Bars The scene at The Sandbar, a swim-up bar at Adventure Bay in Altoona. (Juice File Photo)

The scene at The Sandbar, a swim-up bar at Adventure Bay in Altoona. (Juice File Photo)

Swim to your booze: A guide to swim-up bars in Des Moines

Published on June 13th, 2014 | by Josh Hafner

Nothing beats a summer day spent by the pool with drink in hand. Nothing except a summer day spent in the pool with a drink in hand. 

Poolside bars are scandalous in their appeal: The summertime nostalgia of your a childhood pastime meets the adult pastime of margaritas. And it’s awesome.

There are just two true swim-up bars open to the public that we know of in central Iowa, both at the Altoona properties of Adventureland. So after a dizzying day of riding the Sidewinder 42 times, feel free to backstroke over to one of these in-water watering holes:

The Sandbar – Adventure Bay

Amid the intertwining speed slides and aquatic coves at Adventureland’s water park is The Sandbar, a thatch-roofed lounge just off the lazy river. It’s Tiki-themed, of course, with one half in the water and one half on dry land. In the water, you can grab a concrete stool and order a Bermuda Blitz (Parrot Bay Passion Fruit and Malibu Rums over a frozen Pina Colada base), a Dirty Shirley (Smirnoff Cherry Vodka, Sprite and Grenadine) or most anything in between. Beers, domestic and fancier, are also available. For a bar located in a pool located in an amusement park, the drinks seem reasonably priced at $5.50-9.50.

For the under 21’ers, the Sandbar offers virginized drinks, but there’s also The Pint-Sized Pub, opened in 2012, which slings smoothies and soft drinks. Aww.

Find it: Inside Adventure Bay at Adventureland, 3200 Adventureland Drive, Altoona
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., depending on the day. See the park’s hours at  Requires a ticket to the parks ($40) for entry.
More info: 515-266-2121


The Pool Bar – Adventureland Inn

Open to guests and the general public alike, the bar at the hotel’s main pool offers an array of drinks — both booze-filled and not — as well as snacks in a relatively more Like the water park’s bar, this one also rests half on dry land; only hotel guests can use the pool and cozy up on the in-water bar stools.

Spill your daiquiri in the water? No worries. That’s what the chlorine is for.

Find it: Inside Adventureland Inn, 3200 Adventureland Drive, Altoona
Hours: Varies, depending on crowds. Do call ahead.
More info: 515-265-7321

Honorable mention: The Tiki Bar – The Ramada Tropics Resort

The poolside bar at the Ramada Tropics in Des Moines. (Juice File Photo)

The poolside bar at the Ramada Tropics in Des Moines. (Juice File Photo)

It’s not in the pool, but it’s darn close: Surrounded by palm trees, the Tiki-themed bar at the Ramada Tropics Resort‘s indoor water park sits poolside and serves up Coronas, margaritas and more to guests. Seafood is also available from the hotel’s Castaways Bar and Grill. While the indoor nature of the Ramada’s pool bar makes it less than ideal for these summer months, it’s nice in the dead of December when the snow won’t go away.

Find it: 5000 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 4-10:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday
More info: 515-278-0271


Any swim-up bars or good poolside ones we should add? E-mail us or comment below.



About the Author

covers young professionals for The Des Moines Register. Josh can be reached at or on Twitter via @joshhafner.

Back to Top ↑

do my essay for money