My one night accommodation was at an Airbnb, staying in a beautiful townhome with generous and hospitable hosts. Guests receive the luxury of a private bedroom and bath while sleeping on the most comfortable bed in the world. Check out their profile - https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3617530
What drew me to Des Moines you ask? No charade here - beer and food venues! This girl can never get her fill. With names like el Bait Shop and Fong's Pizza, how could you go wrong?
All my activities were downtown, which is extremely easy to navigate on foot, regardless of your sense of direction. I did pick up a nice little placemat-style map at the public library, located at 1000 Grand Ave.
The downtown area is divided into three neighborhoods - Court District, Western Gateway, and East Village. You will find restaurants, hotels, bars, a library, a beautiful riverwalk along the Des Moines River, the stunning Capitol, cool art and more. I really like the diversity that is offered, and admire the city's dedication to the arts. http://www.downtowndesmoines.com/businesses/617
Do you desire rowdy nightlife? Then head to the Court Avenue district, which is like spring break at Daytona Beach without the beach. Lots of people, bars, music, and perhaps even a taping of the reality TV show "The Bachelor." I discovered the newest bachelor, Chris Soules, who hails from Des Moines, was taping at RoCA.
To add to the excitement, Van Holmgren was painting a mural of the lovely couple on an exterior wall of RoCA. A bevy of fans went wild when the happy twosome emerged and kissed in front of the finished mural. I was head over heels in love with watching the mural unfold rather than the couple:)
Moving on to my recommendations for what to see, do, eat and drink. First, I want to emphasize a couple of activities that are a must - the downtown Farmer's Market and John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
The Farmer's Market was recognized nationally by Midwest Living Magazine as "one of the best," and it runs from May 3rd to October 25th. The market is expansive with oodles of vendors and live music at just about every corner. I even met Toto, Dorothy and Scarecrow (photo to prove it). I was also introduced to an amazing local band called Mighty Shady. Here is a song they performed:
The Pappajohn Sculpture Park is beautifully landscaped, and you will quickly forget that you are in an urban area. The park offers 22 pieces of remarkable art that are thought-provoking and camera worthy. My apologies to the newly wedded couple who were taking photos. I stood in front of a sculpture that was being used as a tripod, awaiting to videotape them exiting a limo. Oops!
- Downtown Farmer's Market
- Pappajohn Sculpture Park
- Iowa State Capitol
- Historic East Village (unique retail here)
- Principal Riverwalk and Hub
- Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens
- Plain Talk Books & Coffee
- Chris Vance Mural on the Metro Waste Authority building at 300 E. Locust
What can I say about el Bait Shop? A very chill place to imbibe on more than 100 drafts; it's like being in beer heaven! I had an Evil Twin Lowlife and the Flight Over Iowa. Royal Mile is a cozy British pub where I had a snack consisting of Peanut Ginger Slaw and a Hobgoblin English Ale. Unfortunately, Court Avenue Brewing was a quick pit stop and I only had time for one brew, an Honest Lawyer IPA.
- Ritual Cafe
- Blu Thai Food & Sushi
- Fong's Pizza
- New World Cafe
- Zombie Burger & Drink Lab
- el Bait Shop
- Royal Mile
- Court Avenue Brewing Co.
The extraordinary Farmer's Market
The stunning Capitol and grounds
Spectacular mural by Chris Vance
Food and beer photos (drooling acceptable)
|I promise they don't bite|
Great art at the Hub Spot
John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
Pavilion at Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens
Mural by Van Holmgren
|Chris Soules and his date Whitney Bischoff|
Random shots that caught my eye
|My first photo on an early foggy morning|
|Such a pretty wall|
|Perfect leaf placement on every step|
|The color really makes this bridge stand out|
|Reflection at its finest|
|Beauty along the river|