Weekend Trip: Des Moines, Iowa

Pappjohn Sculpture Park, Downtown Des Moines, Iowa

Have you been to Des Moines, Iowa? Sometimes you need to get away and Des Moines is a great family destination. (Or maybe you have to go there for a kids sports event) Head east for 2 hours on I-80 and spend a weekend exploring Des Moines, the capital of Iowa.

What to Do in Des Moines

Explore the Pappajohn Sculpture Park

If you’re near downtown Des Moines, you definitely want to stop by the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. There are plenty of opportunities for photos, but the iconic Nomade sculpture and Robert Indiana’s LOVE are local favorites. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the grassy grounds or pick up sandwiches at Jimmy Johns across the street.

Check out the Downtown Farmers Market

Heralded one of the best farmers markets in the country, this farmers market doesn’t disappoint. Vendors line multiple blocks downtown near the river selling fresh produce, flowers, and tasty treats. It’s open Saturday mornings May through October.

Tour the State Capitol

You can’t miss the golden domes of the capitol building as you drive into downtown Des Moines. Tours are free and available Monday through Saturday.

Go to the Lauridsen Skatepark 

If you’re even remotely interested in skateboarding, you have to check out Lauridsen Skate Park, located downtown, along the Des Moines River. It’s the largest outdoor skate park in the country. Any day of the week you can find amateurs and professionals skating together. Make sure to bring your skateboard, scooter, or rollerblades! All experience levels are welcome.

Spend a Day at Adventureland Resort

This combo amusement park/waterpark has over 100 rides, shows, and attractions. It truly has something fall all ages, from kid-friendly rides to thrilling roller coasters.

Where to Eat in Des Moines

Barbecue lovers definitely should head to Jethro’s or Smoky D’s for tasty ribs and smoked meats. Centro has authentic Italian and brick-oven pizza and Bubba serves southern classics. If you’re looking for something too satisfy your sweet tooth, Black Cat Ice Cream and Home Sweet Cone are two local favorites.

Where to Stay in Des Moines

Looking for a hotel with a pool? There are several great options, including Hotel Renovo and Stoney Creek Inn. If you’re kid-free, the Surety Hotel is a boutique hotel with stylish midcentury modern rooms and is conveniently located downtown.

What are your favorite things to do in Des Moines? 

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Andrea Cooley
Omaha Mom is written by moms, for moms. We provide genuine parenting resources, events and community through connecting and empowering local Omaha Moms.