Should You Visit Des Moines in Iowa this 2023? | A Traveler’s Guide to Des Moines


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Des Moines is the capital of Iowa and a business, cultural, and recreational destination in the Midwest. This Iowa city has an exciting past; it was originally inhabited by Native Americans and later settled by Europeans in the mid-19th century.

Today, history lives on in downtown Des Moines with landmarks like the capitol building and State Historical Museum — each paying tribute to the state’s past. In addition to such historical sites, visitors can experience golfing and biking trails through wooded parks and campgrounds along riverside beaches. Just set your expectations low on the beaches if you’re used to anything a bit more exotic.

From its abundant restaurants with different cuisines to try to museums and theaters hosting regular events, there is surprisingly a lot to do while visiting Des Moines. If you want to try something a little different be sure to make this off-the-beaten-path city a part of your travel plans so you can experience it first-hand!

Getting a United States Visa (Coming from overseas)

Obtaining a visa or travel authorization is an essential part of the process for travelers to enter the United States. Depending on the purpose of the stay and length of time, the type of visa needed will vary.

Examples of visas include tourist, business, student, and work visas. It is important for travelers to note that visa applications can take up to several weeks or months to process.

If you plan to visit Des Moines, you should begin the US visa application process as soon as possible. Be sure to check the US Department of State website for more detailed information about the types of visas, requirements, and processing times.

Having all the necessary paperwork can help facilitate a smooth entry into the country. Most short-term stays require a nonimmigrant visa, while longer terms may require an immigrant or working visa.

Ensuring valid proof-of-identity documents, such as a valid passport, and a return ticket to your home country will help ensure that your travel plans go off without a hitch.

The many types of visas available provide category-specific information on when one might be needed and which type it should be to accommodate travel plans best.

Where to stay in Des Moines

Guest Suite in Des Moines


Only a 15-minute drive from downtown Des Moines, discover a tranquil retreat in this private basement suite with ample natural light and high ceilings. This is on top of our list! Indulge in the mesmerizing view of local wildlife in the beautiful backyard. Enjoy the convenience of a private entrance through the back patio and off-street parking for one vehicle. The suite includes a comfortable bedroom with a queen-size bed, a bathroom with a shower/tub combo, a fully equipped kitchen, a living room with a futon couch, floor mattress, and a pack ‘n play.

Best places to live in Des Moines

Downtown and Civic Center Area

The Downtown and Civic Center area in Des Moines is the perfect place to live for those looking for a vibrant city atmosphere with the familiarity of small-town charm. Located along the Des Moines River and surrounded by lush parks, this urban center has something for everyone.

With its close proximity to downtown shops, tasty restaurants, major employers, universities, and cultural activities all within walking distance, residents will surely enjoy an entertaining life in Downtown and Civic Center Des Moines.

Something exciting is always happening, whether you want to get involved in Iowa’s beloved sports teams or seek an eclectic nightlife scene. Safe, welcoming neighborhoods make the area an excellent choice for individuals of all ages.

West Des Moines

West Des Moines is perfect for establishing your life and feeling content. With abundant outdoor recreational activities and plenty of shopping, entertainment, and dining options, there is something for everyone in West Des Moines.

The city offers a warm, welcoming atmosphere with well-maintained neighborhoods and a wide range of accessible amenities. Additionally, the proximity to other towns makes up for a unique experience where you can enjoy big city attractions while still living in a laid-back suburban neighborhood.


Ankeny, Des Moines, is ideal for modern convenience in a small city. With a population of 45,000 and growing, this town offers easy access to shopping, dining, outdoor recreation, and multiple educational opportunities.

It has also become known for being the hometown of two members of the popular rock band Slipknot, making it a notable tourist destination. Moreover, Ankeny is the perfect spot for young families who want to settle down away from the hustle and bustle of larger cities.

This charming city gives residents the best of both worlds — metropolitan life with a laid-back atmosphere.


With a population of just over 44,000 people and located in Des Moines, Urbandale offers big-city amenities with an intimate community feel.

Its safe streets, family-friendly neighborhoods, excellent schools, and reasonably priced housing have earned Urbandale recognition as one of’s 50 Best Places to Live in America in 2020

Despite its size, the city continues to grow at an impressive rate and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon; evidence of this can be seen in the numerous new apartment complexes, townhomes, and single family homes that are now popping up all over town.


The Des Moines suburb of Waukee has long held a special place in the hearts of its residents. Its family-friendly atmosphere and top-tier public schooling make it a popular destination for families around Iowa.

Furthermore, as the fastest-growing school district in the state, it has positioned itself as a standout in the education world.

Not to mention that Waukee also gave us Jason Krohn, the founder of RandomKid — an organization designed to inspire kids to do amazing things — making it clear that this city is fostering positive change and inspiring a new generation of go-getters.


Clive is a vibrant, transit-friendly city located in Des Moines. It’s renowned for its lush Greenbelt Park system, which runs through the town center and offers plenty of recreational activities.

The miles of well-lit bike paths and direct access to train stations make it incredibly convenient to get around the metro area.

Additionally, since most residents here fall between the ages of 25 and 44, it provides newcomers ample opportunities to connect with those in similar life stages and explore all the city has to offer.

Whether you’re looking to explore the park trails or find your new favorite spot downtown — Clive is an ideal place to settle in and get settled!

Where to Eat in Des Moines

Des Moines is known for its vibrant food culture, with a wide range of flavors and cuisines to choose from.

With an increasing focus on local sourcing, a bustling farmer’s market scene, and emerging artisanal food products like candy bars, Des Moines has become an increasingly exciting destination when exploring the culinary delights of the Midwest.

Best Restaurants in Des Moines, Iowa

Franka Pizzeria


Franka Pizzeria stands as a culinary gem in Des Moines, Iowa and proudly serving the city’s best pizza. With a commitment to quality ingredients, authentic flavors, and masterful craftsmanship, Franka Pizzeria has perfected the art of pizza-making. Each pie is carefully handcrafted, from the house-made dough to the thoughtfully sourced toppings, resulting in a symphony of flavors that ignite the senses. Whether you opt for a classic Margherita or venture into their innovative specialty creations, every bite is a testament to their dedication to pizza perfection. Complemented by a warm and inviting ambiance, Franka Pizzeria invites you to indulge in a pizza experience that will leave you longing for more.

Fong’s Pizza


Fong’s Pizza is a unique culinary experience that has become known as the place to go for truly delicious, imaginative pizzas. Their award-winning menu incorporates flavors and inspiration from both the East and the West to create an eclectic blend of innovative dishes that will surely tantalize the taste buds.

For just $15, you can enjoy a delightful meal of handmade appetizers, sandwiches, salads, or fan favorites such as the original Crab Rangoon Pizza.

After dining on their delicious cuisine, patrons can complement their meal with fresh tiki drinks or craft beers. Whether you’re looking for a unique twist on traditional comfort food or something new and exciting, Fong’s Pizza is guaranteed to delight.



Harbinger is a culinary venture that showcases flavorful dishes inspired by the restaurant’s Chef’s travels across Southeast Asia. The dining experience here is exploration and discovery as readers journey through the inventive menu items packed with locally sourced ingredients.

Knowing the inspiration behind each dish makes every bite even more special. Furthermore, Harbinger’s approachable meals don’t have a hefty price tag — you can enjoy an exquisite meal for only $15!



Proof is a culinary program that invites guests to enjoy the finest ingredients and a memorable seven-course Chef’s Tasting Experience.

Crafted from their chefs’ native roots and interests, the menu offers full flavors, expertise, and an engaging staff ready to guide you through a journey of tastes and fond memories.

As experts in hospitality, modern techniques, fresh produce, and unique stories, Proof provides the perfect setting for an exciting evening of fine cuisine and spectacular drinks every Tuesday through Saturday from 5 pm to 9 pm. The average cost of a meal is $50.

Smokey D’s BBQ


Smokey D’s BBQ is a family-owned restaurant and catering business founded in 2006 by Darren and Sherry Warth. The couple’s commitment to excellence on the BBQ circuit translated into the same high standards for their restaurant.

They serve up championship-level BBQ at an affordable rate — most meals averaging around $15. Their consistent quality philosophy has earned them well-deserved praise as Central Iowa’s go-to spot for great-tasting barbecue.

Black Cat Ice Cream

Black Cat Ice Cream in Des Moines is a charming and whimsical ice cream parlor that captures the essence of sweet indulgence. Step into a world where rich flavors and delightful creations come to life. Their homemade ice cream is crafted with love and attention to detail, using high-quality ingredients that result in creamy, dreamy scoops of perfection.

From classic favorites like vanilla bean and chocolate fudge to unique and imaginative flavors such as lavender honey and salted caramel pretzel, Black Cat Ice Cream offers a delectable variety to satisfy every craving. With friendly service and a cozy atmosphere, it’s the perfect spot to gather with friends, family, or simply treat yourself to a moment of pure joy.

Local dishes to try

Steak de Burgo

Des Moines’ famous Steak de Burgo is a must-try culinary experience. With its rich flavor and lengthy history, one can easily see why this Iowan specialty has gained such recognition.

The dish was first made famous by Johnny and Kay’s Restaurant in the late 1940s, and today remains a staple. Crafted with sautéed garlic and basil in butter, this tenderloin recipe can be traced back to its roots from over seven decades ago.

For those looking for an authentic eating experience, The Latin King has them covered. This Italian landmark has been around since the ’40s, close to the same time when Johnny and Kay’s began serving Steak de Burgo to the Des Moines area.


Thus, one should expect a genuine representation of the classic dish at Latin King Restaurant. This delicacy costs around $40.

Giant Pork Tenderloin

For those looking for an experience, the giant pork tenderloin at Jethro’s BBQ is second to none.


The tenderloin patty is larger than your dinner plate and comes with multiple different toppings, including pickles, cheddar cheese sauce, bacon, and chicken tenders, all inside a bun.

Staying true to its poster child, Jethro’s also offers the Adam Emmenecker Challenge: finish an entire meal — including a pound of waffle fries! — in 15 minutes or less for only $35.95!

This dish has been featured on shows such as Man v. Food. No other pork-based meal can compete with its generous serving size and flavorsome ingredients.

Crab Rangoon Pizza

Craving something different? Look no further than the Crab Rangoon pizza from Fong’s Pizza!

The original creation features fried dumplings stuffed with cream cheese, onions, seasonings, and surimi set atop a spread of cream cheese and topped with mozzarella, green onions, asiago cheese, wontons, and sweet chili sauce.

This pizza isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it for its unique experience. You’re looking at $16 for the 10-inch and $24 for the 16-inch.

Gong Fu Tea

Gong Fu Tea in Des Moines is a haven for tea enthusiasts seeking a truly authentic and immersive experience. Step into a world of traditional Chinese tea culture, where every cup is meticulously brewed and cherished. The cozy and inviting atmosphere invites you to relax and savor the aromatic blends that transport you to the tranquil tea gardens of China. From delicate green teas to robust oolongs and soothing herbal infusions, Gung Fu Tea offers a curated selection of premium teas sourced from renowned tea-growing regions.

Things to do in Des Moines

Music at Wooly’s


Wooly’s offers the perfect place to experience some of the finest live music. With a bar, modern lighting, sound systems, and room for up to 683 patrons, it is one of Iowa’s favored places to witness diverse acts perform.

Since 2012, the venue has drawn in fans from all over to see renowned bands such as Ice Nine Kills, Andrew McMahon, Jade Bird, The HU, and Grouplove take the stage.

Whether you’re out enjoying with someone special or seeking entertainment alone, Wooly’s will charm you with its riveting atmosphere.

Shopping at Raygun Store

shop at raygun store-des-moine

Raygun Store is a paradise for shoppers looking for vintage apparel, iconic tees, and stylish accessories. The store offers an extensive range of apparel items designed with quirky details and extraordinary graphics.

Its merchandise is carefully curated to ensure a unique shopping experience filled with individuality. Customers can explore the over 3,000 square foot space and find something special that speaks to their personality.

Raygun Store also includes custom items created in-house and selections from other independent brands to develop its unique inventory. With endless options, Des Moines’ customers can create bold looks that make a statement every time they walk into the room.

Visiting Parks at Des Moines

Gray’s Lake Park

gray's lake park-des moines

Visitors to Gray’s Lake Park in Des Moines can enjoy various amenities, including a spacious beach, accessible playground, walking path/bike trail, and restrooms.

For those who wish to use the watercraft available for rent, an array of options are obtainable at both the Christine Hensley Terrace and Beach locations.

These include 2- and 3-person canoes, double kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and 4-person pedal boats. Prices vary depending on the type of boat tenants prefer, with half-hour rentals starting at $8 and hourly at $15.

The boat ramp is conveniently positioned near the concession stands, where cold drinks and snacks can be purchased.

Ledges State Park

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Ledges State Park offers visitors an unparalleled outdoor experience, with spectacular sites and natural wonders. Hikers can venture along the four-mile trail system, winding through steep slopes and beautiful sandstone ledges above the Des Moines River.

Many Civilian Conservation Corps structures from the 1930s line the path; the most iconic is the stone bridge over Peas Creek. For campers, a stream walk near Hutton Memorial presents those wishing to honor Murray Lee Hutton with a great opportunity.

For those looking for something peaceful and secluded in nature, Ledges State Park has two shelters available for reservation — each offering a unique ambiance and breathtaking views of Iowa’s beauty.

Summerset State Park

summerset state park-des moines-iowa

Visitors to Summerset State Park in Des Moines can enjoy the peaceful scenery and outdoor fun. This 222-acre state park was opened in 2004 on the site of an old 1930s coal mine.

Adventurers can bike along the two-mile, picturesque, paved bike loop that connects with the 12-mile Summerset bike trail between Carlisle and Indianola.

Hiking trails wind through Banner Lakes, ideal for exploring their stunning natural beauty. Fishing is also popular in both lakes — they’re stocked with channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, and crappie.

Lake Ahquabi State Park

lake ahquabi state park-des-moines

Lake Ahquabi State Park offers an unforgettable outdoor experience, perfect for anyone looking to escape the rigors of modern life. The park features sandy beaches, tranquil waters, and abundant wildlife – including deer and bald eagles.

Those seeking adventure can explore the park’s trails by foot or bike. Or, if you prefer a slower pace, fishing from shore or renting a kayak or paddleboat can be worthwhile. Camping is available for those wanting to stay overnight, with plenty of tent and RV sites.

Original Iowa Guided Brewery Tour with Lunch or Dinner

Immerse yourself in the world of craft beer and discover the tastes and stories behind locally brewed beers. Enjoy a guided tour of four of Des Moines’ best breweries, hand-picked to provide visitors with an insight into the culture emerging from this city.

With VIP access, tastings, transport, and an experienced guide, educational and entertaining discussions will teach you why craft beer has been embraced so passionately in recent years.

And what better way to round out your introduction to craft beer than with a tasty lunch or dinner included? For only about $130, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to explore Des Moines’ rich craft beer scene.

Downtown Farmers’ Market

The Downtown Farmers’ Market is an alluring experience for visitors to the Historic Court District in May. The Market is an excellent destination for Iowa’s farmers, growers, and artisan food entrepreneurs.

While at the Market, you can shop for produce, eggs, meats, and more. Grab something delicious from one of the many breakfast vendors before perusing the various stands and booths.

Not to be missed is the charming atmosphere allowing families to gather and make memories while listening to live music entertainment.

Festivals, events, and nightlife

For those who crave excitement, Des Moines is home to a busy schedule of festivals and events, such as the Iowa State Fair, attracting millions of people each year.

The city also boasts an exciting nightlife scene with numerous bars, clubs, restaurants, and lounges catering to different tastes. Live music fans can check out some of the major venues in the area, such as Wooly’s and the Val Air Ballroom.

Pella Tulip Festival


The Annual Pella Tulip Festival promises to be an exciting event. On the first weekend in May, visitors will flock to Downtown Pella to experience all the attractions this festival offers.

Visitors can savor Dutch delicacies, watch performances, and take tours of local museums. But the real show-stopper is the hundreds of thousands of vibrant tulips waiting to be admired — it’s a sight you won’t want to miss!

Newton Fest

Des Moines is buzzing with enthusiasm for Newton Fest, taking place in June. The two-day celebration showcases all the fantastic things Newton, Iowa, has to offer — from its incredible art scene and mouthwatering cuisine to the vibrant history of Red Pride.

Iowa State Fair

iowa-state-fair-des moines

The Iowa State Fair is a one-of-a-kind event that draws over a million people from all corners of the globe every year. Des Moines welcomes visitors to experience their salute to Iowa’s best in agriculture, industry, and entertainment, which is unlike any other in the country.

Alongside traditional fair attractions, you can find auto shows, antique markets, concerts, and more taking place throughout the 11 days the fairground is open each August.

But even when it’s not hosting the state’s grand celebration, you can still explore the fairgrounds for other exciting events. There are livestock exhibitions, trade shows, flea markets, and much more for everyone to participate in all year.

Governors Days

Governors Days, one of the Des Moines area’s most spectacular summer festivals, takes place in the heart of Grimes, Iowa.

A feast for the senses, this event features a vibrant array of attractions: music and dance performances, parades, rides at carnivals, and much more.

Dedicated volunteers ensure it goes off without a hitch, and local businesses provide free admission to visitors. Recently relocated to Grimes South Sports Complex, Governors Days will surely be an experience that will stand out in visitors’ memories.

Johnston Green Days

Every year, Johnston residents eagerly anticipate the return of Green Days! Families flock to Terra Park to join in the fun, laughter, and activities the festival is known for.

From the humble beginnings of a picnic lunch in 1933, it has grown into a lively event with live music, food vendors, and games. There are myriad opportunities to create memories that last a lifetime; kids can meet turtles at an animal petting zoo or race around on go-karts!

With its wide variety of performances, rides, and unique attractions, there’s something for everyone at this festival.

ArtFest Midwest

artfest-midwest-des moines

ArtFest Midwest was founded to provide a platform for Iowa’s artistic talent and increase public access to quality art. Since its launch in 2002, it has become a popular two-day festival that draws thousands of attendees and an array of talented regional artists every summer.

Attending this event is a great way to support local artists, as well as take in the vibrant atmosphere of Des Moines. There are also plenty of food vendors and family-friendly activities for visitors to enjoy.

Capital City Pride Festival

The Capital City Pride Festival in Des Moines is a radiant celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. Through colorful parades, live music, and various entertainment options, it champions LGBTQ+ rights, visibility, and community spirit in the heart of Iowa.


Des Moines’ CelebrAsian offers a vibrant display of Asian heritage. Representing numerous Asian countries, attendees are treated to cultural exhibits, live performances, and delectable culinary experiences, encapsulating the essence of Asia’s diverse traditions.

Des Moines Art Festival

Situated in downtown Des Moines, the Art Festival transforms the cityscape into a hub of creativity. With works from over 200 national artists, interactive art activities, and live performances, it’s a premier event for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.

des moines art festival

Hinterland Music Festival

Nestled just outside Des Moines in St. Charles, Hinterland is a musical experience like no other. Showcasing a mix of renowned musicians from indie rock to country, coupled with art installations and camping, it’s a retreat for music lovers.

hinterland music festival - des moines

Latino Heritage Festival

The Latino Heritage Festival is a celebration of Latino culture and traditions in Des Moines. With mesmerizing folkloric dances, melodious live music, and an array of authentic cuisines, it’s a vibrant tribute to Latino heritage.

World Food & Music Festival

Des Moines’ World Food & Music Festival is a global journey right in the city’s heart. Offering tastes from across the world, live music, and cooking demos, it’s a feast for both the palate and the soul.

des moines world food music festival

Best bars in Des Moines

Up-Down Arcade Bar

up down arcade bar- des-moines-iowa

Up-Down Arcade Bar is a nostalgic trip through gaming history with its ’80s and ’90s games that cost only a quarter to play. For those looking to up the ante, there are skeeball, pinball machines, and console gaming with Nintendo 64.

But you don’t have to stick to games — Up-Down also offers an extensive craft beer selection. Best of all is house-made pizza-by-the-slice with plentiful options for topping combinations.

My Dad and I had a great time hanging out here and highly, highly recommend visiting this place if you’re looking to pass the time playing retro games. It made for one of my favorite memories as an adult and absolutely love hanging out there.

Hello, Marjorie

hello marjorie-des moines

One bar stands out regarding the Des Moines cocktail scene: Hello, Marjorie. Founded in 2017, this cozy establishment quickly fused into the city’s nightlife.

Guests instantly feel at home in the spacious lounge, appointed with deep green leathers, retro lampshades, and art depicting Marjorie (the owner’s grandmother).

Of course, the crown jewel is that unmistakable neon sign featuring Jack Kerouac’s memorable phrase: “The prettiest girls in the world live in Des Moines.”

It makes for an especially perfect photo backdrop and provides an intimate atmosphere that’s as welcoming as Elizabeth Taylor’s living room.

Iowa Taproom


If you’re looking to get a true taste of Iowa, the beer-hall-style hotspot, Iowa Taproom, is the place. With 99 taps surrounding their bar featuring all Iowa beers, you’re sure to find something new and exciting to sip on.

You won’t be able to try them all in one go, but ordering flights give you a chance to scratch that beer exploration itch and leaves room for return visits.

Get the full Iowa experience by pairing your favorite drinks with their elevated pub grub — think ham balls or breaded tenderloin strips. You must try Barn Town Neon Hazy IPA for an especially unique sip — it’ll blow you away!

Kung Fu Tap and Taco

Kung Fu Tap and Taco is one of the South Side’s hottest hangout spots. On any given night, patrons can enjoy ice-cold Hamms while playing a game of pool at one of their tables or indulging in the famed hard-shell tacos.

As if this weren’t enough to make it an appealing spot, there is also an abundance of bike memorabilia and even a giant motorcycle behind the bar! Tree stump barstools add to the unique atmosphere, making it easy to stay for hours without wanting to leave.

Plus, there have been multiple reports of celebrity sightings — such as Jason Momoa — so don’t miss out on your chance to rub elbows with a potential star!

Royal Mile


A mere stroll inside The Royal Mile offers visitors a complete British experience. An unveiled gift to their taste buds, the menu includes hearty English favorites like fish and chips, bangers and mash, and more.

If sports are your thing? The pub has multiple TVs playing soccer matches from around the world daily. To complete the full British pub experience, visitors can take advantage of the establishment’s wide variety of craft beers and nearly 100 varieties of Scotch whiskey.

Best clubs in Des Moines

The Garden Nightclub

Known for its top-notch service and amazing entertainment, The Garden Nightclub in Des Moines, Iowa, is the place to go if you want to relax after a long week or reduce jet lag.

You can expect to find great music playing on the club’s large dancefloor and a great patio area where guests can enjoy themed performances each week.

Whether you’re looking for an escape from the grind of everyday life or want to party with friends, The Garden Nightclub has something for everyone.

Miss Kitty’s Clive Nightclub


Miss Kitty’s Clive Nightclub has been a Des Moines mainstay since its founding in 1977, providing a countryside atmosphere to revelers and partygoers alike.

Known for its fun mix of live Country music, karaoke nights, and DJs, Miss Kitty’s is the perfect spot to hang out in Iowa. The club even has its own website, where you can check out the upcoming events or make reservations for your group.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you to stop by, Miss Kitty’s also features a full bar with signature cocktails and craft beer to get his customers in their dancing shoes before hitting the dance floor.

Whether you’re looking for a place to let loose, enjoy music and drinks, or have memorable good times with friends, Miss Kitty’s Clive Nightclub is the ideal option.

The Voodoo Lounge

There is no better place to dance the night away than Voodoo Lounge in Des Moines. It has earned its reputation as the hottest Nightclub in town, thanks to its impressive Live DJ nights and exceptional bottle service.

The party atmosphere of the club is further enhanced by its large bar, stylish leather seating, and superior sound system. Music enthusiasts will appreciate the unique in-house DJ booths — where well-known guest DJs keep the vibes going long into the night.



Boasting an exciting and vibrant atmosphere, the Ricochet Club in Des Moines is a popular choice for nightlife entertainment. This cutting-edge club features some of the best DJs and musical talent, providing guests an unforgettable experience.

The state-of-the-art sound system ensures that even a standing-room-only crowd can hear every beat perfectly. It’s no surprise that Ricochet often attracts large crowds who come to dance and feel the tremendous energy generated between ravers and music lovers alike.

A highlight of the venue is its impressive light show, casting a magical aura over its inhabitants as they get lost in the music until closing time.

This club is a must-visit with outstanding service, delicious drinks, dinner menus, and craft beers paired with unparalleled events like Live Production Nights.

Working in Des Moines

Des Moines is an often underrated choice for remote workers, but it has much to offer. The city enjoys a lower cost of living than most major metro areas, allowing freelancers and remote workers alike to enjoy more spending power while they live and work here.

Not only that, the high fiber-optic internet speeds make working from almost anywhere in the city super fast and convenient. There are several coworking spaces available in Des Moines, too.

On top of all this, there are plenty of opportunities for exploring nearby nature or relaxation during your downtime away from your freelance gigs or contracts.

Best cafes for working in Des Moines

Mars Cafe


With its exceptional coffee, Mars Cafe in Des Moines prides itself on being a community-driven coffee shop.

Here, guests can discuss moonshot ideas, build the community, and get creative. As Des Moines’ craft coffee shop, Mars Cafe takes pride in offering nothing short of excellent-tasting coffee.

With its fast Internet, relaxed atmosphere, and plenty of outlets for charging devices, Mars Cafe is a great spot to enjoy the city and get some work done especially for Digital Nomads.

Scenic Route Bakery


For those searching for great coffee, pastries, and sweets in the East Village of Des Moines, Iowa, Scenic Route Bakery is the ideal place to visit. Focused on providing the highest quality products, they use locally roasted Tugboat coffee and make all their food fresh daily.

Open from 7 am to 4 pm Monday through Saturday with lunch served from 11 am to 3 pm, customers can enjoy full espresso bar drinks and order pastries and coffee for delivery or pickup — in-store or curbside.

With fast internet access, inexpensive menu options, and a cozy environment for working in, Scenic Route Bakery offers a total destination experience for all its patrons.

Ritual Cafe


Ritual Cafe is integral to Des Moines’ cultural scene and has been a local favorite since 2005. Located in downtown’s esteemed Gateway Park, Ritual Cafe is both a coffee house and a vegetarian restaurant with special treats from local bakeries.

Featuring rotating art from rising stars in the city, it also serves as a hub of creativity — it hosts open mic nights monthly to support local poets.

Beyond just serving delicious java, burgers, and pastries, Ritual Cafe also offers fast internet access and a cozy ambiance, making it the perfect spot for freelancers to get some work done while they relax.

Best coworking spots

Gravitate Coworking

gravitate-co-working-des moines

For those looking for a professional workspace in Downtown Des Moines, visiting Gravitate Coworking at 500 Locust Street is a perfect choice.

A great benefit to Gravitate Coworking is the selection of a la Carte options — choose between Day Passes, which provide access to the coworking from 8 am-5 pm on weekdays and start at just $25 each day, or 10-day passes for $200.

The vibe in this coworking is pretty cool and chic, making it a great spot to work on projects solo or meet up with your team for collaborative work. Plus Geoff Wood is a really good dude!

The Depot

The Depot is perfect for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and artists seeking a custom workspace. It offers various renting options, such as a floating desk for $125 a month or a dedicated desk for $175 a month.

Apart from the desks, it includes unlimited conference room use and breakroom access with complimentary coffee and snacks. Internet access is provided with printer and copier use, and secured entry to the building is possible via keyless entry.

Plus, all the renters get five uses of season I-Cub tickets as an added benefit. The ambiance of The Depot is perfect for getting your creative juices flowing, making it the ideal spot for getting some work done.

Collaborate DMS


Located at 3106 Ingersoll Avenue, Collaborate DMS provides coworking and designated desk memberships. Each membership comes with access to their amenities from Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

At $150/month for the coworking membership, $250/month for the designated desk membership, and $650/month for the private office, patrons can access executive-style conference rooms with all the latest technology.

Plus, free parking is available on Ingersoll Avenue or in the lot for designated desk members. The vibe of Collaborate DMS is relaxed and creative, making it the perfect spot for getting work done.

Visitors can also take advantage of their barista-style espresso bar with signature drinks or enjoy snacks from their café.

The Regus at Hub Tower

the regus at hubtower-des moines

The Regus is ideally located in the heart of the bustling business district.

Regus’s all-inclusive Coworking Plan is perfect for busy working professionals and entrepreneurs because it includes accessible coworking spaces and live receptionist services.

You can choose between a full-month plan at $180, a 10-day plan at $116, or a 5-day plan at $70.

Internet speeds

Nearly 97% of residents and visitors staying in hotels or Airbnbs can enjoy download speeds of 100 Mbps or higher. The wide availability and reliability of internet service providers make high-speed access an effortless experience for everyone in town.

Public transportation

Public transportation in the Des Moines Metro area is plentiful and easy to access. The Des Moines Regional Transit Authority (DART) provides extensive bus services throughout the metro area. It even has a popular, free Downtown DSM D-Line shuttle service that runs six days a week.

Public transport passes

DART provides many payment options to give customers the most convenient experience. MyDART is a mobile application that allows customers to purchase tickets, tokens, and passes ahead of time so they may go straight to boarding.

For those who prefer to use cash, bring the exact amount for your fare because the driver does not carry change on the bus. Prices start at $1.75 for full-fare and $0.75 for half-fare. Children ages 6-10 and adults 65+ can purchase half-fare tokens. Children under 5 are free. If purchasing tokens for future fares, they must be purchased in packages of 10.

If you’ll be hopping on and off the bus all day, we recommend purchasing a day pass: $4 per day or $16 per week. Monthly passes are available for purchase as well!

Online social groups for digital nomads and creatives in Des Moines

Facebook groups

Digital Nomads Hub

The Digital Nomads Hub is an incredible resource for those seeking freedom through the digital realm. It’s an international Facebook group that is open to anyone and offers countless tips, resources, and advice to help nomads who are navigating a global lifestyle.

From finding ideal work-from-home opportunities to researching budget travel options, this supportive community will provide you with everything you need to live life on your own terms, regardless of where you choose to be anchored.

Things to do in Des Moines Iowa

For those who are seeking networking opportunities, the Things To Do in Des Moines Facebook private group provides virtual mingling with locals and visitors alike who are looking to make the most of their time in the Hawkeye State.

With discussions on must-see locations, unique workshops, live events, and more, this private group is a great resource where members can share tips on making visits memorable.

Couchsurfer groups

In Iowa

Connecting visitors with hosts in Des Moines and other areas of Iowa, this public Couchsurfer group guarantees a comfortable stay for those looking to explore the state’s natural beauty, unique attractions, and diverse range of cultures that exist there.

Not only is this beneficial for those who want to spend time in Iowa, but it is also an incredible opportunity for both hosts and guests alike — as they share stories and learn more about each other.

Des Moines

Those who want to experience everything the city offers can find the perfect travel partner with this public Couchsurfer group. By connecting tourists and digital nomads with local hosts, they can explore Des Moines in comfort and style while saving time and money!

Health and Fitness


Planet Fitness

planet fitness-des moines

Planet Fitness Des Moines is the perfect place to stay in shape. It offers top-notch fitness at a competitive price. Free trials are available to help you decide if it’s the right fit for you. Planet Fitness also offers Black Card memberships at $22.99/month.

For this price, users can take advantage of worldwide access, guest privileges, and even luxuries such as tanning beds, massage chairs, and hydromassage sessions.

Anytime Fitness

anytime-fitness-des moines

Anytime Fitness is a top-notch gym that provides exceptional fitness solutions. With the goal of giving customers a 360 approach to wellness, Anytime Fitness offers individual training, group classes, nutrition, and recovery programs.

The membership at Anytime Fitness includes a free consultation, access to 4,800 gyms worldwide, and extended 24-hour convenience. Above all, they provide a seven-day free trial, so new customers can sample their services before committing.

With three different plan options, there’s something to suit all budgets. Their 24-Month Plan has a great rate of $61, as does the shorter 18-Month Plan and the 12-Month Plan for the same price.

Krave Gym

krave-gym-iowa-des moines

Krave Gym’s mission to help athletes of all levels challenge and surpass their personal fitness goals. From experienced lifters to those just getting started, the training program provides an intense but safe workout experience three days a week.

Through tailored exercises, knowledge, and motivation from expert trainers, each athlete can unlock their own full potential and find success. For only $99 a month, members have access to programs that ensure success and growth along the way.


Power Life Yoga Barre Fitness

Power Life Yoga Barre Fitness is a community where everyone is welcome regardless of skill level or experience. With this in mind, their dynamic group fitness classes are designed to challenge and empower all practitioners.

At Power Life Yoga Barre Fitness, they strive to create a welcoming atmosphere where you can come to de-stress, detoxify, and improve your blood circulation — all while connecting with other practitioners during a class.

As far as pricing goes, new students start off with an unlimited week for just $10, and existing members can purchase ten class packs for $175; single-day drop-ins are available for $22, and 30 days of access cost just $150.

Mathew Koder Yoga

Founded by Mathew Koder, Mathew Koder Yoga is a spiritual body conditioning yoga studio. It provides practitioners with the opportunity to explore their practice in an inviting and serene atmosphere.

With its extensive training, personal practice, and a wealth of teaching experience, this center gives everybody, from beginner-level to advanced practitioners, an ideal platform for developing their skills and ultimately transforming themselves spiritually.

Furthermore, the center offers a variety of service packages at reasonable prices — such as drop-in classes at $20 or the ‘Love Bomb’ 10 class pass at $150.

Shakti Yoga

Shakti Yoga Des Moines is the perfect body-strengthening studio to step into and deepen your yoga practice.

The highly trained teachers have an in-depth understanding of the body, energy centers, and postures, tailoring each class towards your specific needs and providing individual attention.

Their classes are designed to explore the relationship between your body, breath, and awareness.

You can explore different packages that fit your budget — from a single class at $18 to monthly packages starting at $99 or a 10-class package for $130 — so there’s something for everyone.


Des Moines is a wonderful city and a great tourist destination, but what happens if you get sick while you’re there? Knowing the answers to those questions can help tourists be confident and prepared when they are in town.

Most urgent medical issues can be taken care of by hospitals or walk-in clinics that offer quality care for those visiting the area. The cost will vary depending on what services are required, but most accept health insurance and credit cards.

If you’re visiting from abroad, it’s crucial that you have travel medical insurance that will provide reimbursement for American medical facilities — as many don’t. In general, it’s going to cost you a decent amount of money for medical treatment anywhere in the country.

A 15 doctor’s visit could cost anywhere from $85 – $500 and costs only increase from there.

SafetyWing Nomad Insurance

SafetyWing is a company that offers travel and health insurance products primarily aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and startups. The company provides policies that are flexible and can be purchased from almost any country, making it a popular choice for those who work or travel internationally. SafetyWing’s insurance products are designed to offer coverage for a variety of situations that digital nomads might encounter, from medical emergencies to travel disruptions. Always refer to the company’s official website or contact them directly for the most current information and details about their products and services.

Sustainable businesses and projects to support in Des Moines

Environmental Efforts

This project seeks to improve the environment through sustainable landscaping, improving air and water quality, recharging aquifers, managing stormwater runoff, and protecting habitats for wildlife.

In addition to reducing carbon emissions, this project could make Des Moines greener than ever while providing generations of residents with cleaner air and healthier land.

As advocates for environmental improvement continue to become more vocal in their communities, this project allows everyone to help make their home even healthier.

Supporting this project is an easy way for people to make a huge difference in their local community.

The Collective

Jamie Nicolino’s passion project, The Collective, is a sustainable one-stop shop that provides consumers access to reusable goods in downtown Des Moines.

It hopes to offer customers usable alternatives to everyday essentials, such as face masks and shampoo that would typically come in plastic packaging.

With its 900-square-foot store space at the AP Lofts located at 340 Southwest Fifth St., Nicolino believes this will be an achievable way for people to contribute to making their environment more sustainable.

Green Des Moines Partnership

The Des Moines Green Partnership is an ambitious project that seeks to make a tangible difference in the lives of those living in the city.

It encourages communities to come together and develop strategies for restoring grounded forest areas, providing a beneficial and practical resource for volunteers, schools, nonprofits, businesses, and the local government alike.

Collectively, these partners strive to promote a strong culture of leadership and stewardship within their city’s parks, dedicated to protecting the natural environment that surrounds them.

Staying in Des Moines, monthly costs


Living in Des Moines can be surprisingly affordable. Those looking for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can expect to pay anywhere between $800 and $1,294 per month, while those looking to rent outside of the center can find a one-bedroom for around $800 per month.

Those who prefer more space have three-bedroom apartments available in the center at an average price of $1,500 per month or outside of the center at an average price of $1,120.

For those interested in buying a home, apartments within the city center range from $2,034 per square meter up to almost $5,000 for those with more luxurious tastes.


Des Moines is a great place to sample the delicious local cuisine, ranging from casual fare to upscale dining. If you’re in the mood for something inexpensive yet tasty, check out one of the city’s many restaurants, which offer an average meal for one person at just $15.50.

For a more luxurious dining experience, sample a three-course meal for two people at an average price of $60.00.

For an after-dinner treat, grab yourself a cappuccino or soft drink. Average prices are usually around $4.68 and $2.17, respectively, for regular servings or even a bottle of imported beer at approximately $6.00 per 0.33-liter bottle.

If you don’t feel like spending much, most venues will have bottled water for about $1.29 for a 0.33-liter bottle. Eating out for a month in Des Moines wouldn’t be too expensive, with an average monthly budget for two people estimated at around $500 per month.

Where to buy groceries

Downtown Farmers’ Market

DSM’s farmers market is a much-loved tradition among locals. Every Saturday from May to October, residents can purchase specialty items downtown at the Des Moines Farmers’ Market in the Historic Court District.

Winter Markets are also held in November and December, where holiday items are sold. The farmers market is a great place to buy fresh produce, bakery goods, and flowers while supporting local businesses.

Gateway Market

gateway-market-des moines

Gateway Market is an iconic Downtown DSM establishment that provides a memorable food experience. Guests can browse and choose from an extensive selection of organic, natural, and specialty foods that come from the area as well as around the world.

There’s even a café in the store with hot, freshly made meals to satisfy just about any craving. All customers are treated like family in this warm atmosphere, where grocery shopping is a fun adventure for all ages.

Additionally, Gateway Market provides fair prices, so you always get more for your money.

Fourth + Court Hy-Vee

hy-vee-des moines

Fourth + Court Hy-Vee is the perfect downtown store option, conveniently located just down the road from buzzing businesses and government buildings of Fourth Street and Court Avenue in Downtown DSM.

Along with the aisles of fresh produce, there are plenty of organic treats and dine-in options to choose from. Not only is this Downtown DSM newbie well-equipped to provide customers with products they need on their daily trips, but shoppers don’t need to worry about spending too much either.

Not only does Fourth + Court Hy-Vee have terrific selections, but it also offers fair prices for its customers.


The transit system in Des Moines is cost-effective for daily commuters. Bus tickets can often be purchased for as low as $1.75 per one-way trip, and monthly passes are available at a flat fee of $48.00 — a price that’s hard to beat.

However, if you need to use a taxi, rates start at $2.50 with an additional charge of $2 per mile and a waiting fee of $25.00 per hour.

Goods and services

Goods and services such as massages, haircuts, clothing, and movies are a large part of life in Des Moines. Although there are many different costs associated with these items, the city offers plenty of discounts and deals on them to ensure that they remain accessible to all.

The city also offers reasonably priced amenities such as a one-hour rental of a tennis court on weekends for $30, or an adult membership to a local fitness club for just $45 per month. Even catching the latest international release at the cinema won’t break the bank, with tickets available from just $10.75 each.

Generally, each person would spend about $200-$250 per month. But this varies depending on the lifestyle and needs of an individual.

Wrapping Up

Des Moines, Iowa, is a great destination for those exploring the Midwest. From the lush parks and trails to the stunning architecture, Des Moines offers plenty of activities that both tourists and locals will enjoy.

Not only is it an exciting destination to explore on holiday, but its vibrant community provides travelers with an opportunity to experience genuine Midwestern hospitality.

Whether you are looking to relax or be adventurous, Des Moines has something unique for everyone. The city is full of energy and surprises — there’s plenty to do and explore in this intriguing corner of America.

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