What are the best things to see and do in Des Moines?

Michael Ream

Whether you’re into shopping, enjoying nature or clubbing, you’ll find all of it in Des Moines. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the best things to do and see in Des Moines:
 
1. Visit the Downtown Farmers’ Market. Spread out over several blocks of Court Avenue and spilling onto side streets, this is one of the best farmers’ markets to be found anywhere. In addition to fresh produce, there are all kinds of food stands with a distinctly international flair, including Asian and Latin American offerings, as well as musical entertainment. The market runs Saturday mornings from May through late October.
 
2. Tour the Iowa State Capitol. This impressive gold-domed edifice towers over the east end of downtown and offers excellent tours, with guides who give a detailed history of the building’s many intriguing architectural details.
 
3. See the Des Moines Art Center.
With a striking exterior designed by three noted architects, this free museum in a residential neighborhood has permanent collections with works by artists such as Matisse, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe and many others. The museum also features frequently changing temporary exhibits and special events.
 
4. Explore the Iowa State Fair. One of the most impressive state fairs anywhere, the Iowa State Fair offers enough attractions to keep the family interested for a whole day, if not several days. Exhibition barns feature prize animals, and the selection of rides is impressive, while the midway offers every type of deep-fried food imaginable. Top names in entertainment play the grandstand, and don’t miss the butter sculptures in the main pavilion!
 
5. Go shopping in the East Village and Valley Junction. These two shopping areas, located near downtown Des Moines and in the suburb of West Des Moines, respectively, offer an eclectic mix of shops, with goods that include antiques, handcrafted furniture and funky clothes and accessories.

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