Des Moines Attractions: The 10 Best Tourist Attractions In Des Moines

Des Moines, Iowa’s capital city, is a hidden gem in the heartland of America. It’s a place where the charm of the Midwest meets a vibrant cultural scene. I’ve had the pleasure of exploring this city’s nooks and crannies, and let me tell you, it’s brimming with attractions that can surprise even the most seasoned traveler. From the iconic gold-domed State Capitol to the lush greenery of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, there’s a slice of Des Moines for every type of visitor.

State Capitol Building

Standing majestically atop a hill, the Iowa State Capitol isn’t just a feast for the eyes; it’s a dive into the state’s history. With its grand architecture and a dome gilded in 23-karat gold, it’s a must-see. Inside, you’ll find a wealth of art and historical exhibits. I recommend taking one of the free guided tours to fully appreciate the intricate details and stories behind this iconic building.

Des Moines Art Center

Art enthusiasts, rejoice! The Des Moines Art Center is a sanctuary for modern and contemporary art. Its walls house masterpieces from the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper. The architecture itself, with contributions from Eliel Saarinen and I.M. Pei, is a work of art. The center offers free admission, making it an accessible cultural experience for all.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Imagine a lush oasis in the heart of the city. That’s the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden for you. With a myriad of exotic plants and seasonal blooms, it’s a tranquil spot for nature lovers. The geodesic dome is a standout feature, creating a tropical environment year-round. It’s a perfect place to unwind and soak in the beauty of nature.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Outdoor art takes center stage at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Nestled in downtown Des Moines, this park features over 20 sculptures by world-renowned artists. It’s an open-air gallery where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll while pondering the meaning behind each unique piece. And the best part? It’s completely free to visit.

Adventureland Park

For those seeking thrills, Adventureland Park is the go-to destination. With over 100 rides, shows, and attractions, it’s a blast for families and adrenaline junkies alike. The roller coasters are top-notch, and there’s plenty of fun to be had for the little ones too. It’s a day of excitement that’ll leave you with lasting memories.

Des Moines Farmers’ Market

Foodies will find their paradise at the Des Moines Farmers’ Market. Held every Saturday from May through October, it’s a bustling hub of fresh produce, artisanal foods, and local crafts. The atmosphere is electric, with live music and the aroma of freshly baked goods filling the air. It’s a taste of Iowa’s best, right in the heart of the city.

Iowa State Fairgrounds

No visit to Des Moines is complete without experiencing the Iowa State Fair. But the fairgrounds are a draw year-round, hosting events and exhibitions that showcase the state’s agricultural heritage. The fair itself is a whirlwind of fun, with everything from butter sculptures to live entertainment. It’s a slice of Americana that’s not to be missed.

Salisbury House & Gardens

Step back in time at the Salisbury House & Gardens. This historic estate, inspired by King’s House in Salisbury, England, is a testament to 1920s elegance. The house is filled with authentic furnishings and art, while the gardens are a peaceful retreat. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the wealthy during the early 20th century.

Science Center of Iowa

Curiosity comes alive at the Science Center of Iowa. Interactive exhibits and live demonstrations make learning fun for all ages. The planetarium is a highlight, offering a journey through the stars. It’s a place where you can spend hours discovering the wonders of science and technology.

East Village

Last but not least, the East Village is Des Moines’ trendy neighborhood. It’s a vibrant area full of unique shops, delicious eateries, and lively bars. The historic charm blends seamlessly with a youthful energy, making it a great spot to explore day or night. It’s the perfect end to your Des Moines adventure.


  • What’s the best time of year to visit Des Moines?

    Des Moines shines in the summer and fall. The weather is ideal for exploring outdoor attractions, and the city buzzes with events like the Iowa State Fair and the Farmers’ Market.

  • Are there any family-friendly attractions in Des Moines?

    Absolutely! Adventureland Park and the Science Center of Iowa are fantastic for kids. The Botanical Garden and Pappajohn Sculpture Park are also great for family outings.

  • Is Des Moines accessible for travelers without a car?

    Yes, the downtown area is walkable, and there’s a reliable public transportation system. Plus, many attractions are within close proximity to each other.


Des Moines is a city that may fly under the radar, but it’s packed with attractions that cater to all interests. From the grandeur of the State Capitol to the artistic haven of the Des Moines Art Center, there’s a wealth of experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re here for the thrills of Adventureland Park or the tranquility of the Botanical Garden, you’re in for a treat. The city’s vibrant culture is palpable at the Farmers’ Market and the historic East Village. And let’s not forget the annual spectacle of the Iowa State Fair. Des Moines is a city that truly has it all, and it’s waiting to welcome you with open arms.

So, if you’re looking for a destination that combines history, art, nature, and fun, look no further than Des Moines. It’s a city that might just surprise you with its charm and array of attractions. Trust me, you’ll leave with memories to last a lifetime and stories to share that are as rich as the city itself.

Kurby Team

The Kurby Content Team is a diverse group of seasoned real estate experts dedicated to providing insightful, reliable information for homebuyers, real estate investors, and real estate agents. With backgrounds ranging from real estate brokerage, property investment, and residential home buying, our team combines decades of experience with a passion for demystifying the real estate world. We at Kurby are committed to helping you make informed, successful real estate decisions. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or a real estate professional, count on the Kurby Content Team to deliver the most relevant, actionable real estate content you need.