Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa – Places to Go and Tourist Attractions to See in Des Moines

Looking for exciting things to do in Des Moines, Iowa? From art centers to botanical gardens, there are plenty of attractions in Des Moines, IA for everyone.

things to do in des moines iowa

If you’re looking for things to do in Des Moines, Iowa, you’ve come to the right place! Whether you are a history buff or just looking for some family-friendly fun, Des Moines has something for everyone. Read on to discover all the exciting places.

Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa for History Buffs

There are plenty of things to do in Des Moines, Iowa, but where should you start? If you’re interested in the history of America, a visit to the Iowa State Capitol building is a must. It was completed in 1886 and is full of stunning architectural details. For a closer look at Iowa history, head to the State Historical Museum. This museum features exhibits on things like early pioneer life and the Civil War. There is also an extensive research library on site.

The Des Moines Art Center is a great option for those who appreciate newer history and art. This Modern and Contemporary Art Museum has a collection of works by famous American artists, as well as temporary exhibitions. Admission is free for everyone.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park

If you’re interested in modern art, you’re going to enjoy John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park, too. It’s home to over 30 large-scale sculptures by artists from all over the world, and it’s considered one of the most important collections of outdoor sculptures in the country.

Salisbury House and Gardens

This historic house was built in the 1920s and is full of beautiful art and furniture from that period. A tour of the house is a great way to learn about life in Des Moines during that time. Self-guided tours are $10 per person ($5 for children aged 6-12).

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World Food Prize Hall of Laureates

This is the perfect place to learn about the history of food and agriculture. The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates is dedicated to honoring those who have made significant contributions to this field. Admission is free, even to guided tours.

Fun Things to Do in Des Moines with Kids

What are some things to do in Des Moines, Iowa for the whole family? It’s a great city to visit with kids. They will love exploring the Science Center of Iowa, where they can learn about things like space and dinosaurs. Tickets are $13 or $11 if you book in advance. The center also has a planetarium and an IMAX theater.

The Blank Park Zoo is another great option for families. This zoo is home to over 2,800 animals, including lions, tigers, and penguins. Kids will also enjoy the playground and the carousel. Admission is $16 for adults and $10 for children under 12.

Des Moines is also home to a number of parks perfect for picnicking, playing, and just enjoying the outdoors. Gray’s Lake Park and Water Works Park are two of the most popular options.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

No matter what time of year it is, the Botanical Garden is worth a visit. In the spring, the tulips are in bloom and the gardens are absolutely beautiful. The garden also has a conservatory where you can see exotic plants from all over the world. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for youth.

Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden

This is the perfect place to see what plants grow well in Iowa. If you’re into gardening, definitely pay a visit – you might see some plants and designs you’ve never seen in home gardens.

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Places to Go in Des Moines, Iowa for Active Travelers

If you’re looking for things to do in Des Moines that are a little more active, there are plenty of options other than walking trails. The Water Works Park has an outdoor pool, a disc golf course, and a sand volleyball court.

For those interested in golf, there are a number of courses in the Des Moines area. The Willow Creek Golf Course is one of the most popular options. Another is the Waveland Golf Course, which is located in a park on the city’s east side.

If you’re looking for things to do that are a little more unique, try renting a canoe or kayak and paddling down the Des Moines River. You can also go horseback riding at one of the many stables in the area.

Where to Eat in Des Moines, Iowa

After a long day of exploring, you’re going to need a place to refuel. Fortunately, Des Moines has no shortage of great restaurants.

  • For a casual meal, head to Fong’s Pizza. This restaurant is known for its unique Asian-inspired pizzas.
  • If you’re in the mood for something a little fancier, try Django. This French restaurant serves classic dishes like escargot and beef bourguignon.
  • For a truly unique dining experience, check out Alba. This restaurant serves Italian-American food in an art gallery setting.
  • Zombie Burger is another popular option, especially with kids. This restaurant serves burger monstrosities with fun names like “The Walking Dead” and “Night of the Living Dead.”

Other Places to Visit in Des Moines

Interested in seeing more of Des Moines? Try these places where you can walk, shop, and admire some art or live performances.

Des Moines Civic Center

This is the perfect place to catch a show or attend a concert. The Civic Center is home to the Des Moines Symphony, the Opera, and the Ballet. It’s the biggest theater in IA, with a capacity of over two thousand people.

Iowa State Fairgrounds

The Iowa State Fairgrounds are also worth a visit. This is where the famous Iowa State Fair is held every year. The fairgrounds are home to a number of different attractions, including the Midway, the animal barns, and the grandstand.

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Farmers Market

A visit to the Des Moines Farmers Market is a must for anyone who loves fresh, local food. This market features vendors selling things like fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and honey. You can also find handmade goods like soap and jewelry.

East Village

This hip neighborhood is full of things to do in Des Moines, Iowa. Start with a coffee at one of the many local cafés, then explore the unique shops and art galleries. End your day with a delicious meal at one of the trendy restaurants in East Village.

West Des Moines

Just west of downtown Des Moines is the suburb of West Des Moines. One of the highlights is shopping at Jordan Creek Town Center. This mall features over 150 stores, as well as a movie theaters and several restaurants.

Visit Des Moines Next Summer and Have Fun

These are just a few of the things to do in Des Moines, Iowa. No matter what your interests are, you’ll find something to keep you busy during your visit. So start planning your trip today!


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