Entrance sign to the famous field of dreams
Classic Road Trips

Start Your Iowa Adventure in the Capital of the Hawkeye State

Image courtesy of Livability.

When you think of Des Moines, IA you probably think of a bustling mid-western city that is nestled next to the beautiful Des Moines river. If you did, you’d be 100% correct! Des Moines has always been a busy place– since it has long been the hub and headquarters of many insurance companies and other financial powerhouses. For this reason it has been named as one of the best places to do business or start a career, based on the cost of doing business, cost of living, education level, and low crime rate.

But there’s so much more to Des Moines than business! This city also boasts of many cultural attractions, not to mention both elegant and casual dining options. But don’t forget this is Iowa, and there is also lots to do in the great outdoors, with many destinations just a short trip from a Des Moines car rental. So are you ready to start your Des Moines vacation?

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Fun Attractions in Des Moines to Check Out

Field of Dreams Movie Site

This famous baseball field is known for the iconic movie "Field of Dreams"

Source: Field of Dreams Movie Site

They’ve built it, and ff you come, you will definitely be impressed!

28995 Lansing Rd. | Dyersville | fieldofdreamsmoviesite.com

Who doesn’t want to just enjoy a simple game of catch with their family or friends? Baseball is at the heart of American culture, and it holds a special place for a lot of people who grew up playing the game. The movie Field of Dreams was certainly an awesome flick for many reasons, but who knew the beautiful field and house are located just a short trip from Des Moines.

You can schedule a tour of both the field and the 100 year old house through their website, and the field is always free to walk around. Let yourself fall under its spell and take some time to get away and relax for an afternoon on this farm. There are plenty of country restaurants in the area as well, so make a day trip of it to really take it all in.

Iowa State Fair

Pictured is the Iowa State Fair blue ribbon

Source: Iowa State Fair

A blue-ribbon caliber state fair in Des Moines

E University Ave. and E 30th Street | Des Moines | iowastatefair.org

If you’re planning on visiting Des Moines in August, then the Iowa State Fair is an attraction that has to be seen to be believed! You may have heard about midwest state fairs, but none of them can compare to this 11 day extravaganza! With competitions for all kinds of 4-H classes including horticulture, cows, horses, rabbits, and even livestock judging, this fair is definitely a state-wide event!


But this isn’t just an animal and agriculture show! There’s also music competitions, bands, an Iowa Fair Queen, food, and all kinds of entertainment. Don’t forget to take a ride on the Ferris wheel and enjoy some cotton candy in this celebration of all things Iowa.


The Great Lakes on a sunny day with mountains in the background.

Source: Adobe Stock

The great lakes area of Iowa is something to see!

243 W Broadway St. | Okoboji |  okoboji.com

Just three hours north of Des Moines is the great lakes region of Iowa, and home to six glacial lakes. The hamlet of Okoboji is nestled in between these large lakes, and is a fantastic place to visit in the summer for boating, swimming, jet skiing, fishing, and all kinds of other outdoor activities. It is also one of the top destination spots in the state because of the pristine lakes and their interesting flora and fauna that surround the lakes.

Although the natural beauty of Okoboji is impressive, there is also a great deal of fun to be had on the land as well! If you’re in the mood to shop, dine, or check out the local art scene, you can do it all in Okoboji.

Des Moines is Full of Culture!

Better Homes and Gardens Test Gardens

These beautiful gardens are the pride and joy of Des Moines

1716 Locust St. | Des Moines | bhg.com/gardening

Did you ever wonder how Better Homes & Gardens decides what types of plants and flowers to display throughout their colorful and widely-read magazine? Well, they have a test garden of course, and it just happens to be located next to their headquarters, in Des Moines. This green spot serves as a test ground to see what plants look good together, how they grow, and how best to photograph them. 


Visitors are welcome to visit the garden on Fridays from May until October, from 12pm-2pm. You can tour around the grounds at your leisure, and there are plenty of garden center staff available to answer all your questions. After you visit the gardens, make sure to take some time to relax on the courtyard’s many benches and tables and have an outdoor lunch!

Jasper Winery

A view of a white grape field on a warm summer day

Source: Adobe Stock

A gorgeous venue for wine tasting, concerts, and a good time!

2400 George Flagg Parkway | Des Moines | jasperwinery.com

This Des Moines winery uses only Iowa grown grapes for their wines, and the winemakers at Jasper work hard to create the right conditions so these grapes can give their best wine. If their loyal customers have anything to say about this, it’s that they’re doing a great job! Jasper Winery understands it can be a complex process to grow grapes and make wine in Iowa, but they are definitely up for the challenge.

Jasper Winery is a part of the Des Moines community, and throughout the summer, offers a fantastic summer concert series with live music each week. It’s a great way to get a couple of friends together and enjoy some wonderful wine and soak up the music of summer!

John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Jaume Plensa Nomade, 2007 Painted stainless steel sculpture of the torso of a human made of alphabet letters

Source: John and Mary Pappajohn to the Des Moines Art Center. Artist:  Jaume Plensa Nomade, 2007 Painted stainless steel.

A gallery of sculptures right in the center of Des Moines

1330 Grand Ave. | Gateway Park | desmoinesartcenter.org

In the middle of a busy downtown Des Moines is the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park, which showcases the sculptures gifted to the Des Moines art center by these two generous patrons. There are 31 works located throughout the park made by artists from all around the world. It is a wonderful area to visit, and locals and tourists alike seem to flock to this beautiful green space in the heart of the city.

Visitors are free to walk around the park to observe and contemplate the works of art, but they also offer guided tours and a Sculpture Park Exploration Guide, with ways to engage with 11 of the sculptures in the park.

Popular Spots to Eat in Des Moines

Zombie Burger and Drink Lab

THE FIST: five quarter-pound burger patties, five slices of American cheese, red onion, pickle, ketchup and mayo.

Source: Zombie Burger and Drink Lab

The burgers at this Des Moines spot are to die for!

300 E Grand Ave. | East Village | zombieburgershakelab.com

Zombie films may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they certainly are everyone’s favorite burger place! Taking a step away from more touristy eateries, and you happen upon the Zombie Burger and Drink Lab. It is well worth a trip to this spot, where you can try burgers like the T-Virus, Envy Corpse, or the Dead Moines. The original downtown joint offers a quick grab and go option for those in a rush, as well as a sit down bar and restaurant area for those moving at a slower pace.

Zombie Burger uses only the freshest ingredients, and really prides themselves on their gourmet and offbeat burger and alcoholic milkshake selection. They also have quite a variety of local and craft beers as well, which are always rotating with the seasons.

The Cheese Shop

An assortment of fresh made cheeses

Source: The Cheese Shop

So many cheeses to try, and so little time!

833 42nd St. | Shops at Roosevelt | thecheeseshopdsm.com

Iowa is the land of dairy farms, hog farms, and every kind of farm in between, and you can’t leave Des Moines without sampling some of the fruits of their labor! The Cheese Shop offers only local Iowa farm cheese, and each flavor is hand picked by their artisan mongers. They are also happy to suggest wine/beer and food pairings with each cheese to visitors as well.

The Cheese Shop is dedicated to educating people about cheese, and all the fun that can be had pairing it with alcohol and other complementary food flavors. They offer workshops and cheese pairing events as well, so you’ll never pair the wrong wine with your cheese again!


Bacon Wrapped Scallops made with seared scallops wrapped in bacon, sweet corn Pico with lime beurre blanc.

Source: Bubba

A little bit of Southern hospitality in Des Moines

200 10th St. | Des Moines | bubbadsm.com

After moving to Des Moines from Texas, the owner of Bubba decided to open a restaurant that served the Southern food he missed. Here you can expect all your foodie favorites from the south, as well as some creative cocktails as well.

Southern food is always best enjoyed among family and friends, which is why Bubba is such a popular option in Des Moines. Their menu changes seasonally, and the ingredients are sourced from local Iowa farms whenever possible.

Don’t Miss Out on These Hot Spots in the Capital of the Hawkeye State

Des Moines is a growing mid-western city that offers first class attractions, entertainment, and dining options for residents and tourists alike. It’s a great place to go out and explore somewhere new, and you won’t have to break the bank to do so. We’d love to hear what your favorite places are in Des Moines, share your suggestions with us on Facebook.

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