Des Moines is the capital city of Iowa. It is less than an hour away from Chicago.
Over the years, tourists always overlook the city in favor of bigger metros in the region. Minneapolis, for example, is one such example of a mighty city.
The city of Des Moines does not have any conventional touristy sights. It does not have a water park. Nor does the city have a huge mall like in other cities.
In fact, one of the things that make Des Moines is its lack of these sights. Des Moines is a great place but not in a conventional sense.
We may have other definitions of an amazing holiday destination. Des Moines differs from these definitions. Yet, it is beautiful in its most real sense.
For once, it has one of the most incredible farmers’ markets in the US.
Driving to Des Moines, one may contend about how plain and boring the views are. You will never see other than farmlands.
These farmlands are what makes Des Moines’s farmers’ markets wonderful. Whether it is flowers you want to buy or fresh rabbit meat, Des Moines has it.
Des Moines has 58 different counties. They then bring produce that is bountiful beyond compare. This is the reason why the markets from May to October are full of visitors. During these times, the streets will always be full.
Aside from the markets, Des Moines is an amazing city. You may think of Des Moines as boring. You may even find it hard to do something worthwhile while in town.
What you don’t know is that the city also has fantastic restaurants. These restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries are as trendy as those in other cities.
Not only that, but if you are into the arts, this city can be your best bet. It has parks and art centers that feature some of the best artists in the country.
And finally, one of the things that make a Des Moines visit is its affordability. The city is not expensive. It has a cost of living that is lower than most in the region. Plus, the attractions do not have exorbitant entrance fees.
The city will always be a great weekend getaway. When you are low on cash but want a great weekend, Des Moines is something you can consider.
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What is there to do in Des Moines today?
The state of Iowa is still in the works. At the forefront of Iowa’s building is the city of Des Moines.
The city is rich in arts and history. It has a history that spans almost two hundred years.
Over many decades, the city becomes home to many attractions; most of them are worth a visit.
Here are some activities you can do while in Des Moines.
Science Center of Iowa
People will always consider this as a place for kids. But while kids enjoy the place, I also find that adults enjoy it as much as the kids do.
The center is proud of its hands-on exhibits. These exhibits encourage the experiential kind of learning. It also houses a planetarium where you can gaze upon the stars. And finally, it also has an IMAX theater for a better view of the world.
And because kids love it, you may want your kids to join various camps hosted by the center. There are workshops and after-school programming. These are popular with kids and adults alike,
Salisbury House and Gardens
The southern neighborhood of the Grand Avenue houses the Salisbury House and Gardens.
I should tell you that the house is not occupied. But this 42-room structure still brings with it a lot of life and culture to the people who visit.
From historical artifacts to antique wares, the house has something for everyone.
It asks for a small admission fee. The fees go to the Salisbury House Foundation. For such a small fee, you can explore the parts of the house they were able to preserve.
There are also tours. If I may suggest, you take these tours. Being with them gives you the opportunity to visit the corners of the house that are off-limits to most. This includes the library and the study.
Des Moines Art Center
The Des Moines Art Center had been in existence since 1948.
Over the years, the city has seen a lot of improvements and expansions to this art center.
The art center features many exhibits from local and national artists. Aside from that, there are permanent exhibits from various popular artists. These includes Matisse and Monet. There are also pieces made by O’Keefe.
There are tours that make your exploration easy.
And to top it all off, the grounds of the art center are relaxing. The grounds are perfect for a stroll after exploring the arts of Des Moines.
Downtown Farmers’ Market
This is one of the best farmers’ markets you can ever visit.
The market supports about 300 artists, bakers, and farmers of the city. The market has been helping the rural and urban communities connect for more than four decades, t .
It is common to see flowers alongside vegetables and fruits in the market. Plus, there’s cheese, herbs, eggs, and meat.
On a sunny summer day, this is a great way to spend your weekends.
Aside from the stuff you can buy, the market also holds events.
Des Moines Performing Arts
This is a non-profit arts organization. It owns and manages a 2,735-seat area at the Des Moines Civic Center in Walnut Street.
The organization was born in 1979. It was able to produce a Broadway series and other productions for many years.
If you are looking for a special date night in Des Moines, consider this option.
What is there to do in Des Moines for free?
The city of Des Moines has been on its way to becoming its region’s art capital.
We know Des Moines as the location of many insurance companies. Des Moines also brings with it a fascinating political landscape.
Aside from these, the city is also dripping with artistic vibes. It has sculpture parks and botanical gardens. It also has decent shopping and dining scenes.
But what are the things you can do in the city for free?
Here are a few things you can consider.
From afar, you can already see the capitol’s gold dome. It provides for an Instagram-worthy image from the outside. But explore it on the inside, and you won’t regret it.
It is home to the governor’s office. Aside from that, Iowa’s other government sectors are also in the building. This includes the Iowa Senate and the Iowa House of Representatives.
Aside from all the power you find inside the building; there is art.
Inside, there are large art masterpieces that awe every visiting tourist. And what makes this building unique is that its design is hand-carved.
There are free guided tours available. While that is something you can do, it is also possible to roam the halls on your own.
There’s a library on the second floor you can visit. Or you can stand on top of the glass floor, giving you a beautiful view of the dome interior.
John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
In central Des Moines lies a 4-acre sculpture park. It attracts visitors and locals alike.
The park houses more than 20 sculptures from different artists. It has been entertaining both locals and visitors alike for many years.
The Sculpture Garden and its neighboring areas are great all year round. But during summer, the area is host to various gatherings, including art festivals.
One such festival is the Des Moines Art Festival. It happens every June and attracts artists from all over the country.
The neighboring Western Gateway Park is also host to music gatherings. An example of such a gathering is the 80/35 Music Festival.
The Iowa State Fair
Whether you are a farmer or not, this state fair is something you don’t want to miss. The fair gives locals and tourists alike the chance to experience Iowa.
Over the two-week period, there are many activities you can enjoy. There are trade shows, exhibits, and art galleries. There are also amusement rides and live music all throughout. And who would ever forget the food stands?
The Iowa State Fair is something most people look forward to each year. It happens every August. So, mark your calendars!
Robert D Ray Asian Gardens
Sitting on the eastern bank of the Des Moines River is this beautiful Asian garden.
With an interesting Asian pavilion on top of a flowing stream, this garden is something you may want to see. It is large at 1.4 acres. The garden is full of stone pagodas everywhere.
Aside from that, it also has sculptural rock formations. Such formations make the garden more attractive.
There are a lot of free activities to do when in Des Moines. Aside from these places, the city is full of art to last you a lifetime.
Is Des Moines safe?
The city of Des Moines is the capital of Iowa.
Like any other major city, there are crimes. And like other major cities in the US, the crime rates can be higher than the average.
Over the years, there are a lot of crimes recorded. There are petty crimes, a few violent ones, and some property crimes.
But despite these, why are there people who choose to move to Des Moines?
Well, Des Moines may have crimes higher than the national average, but it is lower than most major cities.
There may be burglaries and assaults here and there. But this does not mean that it is already dangerous. Des Moines is better than most cities in the state.
This is the type of city that considers it horrible if 12 people get killed in a year. So yes, there are crimes around. But when you compare Des Moines with other cities in the region, this is safer.
One thing you have to note, though, is “hate crime.” Des Moines seems to have a rising number of hate crimes.
For the LGBTQ+ community planning to move to the city, you may want to check this out first.
Is Des Moines a good place to live?
Even if the city brings excellent jobs and a decent quality of life, most people seem to overlook Des Moines.
Des Moines is a pretty nice place to live. It offers great-paying jobs. The homes are cheaper than anywhere else in the region. Plus, it has a shorter commutes.
But despite all these, people don’t think the city is desirable enough.
If there is one thing you should know, it is that Des Moines is 11th in the rankings. This is on the list of the best places to live in in the US.
Over the years, Des Moines is always proud of its rankings. While 11th may be an excellent ranking for some, it cannot be delightful for a local. Here are the reasons why.
Des Moines brings with it the best when it comes to value. This only means one thing. It is that your household income gets the best value when in the city. Compare it with the city’s cost of living; you get more when in Des Moines.
The city is also great when it comes to providing jobs. With an unemployment rate of 2.9%, who can ever complain?
Over the years, the city is becoming home to most migrants. With a net migration rate of 7.6%, we are sure to see an increase in population in the next few years.
And before I forget, the city offers short commutes. In fact, Des Moines is second in the country when it comes to the shortest commute times. The average commute time in the city is 20 minutes.
I hope you’re not stuck in traffic right now. Because if you are, you may want to reconsider your priorities.
Des Moines is waiting!