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Des Moines, Iowa

Local Details

Learn more about Des Moines, Iowa using the City Guide below. Plan a trip, find local shopping centers, or just discover what makes Des Moines, Iowa so great!

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City Guide

Des Moines is the capital city of Iowa, located in the central region of the state.


Des Moines is the capital of Iowa, which rests in the midwestern region of the United States of America. Des Moines is located in Polk County. Iowa touches the Mississippi River on its eastern edge and Missouri River on its western side. Des Moines is approximately 500 miles south of the Canada/US border and the city is in the south-central portion of the state. Des Moines and all of Iowa sit in the Central Standard Time zone (CST) which is six hours behind GMT.

The meaning of 'Des Moines' itself is not clear as local Native Americans, the Moingona, had already been using a term which meant 'river of the mounds' due to the number of burial mounds which were popular in the area. French Trappist Monks (Moines de la Trappe) called their settlement areas at the mouth of the Des Moines river 'La Riviere des Moines' which, in English, translates to 'the river of the monks.' "De Moyn," which means "middle," may have been used on the map of French explorer Jacques Marquette to help others locate the Des Moines River-area which is equidistant between the larger Mississippi and Missouri rivers. "Des Moines," today pronounced "Duh Moyne," also benefits from the Raccoon River.

In 1843, the War Department set up a military garrison, to be known as Fort Des Moines, following the advice from an Indian Agent named John Dougherty who was serving in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Dougherty's recommendation was to create a military fort at the mouth of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers. The intent of this military post was to provide troops to protect the Sac (Sak) and Fox tribes from abusive settlers, traders, and the prowling Sioux. Fort Des Moines was settled in May of 1843 by a group of dragoons from the Sac and Fox Agency (Fort Sanford) led by Captain James Allen. Originally, Allen was going to name the area Fort Raccoon but was instructed by the War Department to use the name Fort Des Moines. It was in 1846, after the Fort had dissolved that same year, the city of Des Moines was officially created.

In 2003, US Census Bureau data estimated the population of Des Moines proper to be at 196,093. Polk County, according to 2005 estimates, had a population of 401,006. The Des Moines metro area is estimated at over 600,000 persons. Des Moines covers 76 square miles with a population density of 2,621.3 persons per square mile. Des Moines has a 82.3% makeup of white persons, according to the Census.


The climate of Des Moines is as varied as the inhabitants who live here. In the summer, temperatures can reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit; in the winter, meanwhile, temperatures often plunge below zero degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill factors several degrees less. The spring is varied, with times of cold (low 40s), hard rains or moments of abnormal warmth (mid-70s). Fall is probably the most sustained time of year, as temperatures in the day are typically 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit. September can be quite hot and humid some years, however. The area is also associated with a high degree of humidity.

Due in part to the moist and rich soils that make Iowa an agricultural powerhouse, summers are filled with very moist and rich air. Coupled with heat, this can result in a very high "heat index," which is a measure of how difficult it is for a human to dissipate body heat through perspiration. This does make outdoor life very uncomfortable (and sometimes dangerous) for those unaccustomed to such conditions, even visitors from the southwestern US or other hot desert climates.

Professional Sports

The citizens of Des Moines are known for their loyalty to their home teams. While the city is not host to any of the "big league" teams, the games are likely just as competitive and there's plenty left in your wallet after you've purchased a ticket. Home games are well-attended and often times the team is tops in its own respective league in terms of attendance. This may be one reason why Des Moines-based teams are rarely found in the lower-half of their divisional standings and often times vying for post-season play.

  • Iowa Cubs, Principal Park, One Line Drive, +1 515-243-6111 or +1 800-GO-ICUBS. Member of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (one level below the Major League's) and the top farm team of the Chicago Cubs. The team is consistently atop or near the top of attendance figures each year. Great for all levels of baseball enthusiasts. Great view of downtown and adult reserved seats start at just $8. All sorts of events available for kids, too. Usually have fireworks every Friday night.
  • Iowa Stars, Wells Fargo Arena, 833 5th Avenue, +1 515-23-STARS. Top level hockey team of Des Moines. Members of the American Hockey League (AHL). Top development team for National Hockey League's (NHL) Dallas Stars. Also affiliated with NHL's Edmonton Oilers for 2006-'07 season. Tickets start at $10 and go up to $50.
  • Des Moines Menace, Waukee Stadium in Waukee, +1 515-226-9890. Semi-professional soccer team of Des Moines. Winners of the 2006 Premier Development League (PDL). Most tickets are $10 or less. Very family friendly.
  • Des Moines Buccaneers, 95KGGO Arena, 7201 Hickman Road in Urbandale, +1 515-278-9857. United States Hockey League (USHL) Tier 1 team member. Adult tickets start at $12. Very close to the ice no matter where one sits. National champions in 1991-'92, '94-'95, '97-'98, and '05-'06 seasons.
  • Drake Relays, Drake University's Drake Stadium. Arguably the nation's top track & field event. The Relays are held every year during the last weekend in April. Past participants include Michael Johnson, Bruce Jenner, Gwen Torrence, Natasha Kaiser-Brown, and Joey Woody.



  • The Des Moines Register - Iowa's most-circulated daily newspaper.
  • City View - Free alternative newsweekly with features on social issues and heated political talk.
  • Juice - Free weekly which focuses on fashion, events, and light-hearted issues for their young adult readers.
  • Datebook - Features information about local shows, concerts, movie showtimes and releases, and restaurant reviews. Released weekly and is free. Also appears as an insert in The Des Moines Register towards the end of the week.

Get in

By bus

  • Greyhound, 1107 Keosauqua Way (or simply "Keo Way").
  • Jefferson Lines, +1 515-283-0074. Nationwide service.
  • Trailways Transportation Systems, +1 800-992-4618. Nationwide service.

By plane

  • Des Moines International Airport, 5800 Fleur Drive, +1 515-256-5050. There are many connecting flights to cities all across the US. Although the airport (flight code "DSM") has had a reputation of being expensive in the past, many flights are now more affordable and travelers have noticed, breaking usage records year-in and year-out. Most nearby hotels offer free shuttle service to the airport and very affordable room rates. Additionally, all major rental car companies have services available at the airport. Long-term parking varies in price from $4-$9/day. Free shuttle services are available from certain airport parking lots, as well.

By train

  • Amtrak, Although there is not a connecting rail line directly into Des Moines, there is an Amtrak station about 45 miles south of Des Moines in Osceola at Main & East Clay Streets. Osceola (Amtrak code "OSC") does not offer many traveler services, although there is a casino to help pass the time, and it's best to do any extensive overnight stays in Des Moines. However, if delays do occur, travelers might choose to stay in Osceola at Americinn, Best Western Regal Inn, or Days Inn, three of the listed area hotels. To reach the train station, take I-35 South and drive until you arrive at the Osceola exit. There will be road signs for the Amtrak station. It is also possible to reach Des Moines from Osceola (or vice-versa) by Greyhound bus.

By car

Most travelers to Des Moines are likely to come via Interstate, on either I-80 (from the east or west) or I-35 (from the north or south). Travelers will not have to worry about encountering any tollways or major traffic jams. Once in the Des Moines-area, those wishing to enter the city will use I-235 to get into Des Moines proper. The majority of area residents get around by use of their automobiles, so bringing one to Des Moines is a good idea. The roads are in good shape and most drivers are considerate to out-of-towners. To start planning your arrival by automobile, visit Google Maps.

  • The main thoroughfare, I-235, will be under construction until 2008. This can occasionally cause delays or detours while trying to quickly go through the city or get from west to east/east to west. The state's Department of Transportation website offers up-to-date closures/changes and it would be well-advised to take advantage of this service, as delays may sometimes last the better part of an hour.
  • The city has two interstates surrounding it, I-80 (running east/west) and I-35 (north/south). Chicago is roughly 330 miles east of Des Moines while Omaha is roughly 135 miles west of the city. Popular destinations along I-35 include Kansas City, just under 200 miles to the south and Minneapolis/Saint Paul to the north, nearly 250 miles away. Iowa was one of the first states to provide wireless Internet access at rest areas within the state.
  • Semi-trailers passing through are advised to avoid I-235 as the traffic is usually heavier, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours (7AM-8AM and 4:30PM-6PM) as people travel to and from work. Additionally, the speed limit on I-235 is 5-10 m.p.h. less than on I-80/I-35.
  • Drivers who are used to warmer climates should be advised that the colder weather months (Nov-Feb) often bring snow and ice to area roads. Visitors who park their cars should be prepared in case their car is "snowed in" by snow removal trucks. Also, strict attention to parking rules and snow emergencies is recommended to avoid being towed away at the car owner's expense. During the winter months, a snow brush, ice scraper, and plenty of windshield washer fluid is essential, and many natives opt to carry a shovel, some sand, and a bag of ice melt/road salt in the trunk just in case.
  • Gasoline is reasonably cheap in the Des Moines area, often times $.25-$.50 cheaper per gallon than larger Midwestern metropolitan areas. Additionally, ethanol is widely available at most gas stations to travelers. The most popular mixture, 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline, is now joined by a 85% ethanol/15% gasoline blend, although it is not as popular quite yet. Although there are purported positive environmental affects associated with using ethanol, studies do suggest gas mileage is less compared to 100% gasoline fuels. You should consult your car's owner's manual before attempting to use ethanol-blended fuels. While most cars will accept up to 10% ethanol, very few will accept the 85% ethanol blend.
  • Safe-driving tips, road closures due to weather and construction, and other pieces of information, are available from the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Get around

If you're used to hailing a taxi at-will, any hour of the day, you'll need to get used to finding another mode of transportation while in Des Moines. Taxis are certainly available and if you call they'll pick you up from anywhere around town. Taking the bus is a very affordable way to get around Des Moines, as well. If you plan on visiting a lot of places, it may be best to rent a car, however.

By Taxi

  • Budget Cab Company (lowest price) 515-223-6465 SERVICE 24 Hours
  • Capitol & Yellow Cab Company, +1 515-243-1111.
  • Genes Transportation', +1 515-249-1127.''''

By bus

  • Metro Transit Authority, +1 515-283-8100. Routes are available throughout the day with some routes running well into the evening. Regular, Express, Commuter, and Downtown Shuttle routes are available. Regular route fare is $1.25 for adults while Express route fare is $1.50. Additionally, bus passes may be purchased through MTA. Most buses will accommodate users with bicycles. The bus also provides services for door-to-door pickup and paratransit services.

By rental car

The standard, nationwide companies all have locations in Des Moines. The airport is a popular place to get a rental car. Visit any of the below-listed Websites for more information:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar Rent-A-Car
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car
  • Hertz Rent-A-Car
  • National
  • Thrifty


  • Capitol Building, East 9th & Grand Avenue, +1 515-281-5591. Iowa is known for having one of the nation's most beautiful capitol buildings and visitors are usually quite happy after they have taken a tour. Visitors who arrive to Des Moines by car and travel along I-235 will be able to see the capitol building on the south side of the interstate but the building is so beautifully-detailed it must be seen up close to really appreciate the work of art it truly is. It is easy to spot the capitol with it's sparkling 23-karat gold leaf dome and four-surrounding smaller copper-topped domes. Visitors wishing to see the capitol close-up and or venture inside to have a look will be delighted with the woodwork and 29 different types of marble used throughout. Those wishing to see the inside from a bird's eye view will climb 298 steps before reaching the top from their start on the second floor. Historic flags, some hailing from the US Civil War-era, are on display, as are many state records and documents. Tour staff are available during all hours in which the capitol is open to visitors. Tours run from 8:00AM-3:30PM M-F and last about one to one and a half hours long. There is no charge for tours. Saturday tours run every hour starting at 9:30AM with the last tour starting at 2:30 PM. A cafeteria is located on the bottom floor.
  • Terrace Hill, 2300 Grand Avenue. Terrace Hill, where the Governor and and First Family of Iowa live during his or her term, is a popular attraction for visitors. Each year, more than 50,000 tours of the building that was given to the state of Iowa in 1971 to be used as the home of Iowa's highest-ranked government official are given. The site was the home of Iowa's first millionaire, Benjamin Franklin Allen, and later saved by Allen's dear friend, Frederick Marion Hubbell, after Allen entered bankruptcy later in his life. The home is aptly named as it sits atop the Raccoon River. Construction of Terrace Hill began in 1866 and was finished in 1869. Originally, the 18,000-square foot mansion, carriage house, 30 acres of land, and furnishings came at a cost of $250,000--quite a sum during the US Civil War days. Today the acreage has been reduced to eight as the neighborhoods around the site have also taken advantage of the area's beauty. Terrace Hill was designed by William Boyington, who also designed the Water Tower of Chicago which survived that city's Great Fire.
  • Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Avenue, +1 515-277-4405. In the early 20th century, the Art Center moved to the west side of Des Moines to its present location in Greenwood Park. The building, completed in 1948, is a piece of art itself, having been created and transformed by three world-renowned architects: Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier. The Center boasts an impressive permanent collection of contemporary art from the 19th and 20th centuries, including works from Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Georgia O'Keeffe, Henri Matisse, and Francis Bacon. The Center has different exhibitions throughout the year as well as youth events and evening events garnered toward 20- and 30-somethings and above. The Art Center's restaurant, given a 5-star rating by The Des Moines Register, features a different menu every week. No admission charge.
  • State Historical Society of Iowa Museum, 600 East Locust Street. For those who live in Iowa or for anyone wanting to know more about the history of Iowa, the museum offers the chance to explore one's curiosity and learn about the storied past of Iowa. Exhibits include a venture into Iowa's past when glaciers pushed their way through and mammoths roamed the plains. Exhibits also talk about Iowa's frontier and prairie past, where youngsters also get the opportunity to try their hand at pushing a plow, carrying buckets with a shoulder yoke, and see fossil, Native American, and wildlife collections. War buffs may be interested to view the extensive collection of Iowa's US Civil War flags. Cafe inside the meseum.
  • Science Center of Iowa, 401 West Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, +1 515-274-6868. In 2005, Des Moines and all of Iowa were finally able to visit the brand-new, 110,000- square feet Science Center of Iowa. The Center hosts six different learning stations, titled "Experience Platforms," including Science is Where You Find it (including exhibits Kitchen Chemistry and Physics in the Field), When Things Get Moving (including Design a Propellar and Robot Run), Who are We? (including Color my World and In Your Genes), Why the Sky? (including Cosmic Video Jukebox and Viewing the Night Sky, in addition to planetarium shows in the 50-foot dome), Small Discoveries (including Bubble Bay and World of Wonder, all geared toward children 7 and under), and What on Earth? (including Iowa Habitats, Ant Farm, and the WHO-TV Weather Studio). Summer 2006 special collection items were remains from the Titantic. The Center also contains an IMAX theatre with a 12,000-watt sound system. Past titles have been "The Living Sea," "Everest," "Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West," and "NASCAR." Movie titles such as "Apollo 13" and "Superman Returns." Admission for adults is $13 ($8 without IMAX pass, $7 for seniors 65+), $10 for kids 2-12 ($6 without IMAX pass) and free for kids under 2. IMAX only tickets are $8 for adults (seniors $7), $6 for kids.
  • Blank Park Zoo, 7401 SW 9th Street, +1 515-323-8323. Visitors will have a chance to see a variety of animals and take advantage of the other activities, such as "Behind the Scenes" tours and "Feed the Giraffes", all throughout the year. The Zoo also hosts several special events throughout the year, including Zoo Brew (geared towards those 21+) and Night Eyes (trick-or-treating in honor of Halloween). Admission starts at $8 for adults.
  • Des Moines Botanical Center, 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, +1 515-323-6290. Tours of the enclosed garden area are $4 for adults. The Center is particularly popular during cold Iowa winters. Special events and learning modules all throughout the year.
  • Salisbury House, 4025 Tonawanda Drive, +1 515 274-1777 (fax +1 515 274-0814). Tour schedule is varied throughout the year. The house, originially built between 1923-1928, features Tudor, Gothic, and Corolean styles all throughout its 42-rooms. The house also shelters many artifacts, including objects of art, furniture, tapestries and books. The National trust for Historic Preservation has labeled it a "national treasure" and the property has also been featured on TV channel A&E and Home and Garden Television. Adults $7, kids 6-12 $3, age 65+ $6.


There are plenty of different exciting options for visitors to Des Moines to take in while they are here. The city and surrounding area has a vast array of activities for all ages, from the annual Iowa State Fair, rated by "USA Today" as one of the Top 10 best things to do in the summertime in the US, to the Des Moines Arts Festival in downtown, also rated as a Top 10 member for the nation's arts festivals, indeed there are plenty of sights and sounds to make your experience a memorable one. Oh, if you still have energy left, visitors can catch a ballgame or shop at a multitude of unique and fashionable stores.

  • Des Moines Arts Festival. Held in downtown's Western Gateway Park, this three-day fun-packed weekend, which takes place the last weekend each June, was started in the late-90's after promoters decided to replace the 40-year running "Art in the Park." The change has brought tremendous success. In 2006, nearly 250,000 people visited the Festival. Over 150 artists--from all over the country--bring their original creations to be seen and purchased. In fact, the Festival has become such a success, it's the highest-ranked Festival of any midwestern city and third-overall in the US, trailing only Denver, CO and Sausalito, CA. In addition to the various forms of art you'll see, there's also four stages offering entertainment and food vendors selling their own edible creations. No entrance fee.
  • Iowa State Fair, located at the Fairgrounds on the east side of Des Moines. Each year, the Fair draws more than 1 million visitors through its gates. There's been movies, books, and songs written about the famous event first started in 1854. And you're always likely to catch a glimpse of the political hopefuls that visit nearly each year. The 10-day event is known for all sorts of wholesome fun for folks of all ages. Kids will enjoy a chance to see Iowa's biggest boar, bull, horse, pumpkin, and watermelon, among others. They might also enjoy seeing the sheep shearing competition, potato sack race, rooster call, or enjoy one of the dozens of rides. There are cattle calls, tractor pulls, and best-tasting pie contests. Adults get in on the action, too, as the Varied Industries Building hosts nearly one hundred vendors, photographers display their portraits of Iowa's scenary, and there's plenty of time to relax on a tractor ride or watch musicians strut their stuff...if there's time at the end of the day, maybe a journey through the classic Ye Old Mill. Everyone finds their favorite morsels to devour--whether it be standby favorites like corn dogs, BBQ pork, turkey legs, or funnel cakes--including a new "just gotta have" that comes to the "America's Favorite Fair" every year. It's been pork chop on a stick, fried sweet potatoes, and deep fried Oreos in the past. The food is just half the fun. At night, the beer tent and Grandstand come alive as hundreds of artists over the years, including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Lawrence Welk, The Jackson Five, The Beach Boys, Reba McEntire, Clint Black, Wynonna Judd, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, ZZ Top, Montgomery Gentry, Big & Rich, Brad Paisley, Alicia Keys, and Iowa's own, Andy Williams have come to showcase their talent. Of course, no Fair is complete until you've seen the latest from Duffy Lyon. Each year, the artist pain-stakingly creates a traditional Iowa cow as well as a different feature each year; it's been Elvis Presley, Smokey Bear, and a 2000-pound portrayal of the "Last Supper" in the past. This artwork remains in the refrigerator though, as it's all made out of butter! Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for kids and seniors over 60, and 5 and under are free.
  • Taste of Des Moines. Typically held each mid-July. The one and a half-day event is still in its infancy (compared to the 10-day, 150+-year old Iowa State Fair) but is improving each year. The event typically takes place downtown although it was at the Blank Park Zoo See in 2006. More than 40 vendors--most of which are local--provide food for hungry patrons. It's a good way to sample some of the food from a restaurant you have heard about or are interested in trying soon. It's also a good way to try new creations from area restaurants and for not a whole lot of cash. Alcoholic drinks are also available. Admission is usually about $5 and free before 5 PM.
  • 515 Alive. Located in the downtown Court Avenue district between 4th & 5th Avenue. Typically held on a Saturday night in late-July or early-August, this DJ festival is a hit with 20-somethings and has been going solid for a strong five years. ("515" is the area code for Des Moines and as you listen and move to the music, you'll get the hint DJs are trying to make the city alive in their own unique way.) See more than 50 DJs boom their bass and showcase their freestyle turntable talent. You'll also get a chance to see artists do paintings or temporary graffiti. Alcoholic drinks available. Admission is free.
  • Recreational Trails. Bicylists, in-line skaters...and those just wanting a chance to see the area at their own pace are invited to share in the area's 300+ miles of trails available for use. The trails are expanding each year and they offer a great way for visitors to see the quieter parts of the area as well as getting a chance to enjoy the outdoors.
  • Saylorville Lake, About 20 minutes north of downtown. One of central Iowa's most popular places for water activities, including boating, swimming, and fishing. Also has camping facilities, hiking trails, wildlife areas, and two golf courses--Tournament Club of Iowa and Jester Park--nearby.
  • Big Creek State Park, About 20 minutes north of downtown. A popular location for boats, swimmers, and fishing enthusiasts. Trails, shooting range, and camping facilities on-site.
  • Sleepy Hollow Sports Park, 4051 Dean Avenue, +1 515-262-4100. Various sports throughout the summer and winter seasons. Summer options include batting cages, go-Karts, sand volleyball, golf, mini golf, driving range, and climbing wall. Winter sports include skiing, snowboarding, and tubing--lifts available for all. Rental equipment available. Prices vary depending on activity.
  • Adventureland, 305 34th Avenue NW in Altoona, +1 515-266-2121 or +1 800-532-1286. Iowa's largest theme park with over 100 rides, shows, and attractions.
  • Downtown Farmer's Market, Court Avenue district. 7 AM-Noon, from May-Oct. Get a taste of rural Iowa each Saturday morning. Fresh produce, pastries, wines, cheeses, art & jewelry, and more are all available for those wishing to taste the goodness of Iowa. Event takes place rain or shine. No admission.
  • Des Moines Symphony, 221 Walnut Street, +1 515-280-4000. Since 1937. The Des Moines Symphony concerts are held at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines in downtown.

Host Events

The following are events that are not unique to Des Moines but the city will have the pleasure of being host to listed events.

  • 2008 NCAA Trake and Field Outdoor Championships, Drake University's Drake Stadium. More than 1,100 athletes are scheduled to participate during the four-day event.


Des Moines is home to several institutions of higher learning, namely Des Moines University, Drake University, and Grand View College.

  • Des Moines University (DMU), 3200 Grand Avenue. The university was originally named Dr. S.S. Still College of Osteopathy in 1898. Since that date, the university has changed locations many times and seen enrollment grow, as well. The university's enrollment was 1,306 students (in 2006) and offers six degree programs available through The College of Osteopathic Medicine, The College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, and The College of Health Sciences.
  • Drake University, 2507 University Avenue. Drake bears its name from Francis Marion Drake, a former governor of Iowa, general for the Union in the US Civil War, and a successful railroad businessman. The university was founded in 1881 and today offers more than 70 degrees of study through three colleges and three schools. The university consistently has more than 5,000 students enrolled. Drake is the home of the Bulldogs and offers Division 1-A athletic competition (Division 1-AA non-scholarship for football) in a variety of sports for both men and women. Each spring, the university hosts the Drake Relays, arguably the nation's top track & field event.
  • Grand View College, 1200 Grandview Avenue. Home to more than 1,750 students (2006), Grand View is a four-year liberal arts college offering 35 areas of study. The athletic program is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Midwest Classic Conference.
  • Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), Various locations. Iowa's largest two-year college program.
  • AIB College of Business, 2500 Fleur Drive. Founded in 1921, AIB is a non-profit, coeducational two-year college of business which offers associate degree and diploma courses of study.
  • Mercy College of Health Sciences, 928 6th Avenue. The school was founded in 1899 (then-known as Mercy Hospital Training School) and is a subsidary corporation of Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines. Its purpose is to train nurses and allied medical care professionals.


  • World Food Prize. The Prize is awarded to individuals from all over the world who contribute their talents to help sustain vital crop land, food resources and technologies, and introduce new methods to help end poverty and maintain crop development--anything to further assist the world food supply. The Prize was first awarded in 1986 and is the brainchild of former Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Norman E. Borlaug. The symposium is held in October in Des Moines.


  • East Village, East Locust and East Grand between the river and the Capitol. The East Village, located on the east side of downtown Des Moines, is a progressive, pedestrian friendly neighborhood that offers lots to do! This growing, eclectic area of the city features unique retail shops, restaurants and businesses. As one of the original commerce areas of Des Moines, the East Village encompasses some of Iowa’s most historically significant buildings, including the State Capitol. Click the link for directions and a list of stores, bars, and restaurants.
  • Merle Hay Mall, 3850 Merle Hay Road, +1 515-276-8551. Has over 100 stores and a large one-screen movie theater that supports THX.
  • Southridge Mall, 1111 East Army Post Road, +1 515-287-3889. Dozens of stores and home of Southridge 12 movie theater which features stadium seating and THX.
  • Historic Valley Junction, 5th Street and nearby streets in West Des Moines. Approximately 15-minute drive from downtown Des Moines. Take I-235 West until 63rd Street exit, then go south (take left) and proceed to Railroad Avenue. At Railroad Avenue, go west (take right) until 5th Street, go north (take right). One of central Iowa's most unique shopping experiences with over 120 shops and boutiques. Sidewalk sales, art shows, food, and live music at various times.
  • Jordan Creek Town Center, 101 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, +1 515-224-5000. Approxiamately 25-minute drive from downtown Des Moines. Take I-235 West to I-80 West and exit onto Jordan Creek Pkwy, then proceed south (take left). Or, take I-235 West to I-35 South until Mills Civic Pkwy, then go west (go right). Iowa's largest shopping mall with more than 100 stores. Also houses Century 20 Jordan Creek Theater. Many other restaurants and stores are next to the mall.
  • Valley West Mall, 1551 Valley West Drive, West Des Moines, +1 515-225-3631. Located one block north of I-235 on Valley West Drive. There are several dozen stores in this two-level mall, which is anchored by JCPenney, Von Maur, and Younkers.


Budget eateries are in the $5-$10 range per person. Mid-range feature establishments that generally start around $10 per person or there is a need to wear casual clothing. Splurge restaurants are typically in the class of "fine dining" although you'll see in Des Moines, you can eat at an exquisite establishment for little more than $20. Some places may desire patrons to be in casual clothing but most probably prefer a step above.


(Also see section below titled "Cook It Yourself".)

  • B-Bops, 1500 East Euclid, +1 515-262-8825, and 4820 SE 14th Street, +1 515-256-8908, additional area locations. Few sit-down restaurants can match the goodness of B-Bops' most popular menu item, the classic 1/4-lb. hamburger. And in fact, even if you wanted to, you can't sit down inside a's drive-thru or outside only. You don't even have to get outside your car if you don't want to (locations offer both a driver- and passenger-side drive-thru window). If the weather's nice, you can sit under an umbrella and listen to classics from the 50's and 60's. The burgers are so good they've won the "Best Burger in Des Moines" award, handed out by the city's alternative newspaper, "Cityview," more than 10 years running. Also serve pork tenderloins, chicken sandwiches, chili, salads, and fries, and a mean chocolate shake. Additional suburban locations. Fare starts at about $2.
  • Godfather's Pizza, 4119 University Avenue, +1 515-277-6344, additional area locations. If you're wanting deeply greasy, deep dish pie, this isn't the place for you. Serving pizza lovers for over 30 years, somehow Godfather's is able to work their magic in a way that doesn't leave your hands greasy yet isn't some wimpy hand-tossed or thin variety. The Humble Pie is a signature pie. If you'd rather sit down and stay for a while, most locations have pinball and video games to keep the little ones busy. Specialty pizzas cost about $18 or so for a large which will easily feed two adults and two kids.
  • Tasty Tacos, Six Des Moines-area locations. If you're craving some ridiculously-delicious tacos, look no further than Tasty Tacos. One can get satisfied starting around $5.
  • Big Daddy's Barbeque, 1000 East 14th Street, +1 515-262-0352. Want a bit o' Des Moines soul? Hungry for some tender pork? Wanna get wild with some hot sauce? Better put Big Daddy's at the top of your list. Droves of spice competition teams have left Big Daddy's well-short of finishing their dishes. And don't worry, they've got tamed-down sauces for those not seeking adventure. Plenty of soul sides, like potato and macaroni salads, in addition to cornbread. Drive-thru available, as well. Most meals are around the $7 range.
  • Snookies Malt Shop, 1810 Beaver Avenue, +1 515-255-0638. Open late-spring to early-fall. A soft-serve lover's delight. This Beaverdale neighborhood ice cream joint is the cat's meow come summertime. A husband and wife team have owned the place for years. Real fruit is used and the servings are generous. If you're from out of town, these treats make you wish Dairy Queen stole a few ideas from them. Dogs are invited, as well. They serve up puppy-sized ice cream cones for the furry guys (they'll need to stay outside, though). Prices start at about $1 and go up to $5 or so for specialty items.
  • Waveland Cafe, 4708 Univeristy Avenue, +1 515-279-4341. If you're expecting one of those fancy Manhattan diners, where a fruit bowl is $8 and coffee is $5, then you better get lost. This place is for the real Saturday morning crowd. You'll need to seat yourself--the waitresses are busy enough refilling pitchers of coffee. Feel free to smoke...and if you don't, you'll probably take enough second-hand in to remind you why you don't. If eggs, sausage and bacon, a hearty pancake and crispy hashbrowns is your style, don't wave this land goodbye until you've had everything on the breakfast menu. They serve lunches too. You can get a good meal for $6, brim-full for less than $10.
  • Big Tomato Pizza Co, 2613 Ingersoll Avenue, +1 515-288-7227. It was hard to decide whether to put these guys in mid-range or budget, but the folks at Big Tomato have a large walk-up crowd that orders pizza by the (big) slice. It's also near the downtown nightlife area and is a popular choice for those with the midnight munchies. You can get traditional pizza toppings, like pepperoni or sausage, or you can branch out to something like artichoke heart or try a bubbling hot slice with cheese you likely didn't even know existed. Point is, the whole thing, from top to bottom, says "quality." The hand-tossed crust is good enough by itself. If you want to splurge a little, you can buy some French-like gourmet whole pizzas. Late, late night delivery available. (If you're seeking contemporary ingredient pizzas, similar to Big Tomato, but with a quieter atmosphere and tables available to sit, see Paradise Pizza below,.) Most slices are in the $4 range, whole pizzas can be well over $25.
  • Stella's Blue Sky Diner, 3281 100th Street in Urbandale, +1 515-727-4408. The restaurant has changed locations, and owners, and now sits in a western suburb of Des Moines in Urbandale. The trip is worth it, however, as you're not likely to feel more alive or as young at any other Des Moines-area restaurant. The whole place says "fun." Put some quarters in the table-side jukebox, put in an order for some neutron fries, and last but not least, make sure you get one of their oh-so-good milkshakes made with Iowa's own, Blue Bunny Ice Cream. If you're feeling crazy like Elvis, you might like to try something truly unique to Stella's: having your milkshake poured atop your head from one of the poodle skirt-wearing waitresses. Some nights Stella's hosts Vintage car night where pre-1972 cars are invited to line Stella's parking lot. Two can get milkshakes and dinner for around $20.


  • Flying Mango, 4345 Hickman Road, +1 515-255-4111. Open for dinner, lunch by special appointment only. Reservations accepted. The restaurant originally began as a catering business but when their uniquely smoked Cajun and Creole creations, they soon started to get a bigger loyal following. The chefs are likely to offer something on the menu that you've never had and do it in a fashion you'll want to see if they're hiring crazy taste-testers. Smoked pork, duck, and salmon. Grilled Mahi Mahi with Honey Macadamia Crust and Fresh Pineapple Salsa, Smoked Andouille Sausage, and Orange Mashed Potatoes...just to name a few. Full wine list. They offer a wide variety of sandwiches if you're on the cheap as well as some nightly entrees under $10.
  • Thai Flavors, 1254 East 14th Street, +1 515-262-4658. This Des Moines favorite is known for their mouth-watering curry dishes and for those who like an extra kick when it comes to spice. They have heat levels ranging from zero to five, and some, if you're crazy enough, will even go a notch further. They serve a variety of beef, pork, and chicken dishes but their vegetarian dishes hold up to their own. Although it's not traditional, they've kept their crab rangoons on the appetizer list because of their rave reviews. Full wine list available. Most lunches are in the $4.50-$8 range and their dinners will only set you back $12 or so for a very satisfying dish. (Their west side location, in Clive, is known as Cool Basil , 8801 Unversity Avenue 515 225-8111.)
  • Cool Basil, University Ave. behind Pier One and Toy’s R Us. Delicious assortment of Thai food. Fresh chicken satay that comes with a peanut dipping sauce. The vegetable potstickers were nice and hot when they arrived at the table. All of the entrees can be made to order as mild all the way up to super hot. Cool Basil uses the star system. One star is mild, five stars is burning your mouth off hot. Try the drunken noodles (wide fat noodles with sautéed beef and vegetables), chicken basil (crispy basil sautéed with chicken and vegetables, very light for Thai food), Penang curry (chicken and vegetables cooked in a spicy peanut sauce) and pad thai which is scrumptious! Some of the entrees and the chicken satay are served with a refreshing cucumber salad (minced cucumber with red onion and red peppers in sweet vinegar sauce). For dessert, try the sticky coconut rice. The rice is almost like a chewy paste that is served with fresh sliced mango. The service pretty attentive and friendly.
  • Taki, 86th Street, Urbandale, IA

Amazing sushi! Taki has best fresh and delicious fish in Des Moines. Taki has a warm, friendly environment where the sushi chefs will help you navigate the menu and tell you what their specialty rolls are. Best bets are the dynamite roll which is one of the most colorful rolls since it is decorated in different colored tobiko. The fire cracker roll was wonderful….a crab roll topped with spicy tuna. The tuna had the perfect amount of kick! The crab with tempura came out warm and drizzled in a soy emulsion sauce. It was mouthwatering. The spicy tuna roll was the most traditional roll that was ordered. All of the sushi on the menu looked marvelous. This might be the new hangout. Wide selection of Japanese and local beers, sake and wine. Good place to sake bomb.

  • El Aguila Real 3200 Beaver Avenue, additional suburban locations, +1 515-255-7050. All the traditional Mexican food one could ask for but they're intent on letting patrons know: not all Mexican food has to be hot. They have all sorts of combinations of enchiladas, chimichangas, tacos, rillenos, and burritos, but some tasty dishes such as Carne Azada and Fajitas de la Costa. Delicioso. Lunches are incredibly affordable at $6-$8 while nearly the entire dinner menu is available for less than $10.
  • Drake Diner, 1111 25th Street, +1 515-277-1111. If it's classic American food you want topped off with an incredible milkshake, then it's got to be the "Diner of Des Moines"--Drake Diner. Although there are two other locations--West End Diner and North End Diner--this further proves the original is still the best. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all equally tasty. Favorites such as omelettes, French toast, reubens, crinkle-cut fries, and bacon cheeseburgers and Drake's own "Bulldog burger" dominate the menu. On the lighter side, they have Boca Bean burgers and soups and salads to delight. What's more, during nice weather, there's a screened-in patio available to sit in and if it happens to be busy when you arrive, ask if there's a table available there. Young and old alike can try their fancy at the dozens of available soda fountain creations, including classics like Green River and Chocolate Cherry Coke. Be sure to save room for dessert, however, as the shakes and malts are made with Des Moines's very own Anderson & Erickson Dairy Ice Cream. Meals vary in price, with sandwiches starting around $7 and the nightly special topping off at about $13. Shakes are around $5.
  • Chuck's Restaurant, 3610 6th Avenue, +1 515-244-4104. If the number of years one's been in business is any way to rate a restaurant, few in Des Moines could mess with Chuck's 50+-year reign on the northside of Des Moines. Chuck's has proven if you take old classics, such as spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf, and steak, and treat 'em with respect, you'll be in the neighborhood for a long time.
  • J Benjamin's, 5800 Franklin Avenue, +1 515-255-3725. Great cozy atmosphere and they serve wonderful sandwiches, pasta, and the like. Most dinners are in the $10-range.
  • Noah's Ark Ristorante, 2400 Ingersoll Avenue, +1 515- 288-2246. A Des Moines classic.
  • Mustards, 6611 University Avenue in Windsor Heights, +1 515-221-2202. Popular with the locals for their BBQ and pizza. Sanwiches and pizza prices differ, but able to get a great meal for $10 or less.
  • Raul's Mexican Food, 2060 NW 94th Street in Clive, +1 515-278-2800. Although the original location has been mysteriously closed down, there's still a west side location--in Clive--that will satisfy your craving of bottomless bowls of homemade chips and salsa and the best enchiladas Des Moines has to offer. The folks have been in the area for over 20 years. It's not uncommon to find live music playing, particularly in the evening during or after the happy hour. Lunches are commonly around $8, dinners a bit more at a good $10-$15.
  • Paradise Pizza Cafe, 2025 Grand Avenue in West Des Moines, +1 515-222-9959. Along with Big Tomato, this is probably the place to go if you're looking for "different" atop a pizza. You can sit down at this restaurant (it's listed as a cafe probably because of its limited space) and they aren't open until the early hours of the morning, however. The traditional varities are great of course, but they have ones, such as Spicy Thai Peanut, that will make you think twice about ordering the standards. Thin crust style and they offer dessert pizzas, too. Wonderful salads, lasagna, and past dishes too. The Italian Wedding soup is a great starter. The lunch buffet is great, too, with an actual lettuce and quality toppings. Lunch is very affordable and dinner pizzas will vary in price considerably.


  • The Continental, 428 East Locust, +1 515-244-5845. Located in one of the most happening parts of town, the East Village. An upscale, urban setting with live jazz (Th-Sa) and fresh cuisine ideas are the highlights of this blossoming restaurant. The place is getting a reputation for their mini plates which allow customers to try all sorts of different features but without paying the full portion price.
  • Flarah's, 1901 Beaver Avenue, +1 515-277-1935. Although Flarah's makes a great spot for a lunch get-together--and quite affordable--it's clear the passion of the folks is their cheesecakes. They'll make you wish you had worked out yesterday as these are the real deal. With names such as "White in Shining Armor," "Fly Me to Heathrow," "Mad for Manhattan," and "Aloha, you Nutty German," you'll see their creativity and passion meet squarely in their cheesecake. Available in bite-sized sampler boxes and whole. One dozen-$15, 4" personal size-$10, and 10" cut into 16 slices-$35.
  • Latin King, 2200 Hubbell Avenue, +1 515-266-4466. One of the longest-standing restaurants of Des Moines, the Italian cuisine and beautiful restaurant setting will please anyone with a desire for a bit of originality. Very busy during the lunch hour, particularly when the state's legislative branch is in session. Small patio available. Full wine list.
  • Lucca, 420 East Locust Street, +1 515-243-1115. French- and Italian-themed cuisine. Arguably the best restaurant to get authentic French-style breads and pastries. Wonderful contemporary decor and located in arguably downtown's nicest neighborhood, the East Village. Full bar and excellent wines. Bread is available to go. Salads and pastas are in the $7.50-$8.50 range (including a Pasta Salmon & Cream variety). Dinner menu changes every week and are generally in the $25-range which includes several courses.

Feels like you’re in a New York restaurant or an art gallery. There is no sign out front, only frosted glass that reads “Lucca.” The entire restaurant is exposed brick juxtaposed with white tablecloths and white chairs. Lucca changes its menu on a regular basis and it’s worth going back again and again!

  • Christopher's, 2816 Beaver Avenue, +1 515-274-3694. A restaurant with a great reputation for serving up quality prime rib and Italian dishes. The restaurant is larger than it appears from outside. A favorite among Beaverdale residents.
  • Iowa Beef Steak House, 1201 East Euclid Avenue, +1 515-262-1138. The money you'll be spending on your dinner is towards the cost of the food, a.k.a., you won't find extravagant ambiance here. What you will find is top-notch steaks. Have the cook grill your steak, chicken, pork chop, etc. or you can do it yourself if desired. Full wine list available. Sll dinners are $21.95
  • Trostel's Greenbriar, 5810 Merle Hay Road in Johnston, +1 515-253-0124. (Twilight dinners are served from 5PM-6:30PM, M-Th.)There are few restaurant owners in the area who are as well respected and awarded than the owner of the Greenbriar, Paul Trostel. In 2003, The Des Moines Register awarded the restaurant with 4-stars. That same year, a reader's poll by The Register voted it as "Best Overall Restaurant," "Best Place to Take a First Date," as well as "Most Romantic Restaurant." As recently as 2006, the restaurant received the National Beef Innovator of the Year award at the annual Cattle Industry Convention. Prime rib, seafood, aged steaks, rack of lamb and duck are featured on the menu. For those seeking a casual dining experience, the bar is available in addition to the outdoor patio (during warm months). Live music on various nights. Pasta and chicken menu items are usually around $15, while seafood and steak dinners range from $25-$40.
  • Trostel's Dish, 12851 University Avenue, Clive, IA In a shopping center.

Small tapas style plates that are meant for sharing Everything from poached salmon in a cilantro lime sauce, seared duck breast with a cherry tomato and parmesan cheese risotto in a balsamic reduction sauce, tilapia that tastes like a chicken tender, chipotle chicken pizza- moist chicken, gooey cheese, pizza margarita- fresh tomatoes and basil, no soggy crust. Desserts- the tiramisu is moist and delicious! Not a strong espresso flavor. Pineapple cheesecake, large enough to share but you might want your own. Flourless chocolate was rich with chocolate but very dry. When you stuck your fork in the cake crumbled. Wine- extensive wine by the glass. Mostly reds. Ask your server for a flight of wine to taste a variety of grapes. A multitude of cocktails to choose from. Cost- moderate. Most plates are $7-$14 and they are made to share. Very trendy feeling. Doesn’t feel like you are in Des Moines. Restaurant could be in any large city. Dim lighting. Booths.

  • Cosi Cucina, 1975 86th Street in Clive, +1 515-278-8148. Traditionally known as one of the finest Italian restaurants in the Des Moines-area, Cosi's serves up authentic Italian dishes and offers over 30 wines by the glass. Be careful not to fill yourself up on the bread, made fresh daily, and minestrone as you're likely to have a tough time deciding what to order when that moment finally does arrive. Menu selections include Butternut Squash Risotta, Pork Marsala, Chicken Picatta, and Ostrich. According to their Website, it was voted Best Italian Restaurant and Most Romantic Restaurant. Try Cosi's cozy environment and can't help but contend, it's the clear cut champion of Clive's Italian restaurants. Most dinner entrees are near $20.
  • Tandoor, 1221 8th Street in West Des Moines, +1 515-440-2911. Pakistani and East Indian cuisine that is wonderfully crafted. The Nan and chutneys are excellent. Dimly lit accent lits on the stone patio. Don't be surprised if the owner greets you while eating. Lunch buffet available. Most dinner dishes are $12-20.
  • Rube's Steakhouse & Lounge, 3309 Ute Avenue in Waukee, +1 515-987-8237. This Western-themed restaurant is the steakhouse if someone in the dinner party is famished. The meat is served in large portions and there are a variety of meats and cuts to choose from--even better, each grills his/her own so it's cooked exactly how you want it. It's recommended to add-on the wonderful buffet which features bottomless salad, baked potato with all the fixin's, grilled bread, and more. Depending on the cut of meat, meals start around $20 and work their way up from there.
  • Cafe Su, 225 5th Street, Windsor Heights, IA

Upscale Chinese food. Like PF Chang’s without the scene. The food comes in portions you want to share. Vegetable spring rolls taste fresh but lack spice and flavor. The Chef Kan’s chicken was one of the best entrees. The Mongolian beef is a big hit! There is an extensive global beer selection (Germany, Lithuania, Argentina, Croatia, India, Holland, just to name a few). Great attentive service.

Cook it yourself

Des Moines offers an array of independent grocers, namely Dahl's, (pronounced "dolls") and Fareway (who are known for their awesome meat department) in addition to a popular midwestern chain, Hy-Vee. Other options exist for those looking for organic, gourmet, or hard-to-find ethnic foods. Some of those options follow.

  • Europa Market, 3622 Beaver Avenue, +1 515-277-5524.
  • Hilal Groceries, 1163 25th Street, +1 515-274-8943.
  • International Groceries, 7517 Douglas Avenue in Urbandale, +1 515-278-1522.
  • K & N African Food Stores, 3826 Douglas Avenue, +1 515-279-5451.
  • Latapatia Grocery, 1440 Des Moines Street, +1 515-262-8097.
  • New Oriental Food Store, 515 East Grand Avenue, +1 515-243-3911.
  • Thai Grocery, 1220 2nd Avenue, +1 515-288-8937.
  • New City Market, 4721 University Avenue, +1 515-255-7380. Specialize in organic foods.
  • Campbell's Nutrition , Three Des Moines-area locations, including 4040 University Avenue, +1 515-277-6351. Offer a variety of organic foods and other items.


Not all of the places listed here serve alcohol--proving there are plenty of places in the area to get a caffeine buzz. Some of the below-mentioned hot spots could be listed under the Eat section because their food is so good but were listed here because of they're popularly-known for their drink specials or homemade brews.

  • Friedrichs Coffee, Six Des Moines-area locations, including 4126 University Avenue, +1 515-279-2919. If you're looking for a down-to-earth but nice atmosphere place where you can get a great cup of java or a nifty shot of espresso, pull up a chair. One of the owners' great-grandfather owned a coffee shop across from a castle in Charlottenburg, Germany and spirit has passed to the next generation. The owners, a husband and wife team, opened their first coffee shop only a few months after returning from Costa Rica. Bean coffee available to go, too. Most drinks will cost $1.50-$4.
  • Grounds for Celebration, Five Des Moines-area locations, including 3801 Ingersoll Avenue, +1 515-279-6812. A wonderful place for fresh coffee, tea, and gelato (and lunch items)! The coffee beans are from the cafe's privately owned cropland in Panama. Consistently rated as one of Des Moines' best coffeehouses.
  • Java Joe's, 214 4th Street, +1 515-288-5282. In the heart of downtown's Court Avenue district, Java Joe's is as known for their beans as they are for their entertainment, drawing from all ages but particularly from the teenage through 30-somethings crowd. Entertainment includes open-mic poetry readings, rap contests, and a stage where local acts come to show their song-writing capabilities. If the act isn't good, you can get your coffee to go--popular for the nearby bar crowd needing a quick shot of espresso before their next stop. Offers wireless Internet access for Web surfers, plenty of space to sit. Also serve alcoholic drinks, sandwiches and homemade soups. Most drinks are $1.50-$4.
  • Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewery Company, 309 Court Avenue. +1 515-282-2739. (Happy Hour specials, M-F 4PM-7PM, including half price appetizers.) Located in the heart of the Court Avenue district, visitors will be pleasantly surprised with the high-quality microbrews CAB offers daily. In fact, the only beers they have on tap are their own. Varities include Honest Lawyer I.P.A., Pointer Brown Ale, Capital Raspberry Wheat, Black Hawk Stout, Topping Pale Ale, Kaplan Hat Hefeweizen and seasonal brews they release every few months. Live music a few nights a week, including some decent jazz. The food is equally delicious. Outdoor patio available. On Saturday nights, CAB offers dozens of different martinis at just $4 each. Dinner prices range from $10-$25.
  • Raccoon River Brewing Co, 200 10th Street, +1 515-362-5222. If you're wanting a place with a classy atmosphere, handcrafted brews and incredible food, look no further than this spot located just a few blocks west of Court Avenue. Featured brews are Stonecutter Stout, Vanilla Cream Ale, Bandit IPA, Homestead Red, and Tallgrass Light. Seasonal brews include MacCoy's Scotch Ale, Cerveza Negra, Ringed Tail Rye, West Coast Wheat, and Maibock to name a few. Some dinner menu items include Graziano Bros. Sausage and Farfalle, Lobster Mafaldine, and Ponzu Salmon Fillet. Live music during the week. Outdoor patio and billiards available. Dinners range in price from $8-$25.
  • Johnny's Hall of Fame Bar & Grill, 302 Court Avenue, +1 515-280-6679. Located in the heart of Court Avenue district. Nothing fancy drink-wise. Variety of tap and bottled beers, in addition to cocktails. Sports decor.
  • Royal Mile, 210 4th Street, +1 515-280-3771. This is the place to go if you want a good urban setting (half block north of Court Avenue) and a multitude of imported draft and bottled beers to from which to choose. It's really two bars in one as they have an upstairs bar, the Red Monk, that's different from the main area in that's its main emphasis is Belgian beers--not British. You'll find beers here you won't be able to find anywhere else in Iowa. You're going to be buying pricey imported beer so don't forget bring your wallet.
  • Hessen Haus, 101 4th Street, +1 515-288-2520. So you think you can drink bier and wien with the Germans, eh? Well, this is the place to try your darndest. When you order a pint, the whole place will look at you and ask, "What's wrong? Feelin' kinda sick are ya?" It's best to get a half-liter. Although they do serve the mass-produced American standbys--Budweiser, etc.--the reason you're going here is for the 15+ German beers they offer such as Spaten Lager, Kostritzer, Schwarzbier, Weihenstephaner, and Hacker Pschorr. Serve wine and a full array of cocktails and traditional German food, too, like Jaegerschnitzel, Schweine Haxen, and Kassler Ripchen. Half block south of Court Avenue. Beer is a bit pricey, about $8 for half-liter.
  • The High Life Lounge, 200 SW 2nd Street, +1 515-280-1965. The whole place is devoted to American brewers who had their heyday in the 60's and 70's. The decor is filled with advertisement fodder by brands such as Hamm's, Schlitz, PBR, and Miller High Life. Pacman and pinball keeps the whole place pretty simple. The shag is hilarious and will put you in a good mood the entire night. Few blocks from Court Avenue district. Most drinks are in the $2 range.
  • El Bait Shop, 200 SW 2nd Street (connected to High Life Lounge), +1 515-284-1970. Has a great list of 105 beers via tap or bottle from a lot of west coast brewers not so popular in Iowa. Has Mexican and BBQ fare available, as well as a working shower. Rent fishing supplies, as well.
  • Chicago Speakeasy, 1520 Euclid Avenue, +1 515-243-3141. A Des Moines classic. Live music, excellent prime rib.
  • Wellman's Pub, 2920 Ingersoll Avenue, +1 515-245-9737. Very popular with the after-work crowd. Lots of TVs to watch the game. Very tasty food.
  • Jimmy's American Cafe, 1238 8th Street in West Des Moines, +1 515-224-1212. Jimmy's is a popular hangout, particuarly on Wednesday's throughout the summer when they feature "Jimmy Buffet Night" on their outdoor patio. The joint is also known for their food--voted "Best American Food" by City View readers--serving up entrees ($12-25), pastas ($15), sandwiches ($9) and their ever-popular brunch featuring Grand Marnier French Toast and Cajun Omelet.
  • Drink, 8410 Hickman Road in Clive, +1 515-270-6274. Very popular for the 20-somethings to get a drink and mingle.
  • Club Crush, 2249 86th Street in Clive. Dancing beats, sometimes they'll have live DJs. Very popular for the 20-something crowd. Not a place for thsoe who want to curl up to the bar or find a booth and chill. Dress code.
  • Cabaret Lounge, 8450 Hickman Road in Clive, +1 515-276-9927. No dance floor here. Outdoor patio available. Karaoke various nights. Big screen TVs and jukebox. Drink specials every night and also serve up some decent food.


  • Most of the major chains have rooms available in the area--feel free to search on the Web for those places. A few chains have been posted, but consistent with Wikitravel and this particular Website, "the chains" have been excluded for the most part because they're not particularly unique to the area. You can also log-on to your favorite search engine to find bed & breakfast establishments throughout the state, although some located in and around Des Moines have been listed below for you!


  • The Cottage, 1094 28th Street, +1 515-277-7559. Bed & breakfast in historic Drake neighborhood.
  • 4 J's Horse Ranch, 4310 NE 62nd Avenue in Ankeny, +1 515-967-0005 or +1 866-967-0005. Bed and breakfast with pool and pond on-site.


  • Butler House on Grand B&B, 4507 Grand Avenue, +1 515-255-4096 or +1 866-455-4096. Picked one of 2006 Top Ten Most Romantic Inns by American Historic Inns.
  • Wells Bed and Breakfast, 4724 7nd Street in Urbandale, +1 515-521-4724.
  • Hotel Fort Des Moines, 1000 Walnut Street, +1 515-243-1161, 800-532-1466. Member of the National Register of Historic Places. Famous fomer guests include Charles Lindbergh, Mae West, Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Fonda, Nikita Kruschev, Joe Louis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and several U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents.
  • Des Moines Marriott, 700 Grand Avenue, +1 515-245-5500. Located downtown. Just a 5-min. walk from Court Avenue, 15-min. walk from East Village.
  • Embassy Suites Des Moines - On the River, 101 East Locust Street, +1 515-244-1700. Centrally located to many entertainment and shopping venues, just a block from the East Village, in the heart of downtown Des Moines.
  • West Des Moines Marriott, 1250 Jordan Creek Parkway in West Des Moines, +1 515-267-1500. Just 5-min. drive from the state's largest shopping mall.


  • The local area code is "515." Calling to nearby areas, such as Ames, which also begins with "515," is not considered "local," however, and thus the area code must be included when dialing.
  • Des Moines International Airport - Offers wireless Internet access.

Stay safe

In case of an emergency requring police, fire, or medical assistance, dial 911 for help. The Des Moines Police is the local law enforcement agency. Each suburb also has its own police department, such as the Windsor Heights Police Department.

Des Moines is an extremely safe city during all parts of the day. One can take the evening air without feeling nervous. Just like in all cities with a sizable amount of people, there are areas and neighborhoods that may be more troublesome for some groups of people than others. Visitors are likely to avoid these small pockets, however. Pick-pockets and grand rip-off schemes that plague other cities in the US and across the globe are not pervasive in the area. The best thing to do is use your judgement--if you don't want attention, don't do things to draw people's attention.

Stay healthy

In any emergency which requires medical assistance, call 911.

The following are Des Moines hospitals that offer 24-hour emergency services in addition to their other services they provide. There are dozens of area clinics and specialists--too numerous to list here--but these are the most in-depth care centers in the area.

  • Iowa Methodist Medical Center, 1200 Pleasant Street, +1 515-241-6212.
  • Mercy Medical Center, 1111 6th Avenue, +1 515-247-3121.
  • Iowa Lutheran Hospital, 700 East University, +1 515-263-5612.
  • Mercy Capitol, 603 East 12th Street, +1 515-243-2584.
  • Broadlawns Medical Center, 1801 Hickman Road, +1 515-323-8865.
  • Blank Children's Hospital, 1200 Pleasant Street, +1 515-241-KIDS.

Get out

  • Nearby or connecting towns include Altoona, Ankeny, Clive, Grimes, Johnston, Urbandale, Waukee, West Des Moines, and Windsor Heights.
  • Knoxville Raceway, 1000 North Lincoln Street in Knoxville, +1 641-842-5431. Roughly 30 minutes southeast of Des Moines. The Raceway holds 24,000 spectators and is filled each August when the Knoxville Nationals take place. The dirt track features sprint car racing and events start in April and last through October.
  • Iowa Speedway, 3300 South 24th Avenue East in Newton, +1 641-792-8722. Iowa's largest racetrack, featuring Indy Car Series, ARCA Remax Series, USAC Racing, Rolex Sports Car Series, ASA Late Model Series, USAC Silver Crown, and USAR. About 30 miles east of Des Moines via I-80.
  • National Balloon Classic, Launch field, 3 miles east of Indianola via Highway 92, +1 515 961-8416. Indianola is located approximately 12 miles south of Des Moines via Highway 65/69. Features hot air balloon competitions.
  • Field of Dreams, Dyersville, Various Websites including. Considered one of baseball's most-treasured landmarks. The field is the same used in the film, "Field of Dreams," nominated by the Academy Award for Best Film of the Year of 1989. The film, based upon W.P. Kinsella's book "Shoeless Joe," starred Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones. The field is owned by two families amid much controversy. No admission is charged to visit the field. Various events, including baseball and softball games, take place on the field at various times during the year. Approximately 200 miles northeast of Des Moines via I-80 and US Highway 20.
  • RAGBRAI. Every year in July, riders from all over both the US and world come to partake in one of the nation's top cycling events for amateurs. The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa starts with cyclists--usually more than 10,000 of them--dipping their rear wheel in the Missouri River, trekking eastwards across the state until finally dipping their front tire in the Mississippi River. The event is huge for small towns in Iowa and the route is different every year. Non-riders can join the cyclists in live music, food, and all sorts of activities the towns set up for those who attend. The event takes place over the course of one week towards the end of July.

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