Des Moines, Iowa
Guide to Des Moines: how to get there and where to stay, what to see and where to go in the evening. The best things to do in Des Moines: fresh reviews and photos, places to see, branded entertainment and shopping.
Half a million Des Moines, the capital of Iowa and its largest city, is located in the center of the vast expanses of the state, among green hills and fields of soybeans and corn. Founded in 1843, today the city is a nice quiet place, inexpensive, safe and boring. Summers are dry and hot, winters are cold and snowy, and the farming character of the entire state is evident in the unfailing hospitality of the townspeople and their love of fairground amusements.
How to get to Des Moines
According to toppharmacyschools, Des Moines International Airport receives flights from Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC and several others. It is also convenient to get to the city by your own car, along one of the direct highways – for example, from Chicago, Omaha, Minneapolis. Amtrak trains, Greyhound and Megabus buses (the latter from Chicago and Omaha) also go to the city.
Entertainment and attractions in Des Moines
The State Capitol building in Des Moines is amazing with its 23-carat gold and copper domes. This is one of the most beautiful Capitols in the country. Those who wish can climb the 298 steps from the second floor of the building to look around the city. Inside the Capitol, you can see historical flags, some from the Civil War.
The Capitol is located in the oldest and most interesting from a tourist point of view quarter, the former heart of the city’s commerce – the East Village. It also houses the City Historical Museum and many houses listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These include the three-story City Hall, built in the beau-art style in 1910, and the Northwestern Hotel, which opened its doors in 1916 and is intended primarily for railway employees (today private companies and a post office are located here). Today, a wide variety of shops, art galleries and restaurants fit on the first floors of many of the old houses.
3 things to do in Des Moines:
- Take a picture inside the openwork man made of letters in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
- Check out the farmers’ market, which takes place from May to October on Saturday mornings in the Court District, on the west bank of the river. Taste pastries, listen to live music, and shop for fresh produce from across the state.
- Walk along the glowing road in Gray Park.
Salisbury House, built between 1923 and 1928, combines Tudor and Gothic elements in its architecture. It was built for a cosmetic magnate and largely copies the elements of old English estates, and on its territory you can see an old oak tree, which is already about 500 years old. The mansion’s 42 rooms contain many original artefacts, including art, furnishings, books, and embroidery. Throughout the year, the mansion hosts chamber music concerts, Shakespeare readings, a winter party in the style of the Roaring 20s, the Gatsby Gala, and other events.
Terrace Hill is one of the finest examples of Second Empire American Victorian architecture. Since 1971, a beautiful and intricately decorated building with a Victorian garden has served as the governor’s residence. After the mansion was built in 1866, Iowa’s first millionaire, Benjamin Franklin Allen, lived here. Today, the mansion hosts daily one-hour tours during the summer season.
The small historic Jordan House in the western part of the city was built in 1850 in the Victorian style and was subsequently used as one of the stations of the Underground Railroad. Today, the Historical Museum is open in the mansion, where you can learn more about this phenomenon in American history. In addition, the house is haunted by the daughter of the previous owner, Eva Jordan, who broke her neck while rolling on the railing of the stairs.
The Des Moines Art Center has a permanent collection of contemporary art from the 19th and 20th centuries, including works by Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Henri Matisse, and Francis Bacon. In addition, the art center has a gourmet restaurant. In 2009, the Pappajohn sculpture park appeared on the territory of the center, where statues worth a total of more than 40 million USD are placed.
The Iowa Science Center has six different experimental platforms, including Science Where You Find It with the Kitchen Chemistry exhibit; “When things move”, which demonstrates, among other things, the movements of robots; “Who we are” with an exposition dedicated to genes; as well as a space exhibition at the planetarium. The Des Moines Botanical Center is especially popular during cold Iowa winters. It is a large greenhouse under the dome, which contains more than 15 thousand exotic plants. The garden is connected to the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens, where you can admire a beautiful three-story pagoda pavilion, bonsai and granite sculptures. And the beautifully landscaped Blank Park Zoo hosts giraffe feeding shows and special events like the Brewery.
Gray’s Lake is part of Gray’s Lake Park, which is south of downtown, where you can go boating, fishing and just take a walk. But the most interesting thing is to be in the park at night. Its main attraction is the Kruydenier Path illuminated with multi-colored lights – a road of more than 3 km encircling the park, including the bridge over the lake.
Living History Farms is a large farm and a 500-acre open-air museum where you can get to know the rural roots of the state. There is an Indian village from the 1700s, a pioneer settler farm from the 1850s. (perfectly functioning), Walnut Hill Township 1875, horse farm 1900s. and a modern exhibition center. Costumed characters demonstrate various types of rural activities: forging, cooking, caring for livestock, and so on. Visiting farms is possible in several scenarios: only the city of Walnut (a couple of hours of walking along the main street with a stop at shops, offices and artisan shops), three farms (2-3 hours with a tractor moving between Indian, pioneer and horse farms) and a full excursion for half a day throughout the territory.
Des Moines Events
The annual Iowa State Fair has been named one of the Top 10 Things to Do in the US Summer by USA Today. The August fair lasts 10 days and gathers a million visitors during the day at the entertainment venues and at the stalls with goods, and in the evening under the beer tents and at the Grandstand stage.
The Des Moines Art Festival is also listed as one of the top 10 art festivals in the nation. It takes place over 3 days in June since the late 1990s, and is the heir to the 40th Anniversary Art in the Park event. About 250,000 spectators visit the festival in Western Gateway Park every year, and more than 150 artists from all over the country showcase their work.
In mid-July, the city hosts a small culinary event, Taste of Des Moines, as well as a two-day music festival, 80/35, which brings together more than 40 national musicians in Western Gateway Park. The city also hosts the Salisbury Classic vintage car race, one of the most unique auto shows in the United States.