Des Moines offers a wide range of events and activities along with its place as the center of the state's business and political spheres. Several major projects in the past decade have revitalized many areas in the downtown district. A reliable transit service and improved highway system offer easy access to the city's unique neighborhoods as well as its core.
Must see in Des Moines
Enjoy world-class works of art at the Des Moines Art Center and its affiliated sculpture park downtown. Take the family to see the animals at Blank Park Zoo. Experience the hands-on fun at the Science Center of Iowa.
Where to stay in Des Moines
Downtown Des Moines is the place for young adults seeking nightlife and major festivals. Hotels on the south side offer options near the airport for business travelers. The Merle Hay corridor on the north side includes direct access to Interstate 35/80 and has several restaurant and shopping options to please families with children.
Best and worst times to go to Des Moines
June through August is full of major music concerts, neighborhood and city-wide festivals, and the Iowa State Fair. Iowa's winters really kick in from January through early March, sometimes making travel difficult. However, the state's high school basketball and wrestling tournaments are big draws in February and March.
Where to get lost in Des Moines
Visit the East Village to enjoy one of the newest revitalized areas of the city. It offers bars and restaurants, unique shops and great views of the Des Moines River and downtown.
The best deal in Des Moines
Learn about the state's colorful history at the State Capitol and the nearby Iowa State Historical Museum. Both sites are free and open all year long.
Transportation in Des Moines
Interstate Highway 235 provides easy access to Des Moines' neighborhoods and its downtown. The local transit system offers reliable service seven days a week along the major streets. However, you'll need a car to reach the other areas of the city.
Getting In from Des Moines International Airport
There is no regular bus service from the airport, so expect to rent a car or take a taxi. Fleur Drive, which runs next to the airport, is a major street that provides easy access to downtown and Interstate 235 and other thoroughfares.
Local tip for visitors to Des Moines
City leaders have made it even easier for visitors to enjoy the attractions, restaurants and bars downtown. Many of the parking meters in the downtown districts are free on weekday evenings and on the weekends.
Author's bio: Melanie Lageschulte is a freelance writer and editor. She is an Iowa native and has lived in Des Moines for 15 years.