What to do and see in Des Moines, Iowa (IA): The Best Things to do Good for Big Groups

July 27, 2021 Kiesha Cripe

Today the capital city and cultural center of Iowa is revitalized. A versatile destination everyone will enjoy, Des Moines has an itinerary for almost every interest. Culture and art enthusiasts may want to roam through the Des Moines Art Center, spend the weekend museum-hopping or attend a Broadway-caliber performance at the Civic Center. Golfers can spend their time and energy teeing up at any of the area's fine championship courses. The Blank Park Zoo and the Iowa State Fairgrounds should be on the list for families. And gardeners will savor the fantastic blooms at the Botanical Center and the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden. Mix it up a little and sample all this "big city with a small town heart" has to offer.
Restaurants in Des Moines

1. Downtown Farmers Market

555 Walnut St, Des Moines, IA 50314 +1 515-286-4928 http://www.desmoinesfarmersmarket.com
Excellent
78%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 415 reviews

Downtown Farmers Market

Reviewed By flyingsquirrels - Des Moines, United States

We have been coming to this farmers market for years - and I remember how Jaw-dropping it was the first time I went! It’s huge and so much fun! Everything you can imagine and more - all the farm fresh fruits and vegetables you can imagine, home baked goodies like fruit tarts, huge cinnamon rolls, cakes, and cookies. Honey, salsas, wine, crafts vendors, flowers and plants, live music, doesn’t town bars and restaurants, and don’t forget all the breakfast food trucks! Popcorn, coffee stands, balloon animals, ethnic foods, spices, jellies... so much of everything! You have to experience this!

2. Iowa Cubs

Close to court avenue, Des Moines, IA http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t451
Excellent
63%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
5%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 40 reviews

Iowa Cubs

3. The Temple for Performing Arts

1011 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309-2811 +1 515-246-2300 http://www.templeforperformingarts.com/
Excellent
63%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 24 reviews

The Temple for Performing Arts

4. Iowa State Fairgrounds

3000 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50317-2494 +1 800-545-3247 [email protected] http://www.iowastatefairgrounds.org/
Excellent
68%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 868 reviews

Iowa State Fairgrounds

For 11 days in August, it’s a fairground, but for the other 354 days of the year, the Iowa State Fairgrounds is home to auto shows, livestock exhibitions, flea markets, antique shows, concerts, trade shows and more. See what’s happening this month at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Reviewed By P8743KEsusanh - Coal Creek, United States

There is truly something for everyone, whether you browse the vendors under the Grandstand or in the VI Building, or watch the Husband Calling Contest in Heritage Hall. There's the tiny museum of Fair history, and a huge model train display. You can watch demonstrations of Dutch oven cooking at the DNR Buiding, and admire the Butter Cow and other sculptures while strolling through the Ag Building sipping your honey lemonade or munching a sample hard boiled egg from the Egg Council. Visit Little Hands on the Farm with your children. From the Biggest Bull to the newest baby piglets, there's something new to see every day. Many quality free shows and concerts throughout the Fairgrounds, as well as the paid nightly entertainment at the Grandstand . Fabulous food all over the Fairgrounds, including hidden gems like the old-time soda fountain with real old fashioned malts and shakes. Watch a chain saw carver create a work of art in a few minutes, sing along at the Hymn Sing at the little church, or hold your breath while four year old kids try their hands at mutton bustin'. The midway is typical. You can park and ride from Southeast Polk High School on the east and the Capitol grounds from the west. Parking in these two places is free, and the bus ride is $2, with veteran discounts, and discounts for prepurchased Fair admission. Parking on the grounds is available for a fee. You could attend all 10 days of the Fair and never experience it all.

5. State Historical Museum

600 E Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50319-1006 +1 515-281-5111 http://iowaculture.gov/history/museum
Excellent
58%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 186 reviews

State Historical Museum

Reviewed By McKGil23 - Iowa City, United States

Some very cool exhibits highlighting our state. Across from the capital near everything downtown. Was a joy to see some history of our state.

6. Principal Park

1 Line Dr, Des Moines, IA 50309-4640 +1 515-243-6111 http://www.milb.com/index.jsp
Excellent
60%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 230 reviews

Principal Park

Reviewed By kay13_226 - Columbus, United States

We visited last July and I was very pleased with the facility. We rented a box and it was very roomy with great service. I would highly recommend!

7. Pappajohn Sculpture Park

1330 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50316-3800 +1 515-277-4405 http://www.desmoinesartcenter.org/visit/pappajohn-sculpture-park.aspx
Excellent
56%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 687 reviews

Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Open to visitors since September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park features artwork by 22 of the world's most celebrated artists. The 4.4 Acre park, located within a major crossroads of the urban grid, creates a pedestrian friendly entranceway to downtown Des Moines. This accessible setting, coupled with the skilled landscape design and caliber of the art, makes it unlike any other sculpture park in the United States. The Pappajohns' contribution of 28 works for the park is the most significant donation of artwork ever made to the Des Moines Art Center.

Reviewed By 160gailk

Very nice time enjoying the interesting art sculptures- worth the trip! Short and easy walk with the Des Moines skyline in the background.

8. Gray's Lake Park

2100 Fleur Dr, Des Moines, IA 50321-1158 +1 515-237-1386 http://www.dmgov.org/Departments/Parks/Pages/Parks.aspx?Tab=Gray%27s+Lake+Park
Excellent
66%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 319 reviews

Gray's Lake Park

Reviewed By ebonc2016

Gray's lake has so much to do! walking trails, fishing, and paddle boating are just a few options for the whole family. With the new underpass walk trail opening up to Waterworks Park, this is the place to enjoy the outdoors in the greater Des Moines Area. "Like" their Facebook page for details on night events at Gray's lake.

9. Hoyt Sherman Place

1501 Woodland Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309-3283 +1 515-244-0507 http://hoytsherman.org/
Excellent
63%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
4%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 48 reviews

Hoyt Sherman Place

10. Confluence Brewing Company

1235 Thomas Beck Rd, Des Moines, IA 50315-1055 +1 515-285-9005 http://www.confluencebrewing.com/
Excellent
68%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 59 reviews

Confluence Brewing Company

Reviewed By Teammilitello - Des Moines, United States

Went with my sons (16 & 11). They had root beer. Locally made. Loved it. I tried a flight of 4 beers. It’s off the beaten path from Des Moines, but totally worth a visit. Clean facility & happy staff.

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