Iowa’s largest outdoor skating plaza

It’s considered to be Iowa’s premier outdoor ice skating rink. It’s located along the banks of the Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.

2023 Opening Night at Brenton Skating Plaza is Friday, November 17th. Opening night will include the tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa Claus, and free skate passes for youth, and an ice carver!

Ice skating against the Des Moines city skyline at Brenton Skating Plaza.

I’ve been here a number of times with my wife and/or the kids. For many years, we took the kids down after a Christmas family gathering as a way to get them out of the house. We are not great skaters, in fact, we’re pretty jealous of the folks who seem to be floating on ice and gliding with ease. That’s certainly not us. However, we love the atmosphere and the environment, especially skating as the sunset takes place behind the city skyline. Typically they are playing a variety of music, along with various lighting patterns as well.

Location: 520 Robert D Ray Drive, Des Moines IA 50309


Looking down at the Brenton Skating Plaza with the Des Moines River and skyline in the background.

YouTube video
Timelapse of the Zamboni and skaters at the Brenton Skating Plaza in Des Moines.

In the days before reservations, you could purchase admission and rent the skates and it could be used all day. I think we maxed out with skating three times in one day – we made trips back home to warm up and get food and then went back for more.

If you’re skating between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, they have a large Christmas tree on site. During their opening event in November, they typically light the Christmas tree, have an ice sculpture created, and host a visit from Santa.

It’s also within easy walking distance of several attractions including East Village with shopping and dining options. Or head north to the Iowa Women of Achievement Pedestrian Bridge which leads to the largest skate park in the US, Lauridsen Skate Park.

The white buildings next to the rink house the area where you can rent skates and other equipment.

For this winter, they are encouraging reservations, but still taking a few walk-ins as available. I believe it’s 160 reservations and up to 50 walk-ins per session, which is 1 hour and 45 minutes. Admission is $9.50 per adult, $5.75 for children. Renting skates is additional, but they have them available in many sizes and they also have skate helpers, which are plastic devices that look like a walker. Not only do they have an online reservation system – but they also have an online capacity counter! You go online to see how busy the plaza is before you stop in.

The Christmas tree at Brenton Skating Plaza with the Des Moines skyline in the background.

They have on-site restrooms and an inside shelter where you rent your skates (if needed).

During the summer months, they add a canopy over the skating rink and it’s turned into a music/event venue.

The top of the Christmas tree located at Brenton Skating Plaza

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply