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By: Bethany Arganbright

When our family was house hunting, one of the biggest draws to the Ingersoll area was its walkability. I romanticized the idea of my kids being able to walk to school, morning strolls to Zanzibar’s for coffee, and meeting friends for happy hour on foot. 

We’ve been happily residing in the North of Grand neighborhood since 2017 and in that time we’ve made all of those little dreams a reality. (Though, admittedly, my kids walking to and from school hasn’t happened quite as often as I’d hoped.) Since we moved here, the neighborhood has gone through many positive changes and so has our family. Our kids are now teenagers who have jobs! and drive! They dictate most of their own free time and love to meet their friends for homework sessions at the numerous neighborhood coffee shops and stop by Ted’s Coney Island for after-school snacks. 

RELATED: 4 ways to visit Ingersoll Avenue

In 2021 we had another child and, between that and the COVID-19 pandemic, I opted to change my own career path by starting a small, in-home childcare service. Walks through our neighborhood are an almost-daily part of life now. Walks keep our bodies and minds healthy – and the shops, public art, and people watching offer endless ways to engage all ages. 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to walk The Avenues with kids in tow:

Can you find this “surfer on the street” somewhere along Ingersoll Avenue?

1. Art Walk – There are so many spots to appreciate art in this neighborhood. From large scale murals to small sculptures, even the shop windows are full of artistic expression. See if you can find these works of art based on my clues: alien sculptures, a fish out of water, a meaty mural, a shirt and tie made of lights, busy people at a bus stop, a surfer on the street, smiling flowers, and a larger-than-life heart-shaped sculpture!

2. I Spy – As you walk, play the classic game of “I Spy.” You can be specific: I spy with my little eye, a person in a red hat! or keep it general: Something that is blue!  You can vary the challenge based on your kids’ age and ways you want to engage them: I spy the number 8! Or: I spy 4+4! I spy a daffodil, or simply: I spy a yellow flower! …the letter A! I spy a bicycle! Or more challenging: …something with two wheels! There are endless ways to make this fun and engaging, truly a game for all ages.

Colorful & kid-friendly things to see at the Woodland Realm at 24th & High Street.

3. Progressive Park Hop – You’ve probably heard of a progressive dinner – now try a progressive park adventure! Start with a snack at the small playground at Central Presbyterian Church (3829 Grand). We call this the secret playground because we’d lived here for at least five years before we ever knew it was there! This park is ideal for young kids – it’s a fenced area with great visibility and the actual play structure is small. Next, take a stroll through the community garden at the Woodland Realm (24th & High) — it’s always fun to see what flowers, fruits, and vegetables are growing. End your park tour with a picnic at the big playground in Chamberlain Park (2134 Woodland). We also love riding trikes and bikes around the little path at Chamberlain. 

3. Letter/Numbers/Colors Search – See if you can find all the letters of the alphabet along your walk. Our favorite place to start this is a large letter A in the sidewalk outside J. Michaels’ Salon (2801 Ingersoll). If the whole alphabet is too much for your jaunt, try hunting for the letters of your names. Numbers: If you’re on a longer walk, try to find 1-30. Out for a shorter stride? Look for the numbers in your street address, or shorter still, your ages. Colors: Can you find all the colors of the rainbow? Teach your kids the ROYGBIV acronym.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bethany Arganbright is an artist, writer, and childcare provider. She lives and works in the Ingersoll neighborhood with her partner, three kids, and puppy-dog, Reese. Her not-so-guilty pleasures include treasure-hunting on Marketplace, taking classes at the Des Moines Art Center, and ordering takeout from Lucky Lotus on nights no one wants to cook.

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