Sometimes, you need to go somewhere different — to a place with all the thrills of a modern city but the off-the-beaten-path vibe of an outdoor, rural, rustic location. Looking for an example? Check out Des Moines, Iowa for your travel destination this summer!
As staff at the incredible Stoney Creek Hotel, we know and love our city. More to the point, we know Iowa is so much more than just tourism and farming. That’s why we’re giving you this list — to give you the chance to get to know and love our city the same way we do!
If you are traveling to Des Moines, IA, and looking for things to do in Des Moines, you’re in luck: This article will go through all of the possibilities. With a population of 215,000, Des Moines is the biggest city in Iowa and home to a thriving economy and local region. Here’s a list of things to do in Des Moines, including family activities and an overview of Stoney Creek hospitality.
5 Off-the-Beaten-Path Places in Des Moines
Iowa has so much to offer! If you are looking for traditional vacation sports or unique artistic directions, Des Moines has it.
Prairie Meadows Casino (Horse Racing): Praire Meadows Casino offers some of the best horse racing in the Midwest. In addition to its wide array of horse racing options, it has a fantastic casino that offers slots, card games, and more. The casino also has excellent banquet facilities, making it a perfect stop for your corporate event or wedding.
Adventureland Amusement Park: Looking for family-friendly activities in Des Moines, Iowa? You won’t find much better than Adventureland Amusement Park, which has over 100 rides, making it one of the largest amusement parks in Iowa.
Ledges State Park: There’s no other way to say it: Ledges State Park is gorgeous. It has a 4-mile trail system, slopes, overviews, stone bridges, and more. Ledges is a great park to visit for the casual nature observer, families looking for an outdoor getaway, or hardcore hikers craving a challenge.
Pappajohn Sculpture Park (Downtown DSM): Looking for a unique and extraordinary attraction when traveling to Des Moines? Check out the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, located in the heart of downtown Des Moines. It has some of the most amazing and unique art you can see in the entire region and can be a great introduction to Des Moines.
Des Moines Art Center: Speaking of art, if you are looking for things to do in Des Moines and are a fan of art, check out the Des Moines Art Center, which offers a slew of different and rotating art exhibits and attractions for the entire family.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Des Moines
Des Moines is so much more than a collection of places and businesses — it also has fantastic events and popular attractions that you will love.
Drake Relays: The Drake Relays are a series of fantastic events held every April. They feature some of the best athletes from around the country participating in various track and field events.
Ragbrai: Ragbrai is the annual bike ride throughout Iowa, held in late July. It is a massive event that highlights all of the rural and urban splendor of the state.
Iowa State Fair: The Iowa State Fair is one of the most significant events hosted in Iowa every year, one attended by people and politicians from around the country. It is a massive celebration of the state and features numerous exhibits, flea markets, rides, games, competitions, and so much more.
Wells Fargo Event Center: The Wells Fargo Event Center, located in downtown Des Moines, is one of the biggest stadiums in Iowa. It features a regular rotation of sports and musical events.
Valley Junction: Valley Junction is located in West Des Moines and serves as one of the city’s most fun and unique gathering places. As a participant in Iowa’s Main Street program, it offers visitors shopping and dining activities.
5 Local Des Moines Dishes You Have To Try
If you come to Des Moines, you can’t just eat the usual stuff. We’ve got a massive variety of food you can sample while in town.
B-Bops: If you are in Des Moines, you have to eat, and B-Bops has fantastic local food. B-Bops is a twist on a classic burger joint and comes with all the burgers, fries, and soda you could want or need. It is a classic regional fast food place and will give you a fantastic taste of Iowa.
Tasty Tacos: When you think Iowa, you think tacos, right? No? Well, maybe you should. Tasty Tacos has six different locations throughout Iowa and is known for bringing a unique taste to the Midwest. It’s a family-owned restaurant that has been using the same family recipe for over 50 years, bringing the people of Iowa the joy of tacos.
Jethros BBQ: NOW we’re talking about food you likely expect in Iowa. Jethros BBQ is one of the best-known BBQ joints in Des Moines, which is saying something. Operating for the past 25 years, Jethros has multiple locations throughout the state and is known for its fantastic BBQ offerings.
Waveland Café: With its unique space theme and its self-proclaimed “Best Hashbrowns in the Galaxy,” aren’t you the least bit curious about this one? Waveland is a unique setting with some amazing food, and it will unquestionably give you something different.
Machine Shed: This sounds like a mechanic’s place, not a unique homestyle restaurant, right? Well, Machine Shed is a throwback and a tribute to Iowa’s farm-based economy, offering some amazing traditional food in a homey setting.
Don’t forget, Downtown Des Moines has a lot of local minor league sports teams, including the Iowa Cubs (baseball), Iowa Wild (hockey), and Iowa Wolves (NBA). That’s right, one city, three sports, all of which are available for your enjoyment.