their heart’s content.
The picnic shelter is a great place for a family gathering, with tables, grills, and a beautiful view of the field.
7. Wagner Park
Wagner Park is a perfect place to enjoy nature and unwind from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Located in the heart of the lively city of Ankeny, Iowa, the park is a popular destination for both locals and tourists looking for the best and fun things to do in the area.
The park boasts of well-manicured lawns, beautiful flower beds, and a wide array of trees that provide shade during the hot summer months.
Visitors can enjoy a leisurely walk along the paved paths that meander through the park, or rent a bike and cycle through the scenic park trails.
The park also has a playground area for kids, complete with swings, slides, and other fun structures that will keep them entertained for hours.
But that’s not all! Its has a lot more to offer.
The park is home to a disc golf course that attracts disc golf enthusiasts from all over.
Visitors can try their hand at disc golf, which is a fun and challenging sport that combines the skill of golf with the fun of frisbee.
Also, people can bring their own food and enjoy a fun-filled day with family and friends.
The park is also a popular spot for social events like birthday parties, weddings, and family reunions.
8. Ankeny Art Center
For those looking for a more cultural experience, the Ankeny Art Center is the perfect destination.
This vibrant art and culture center displays the work of local and regional artists, offering visitors a glimpse into the creative spirit of this small Iowa town.
The gallery also houses a gift shop, which offers unique handcrafted items that make perfect souvenirs for visitors to take home with them.
Every year, the center hosts numerous art exhibitions and shows, where visitors get to experience the creativity of local artists first-hand.
The center also features an art shop where people can purchase a variety of art pieces like sculptures, paintings, and jewelry.
Besides admiring the artworks, Ankeny Art Center provides an avenue for those who are interested in learning how to create art themselves.
The center offers a variety of art classes, including painting, pottery, and drawing courses for both adults and children.
They also provide advanced level courses for those who seek to enhance their skills in advanced areas of art.
9. Summerset Winery
When thinking about more best and most enjoyable activities to do in Ankeny, Iowa, one cannot leave out a visit to the Summerset Winery.
This family-owned winery is located in the heart of picturesque countryside just outside of the city, in Madison County.
Visitors to the Summerset Winery can enjoy a wide range of activities that combine the best of nature and winemaking.
The winery offers beautiful picnic spots with a view of the vineyards, wine tastings, tours of the winemaking process and facilities, and even live music events.
One of the standout features of Summerset Winery is its commitment to using only locally grown grapes.
The winery’s vineyards cover more than 12 acres and are carefully tended to ensure the highest quality grapes possible.
This focus on local agriculture not only supports the surrounding community but also ensures that the wine produced by Summerset Winery is truly unique to Iowa.
The winery produces a range of wines, including reds, whites, and blushes, all of which can be sampled during a tour or tasting.
Visitors can even purchase a bottle of their favorite wine to take home as a souvenir.
10. Cascade Falls Aquatic Center
Another destination not to miss is the Cascade Falls Aquatic Center, located just a short drive from downtown Ankeny.
The center features a large pool with a state-of-the-art slide and other attractions, making it a great place for families to spend an afternoon.
The facility also boasts of waterslides, diving boards, water basketball courts, and a lazy river that are sure to keep everyone entertained for hours.
The pool is heated to ensure that visitors can enjoy a comfortable swim even during the colder months.
Cascade Falls also has an indoor playground, providing kids with plenty of fun activities such as climbing walls, slides, and swings.
In addition, the center offers a variety of classes, ranging from swimming lessons to aqua aerobics.
The facility also has a gym and fitness center with top-notch equipment for those looking to get into shape.
With its many attractions and activities, Cascade Falls Aquatic Center is a great destination for visitors of all ages.
So come on down and make the most of your visit to Ankeny, Iowa! With so much to see and do, you’re sure to have a great time.
And don’t forget your sunscreen – you’ll need it in the sunny Midwest!
11. Ankeny Kirkendall Public Library
Another charming spot in Ankeny is the Ankeny Kirkendall Public Library.
Not only is it a source of entertainment and education for locals and visitors alike, but it also offers an exceptional reading environment, with many unique programs and events for all ages.
The library’s state-of-the-art facilities provide patrons with access to an extensive collection of books, magazines, newspapers, movies, and music.
The building comprises three floors and features a large community room, a children’s section with interactive displays, a teen lounge, and cozy reading areas.
The spaces are well-designed and user-friendly, inviting individuals to spend long hours of leisurely reading or engaging in various activities.
The Ankeny library regularly organizes book clubs, writing groups, educational programs, and family-friendly activities.
These include storytime sessions for toddlers and preschoolers, craft workshops, movie screenings, STEM-related events, and literary discussions.
The library’s programming seeks to engage, entertain, and enrich the community while fostering a love of learning in all its visitors.
12. Ankeny Community Theatre
Lastly, Ankeny is home to the thriving Ankeny Community Theatre.
This fantastic theatre boasts an impressive history, having been established in 1956 as a small community theatre.
However, today, it has grown significantly and now accommodates a large audience capacity, thus providing entertainment for a broader audience base.
The Ankeny Community Theatre is unique because it focuses on providing family-friendly performances to all those who visit.
They specialize in a variety of genres, including musical productions, comedies, dramas, variety shows, and holiday-themed productions.
This theatre creates an enjoyable and engaging atmosphere that guarantees a great night out for the whole family.
What’s more, the Ankeny Community Theatre provides opportunities to both seasoned veterans and amateur actors looking to improve their craft.
The theatre offers classes and workshops throughout the year, allowing people of all ages and experience levels to participate.
The Ankeny Community Theatre is also committed to showcasing local talent, both on stage and behind the scenes.
This community theatre provides a platform for local playwrights, composers, and artists to exhibit their talents.
The theatre’s dedication to promoting local talent has made it a cornerstone within the Ankeny arts community.
As you can see, Ankeny, Iowa is a wonderful city with plenty to explore.
It’s clear that this city holds a unique charm that captivates visitors and residents alike.
From the scenic trails and serene lakes that offer a peaceful escape to the bustling markets and cultural hubs that celebrate community spirit, Ankeny presents a tapestry of experiences for everyone to enjoy.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet getaway or an adventure-filled weekend, Ankeny has something for everyone.