40 Fun Things To Do In Des Moines, Iowa

40 Fun Things To Do In Des Moines, Iowa

40 Fun Things To Do In Des Moines, Iowa

What to Do in Des Moines

Des Moines, the capital city of Iowa, offers a myriad of attractions and activities for visitors of all interests. From its vibrant arts scene to its rich history and outdoor recreational opportunities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, art enthusiast, or simply looking to explore a new city, Des Moines has got you covered. Here are six things you must do when visiting this charming Midwestern city.

1. Explore the Historic East Village

Start your Des Moines adventure by exploring the Historic East Village. This historical neighborhood is known for its unique shops, trendy boutiques, and delicious eateries. Take a leisurely stroll along the streets lined with beautifully restored buildings and discover an array of independent shops offering everything from clothing and jewelry to antiques and local art. Be sure to sample some of the delicious cuisine at the area’s diverse restaurants, ranging from farm-to-table bistros to international fare.

2. Immerse Yourself in Nature at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find tranquility at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. This stunning garden features an extensive collection of plants from around the world, including tropical palms, orchids, and succulents. Take a leisurely walk through the various gardens, or attend one of the scheduled events and workshops to learn more about gardening and sustainable practices. The domed conservatory is a must-see, showcasing a range of exotic plants and changing displays throughout the year.

3. Discover History at the State Historical Museum

Uncover Iowa’s rich history at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines. This engaging museum offers a comprehensive look into the state’s past, from ancient civilizations to modern-day Iowa. Explore exhibits that delve into Iowa’s Native American heritage, the Civil War era, and the state’s role in pioneering technologies. The museum also features interactive displays, educational programs, and special exhibitions that delve deeper into the fascinating stories and people that have shaped Iowa’s history.

4. Experience Art and Culture at the Des Moines Art Center

Art enthusiasts won’t want to miss a visit to the Des Moines Art Center. This renowned institution houses an impressive collection of artwork, spanning various time periods and styles. View pieces by artists such as Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Andy Warhol, among others. The center also hosts rotating exhibitions, showcasing works from local, national, and international artists. Be sure to explore the outdoor sculpture park adjacent to the museum, which features an eclectic collection of sculptures set within a beautiful landscape.

5. Enjoy a Breath of Fresh Air at Gray’s Lake Park

Embrace the outdoors and enjoy a breath of fresh air at Gray’s Lake Park. This picturesque park offers scenic walking and cycling trails, as well as a lake where you can rent paddle boats or kayaks. Take a leisurely stroll along the 2-mile trail that encircles the lake and enjoy the beautiful views of downtown Des Moines. Pack a picnic and relax in one of the park’s many green spaces, or challenge yourself to a game of frisbee golf. In the warmer months, the park hosts various outdoor events and concerts, providing entertainment for all ages.

6. Indulge in Culinary Delights at the Downtown Farmers’ Market

Experience the vibrant local food scene by visiting the Downtown Farmers’ Market, one of the largest in the Midwest. Held every Saturday from May to October, this bustling market offers a wide variety of fresh produce, artisan products, baked goods, and more. Sample local delicacies and interact with the farmers, bakers, and craftsmen who create these delectable treats. Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, as live music and performances add to the lively atmosphere of the market.


Q: When is the best time to visit Des Moines?
A: Des Moines experiences all four seasons, so the best time to visit depends on your preferences. Spring and fall offer pleasant temperatures and beautiful scenery, while summers are great for outdoor activities. If you enjoy winter sports, visiting during the snowy season can offer unique opportunities for skiing and ice skating.

Q: Are there any nearby attractions worth visiting?
A: Yes, there are several great attractions near Des Moines. Some popular options include visiting the Bridges of Madison County, exploring the covered bridges and charming towns, or venturing to Pella, a Dutch heritage town known for its tulips and annual tulip festival.

Q: What is the local cuisine like in Des Moines?
A: Des Moines has a diverse culinary scene with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients. You’ll find a range of cuisines, from traditional American fare to global flavors. Don’t miss trying local favorites like Iowa pork tenderloin sandwiches or sweet corn, a seasonal delicacy.

Q: Are there any family-friendly attractions in Des Moines?
A: Absolutely! Des Moines offers plenty of family-friendly attractions, including the Science Center of Iowa, the Iowa State Fair, and Adventureland Park, an amusement park with thrilling rides and entertainment for all ages.

Q: Are there any annual events or festivals in Des Moines?
A: Yes, Des Moines hosts several events and festivals throughout the year. The Iowa State Fair, held in August, is one of the largest fairs in the United States and features concerts, livestock shows, and a wide variety of food. Other popular events include the Des Moines Arts Festival, the World Food & Music Festival, and the Des Moines Marathon.

Q: Is Des Moines a safe city to visit?
A: Like any city, it’s important to take basic safety precautions while visiting Des Moines. Overall, Des Moines has a relatively low crime rate compared to other cities of its size. It’s always a good idea to stay aware of your surroundings, lock your car doors, and take necessary precautions to keep yourself and your belongings safe.