It's always nice, on a cold winter day, to step into a steamy, verdant conservatory. And, if all you want is a hit of lush humidity, you'll be satisfied with the Des Moines Botanical Center, a small but appealing downtown attraction. Pathways wind among tropical foliage, and thanks to a stairway, you get to see the plants from different levels. Bright orange koi swirl in a pond beneath a bridge, providing a constant source of entertainment for little kids. Indeed, whenever we've come here, we've noticed that there are many young families, perhaps because toddlers don't catch on, as adults do, that once you've walked the figure-eight path, you've pretty much seen it all. Beyond the main conservatory, there are bonsai trees, orchids and other small indoor displays, plus a few outdoor gardens (in season). There is also a lunch-only cafe and a gift shop. Operated by the Des Moines Water Works, the botanical center isn't a blockbuster attraction, but with admission costing just $5 for adults, it's a great local resource, especially when the weather outside is frightful.