Des Moines Trip Guide | Midwest Living

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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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;

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

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;

Des Moines Symphony Masterworks concerts hit the stage each season; the free outdoor Yankee Doodle Pops concert is a local favorite. (515) 280-4000;

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;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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;

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;

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

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;

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;

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;

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

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;

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;

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. (515) 278-0271;

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

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