Downtown. Des Moines has many things to do right in the heart of the city. This is a picture of some giant artwork in Nollen Plaza. From this spot, it's a short walk to the Civic Center, Savory Hotel, Court Avenue Shopping District, Sec Taylor Stadium (Go I-Cubs!), and the downtown skywalk. Nollen Plaza is also the place to come for concerts and the start of the 'Dam to Dam' race.
Check out the website below to see many of Des Moines attractions.
The State Historical Building is great but I have to say it made me feel old. I saw a lot of things on display in the museum I remembered using as a boy. Made me feel like an antique to see that stuff in a museum.
There were also full size dioramas of the animals of Iowa. Here are some wild turkeys in the photo of one exhibit.
Visit the Iowa State Capitol Building. It is beautiful inside with ornate wood work and paintings.
Park below the capital building and you will be near the state history musuem. You can visit both places without moving your car.
Living History Farm is 600 acres of land. There are different farms in operation there showing the different farming styles of the past. There is also a typical town of a hundred years ago and a neat old mansion.
The hiking trails through the woods seperate the farms. It is like travelling through time and is quite interesting. People in period clothes demonstrate how they did things.
It's a very large mansion filled with paintings and antiques. It was built to resemble old English style mansions and was actually built with authentic English rafters from the 16th century. Don't miss the shruken heads in the basement or the room that has a rock form each of Iowa's 99 counties imbedded in it.
They play in one of the best stadiums in the Minor leagues, you get a great veiw of the Des Moines skyline from the right feild stands. The ticket prices are pretty low, from $5 and up. Check out Iowacubs.com for more info.
I have decided to make this a must-see activity with a warning in the middle of it. Downtown Des Moines has a neat network called the Sky Walk which threads through the second floor of several buildings. It crosses streets and runs through buildings with restaurants and shops and of course, access to the buildings and their businesses. For those who work in one of the buildings involved in this network, it can be a great way to get around in bad weather without having to be outside in the mess.
The warning is this: beware of the maps. The maps are oriented to where you are...in other words, two maps may not look the same. The first day I tried to get around in this, I was trying to get back to my car from my first day at work. I was using the maps, which are situated at just about every junction, and was about two blocks off in the wrong direction before I realized what was happening with the maps. What took me five to ten minutes to achieve by crossing the street outside took me over twenty minutes through the Sky Walk including getting lost. I can see how the Sky Walk can be a wonderful thing, but it can be very confusing until you know your way around.
The Iowa State Fair is a definite must-see! Every August Iowans gather in Des Moines for corn dogs and rides and 1/2 pound pork tenderloin sandwiches and to see the Butter Cow! The Fair lasts about two weeks, and I've heard that it can take a person easily that long to see it all, and I believe it! Hubby and I mostly went to eat!
See the travelogue for more pics!
The Butter Cow. Every year a woman sculpts a cow out of butter and it is on display at the Fair. This year (2001) she also did a Butter John Wayne. Did you know John Wayne was from Iowa? I sure didn't!
If visiting in the Fall, be sure to attend the Iowa State Fair. Adventureland is a family amusement park with several decent rides...takes 4-6 hours to do everything at a moderate pace. The Botanical Center is a nice place to go and relax.
Do visit the State Fair, especially at night. The fairgrounds are absurdly huge, but I zeroed in on the animal barns, of course...
Des Moines Botanical Center has out door gardens and a spectacular indoor domed tropical garden to enjoy.
Free flying birds inside the dome.
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