If you’re looking for fun things to do In Des Moines, Iowa we’ve got a great list! Our post also includes suggestions for where to eat in Des Moines and where to stay in Des Moines.
Pro Tip: Also check out these other things to do in Central Iowa along I-80!
Fun Things To Do In Des Moines, Iowa
Although we were only able to spend a day in Des Moines, we were able to do quite a lot of fun things. This ranged from outdoor to indoor activities (perfect if you’re looking for things to do in Des Moines in winter). We also found a few free things, which is always great if you’re traveling on a budget. Below are our recommendations for fun things to do in Des Moines…
John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
One of the top free things to do in Des Moines is to visit the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. This incredible 4.4 acre park in downtown Des Moines has 29 pieces of art and was donated by the Pappajohn’s because they believed that everyone should be able to enjoy art.
Street Art in Des Moines
Speaking of art, make sure to look for murals in downtown Des Moines. We saw a few as we drove around and were pretty happy because we love finding street art in new cities. Some of the pieces we saw reminded us of some of the street art in Miami.
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
We thought these gardens were really nice and designed very well. The geodesic-domed conservatory is a focal point, with a few different gardens inside. There is also an outside garden area that has plants that grow throughout the year and also has many sculptures.
Iowa State Capitol
One of the must see attractions in Des Moines is the State Capitol building. There are formal tours available, but you can also do a free self-guided tour, which is what we did. Simply pick up an informational pamphlet and you can be on your way, exploring the beautiful building and learning about its history.
Des Moines Art Center Museum
The art museum is pretty extraordinary because it holds some cool art inside some spectacular architecture, so it’s doubly awesome. We also like the fact that it’s free to enter. Des Moines truly is all about having accessible art for its community.
Greatest Store In The Universe
You absolutely have to stop in to RAYGUN when you’re in Des Moines. After all, it is the greatest store in the universe! We wandered all around this store and looked at almost everything they had because it was all so fun or inspirational. Or both! The only downside is limiting how much you let yourself buy. LOL!
Where to eat in Des Moines
We were only in Des Moines for a day, but the two places we went to came highly recommended by locals. We loved them both so we think you should definitely give them a try.
Scenic Route Bakery
Talk about good coffee and delicious pastries! Our first stop of the day was Scenic Route Bakery and it got us ready for a day of exploration. We had a latte and chocolate chip cookie. Yum! Their sandwiches looked really good too so we’ll have to try one of those next time.
Fong’s Pizza and Tiki Bar
OMG. This place changed my life. Normally when it comes to pizza I keep it simple. But we were told we HAD to go to Fong’s and get a Crab Rangoon pizza.
DON’T MAKE THAT FACE!!
We know it sounds weird, but hear us out. The pizza doesn’t have tomato sauce, which we think is what throws everyone off. It has a crab rangoon base, surimi, green onion, asiago and mozzarella, topped with crispy wontons and a sweet chili lattice. It was SO good, we would seriously fly back to Des Moines just for this pizza.
Where To Stay In Des Moines
We got in to Des Moines the previous night and stayed at the Holiday Inn and Suites West Des Moines Jordan Creek. We liked it because it wasn’t right in the hustle and bust of the city but it was a quick drive to where we wanted to go. Our room was nice and the restaurant had a good menu. We arrived hungry so we appreciated that the restaurant was still open.
Pro Tip: If you’re driving to Des Moines, make sure you have these Road Trip Essentials!
Final Thoughts On Fun Things To Do In Des Moines
We only scratched the surface in Des Moines as it was only a small part of our big Iowa road trip. We managed to see a lot in a day though, and know we’d love to go back and explore more when we return with more time. What we loved most about Des Moines is how much they emphasize the community. To be honest, it’s something we saw all across Iowa. It must be part of that Midwest culture. 🙂