Best Places to Visit in Des Moines
Over the past few decades, Des Moines has taken many strides to become a vibrant cultural hotspot in the Midwest. Home to a major insurance company and a prominent political landscape, Des Moines also boasts sculpture parks, botanical gardens, and thriving shopping and dining venues. Iowa Indians are proud of their capital city, and this is reflected in the friendly faces you’ll meet on the streets.
Iowa’s history is still brewing and on full display in Des Moines. Places like the 170-year-old gold-domed State Capitol shine. Other attractions, such as the Salisbury House and Gardens and the Hoyt Sherman Theatre, showcase the city’s rich heritage, such as downtown storefronts and historic sites.
Other popular things to do in Des Moines include watching a night of baseball under the lights or visiting its impressive art collection. The Iowa Science Center is also easy to engage with science, and the Greater Des Moines Arboretum offers new flowers each season.
For the trendiest neighborhoods in Des Moines, walk no further than the East Village. Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Des Moines and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Des Moines
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Des Moines:
1. Science Center of Iowa
While it’s especially fun for kids of all ages, don’t be surprised to see adults having fun at the Iowa Science Center, too. This award-winning space features permanent and rotating hands-on exhibits that encourage experiential learning. The Science Center also has a planetarium for stargazing and an IMAX movie theater to better understand the world around us.
In addition to designated children’s exhibits, the Iowa Science Center offers adult programs that promote socialization through science. The resort also hosts a variety of children’s summer camps, seminars, and after-school activities. SCI summer camps are particularly popular and range from STEM research to intense renewable technologies.
Address: 401 W Martin Luther King Jr Pkwy, Des Moines, Iowa
Official website: http://www.sciowa.org/
2. John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
Located in downtown Des Moines within the West Gateway Park, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a 4.4-acre landscaped area containing more than 20 works of sculptural art. Since 2009, the park has been entertaining Des Moines city dwellers with beautiful sculptures and is a great place to take a lunch break for families, tourists, and anyone.
Sculpture Garden and the surrounding Gateway Park are fun places to visit any time of year but come summer, these famous venues become a venue for various community gatherings, including the Des Moines Arts Festival.
Held each June, the Des Moines Arts Festival is a true summer celebration in Des Moines. The festival is home to hundreds of artists, vendors and friendly faces filled with green spaces and sidewalks.
West Gateway Park is also home to the annual 80/35 Music Festival, Des Moines’ biggest music gathering. This fast-growing festival takes its name from Iowa’s two famous intersecting roads: Interstate 80 and Interstate 35.
Address: 1330 Grand Ave, Des Moines, Iowa
Official website: http://www.desmoinesartcenter.org/visit/pappajohn-sculpture-park
3. Salisbury House & GardensEditor’s Choice
Built in the 1920s by businessman Carl Weeks and his wife Edith, Salisbury House and Gardens sits quietly on the block south of Grand Avenue. Even though no one has officially occupied the 42-room property in over six years, there is still plenty of life and culture to explore.
Whether you consider yourself a history buff, antique buff or even a casual explorer, Salisbury House and Gardens and the history they hold will intrigue every member of your family.
For a small entrance fee to the Salisbury House Foundation, you can explore the well-preserved parts of your home and garden on a self-guided tour.
However, it is worth taking the time to take a guided tour that allows visitors to visit non-public areas. This includes a decadent library and study, and the guides provide the story of how this royal estate-like home came to be in Des Moines.
Address: 4025 Tonawanda Dr, Des Moines, Iowa
Official website: http://salisburyhouse.org/
4. Des Moines Art Center
The Des Moines Art Center has been displaying fine art since 1948. During this period, the footprint, exhibits, and surrounding community of this important cultural site expanded.
There’s a lot to see at the Des Moines Art Center, with constantly rotating exhibitions by well-known local and national artists, as well as permanent works by artists like Matisse, Monet, and O’Keefe (to name a few). The Des Moines Arts Center is also proud to offer free admission.
To enrich all the experience the center has to offer, join one of the many educational programs or guided tours offered at the facility to learn about the artists behind the works.
The grounds of the Des Moines Arts Center are also beautifully maintained and perfect for a stroll. The adjacent Greenwood/Ashworth Park offers more outdoor playgrounds. For lunch, Art Center Cafe caters to artistic tastes.
Address: 4700 Grand Ave, Des Moines, Iowa
Official website: http://www.desmoinesartcenter.org/
5. Principal Park
Principal Park, once known as Sec Taylor Stadium, is located in downtown Des Moines, at the scenic confluence of the Iowa and Raccoon Rivers. Home to Iowa’s own AAA minor league baseball team, the Iowa Cubs, Principal Park was remodeled in 1992 and has since been considered one of the best minor league stadiums in the country.
But it wasn’t just the scenic stadium that got all the attention in the stands at the less tangible Principal Park. It can be the smell of freshly mown grass and hot dogs in the summer, or the stadium cheering for the home team, or the squeaky sound of a well-timed kick. Whatever it is, Principal Park has all the ingredients for America’s favorite pastime.
Add in additional games and special events to explore at Principal Park, including community events like the 4th of July fireworks and a season-long auto show, and you don’t even need to be a baseball fan to understand why Principal Park is so popular. At the premiere of Des Moines attractions.
Address: 50 309, 1 Line Drive, Des Moines, Iowa
Official website: http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t451
6. East Village
Over the past few decades, Des Moines has become a cultural center and capital of new tastes and styles. There is no better example of this culture emerging on the streets of the commercial and residential neighborhoods of the East Village.
Located just east of the Des Moines River in downtown, this up-and-coming community is surrounded by local restaurants, shops, and lively evenings to enjoy.
Unique diners like Tacopocalypse in the East Village serve up one of the best burritos in Iowa. Always trendy stores like RAYGUN really set the mood for the East Village, with a variety of galleries and art shows lined up throughout the neighborhood. For a unique twist on an American classic, the East Village’s Zombie Burger is known for its spooky patties and mixes.
Official website: https://eastvillagedesmoines.com/
7. Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
With plants ranging from temperate to tropical, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden takes you inside and out as you peruse the elaborate collections. There’s always something blooming in this urban botanical center.
Whether you’re taking an adult gardening lesson or attending a tastefully decorated event in the rental space, you can appreciate the beauty of the garden.
A popular way to get around is to get lost in the gardens on a self-guided tour. If you visit the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens during lunchtime, the Lattice Cafe located inside the gardens can make your visit here even more special.
Special events at the Botanical Gardens include “Plant Blues” during the winter and a four-day Spring Garden Festival.
Address: 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, Iowa
Official website: http://www.dmbotanicalgarden.com/
8. Water Works Park
The Waterworks Park has nearly 15,000 acres of green space close to the streets of downtown Des Moines. This manicured green space is popular for running, cycling, bird watching, fishing and intramural sports.
One of the many ways to enjoy all that Water Works Park has to offer is simply to wrap up in a blanket and relax in the sun. To expand your adventure from the park, a bike path winds its way up Fleur Drive and is linked to the waters and scenic walks of Lake Gray. It is also possible to rent a boat to enter the waters.
During the winter months, you can attend the park’s dazzling Jolly Holidays Lights display between holiday festivities. Waterworks Park is also a popular spot for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
Address: 2201 George Flagg Pkwy, Des Moines, Iowa
Official website: http://www.dmww.com/parks-events/water-works-park/
9. Iowa State Fair
In honor of promoting Iowa’s agricultural spirit, the Iowa State Fair is a nearly two-week celebration held at the Fairgrounds in Des Moines each August. It offers community members and visitors the opportunity to experience the many facets of the industry that defines the state. You don’t need to be a farmer or active in the farming industry to enjoy the Iowa State Fair, not at all.
The many ways to experience the Iowa State Fair include trade shows, exhibits, art galleries, rides, live music, and more food booths. The eleven days of the Iowa State Fair are packed with fun and events. Numerous local and well-known concerts are held at the fair every year.
Address: E University Ave & E 30th Street, Des Moines, Iowa
Official website: http://www.iowastatefair.org/
10. Hoyt Sherman Place
Originally built in 1877, Hoyt Sherman Plaza has been a cultural icon in Iowa for over a century. This one-time family home has long been an essential part of the Des Moines community, it’s more than just a sense of nostalgia. Rather, it was the stunning auditorium and world-class talent on stage that filled the seats and sold out quickly.
Hoyt Sherman Square has been renovated and preserved over the past century, including a major upgrade in 2003 that restored the space to its original glory. Today, when visiting this historic venue, you can expect a long list of shows, shows, and special events to choose from. Hoyt Sherman is just minutes from many well-known downtown restaurants and is often a popular choice for dinner and shows.
Address: 1501 Woodland Ave, Des Moines, Iowa
Official website: http://hoytsherman.org/
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Des Moines. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Des Moines, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.