Our wonderful neighbors to the north in the twin cities have a cute little nickname for Des Moines and that name is “Dead Moines”. They have claimed that there is nothing to do here, and a scant nightlife. Over the last decade or two we have really been proving them wrong. Here are the top ten reasons why.
1. Jobs Jobs Jobs – Des Moines has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country with rates in the 3.5 to 4.5 percent range traditionally. More jobs means people have money to spend on all kinds of things and attracts more companies to bring their businesses here. For more proof check this out.
2. Des Moines Social Club – Imagine a place where a whole city is a member to a secret club. This is the Des Moines Social club concept. What DMSC does so well is appeal to lots of people by offering so many things to do/see. They have music, theater, food, and much more. Check them out.
3. John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Garden – The thing I like best about the sculpture garden is how visible it is. Located right in the middle of downtown, you don’t even have to get out of your car to see it. With over $40 million worth of art to see ranging from odd to scary to whimsical this park is excellent to stroll through with the Des Moines downtown in the background. For more information click here.
4. Gray’s Lake bridge and bike path – When I have people in town I love to take them for a walk around Gray’s Lake. The bridge was an excellent addition and features brightly colored lights that make a unique diamond pattern at night. Grays lake is also a hub for bike riding and you can go several different ways from there. For more information click here.
5. The East Village – The east village has always been there, but it in the past few decades it has continually added exciting shops and restaurants. Unlike a mall in a suburban setting with stores separated by eight lanes of traffic, and giant box stores where you need a camelbak to traverse. The east village has smaller unique shops that can easily be walked to and from. Another bonus is the character that the east village brings to the table from years gone by. Instead of large, tan rectangles for buildings there are a mix of sleek glass and steel and weathered brick. For more information click here.
6. Wells Fargo Arena – Adding the arena has been a great addition to Des Moines. It’s mind boggling of how many events varied events that are offered here year round. The “Well” is an upgrade from Vets auditorium which was preserved and is now used as convention space. From big ticket musical acts like Garth Brooks, Black Eyed Peas, and Taylor Swift to sports like hockey, college and professional basketball. For more information visit here.
7. Principal River Walk – Making the river front more walk able and easier on the eye has been a great addition for downtown. The bike paths are easy to navigate walking or biking and offer great views. The Riverwalk hub is an excellent place to stop for a snack and look out at the river and capitol building beyond. For more click here.
8. Science Center of Iowa– The Science Center has been an excellent addition with an Imax theater and science related displays. My favorite is the star theater. I always end up feeling sleepy and relaxed as the lights go out and a voice softly points out constellations and even how stars are formed. Prices are $12 for adults and $8 for children ages 2-12. Their website is here.
9. Restaurants – Our culinary scene has really come into its own over the last few years. There seem to be great options everywhere you turn. Click here for enough options for six months.
10. Raygun – Who would have thought a t-shirt shop would be this influential. I don’t think that it is necessarily the t-shirts that are that important, its what is on them. What makes these shirts so special from what you’d find at say as any mass produced store? Raygun specializes in clever sayings and pictures most of which pertain directly to Des Moines and the midwest. In essence, we have Des Moines inside jokes walking around the city, and its great to have something our own. Rayguns website is here.