This Midwestern capital might surprise you with its nightlife, dining and culture.

Des Moines — Iowa’s capital city — is brimming with bars, museums, boutiques, live music venues and a surprising number of stellar restaurants. The walkable city center area packs the energy of a metropolis twice its size and, in the winter months, the downtown and East Village neighborhoods are connected via a protected skywalk system. The expanses of countryside beyond the city limits give you a chance to experience the real Iowa — big sky and green spaces, including the Clive Greenbelt Trail, Des Moines Water Works Park and Gray's Lake for its biking and hiking trails.

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Explore Des Moines

  • Court Avenue District
  • East Village
  • Downtown
  • West Des Moines

Court Avenue District


With more bars and breweries than you could visit in a week, the Court Avenue District is the most vibrant part of the larger downtown neighborhood. It's also known for housing one of the country's largest farmers markets.

Known For

Nightlife, Dining

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East Village


While this neighborhood is presided over by the grand, gilded Capitol building, it really comes out to play once the sun goes down. For instance, Locust Street is a great shopping destination during the day, but it’s also home to one of the city's best music venues and a wide range of bars.

Known For

Nightlife, Dining, Shopping

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Surrounded by commercial buildings, there are pockets of public art around every corner in this strollable neighborhood. From the Pappajohn Sculpture Park to the Art Route DSM — which highlights 87 works of art in the area — you can combine culture and cardio in one memorable visit.

Known For

Parks, Art, Dining

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West Des Moines


A residential area with lots of public parks, the West Des Moines neighborhood is known for shopping. Don't miss the historic Valley Junction community, a walkable area that brings together locally owned shops, restaurants and an ever-evolving calendar of events.

Known For

Parks, Shopping

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Nearby Hotels and Resorts

Stay in the Center of it All

Immerse yourself in your destination at these centrally located hotels.

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Combine Great Food and Art in One Long Weekend in Des Moines, Iowa

Grand building with dome and grass in the foreground

Explore the East Village

Kick the day off with breakfast at St. Kilda, an all day-café in the East Village. From here, take a Capitol tour and shop the local boutiques that line the streets of this hip neighborhood. Lunch at a zombie-themed burger joint will give you a chance to rest your feet before a night of live music at Wooly’s.


Pink cocktail sitting on bar

Lose Yourself in Art and Gardens

Give yourself a late start with brunch at Americana in the downtown neighborhood. Take in the masterpieces at the Des Moines Art Center, grab a snack back in the East Village at Horizon Line Coffee and wander your way through the city’s botanical gardens before settling into an evening spent enjoying some truly inventive pizza and cocktails.


Two white bowls with brown noodles

Bike Downtown and Shop Historic Valley Junction

Rent a bike for the day and visit a local favorite for breakfast. From here, cycle through Water Works Park and Gray’s Lake before fueling up with Vietnamese fare at A Dong and heading to the historic Valley Junction neighborhood in West Des Moines. Finish the day downtown with drinks.


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