Des Moines, IA

Travel Guide
Des Moines showing a bridge, a skyscraper and a sunset
Admire beautiful buildings and indulge in boutique shopping in Iowa’s capital city, which is also close to hiking trails and adventure parks.

Known for its beautiful State Capitol Building and as the host of the annual Iowa State Fair, Des Moines is also home to popular hiking trails, a zoo and a huge botanical garden.Many of the city’s attractions are in the East Village, a historic area on the east side of the Des Moines River. Start out at the State Capitol Building, a grand three-story 19th-century building. Its dome is gilded with thin sheets of gold and its peak is 275-feet (84 meters) high. You’ll need to phone ahead to book the free guided tour find contact details on the Iowa Legislature website.Just a 10 minute-walk from the capitol is the the State of Iowa Historical Museum, which has free admission, parking and family-friendly activities. Much of Iowa’s history is documented at the museum, from the earliest days of the Native Americans through to the pioneers and, more recently, military troops. See vintage aircraft, fossils, a simulated coal mine and the complete skeleton of a 12-foot mammoth, believed to have died 15,000 years ago.Head to the riverside to find the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Here, you can see more than 15,000 plants, one of the largest collections in the Midwest. There is a fee for entry but check the website as the garden offers a number of free days each year. At the Blank Park Zoo, enjoy more than 49 acres (20 hectares) dedicated to 104 animal species including red pandas, lions and giraffes.Don’t leave Des Moines without exploring the East Village shopping and dining scene. You’ll find plenty of bars, specialty stores and cute cafés.Getting around Des Moines is easy. The free D-Line Trolley will take you to major downtown attractions. Use the Des Moines Skyway System, more than 4 miles (6 kilometers) of enclosed walkways, to get around on foot. To cover a greater area, subscribe to the bike-sharing facility, B-cycle. If you are driving, there is user-pay parking in the downtown area, with free street parking on weekends.

Where to stay in Des Moines

La Quinta by Wyndham Altoona Des Moines
La Quinta by Wyndham Altoona Des Moines
2.5 out of 5
1785 11th Street NW, Altoona, IA, 50009
The price is $61 per night from Dec 18 to Dec 19
$61
per night
Dec 18 - Dec 19
Stay at this business-friendly hotel in Altoona. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Our guests praise the breakfast and the helpful staff in ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (990 reviews)
Would stay here again
"The property is brand new in great condition, only had one towel in the room, and the desk had water stains on it, but the cleanest, but was a great property, would stay here again! The breakfast was awesome, full hot breakfast with lots of options. Staff were all very friendly and helpful!"

Reviewed on Dec 8, 2022

La Quinta by Wyndham Altoona Des Moines
Embassy Suites Hotel Des Moines Downtown
Embassy Suites Hotel Des Moines Downtown
3.5 out of 5
101 E Locust St, Des Moines, IA, 50309
The price is $119 per night from Dec 16 to Dec 17
$119
per night
Dec 16 - Dec 17
Stay at this 3.5-star business-friendly hotel in Des Moines. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and room service. Our guests praise the breakfast and the helpful ...
4.1/5 Very Good! (1,002 reviews)
"The staff was great, there were a number of holes in the carpet and missing light bulbs. Just a little maintenance needed around the room."

Reviewed on Dec 5, 2022

Embassy Suites Hotel Des Moines Downtown
Hyatt Place West Des Moines Jordan Creek
Hyatt Place West Des Moines Jordan Creek
3 out of 5
295 64th Street, West Des Moines, IA, 50266
The price is $93 per night from Dec 18 to Dec 19
$93
per night
Dec 18 - Dec 19
Stay at this 3-star business-friendly hotel in West Des Moines. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (1,001 reviews)
"Love the breakfast!"

Reviewed on Dec 8, 2022

Hyatt Place West Des Moines Jordan Creek
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Modern 2 Bedroom Downtown Apt By Wells Fargo Arena
Modern 2 Bedroom Downtown Apt By Wells Fargo Arena
Des Moines, Iowa
Stay at this apartment in Des Moines. Enjoy WiFi, a fitness center, and onsite parking. Popular attractions Veterans Memorial Auditorium and Wells Fargo Arena ...
Modern 2 Bedroom Downtown Apt By Wells Fargo Arena
FRONTDESK Rowat Lofts East Village Des Moines
FRONTDESK Rowat Lofts East Village Des Moines
3 out of 5
601 East Vine Street, Des Moines, IA, 50309
Stay at this 3-star apartment in Des Moines. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and a fitness center. Popular attractions State Historical Society of Iowa Museum ...
3.6/5 Good! (79 reviews)
"Great location, the condo was clean and comfortable. We were able to walk everywhere."

Reviewed on Oct 14, 2022

FRONTDESK Rowat Lofts East Village Des Moines
Kasa Downtown Des Moines
Kasa Downtown Des Moines
4 out of 5
550 Watson Powell Junior Way, Des Moines, IA, 50309
Stay at this 4-star business-friendly apartment in Des Moines. Enjoy free WiFi, a business center, and a library. Popular attractions Ruan Center and Iowa Hall ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (10 reviews)
"Was a very clean and full equipped place, very cozy"

Reviewed on Jul 25, 2022

Kasa Downtown Des Moines
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Getting around Des Moines

Downtown Des Moines is compact enough for you to walk around, and there’s no need to be worried about the cold winter temperatures; a network of heated skywalks allow you to walk above the city in comfort. When the weather warms up, take advantage of the B-cycle public bike-share program. Renting a car is an option throughout the year, although you should be wary of icy roads in the winter. Visit the Des Monies Area Regional Transport Authority website.Browse Des Moines rental cars.

Best time to visit

You’ll find plenty to do in Des Moines throughout the year, but you’ll find the most pleasant weather in the spring and fall. In May, for example, average high temperatures reach the low 70s F (low 20s C), which is perfect for touring attractions like the Capitol Building and the city’s gardens. Winters get very cold, but locals turn it to their advantage. Join them ice skating on Brenton Plaza, for example.

Popular places to visit

Things to do

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Des Moines

Cities near Des Moines