Des Moines

Des Moines Skyline ©

An oasis of modernity amidst miles of rolling farmland, Des Moines is the biggest city in Iowa and its cultural capital. The city's skyline houses a major business centre for the Midwest, and visitors expecting a country town will come away with a vastly different impression of their holiday in Des Moines.

Located at the intersection of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, the city was formed in 1843 when settlers built a fort for trading with the local Sauk and Meskwaki Indians. The city grew rapidly, and today is home to more than 200,000 people.

It has a number of historic buildings, including the gold-domed Capitol Building, the Tudor-style Salisbury House, and the Governor's residence at Terrace Hill. Other Des Moines attractions include the Des Moines Art Center, the State Historical Society, and Hoyt Sherman Place.

Children will have plenty to see and do in Des Moines as well, like feeding the giraffes at the Blank Park Zoo, playing in Bubble Bay at the Science Center of Iowa, and riding the roller coasters at Adventureland Park.

Des Moines has a busy and eclectic arts community, with many theatres and live music venues; the city boasts its own symphony, ballet, and opera. The East Village has a broad range of buildings, shops, restaurants, and art galleries, and is a pleasant neighbourhood to explore.

The Court Avenue Entertainment District is the heart of Des Moines' nightlife, with a number of restaurants and nightclubs. The city hosts several festivals over the summer, including the Des Moines Arts Festival and the World Food and Music Festival, among many others dedicated to food, wine, film, music, and more.


Iowa State Fair
Iowa State Fair © Phil Roeder

Iowa State Fair

Over one million attendees, over 11 days, the Iowa State Fair is an experience other states cannot compare to. Held every year in August, the fair includes notable traditions like a cow statue carved from butter, and the crowning of the Fair Queen. There are also offbeat competitions like cow chip throwing, pigeon rolling, pie eating, rooster crowing, and monster arm wrestling. The Iowa State Fair has its roots firmly planted on the many farms in Iowa, and the heart of the event is in the livestock shows, food and craft competitions, and trade shows. However, city slickers won't be bored with the midway rides, concerts, parades, and endless food to be found at the fair.

Venue: State Fairgrounds, Des Moines; Date: 13 - 23 August 2020; Time: 9am-midnight; Website:

Des Moines Art Festival
Des Moines Art Festival © victoria harjadi

Des Moines Arts Festival

The Des Moines Arts Festival is an annual arts festival held in Western Gateway Park in the state capital of Des Moines. The festival is a three-day affair drawing in more than 200,000 people, and is ranked among the most notable festivals in the United States. Now an international phenomenon, the festival had evolved dramatically since its start in 1958. It now encompasses a diverse selection of the arts; everything from classic visual arts, live performance in music and theatre, to interactive arts and a film festival. As well as an array of outstanding art on show, there is also a large selection of eclectic food booths and trucks to choose from, as well as a beer tent. This all makes for a full day of fun and entertainment for the whole family.

Venue: Western Gateway Park; Date: 26 - 28 June 2020; Time: Friday and Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 11am-5pm.; Website:


Travel Guide powered by Word Travels, copyright © 2020 Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. Neither Globe Media nor The Global Travel Group can accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.