Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Weekly Wanderlust: At Home in Des Moines, Iowa!

Welcome to week three of Wednesday Wanderlust! This week, we are back in the U.S., and I figured there was no better city to spotlight than my current home of Des Moines, Iowa! On top of many various reasons to feature Des Moines, just last week I had the opportunity to speak briefly with the mayor of Des Moines himself. On my way home from Coeur D'Alene, I just so happened to be seated next to him on the flight, and knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity to ask him a quick question about tourism in Des Moines! In any case, more on that shortly... let's get on to this weeks city spotlight!

Beautiful night at the Iowa State Fair in August!
Location: Des Moines- DSM for short- is located in the heart of Iowa, which is also (almost!) the heart of the United States. It is close to several major cities including Chicago; Minneapolis (my home!); Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Lincoln, Nebraska.

enjoying a day at the Iowa State Fair!
Population: Des Moines is a growing city, with a current population of just over 200,000 people. It is known as one of the top insurance hubs in the U.S., as well as a great financial hub. Some of the top companies located here include Wells Fargo, Athene, and Principal Financial Group. If you are looking for a position in the financial or insurance world, Des Moines is a great destination for you to begin a career!

Where to stay: Both downtown DSM and West Des Moines are going to be great options for staying. Downtown will of course feature the convenient location to tons of restaurants and attractions including the ball park and Wells Fargo Arena (hockey!). Out in West Des Moines, you will have a little quieter of an area, but still a great location with proximity to the freeways, tons of boutique shopping, and any restaurant you could ever dream of.

Iowa has absolutely beautiful sunsets!
When to visit: Des Moines is definitely a city that you want to visit during the summer or fall months. If I had to pick a specific month, I would for sure say either August or September! During the month of August, it will be hot out (90+ during the day!), but there are tons of activities. From the Iowa State Fair to the beginning of tailgate season and tons of various festivals, August is a terrific month to visit Des Moines. Otherwise, September, even extending into October, is another great time to visit- again, with tons of festivals and fairs there is certainly something for everyone. Just last weekend, Des Moines hosted the World Food & Music Festival. This coming weekend, DSM will be having an Oktoberfest of their own! As such, I truly feel that the best months to visit Des Moines is August or September.

Great day trips: Des Moines is really in a great spot if you are looking to escape from the big city for the day. Located just 3.5 hours from Minneapolis and 5 hours from Chicago, you can certainly escape from the city for a day or two and discover this new place. If you are located in Des Moines, my personal favorite place to check out is the High Trestle Trail Bridge in Madrid, Iowa! The High Trestle Trail Bridge is located about 25 minutes from Iowa, and there are some great walking and biking paths along the Des Moines River. Plus, the bridge is such a cool architectural piece it will make for great photographs! Another great spot (that I haven't yet visited) is the Amana Colonies. The Amana Colonies are seven Amish villages that have maintained a self-sustaining lifestyle for over 80 years. Now, it is a great way to take a step back in time and relax on a day off!

Advice from the Mayor: OK, time to get to the good stuff! As I mentioned above, I had the opportunity to ask the mayor of Des Moines a few quick questions. One of the things I asked about is tourism in Des Moines, and why he thinks people should visit the city. He was quick to point out that Des Moines has become well known for their great culinary talent as well as the arts and theater. With several culinary schools in town, each and every restaurant has stepped up their game and the local restaurants feature tons of great cuisine. DSM is also known for Broadway musicals, many of which will open in DSM prior to heading to larger cities like Chicago or Minneapolis. Check these out for a fraction of the big-city cost!

enjoying a glass of wine at Des Moines' own Jasper Winery!
What to do: There are lots of great things to do in Des Moines. Firstly, Des Moines is a growing city that has all of the amenities of a big city, without a lot of the problems. For example, traffic is nonexistent (in my opinion, being used to a big city!) Des Moines is a small city with a big city feel. There is almost every major sport here, and you can go see the games for a fraction of the cost. From the Iowa Cubs to the Iowa Wild, every season will be covered! In addition to sports, there are great places such as Jasper's Winery, the Farmer's Market, all sorts of other events as mentioned above.

Being 100% honest, I never saw myself living in Iowa. If you had asked me, I would have said I didn't want to live in Iowa. But, times change and life moves on, so here I am! I have been working to do my best to explore Iowa and see everything there is to see- because life is what you make of it! For my readers, have you ever visited Des Moines and found great things to do? Have you ever moved somewhere that isn't ideal and found a way to make the best of it?


  1. You make Des Moines sound so much better than Bill Bryson :D Lovely pictures too!

  2. I'll be in Iowa next summer so will have to make a trip to Des Moines!

  3. HAH! Love this! You do make Des Moines sound exciting! My hometown...


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