Some restaurants in the Des Moines area specialize in serving out-size portions of not just the entrees but also the appetizers and everything else in a meal, which can be a problem if you're trying to cut down for one reason or another. Ask your server what's included with your entree and how big your entree is before you order and don't be afraid to order without ordering if you don't like what is being offered. That has happened to me at the Iowa Machine Shed restaurant and at a couple of restaurants in the Court Avenue district downtown.
I'm sure there are restaurants in other cities which do the same thing, but the Des Moines area seems to have many of them. With the current concerns about obesity, I could not help but to post this concern.
Even though it is generally very safe, there ARE a few neighborhoods to be a little wary of, especially at night. One is located off of
Drake University near Martin Luther King Blvd.
A few sections off of the main downtown area can be scary too. Skywalks are covered
with security cams and patroled by police, but if I were female, I would still excercise sound judgement and not walk alone in them at night or during weekends.. Most of the crimes in Des Moines are
"stupid criminal" type stories that end up making the national morning shows on radio. It usually involves a low-life who drinks too much and does something dumb. Very few murders occur here, but the area is not without its bad spots.
ONE FINAL THOUGHT: although Des Moines is not really "big city," locals tend to drive like it is. Be careful on the freeway
and watch for people who cut you off and will deliberately drive in a rude manner. Freezing rain can compound the problem in winter.
One thing that I am beginning to discover as I see more of the US is that driving is not necessarily the same everywhere. In Des Moines there are several 35mph roads that are four lanes (two going in each direction). Some of these roads allow parking in the right lanes during certain hours. The first time I discoverd this, I nearly ran headfirst into a parked car I never dreamed would be where it was. Also, not all the stoplights are right out in the open. Some of them hide behind trees so you don't see them until the last minute. Basically, it's a good idea to follow speed limit signs when in the city, and keep an eye on the drivers around you. They may know something you don't!
This pig is titled, 'Pigosaurus.'
Unexpectedly, Des Moines does have a 'bad' section where a tourist would not want to get lost late at night. Know where you are going and do not get off the freeway while driving through without knowing where you re headed first. My father and I had an interesting experience once while stopping for gas on the way past the city.
Like the rest of the Mid-West, severe weqther can be a hazard, especially during the spring when the big t/storms move through. The sky-scape can be magnificent though :)