Glass-bottom pedestrian bridge connecting the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens to the city
High Trestle Trail over the Des Moines River Valley
Hot-air balloon landing in a grassy field of wildflowers
City skyline sparkling at night
Admiring artwork at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park downtown
Ferris wheel in motion at the popular Iowa State Fair
Gathering around the mainstage at the 80/35 Music Festival
Ivy hanging from an old limestone barn in the countryside
- Major Airports:
- Des Moines (DSM)
Midwestern hub buzzing with big-city attractions
Dining, Shopping and More Shopping
Des Moines has an artsy vibe. The vibrant Historic East Village, nestled between the Iowa State Capitol and downtown’s skyscrapers, is home to diverse shops, restaurants, bars and residents. On the west side of town, “at the intersection of hip and history,” is Valley Junction, a historic railroad district founded in the 1890s, with more than 150 specialty stores, art galleries, fashion boutiques, restaurants and antique shops. Looking for more antiques? Head to the Brass Armadillo Antique Mall, where 450-plus antiques and collectibles dealers present an assortment of treasures.
Festivals and Fairs
Check the calendar before you visit – chances are you’ll find an interesting show or lively festival. The iconic Iowa State Fair stretches over 11 days in August, but the Iowa State Fairgrounds hosts events year-round, from beer festivals to animal shows to Native American cultural gatherings. Two other venues – the Iowa Events Center and Des Moines Civic Center – also book a variety of cultural events. The Metro Opera and Des Moines Community Playhouse regularly host theatrical events.
Every day is a special day in Des Moines, where must-sees include the engaging Pappajohn Sculpture Park, family-friendly Blank Park Zoo, outdoor paradise of Gray’s Lake Park and visually stunning Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Take in a minor league baseball game at Principal Park, root for the ponies at the nearby Prairie Meadows racetrack or take a hike or bike ride on the city’s extensive system of trails. Refuel at one of the city’s many breweries, such as the Confluence Brewing Company, or any number of restaurants.