Get to Know: Ankeny 

Nationally recognized as one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Ankeny is ready to impress with its access to area trails for walking, running and biking like the High Trestle, Gay Lea Wilson Trail and Neal Smith Trail (thanks in part to the new Ankeny Pedestrian Bridge!). You’ll find flourishing community pride at the annual Ankeny Summerfest celebration and a full list of unique places to shop and eat: the largest Costco in the Midwest opened in November 2022 while Uptown Ankeny and The District at Prairie Trail are full of locally owned businesses, including delicious restaurants like Magee’s Irish Pub & Eatery and Trailside Tap, to support. Not one but two mecca water parks — Cascade Falls and Prairie Ridge — offer swim lessons, water slides and fun in the sun for the whole family throughout the summer while the Ankeny Miracle Park is an all-inclusive destination with an accessible baseball field and a playground to encourage play between all children. Ankeny is also the headquarters of Casey’s General Stores, an Iowa employer that serves 2,400+ convenience stores across 16 states. 

image of Ankeny town square

Ankeny at a Glance 

  • Population: 70,287 (2021, U.S. Census Bureau) 
  • Location within Greater Des Moines: North 
  • Distance from Des Moines: 13.6 miles 
  • Type of Community: Suburb 
  • School District: Ankeny Community School District
  • County: Polk 

Ankeny in one sentence: Ankeny is a growing community that’s become home to many, thanks to its desirable amenities, annual events, close proximity to Des Moines and first-rate development opportunities. 

The top five best things about Ankeny: Access to trails has to top the list, but there is so much to love about this community to the north of Des Moines! Several incredible local breweries are ready to serve you, including Firetrucker, TrailSide Tap and Uptown Garage Brewing Co. right along the trailhead. Other highlights include Ankeny’s small businesses — just swing by Uptown and The District to get your fill of local shops and only-found-here restaurants. The sense of community is another key piece of what makes Ankeny the best: In 2022, the Ankeny Police Department added a Traffic Unit to further enhance its traffic safety services for residents, and offerings at the Ankeny Public Library — which opened a brand new building in 2020 — give families many great ways to connect with other locals in the area. 

Hidden gems and unexpected finds in Ankeny: The inclusive Ankeny Miracle Park is the city’s largest playground and offers handicap-accessible features. You’ll know it by the large, eye-catching baseball topper! Speaking of playgrounds, Deer Creek Park on the eastern side of the city has a zipline that lends to hours of endless fun for kids of all ages. 

a family playing at Ankeny Miracle Park

Community traditions and annual events: Summerfest is Ankeny’s most well-known annual event, with live music, a parade and a fireworks display taking place each year in July. Santa’s North Pole Village Craft Sale in November is held across three locations, including Northview, Parkview and Prairie Ridge Middle Schools, with the funds raised helping to support the Ankeny Art Center. Movies Under the Stars is a big draw on Friday nights in June and July at Wagner Park, too, while Prairie Trail is home to Pizza Fest, a free event celebrating all things pizza with tastings, music and more. 

Best ways to get connected: Join the Ankeny Area Chamber of Commerce, attend events with other community members or volunteer for Summerfest.  

Big things on the horizon for Ankeny: Ankeny is building a new sports complex at Prairie Trail. Phase one is now complete, which includes a Fieldhouse featuring basketball, pickleball and volleyball courts and batting cages. Ankeny’s On With Life, an organization for brain injury, stroke and neuro assistance, is expanding to enhance family housing and more. 

If you’re coming to check out the community, be sure to spend your day ... visiting Prairie Trail businesses, including Nook & Nest, Charlotte Louise Mercantile, The Olive Tap and, of course B&B Theatres Ankeny which includes a 12-screen movie theatre and bowling. In the Uptown neighborhood, stop by Leaning Tower of Pizza, Uptown Confections & Curiosities, West Forty Market or an old favorite of longtime Ankeny residents: The Yankee Clipper (Insider Tip: This is the place to be on Taco Tuesday!). During the summer, stop by the Ankeny Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings, also located in Uptown at the Ankeny Market & Pavilion. 

Some of the ways Ankeny advances diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI): In 2022, Ankeny held its first Pride event, a family-friendly occasion featuring games, face painting, book giveaways, vendor booths and more. The Ankeny Public Library also holds a Cultural Festival that celebrates cultures from around the world. The Ankeny Community Network is an organization that works to advance multiculturalism and diversity and establish a community network through relationship building, civic engagement, community leadership and education on diversity.

overhead view of a waterpark