Looking for things to do in Des Moines? On a recent trip we found some great options in and near Des Moines, IA.
Welcome to Des Moines, Iowa, a city that beautifully combines Midwestern hospitality with vibrant urban attractions. Nestled along the banks of the Des Moines River, this capital city offers a surprising blend of rich history, natural beauty, cultural treasures, and a thriving food and arts scene. Let’s delve into some fun things to do in Des Moines.
Exploring Beauty at the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden
Nestled in the heart of Des Moines, Iowa, lies a horticultural haven that has enchanted gardening enthusiasts for decades. The Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden, a living masterpiece, offers visitors a captivating display of botanical wonders. With its meticulously curated landscapes, vibrant blooms, and innovative gardening techniques, this garden serves as both a source of inspiration and a testament to the artistry of gardening.
The Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden is a true oasis for green thumbs and nature lovers alike. Spread across several acres, this meticulously designed garden showcases a diverse collection of plants, flowers, and trees that thrive in the Midwest region. As you meander through its enchanting pathways, you’ll discover breathtaking displays of color and texture, carefully arranged to create harmonious compositions. From the vibrant hues of blooming perennials to the delicate petals of heirloom roses, each corner of the garden offers a visual feast that changes with the seasons.
What sets the Test Garden apart is its role as a living laboratory for experimentation and innovation. As part of Better Homes and Gardens magazine’s mission to inspire and educate garden enthusiasts, the garden serves as a testing ground for new varieties of plants, hybrids, and gardening techniques. Visitors can witness firsthand the results of ongoing experiments, gaining insights into the latest trends and advancements in the world of horticulture.
Beyond its captivating aesthetics, the Test Garden also offers a wealth of knowledge through informative signage, guided tours, and occasional workshops. Expert gardeners and horticulturists are on hand to share their expertise, answering questions and providing valuable tips for creating beautiful and sustainable gardens. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener looking for fresh ideas or a beginner seeking inspiration, the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden is an invaluable resource.
In addition to its educational value, the Test Garden serves as a tranquil retreat, offering a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. As you wander through the meticulously manicured landscapes, you’ll find hidden nooks, serene water features, and cozy seating areas where you can pause, reflect, and connect with nature. It’s a place where the soothing melodies of chirping birds and the gentle rustling of leaves create a symphony that rejuvenates the soul.
The Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden is a true gem within Des Moines, inviting visitors into a world of beauty, inspiration, and innovation. Whether you’re a passionate gardener seeking ideas or simply appreciate the splendor of nature, this enchanting garden is a must-visit destination. Experience the magic of the Test Garden as it harmoniously blends artistry, knowledge, and the wonders of the natural world, leaving you inspired and eager to create your own garden paradise.
Artistic Marvels Unveiled: Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines
Also in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, lies a captivating outdoor gallery that seamlessly melds art and nature. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park, an urban oasis, beckons art enthusiasts, nature lovers, and curious visitors alike. With its thought-provoking sculptures and serene surroundings, this park offers a unique experience that celebrates the intersection of creativity and the great outdoors.
The Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a testament to the power of art to transform public spaces. Spanning over four acres, this open-air gallery showcases an impressive collection of contemporary sculptures by renowned artists from around the world. From towering steel structures to whimsical installations, each piece tells its own captivating story and sparks dialogue within the viewer.
As you explore the park’s meandering pathways, you’ll encounter a harmonious fusion of art and nature. The sculptures are strategically placed amidst lush greenery, blooming flowers, and reflective ponds, creating a mesmerizing juxtaposition that invites contemplation and introspection. The ever-changing seasons provide a dynamic backdrop, transforming the park into a living canvas that evolves with time.
The Pappajohn Sculpture Park not only offers visual delights but also encourages interactive engagement with the artwork. Visitors are encouraged to touch, photograph, and even sit on certain sculptures, fostering a deeper connection and appreciation for the artistic expressions on display. This hands-on approach creates a unique experience where art becomes a tangible and immersive journey.
Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the park serves as a gathering place for the community, hosting various events, educational programs, and guided tours. Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or a novice in the world of sculptures, the park’s knowledgeable staff and volunteers are readily available to provide insights, historical context, and anecdotes about the artists and their creations.
As you take a moment to soak in the tranquility of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, you’ll find yourself transported into a world of imagination and creativity. Each sculpture holds the power to evoke emotions, challenge perspectives, and inspire conversation. It’s a space where art transcends boundaries, inviting people from all walks of life to appreciate and engage with the beauty that exists within the intersection of culture and nature.
The Pappajohn Sculpture Park stands as a testament to Des Moines’ commitment to fostering a vibrant arts scene within a natural setting. With its thought-provoking sculptures, serene landscapes, and a touch of whimsy, this urban oasis invites visitors to embark on a visual journey that leaves a lasting impression. Immerse yourself in the artistry of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, where creativity flourishes amidst nature’s embrace, and be inspired by the boundless possibilities that art can bring to the world.
Window Shopping At American Dream Machines
American Dream Machines is a haven for automobile enthusiasts and collectors, where classic cars and vintage vehicles take center stage. Located in Des Moines, Iowa, this premier dealership showcases an impressive array of meticulously restored automobiles that embody the essence of American automotive history. From iconic muscle cars and sleek convertibles to elegant sedans and rugged trucks, American Dream Machines offers a glimpse into the bygone eras of American automobile design and craftsmanship.
With their attention to detail and commitment to preserving automotive heritage, American Dream Machines provides an opportunity to experience the nostalgia and allure of these timeless machines firsthand. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or simply an admirer of automotive artistry, a visit to American Dream Machines promises to be a journey through the captivating chapters of American motoring culture.
Zombie Burger: A Ghoulishly Delicious Dining Experience in Des Moines
Prepare to indulge in a dining adventure like no other as we step into the realm of Zombie Burger in Des Moines, Iowa. This eccentric eatery brings together two unexpected worlds—zombies and gourmet burgers—to create a dining experience that is equal parts delicious and delightfully macabre. Get ready to sink your teeth into a culinary journey that combines inventive flavor combinations, a lively atmosphere, and a healthy dose of undead charm.
Zombie Burger is a haven for burger enthusiasts who crave more than just a typical patty between two buns. The menu boasts an array of creatively crafted burgers that will tantalize your taste buds and satisfy even the most monstrous of appetites. From the “Undead Elvis,” featuring peanut butter, fried banana, bacon, and mayo, to the “Walking Ched,” adorned with macaroni and cheese, bacon, and caramelized onions, each burger creation is a culinary masterpiece that pushes the boundaries of flavor.
But Zombie Burger is more than just its extraordinary burgers; it’s an immersive dining experience. The restaurant’s interior pays homage to the undead, with zombie-themed decor, eerie lighting, and a quirky ambiance that transports guests into a post-apocalyptic world. From the moment you step inside, you’ll be greeted by friendly staff members who are equally enthusiastic about their food and the undead theme.
To complement the main attraction, Zombie Burger offers a variety of sides and appetizers that are equally as tempting as the burgers themselves. Indulge in “Brainfood” like the “Fried Pickles of the Living Dead” or the “Poutine of the Damned,” a sinful combination of fries, cheese curds, and rich gravy. Wash it all down with a selection of creative milkshakes, such as the “Mint-Oreo Hurl,” or sip on a craft beer from their extensive menu, including zombie-themed brews.
For those seeking a vegetarian or vegan option, Zombie Burger has got you covered with their “Vegetarian R.I.P.” and “Vegan R.I.P.” burgers, ensuring that all diners can partake in the culinary madness.
Zombie Burger has become a beloved fixture in Des Moines, not only for its extraordinary cuisine but also for its commitment to quality and the community. With its involvement in local events, partnerships with neighboring businesses, and support of charitable causes, Zombie Burger has solidified its place as more than just a restaurant—it’s a vibrant and inclusive gathering spot that brings people together through their love of bold flavors and creative dining experiences.
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary dining adventure in Des Moines, Zombie Burger is the place to be. With its delectable and daring burger creations, uniquely themed ambiance, and a commitment to community engagement, Zombie Burger invites you to unleash your inner zombie and savor the ghoulishly delicious flavors that await. Embrace the macabre charm and sink your teeth into an unforgettable culinary experience that will leave you hungry for more.
Vibrant Bounty: Exploring the Downtown Farmer’s Market in Des Moines
A vibrant tapestry of colors, aromas, and flavors awaits you at the Downtown Farmer’s Market in Des Moines, Iowa. This bustling open-air market is a celebration of local agriculture, culinary treasures, and community spirit. With its vast array of fresh produce, artisanal products, and lively atmosphere, the Downtown Farmer’s Market is a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts, artisans, and anyone seeking an authentic taste of Iowa’s agricultural abundance.
The Downtown Farmer’s Market transforms the streets of Des Moines into a bustling hub of activity every week. From the early morning hours, the market comes alive with a kaleidoscope of stalls offering a vast selection of farm-fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Local farmers proudly display their bountiful harvests, providing visitors with an opportunity to connect with the source of their food, learn about sustainable farming practices, and support the local agricultural community.
But the market is not just about produce. It’s a treasure trove of artisanal delights. Skilled artisans and craftsmen showcase their unique creations, ranging from handmade soaps and candles to intricately crafted jewelry and textiles. The market’s bustling aisles invite you to explore, engage with the vendors, and discover one-of-a-kind treasures that celebrate the creativity and craftsmanship of the local community.
As you wander through the market, tantalizing scents waft through the air, beckoning you to indulge in the diverse array of culinary offerings. Food vendors entice visitors with an array of mouthwatering treats, from freshly baked bread and pastries to gourmet cheeses, cured meats, and international cuisine. Whether you’re craving a hearty breakfast sandwich, a flavorful ethnic dish, or a refreshing cold-pressed juice, the Downtown Farmer’s Market satisfies every palate and invites you to savor the flavors of the region.
The market is not just about shopping; it’s a vibrant gathering place that fosters a sense of community. Local musicians provide a lively soundtrack, creating an upbeat ambiance as visitors peruse the stalls. Families gather to enjoy live entertainment, children’s activities, and the opportunity to connect with friends and neighbors. The market buzzes with energy, fostering a sense of belonging and reminding us of the importance of supporting local businesses and the vibrant tapestry of the community.
In addition to its weekly festivities, the Downtown Farmer’s Market also hosts special events throughout the year, including seasonal celebrations, cooking demonstrations, and educational workshops. These events provide an immersive experience, deepening visitors’ appreciation for the local food culture and offering valuable insights into sustainable living and healthy eating.
The Downtown Farmer’s Market in Des Moines offers a captivating blend of farm-fresh produce, artisanal creations, and community connections. It’s a place where farmers, artisans, and food enthusiasts come together, celebrating the rich agricultural heritage and fostering a sense of community. Immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of flavors, scents, and camaraderie as you explore the market’s diverse offerings. Experience the charm and authenticity of the Downtown Farmer’s Market and discover firsthand why it has become a beloved gathering place that nourishes both body and soul.
All Aboard the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad: A Journey into Nostalgia
Step back in time and embark on an enchanting journey through Iowa’s picturesque countryside aboard the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad. Located in Boone, Iowa, this historic railroad offers a unique and nostalgic experience that delights passengers of all ages. With its vintage steam and diesel locomotives, breathtaking landscapes, and a touch of old-world charm, the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad promises an unforgettable adventure filled with awe-inspiring scenery and the rhythmic melodies of the tracks.
The Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad transports visitors to a bygone era of rail travel, where the pace was leisurely, and the journey was as important as the destination. The main attraction is the meticulously restored vintage train cars, including beautifully preserved wooden coaches and historic cabooses. As you board the train, the steam locomotive’s powerful whistle reverberates through the air, igniting a sense of excitement and anticipation for the voyage ahead.
Once the train departs, passengers are treated to panoramic views of Iowa’s stunning landscapes. The gently rolling hills, lush forests, and meandering rivers create a picturesque backdrop that seems straight out of a postcard. Whether you choose a scenic excursion or a themed event ride, such as a murder mystery dinner or a holiday-themed journey, the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad offers an immersive experience that immerses you in the beauty of the region.
As the train chugs along, the friendly and knowledgeable crew shares fascinating stories and insights into the history of the railroad and the communities it traverses. You’ll learn about the pivotal role the railroad played in the development of Iowa and gain a newfound appreciation for the ingenuity and perseverance of those who built and operated these iron horses.
The Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad goes beyond its captivating train rides. It also houses a fascinating museum, showcasing an impressive collection of historic locomotives, vintage railway equipment, and interactive exhibits. Visitors can explore the inner workings of a steam locomotive, try their hand at operating a model train, or delve into the intriguing stories of railroading pioneers.
The railroad’s dedication to preserving history extends to its meticulously maintained facilities and attentive staff. Every detail, from the period-inspired uniforms of the crew to the vintage advertisements adorning the train cars, contributes to an authentic and immersive experience that transports passengers to a different time.
The Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad offers a captivating journey into the past, where the spirit of rail travel and the beauty of Iowa’s landscapes unite. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply seeking a unique and nostalgic adventure, this historic railroad delivers an unforgettable experience. Immerse yourself in the rhythmic sounds of the locomotive, marvel at the breathtaking scenery, and embrace the sense of wonder that comes with stepping aboard the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad. It’s a journey that rekindles the magic of rail travel and invites you to create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
Ledges State Park: Nature’s Majestic Playground in Iowa
Nestled in the heart of Iowa, Ledges State Park stands as a testament to the state’s natural beauty and outdoor wonders. With its rugged cliffs, scenic trails, and meandering rivers, this enchanting park offers visitors an escape into a world of tranquility and adventure. Whether you’re a hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a serene retreat, Ledges State Park beckons with its breathtaking landscapes and a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur.
Ledges State Park is a nature lover’s paradise, boasting an array of outdoor activities and scenic vistas. The park’s most striking feature is its majestic sandstone cliffs, which rise dramatically from the banks of the Des Moines River. These towering rock formations, shaped by centuries of wind and water erosion, provide a stunning backdrop for the park’s trails and overlooks.
Hiking enthusiasts will find themselves in awe as they explore the park’s extensive network of trails. From leisurely strolls along the riverbanks to challenging hikes through wooded valleys, Ledges State Park offers a diverse range of terrain and difficulty levels to suit every adventurer. As you traverse the trails, keep an eye out for unique geological formations, picturesque waterfalls, and an abundance of native wildlife.
For those seeking a refreshing escape on a hot summer’s day, Ledges State Park provides several opportunities for water-based recreation. The Des Moines River offers a scenic backdrop for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing, allowing visitors to connect with nature and experience the serenity of the flowing waters. Picnic areas and playgrounds dotted throughout the park provide a perfect setting for families and friends to gather and enjoy a day of relaxation and outdoor fun.
Nature photography enthusiasts will find endless inspiration within the park’s boundaries. With its diverse ecosystems, vibrant flora, and resident wildlife, Ledges State Park presents a myriad of opportunities to capture breathtaking shots. Whether it’s the vibrant colors of fall foliage, the delicate beauty of wildflowers, or the graceful flight of a bald eagle, each season brings its own enchanting moments that beg to be preserved through the lens.
As the day draws to a close, visitors can witness the park’s transition into a tranquil oasis. The setting sun casts a golden glow on the sandstone cliffs, creating a serene atmosphere that is perfect for reflection and relaxation. Camping facilities within the park provide an opportunity to extend your stay and immerse yourself in the soothing sounds of nature, allowing you to experience the true essence of Ledges State Park.
Ledges State Park invites you to embark on a captivating journey through Iowa’s natural wonders. With its awe-inspiring cliffs, scenic trails, and opportunities for outdoor recreation, this hidden gem offers a sanctuary for those seeking solace and adventure in equal measure. Embrace the serenity of the landscape, immerse yourself in the vibrant colors of nature, and let Ledges State Park be your gateway to a world where beauty and tranquility converge. Discover the magic of this remarkable park, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
High Trestle Trail Bridge: A Spectacular Fusion of Art and Nature in Iowa
An architectural marvel that seamlessly blends artistry, engineering, and natural beauty, the High Trestle Trail Bridge in Iowa is a destination like no other. Spanning the picturesque Des Moines River Valley, this iconic bridge captivates visitors with its striking design, breathtaking views, and a captivating display of illuminated artwork. Whether you’re a cyclist, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking an unforgettable experience, the High Trestle Trail Bridge promises to leave an indelible mark on your senses.
The High Trestle Trail Bridge stands as a testament to the power of creativity and innovation. Its unique design, inspired by the area’s mining and railroad history, features a series of imposing steel frames that mimic the shape of a mining trestle. These frames, adorned with intricate patterns and cutouts, create a sense of transparency, allowing visitors to admire the surrounding natural beauty while walking or cycling across the bridge.
The bridge’s true magic is unveiled after sunset when the artwork truly comes to life. As darkness falls, an enchanting display of blue LED lights illuminates the structure, transforming it into a mesmerizing work of art. The lights, arranged in a zigzag pattern along the bridge’s length, create an ethereal glow that evokes a sense of wonder and awe. Strolling or cycling across the bridge at night becomes a surreal experience, as the twinkling lights guide you through a celestial corridor suspended above the river valley.
Beyond its architectural marvels, the High Trestle Trail Bridge offers a gateway to Iowa’s breathtaking landscapes. The bridge is part of the expansive High Trestle Trail, a converted railroad corridor that stretches for 25 miles, showcasing the state’s natural beauty. Whether you choose to explore the trail on foot or by bike, you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas, serene woodlands, and glimpses of wildlife that call this region home. The bridge itself serves as a vantage point to behold the scenic beauty of the Des Moines River Valley, creating a perfect backdrop for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.
The High Trestle Trail Bridge is more than just a remarkable engineering feat; it’s also a symbol of community collaboration and pride. It serves as a testament to the vision and dedication of local residents and organizations who transformed the former railroad corridor into a cherished recreational resource for all to enjoy. The bridge has become a gathering place for locals and visitors alike, fostering a sense of community and providing an avenue for people to connect with each other and the surrounding natural world.
The High Trestle Trail Bridge is a testament to human ingenuity, artistic expression, and the beauty of Iowa’s landscapes. From its awe-inspiring design and illuminated artwork to the breathtaking vistas it offers, this iconic bridge provides an experience that transcends mere transportation. Whether you’re a cyclist, a nature lover, or simply seeking a unique and memorable adventure, a visit to the High Trestle Trail Bridge promises to ignite your imagination and leave you with a profound appreciation for the convergence of art, engineering, and the splendor of nature. Step onto the bridge, immerse yourself in its beauty, and let your senses soar as you create memories that will last a lifetime.
Of course there are many more things to do in Des Moines, Iowa, but that is what we discovered on our recent trip. Be sure to check out our video and come along on our explorations.