What is the best way to see Des Moines in one day?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Michael Ream

If you have just one day to explore Des Moines, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you start on a Saturday morning with the Downtown Farmers’ Market. Next, head to the Iowa State Capitol for a tour. Afterward, have lunch at one of the many fine restaurants in the nearby East Village, and then stroll among the many intriguing shops. Make your way to the riverfront walkway along the Des Moines River, which provides a nice vista on the Des Moines skyline. Later, you may want to check out the Des Moines Art Center or Living History Farms, to learn all about Iowa’s long legacy of farming. If it’s baseball season, you might like to catch the Iowa Cubs playing at Principal Park, after which you can have a drink in the adjacent Court Avenue District before heading out for dinner. Still have energy? Take in a live show at one of the venues along Court Avenue or else head out to one of the cavernous dance clubs in the suburbs.
If you’re up for a day trip, don’t miss the town of Pella, less than an hour’s drive from Des Moines. An authentic Dutch village with numerous windmills and bakeries offering up scrumptious Dutch letters — flaky, buttery pastries shaped like an S filled with almond paste. Pella really comes alive for Tulip Time, an annual festival of all things Dutch, usually held the first weekend in May.

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