Des Moines Trip Guide | Midwest Living
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Des Moines Trip Guide

Des Moines, Iowa's capital city, gives artists, athletes and foodies alike plenty to love.
John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
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Iowa State Capitol.
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Alba.
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What to do

Adventureland Park One of Iowa’s largest tourist attractions, the theme park includes the state’s longest Lazy River. (800) 532-1286; adventurelandpark.com

Blank Park Zoo Walk among wallabies and see giraffes on the African boardwalk in this midsize zoo. (515) 285-4722; blankparkzoo.com

Brenton Skating Plaza Open seasonally, the outdoor rink along the Des Moines River stays busy with visitors eager to skate with the city skyline as their backdrop. (515) 284-1000; brentonplaza.com

Des Moines Symphony Masterworks concerts hit the stage each season; the free outdoor Yankee Doodle Pops concert is a local favorite. (515) 280-4004; dmsymphony.org

Downtown Farmers Market Offering fresh produce and street food, more than 200 vendors line blocked-off downtown streets Saturday mornings May through October. (515) 286-4950; desmoinesfarmersmarket.com

Historic Valley Junction The west-suburban antiquing and crafting district with more than 150 businesses is an appealing antique itself.  (515) 222-3642; valleyjunction.com

Iowa Cubs The Chicago Cubs’ triple-A affiliate plays in downtown’s Principal Park. (515) 243-6111; iowacubs.com

Iowa State Capitol Iowa’s capitol anchors trendy East Village.  (515) 281-5591; legis.iowa.gov

Iowa State Fair Held in August, the food (200-plus vendors), animals (the Big Boar!) and concerts highlight the summer. (800) 545-3247; iowastatefair.org

John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park You'll find 27 playful, surreal and modern sculptures at the park.  (515) 277-4405; desmoinesartcenter.org

Living History Farms Visitors love exploring three working farms, an 1875 town and more. (515) 278-5286; livinghistoryfarms.org

Science Center of Iowa Families, especially, enjoy hands-on exhibits, a star show and an Imax Dome Theater. (515) 274-6868; sciowa.org

Where to eat

801 Chophouse Savor USDA-prime steaks and great wine on the second floor of the city’s tallest building.  (515) 288-6000; 801chophouse.com

Alba A 1950s Art Moderne exterior gives way to an elegant wood and glass interior. It’s a bit noisy on weekends, but good wine, an interesting menu and solid service work magic. Seasonal salads, chorizo fries, and lava cake with sea salt and buttermilk ice cream all score. (515) 244-0261; albadsm.com

Bistro Montage Just west of downtown, a chef-owned spot delivers classic French cuisine via a knowledgeable waitstaff. (515) 557-1924; bistromontage.com

Centro Crowds come in for contemporary Italian. If you want room for steak, pasta, panini or thin-crust pizza, beware the basket of addictive fresh focaccia. (515) 248-1780; centrodesmoines.com

Django If French restaurants make you nervous, quell your fear at this pleasantly unfroufrou brasserie. The menu offers cozy plates (mac and cheese) and foodie delights (raw oyster bar), and you can even BYOWine.  (515) 288-0268; djangodesmoines.com

Hagar’s Manhattan Deli Call ahead for your great, no-frills deli sandwich, or go after the lunch rush. Cash or check only. (515) 274-1208; hagarsmanhattandeli.com

Miyabi 9 In downtown’s hip East Village, Miyabi Yamamoto rolls some of the city’s best sushi.  (515) 288-8885; miyabi9.com

Palmer’s Deli and Market  Parking is tough here at lunchtime, and for good reason: fresh-made sandwiches, soups, salads and jumbo cookies. (515) 274-4004; palmersdeliandmarket.com

Sbrocco You’ll love the inventive American cuisine and a super-stocked wine bar in downtown’s Court Avenue district. (515) 282-3663; sbroccowine.com

Tursi’s Latin King A family-owned favorite, it has served Italian fare for more than 60 years on the East Side. Try the toasted ravioli. (515) 266-4466; tursislatinking.com

Where to stay

Ramada Tropics Resort and Conference Center The remodeled property just off Interstate-80 has an indoor water park with five big water slides. From $99, including water park passes. (515) 278-0271; ramadatropicsresort.com

Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel The historical hotel connects to attractions via the downtown skywalk system. From $129. (515) 244-2151; renaissancesavery.com

For information: Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 451-2625; catchdesmoines.com

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