Why I Like Des Moines, Iowa

There’s plenty to do in Des Moines — from outdoor activities at the lakes to arts and entertainment at the Des Moines Social Club.

Use a BCycle [bike sharing] to tour the metro or download the “Iowa by Trail” app to locate and ride the trails or the Principal Riverwalk. Sign up for RAGBRAI!

Local hand-crafted beer; 105 American micro-brews and 100 more in bottles; a coffeehouse and vegetarian restaurant with art from local artists plus musicians on its small stage; falafel or sushi; Havana cocktails to Mexican riffs.

Yes, Des Moines will pleasantly surprise you.

"Pioneers of the Territory" by Karl Gerhardt, Iowa State Capitol

"Pioneers of the Territory" by Karl Gerhardt, Iowa State Capitol: Settlers have been coming to Iowa from across the world for the past 200 years to farm the land, make a home, and become Iowans. Additionally, refugees settled in Iowa came from Sudan, Ivory Coast, and Somalia. 42.8 percent of foreign-born Iowans come from Asia, such as Tai Dam and other Vietnamese refugees. Note: Students in the Des Moines Public Schools speak more than 100 languages.

Iowa State Capitol

The Iowa State Capitol houses the Senate, House of Representatives, the Office of the Governor, and the Offices of the Attorney General, Auditor, Secretary of State, and Treasurer. Self-guided tours are available during normal business hours and groups of ten or more can call to reserve a tour. There is no fee for the tours. Don't skip the Law Library that is located on the second floor.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Located along the east bank of the Des Moines river, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden seems to have a love-hate relationship with visitors -- some prefer the intimate environment and outdoor areas while others say that your time is better spent at the Rieman Garden.

The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates

The World Food Prize "is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world." The 19-century Norman E. Borlaug Hall of Laureates building has been beautifully restored. Learn about global achievements in agriculture, science, and humanitarian efforts via the arts and interactive exhibits.

"Three Cairns" by Andy Goldsworthy

"Three Cairns" by Andy Goldsworthy: Engineering and art at display in the Des Moines Art Center. The permanent collection consists of works by Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Francis Bacon, Georgia O'Keeffe, Mark Rothko, Takashi Murakami, and more. Entrance is free.

Salisbury House, Des Moines, Iowa

Built in the 1920s, the Salisbury House in Des Moines was modeled after the King's House in Salisbury, England. There are self-guided and guided tours of the house for a fee. You can also reserve the house for receptions and events.

Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa

Drake University continues to anchor a section of the community in Des Moines while the western bounds of the city have seen a lot of growth. The university hosts Drake Relays, which is one of the top Track & Field events in the U.S. Several events hosted by the university are free and open to the public. [Yes, that's my mango-banana-strawberry shake in the plastic cup.]

East Village, Des Moines, Iowa

East Village, Des Moines: From a business accelerator to a diverse and vibrant district that boasts of chic shopping, hip eateries, and nightlife. It's an urban neighborhood that has become a location for locals and visitors. The Des Moines Social Club located nearby is an arts and entertainment venue within a firehouse. Circus acrobatics class, anyone?

C Fresh Market

C Fresh Market: The most diverse supermarket in Des Moines, perhaps. Just like Hy-Vee, C Fresh Market has a sit-down deli. The Hoanh Thanh Soup special is delicious and top it with an iced Vietnamese coffee. A Downtown Farmers' Market is held every Saturday, May through October. [Photo by Streetwindy]

Grand Terrace, State Historical Building of Iowa

The Grand Terrace of the State Historical Building of Iowa. Rent it for your next reception and learn about the history of Iowa through the collections and exhibits of the State Historical Museum and State Historical Research Centers.

"Nomade" by Jaume Plensa - The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

"Nomade" by Jaume Plensa: The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines boasts of 28 impressive works of art by Keith Haring, Yoshitomo Nara, Willem de Kooning, and more. You can dial a number for an audio tour that is free [other than the minutes used by your phone]. Picnicking is allowed; alcohol by permit only. No touching, climbing, or sitting on sculptures; except for Scott Burton’s "Seating for Eight."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *