Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, is a city packed with fun attractions. From interesting museums through to stunning botanical gardens and parks showcasing fine art, we’ve rounded up the best things to do in Des Moines:
1. Pappajohn Sculpture Park
Husband and wife duo Mary and John Pappajohn are philanthropists keen to add a splash of art to cityscapes. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park is located by a major crossroads by downtown Des Moines. The park is filled with beautiful sculptures and artworks that were donated by the Pappajohns. It’s a great place to go for a picnic, and you can relax amongst fine art in the sunshine. The park also has chess tables and there’s a library visitors can explore.
2. Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo is home to over 800 furry animals, from penguins to giraffes and even rare red pandas. It’s the perfect place for a family day out, with train rides, carousels, and fun activities year-round. You can also take part in giraffe or parakeet feeding, or hop on a camel for a ride.
3. Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a stunning public garden that spans over seven acres in downtown Des Moines. The garden is filled with beautiful, exotic plants and there are regular exhibits showing seasonal blooms. Part of the gardens is located in a show-stopping geo-dome. It’s one of the best things to do in Des Moines, and you’ll be wanting to take plenty of pictures, so make sure your camera is fully charged.
4. Des Moines Art Center
The Des Moines Art Center is a free museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The Art Center is a museum and learning institute and is home to a world-class art collection. The center features excellent art exhibitions, so be sure to check out the current program. The art center is also home to the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden, so you can hit two birds with one stone and visit both.
5. State Historical Museum of Iowa
Want to find out more about the history of Iowa? Take a trip to the State Historical Museum of Iowa where you can see thousands of artifacts related to the state’s history. You can find out what life was like before Iowa became an official state, and what it was like to live there as a new settler. The museum also showcases some of the state’s natural resources and details the historic events and role of Iowa in the bloody American Civil War.
6. The Iowa Downtown Farmers’ Market
Head to the Iowa Downtown Farmers’ Market, where you can buy fresh foods, delicious artisanal goods and stock up on homemade jams. There are almost three hundred registered vendors selling delicious supplies and snacks. There’s also live music and fun activities for children, making it a great family day out.
7. Science Center of Iowa
At the Science Center of Iowa, you’ll find a jam-packed interactive science museum, will cool displays and galleries and educational learning tabs. There’s also a planetarium and an IMAX cinema where you can transport yourself to a three-dimensional world.