Des Moines Family Day Trip
Get ready to explore the south side of Seattle in a whole new way on this family-friendly day trip to Des Moines (not to be confused with the city of Iowa).
Take part in an interactive adventure to discover stories about UFOs, smugglers and a controversial fish statue. Stroll through an old gravel pit turned art installation, visit a dog park that was once a Nike missile site, and see two gardens with surprisingly different stories. Plus, play pinball, ride a bike, and sample a variety of tasty dishes, from international favorites to mini donuts. All within a few miles of each other.
Close to downtown Seattle, Des Moines is located on Puget Sound. Often referred to as the “Boating Capital of the Northwest,” Des Moines is a wonderful place to experience water and land activities.
One way to see this family-friendly city is through the Seattle Southside Scenes app created by the Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority.
Download the app and discover nine fascinating locations (the locations are in Des Moines, Tukwila and SeaTac), each with a unique story. Along the way, you’ll read facts about each stop and watch short videos. Of the nine destinations, choose to experience the defiant statue in the middle of town or explore Spice Bridge, an international food hall in nearby Tukwila. Stroll to Robert Morris Earthwork, a work of nature that was once a gravel pit transformed into a circular maze of greenery.
Places to explore in Des Moines
Big Catch Statue
Located on the corner of Marine View Drive and 7th Avenue is a whimsical statue of a fish with a controversial history. Created by Richard Beyer who, although not formally trained, carved several public pieces including “Waiting for the Interurban” in Fremont.
Address: 21634 and 21640 Marine View Drive South
Maury Island incident mural
Don’t miss a chance to have a close encounter with this image that captures the history of UFOs spotted just off Des Moines in 1947. You will witness this alleged event involving two men in a boat, a mysterious substance, government cover-ups and a dog!
Address: 605 223rd street south
Walk or bike the Des Moines Creek Trail
Explore a cool paved forest trail on foot or on wheels. Starting at a small parking lot at the north entrance, the 2 mile trail follows the creek as it meanders to the beach. Once there, have fun by the water, visit the marina – where on Saturdays there is a farmer’s market from June to September – or take a half-mile stroll in downtown Des Monks before returning.
Good to know: Trail is four miles out and back with 250 feet of elevation gain/loss.
Address: North Entrance: Des Moines Creek Park, 2151 South 200th Street
South entrance: Des Moines Beach Park, 22030 Cliff Avenue South
Stop for a treat at Mini… The Dough Nut
Enjoy delicious mini donuts with a menu of different toppings. Choose from fun names like Donutella (Nutella spread), Donut Be Cheesy (cream cheese and graham cracker with choice of fruit glaze), and Donut Be A Piggy (maple with bacon). It’s even served in a mini building with outdoor tables, including a mini just for kids. Yum and fun all rolled into one!
Good to know: Open Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: 21925 Marine View Drive South
Play pinball at the Waterland Arcade
A family arcade featuring over 50 classic arcade and pinball games. Introduce your kids to Ms. Pac Man and Frogger, then show off your pinball skills. Can he get better? Yes! There’s beer and cider for the adults, and the arcade is available to rent for private events, which is the perfect idea for a winter birthday party.
Good to know: Open Monday to Saturday from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday by reservation. Rates: $9 per adult, $6 per child (5 to 12 years old). Four and under are free with paid adult admission. Includes unlimited free play of all games except Pinball.
Address: 22306 Marine View Drive South
Grab a bite to eat at the Des Moines Dog House
Once you’ve worked up an appetite playing games, walk by for a menu of tasty choices under the bright neon hot dog sign. Options range from classic hot dogs to those with a Colombian twist, as well as empanadas. There are also corn dogs, sausages and vegetarian dishes. Plus, toppings to choose from. Dine indoors or on the flowered patio.
Good to know: Open every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Address: 22302 Marine View Drive South
take the ferry
This summer and fall, foot ferry service runs from Des Moines to the Seattle waterfront. The 40 minute ride will take you from the Bell Harbor Marina in Seattle to the Des Moines Marina. Costing $10 per adult (children under 13 free), one-way, the boats run between approximately 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For $4 you can also bring a bike. To note: This is a pilot project scheduled to run until October 9, 2022.
Good to know: Book your reservations in advance.
Add them to your travel bucket list
Mount Rainier Day Trip
Find a Whale Trail