Des Moines Spotlight

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John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park: One of the Metro's art attractions, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park kicks off the list of things to do in Greater Des Moines, and for good reason!

Breakfast burritos at the Downtown Farmers' Market: These burritos are freshly made on site by Farm Boys and are a favorite among market patrons. So prepare to wait in line for this tasty treat.

Adventureland Park and Adventure Bay: In addition to the more than 100 rides, shows and attractions, the Altoona amusement park is unveiling an expanded water park with water slides, the longest lazy river in the state and plenty more fun in the sun.

Friday night fireworks at the Iowa Cubs: What better way to end the workweek than with a relaxing night at Principal Park, followed by a spectacular fireworks display lighting up the night sky?

Brenton Skating Plaza: This outdoor skating plaza, located along the banks of the Des Moines River in Downtown Des Moines, offers open skating and skating lessons from November through March. Broomball teams compete throughout the season as well.

West Glen Town Center nightlife: Arguably the new downtown of West Des Moines, West Glen is home to bars both fun and classy. Try the Fish Bowl drink at Blue Moon Dueling Piano Bar and Restaurant.

Fong's Pizza: Head to this downtown eatery for a truly unique dining experience, complete with tiki drinks, Chinese food and some unusual pizza by-the-slice. Philly cheese-steak pizza, anyone?

Broadway shows at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines.

Gong Fu Tea: The owners travel throughout the world to hand-select the loose leaf teas found in this one-of-a-kind, Asian-inspired teahouse that features selections such as Silver Needle tea from China's Fujian province.

Hotel Pattee: Perry's historic luxury hotel features 40 themed guest rooms, such as the Louis Armstrong Suite, the Japanese Room and the David Ahmanson Suite for Kids, where cookies and milk are brought to your bedside.

Horseback riding at Jester Park: Take a one-hour guided trail ride past Saylorville Lake and through the peaceful, secluded woods of Jester Park.

Drake Relays: Spend an afternoon at Drake Stadium, where some of the state's and world's top athletes - including Olympic contenders - will compete at the world's largest collegiate track and field meet.

Sleepy Hollow Sports Park: Enjoy year-round outdoor fun and recreation at this 60-acre park with bumper boats, miniature golf, a 30-foot climbing wall, go-karts and batting cages, as well as the annual Renaissance Faire in September.

Table-side guacamole at Dos Rios: Mild, spicy or hot, you must not pass up this delicious dip, prepared table-side and made-to-order with fresh ingredients in a traditional lava bowl. This Latin American hot spot in the Court District promises a cosmopolitan ambiance, inside or on the patio.

Boot of beer at Hessen Haus: Head to downtown's authentic German bier hall with some friends and order a boot of beer to pass around the table, but be sure you know the rules or you'll be buying the next one.

Seven Oaks Recreation: Grab a cooler and hit the waters of the Des Moines River for a relaxing 8-mile tube ride that takes you through the scenic river valley.

The Machine Shed: With hearty breakfasts fit for a farmhand, this restaurant at Living History Farms serves up gooey homemade cinnamon rolls that are bigger than a breadbox.

Blank Park Zoo: Arrange for a behind-the-scenes tour in the months of November through March to learn about various species of animals from the zookeepers, and get up close for feedings and training sessions.

Meredith Corp. Test Gardens: Tour the beautifully designed gardens where the publishing giant evaluates plants and gardening techniques for its flagship publication, Better Homes and Gardens.

IMT Des Moines Marathon: The full and half marathons take runners throughout the city of Des Moines, and a number of other events provide opportunities for athletes and spectators alike to participate in the fun of marathon weekend.

Living History Farms: Learn all about Iowa's agricultural history through the many historical interpreters who dress and play the part of pioneer farmers, craftsmen and other individuals in this outdoor living museum.

Iowa Hall of Pride: Check out the exhibit on 2008 Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, a West Des Moines native who shot to fame as a member of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.

Coffee and treasures at West End Architectural Salvage: Grab a latté from the first-floor coffeehouse and take your time as you peruse the many antiques, treasures, furniture, re-purposed items and other unique pieces salvaged from homes and buildings.

Science Center of Iowa Blank IMAX Dome Theater and A-ha! Gift Shop: This state-of-the-art science center is complemented by the six-story Blank IMAX Dome Theater that makes films come to life, and the A-ha! Store that is filled with merchandise that makes science fun.

Bowling at Bass Pro Shops: The 145,000-square-foot retail store opened in Altoona in 2009 with, among other attractions, a 12-lane aquatic-themed bowling alley. 

D-Line: Ride the free downtown shuttle between Western Gateway Park, Downtown Des Moines, Historic East Village and the Iowa State Capitol.

Golfing in Greater Des Moines: Perfect your swing at more than 20 golf courses. The Tournament Club of Iowa is an award-winning 18-hole course in Polk City that was designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer.

NASCAR races at the Iowa Speedway: The NASCAR Nationwide Series race will be held July 31 at the Iowa Speedway near Newton and will feature some of NASCAR's top Sprint Cup Series drivers.

Iowa State Fair: A trip to this quintessential state fair is not complete without a visit to see the famous Butter Cow and indulging in at least one of the 50 fair foods served on a stick.

Boating at Saylorville Lake: Rent a pontoon boat from the Saylorville Lake Marina and spend a long summer day soaking up the sun and exploring the 26,000-acre lake.

Music at Simon Estes Riverfront AmphitheaterNitefall on the River, the long-running summer concert series on the east bank of the Des Moines River downtown, plays to all ages as they relax on lawn chairs and blankets, and enjoy the backdrop of the city skyline and twinkling stars.

Rose garden at Greenwood Park: Located just south of the Des Moines Art Center is a beautiful rose garden that provides a stunning backdrop for several of the museum's outdoor sculptures.

Go-kart races at America's Incredible Pizza Company: For about $5, you get to feel the wind in your hair in NASCAR Speed Cars...without venturing outside.

Tour the Salisbury House and Gardens: This 42-room English Tudor-style mansion, built in the 1920s, holds a collection of 10,000 pieces of art and antiques.

Wells Fargo Arena at Iowa Events Center: This downtown arena hosts world-class events throughout the year, from star-studded concerts to Iowa Barnstormers arena football and NBA Development League games featuring the Iowa Energy.

Dinner and a show at Ohana Steakhouse: Count your fingers and your toes when you dine at this West Des Moines favorite. Famous Cy, aka That Guy, is the ringleader of the entertaining chefs at this fast-paced Teppenyaki grill, perfect for adults or families.

East Village events: The eclectic vibe in this district makes every event come alive. Check out annual festivals like Bike Nights, the World Food Festival and Holiday Promenade.

Walking trails and parks: Greater Des Moines boasts more than 100 miles of trails connecting neighborhoods, city parks and other major attractions.

Historic Valley Junction: Browse the locally owned neighborhood boutiques along Fifth Street in West Des Moines during the weekly Valley Junction Farmers' Market, followed by an evening of live music as part of the Music in the Junction concert series.

Horse racing at Prairie Meadows: Grab a front-row seat for all the action of life horse racing at Prairie Meadows from April through October. Then relax at the swanky Prairie Meadows Hotel.

Chicken Spiedini at Latin King: These garlicky breaded chicken kabobs please at this old-school Italian-American restaurant on the east side of Des Moines, which is owned by the Tursi family and has been in business since 1947.

Locally brewed beers: Visit Raccoon River Brewing Company or Court Avenue Restaurant and Brewing Company, both located downtown, to sample some of the various handcrafted beers produced by brew-masters on site.

80/35: This multi-day music festival features nonstop entertainment from local, regional and national music acts, as well as children's activities, food, fireworks and meet-and-greets with some of the performers.

Swimming at Cascade Falls: Cool off on a hot summer day by enjoying the water slides, swirl bowl slide, flow rider surf machine and more!

Principal Charity Classic: The Principal Charity Classic welcomes some of the best golfers on the Champions Tour!

Raygun: This apparel shop in Des Moines' Historic East Village  carries its own line of edgy T-shirt designs featuring slogans such as "Des Moines: French for ‘The Moines'" and "Iowans: The Few, The Proud, The Extremely Attractive."

Paddle boats and yoga at the park at Gray's Lake: Whether seeking a killer cardio workout or just looking for your happy place, Gray's Lake, just south of Downtown Des Moines, is a gorgeous local favorite for recreation buffs.

Des Moines Botanical and Environmental Center: Located along the banks of the Des Moines River just north of downtown, this popular tourist attraction features a number of indoor and outdoor gardens, including the lush tropical dome.

Iowa Gold Star Military Museum: This museum at Camp Dodge honors the service and sacrifice of Iowa's military men and women, with a collection of memorabilia that tell the story of the state's military history.

Downtown Des Moines bars: More than 60 bars, from trendy nightclubs to casual brew pubs, can be found throughout Downtown Des Moines, making it a hot spot for nighttime entertainment.

Cultural festivals: Viva I'talia, CelebrAsian and the Latino Heritage Festival provide fun and entertainment for all ages, plenty of food and a rich celebration of Greater Des Moines' cultural heritage. 

Yankee Doodle Pops: Iowa's premier Fourth of July celebration takes place at the Iowa State Capitol, with a free concert by the Des Moines Symphony followed by a colossal fireworks display.

Centro: Enjoy drinks, coal-fired oven pizza and the famous Centro salad at this four-star restaurant that is one of the most popular eateries in Des Moines.

Fresh seafood from Waterfront Seafood Market and On the Waterfront Seafood Restaurant: The seafood market adjoins the popular West Des Moines seafood restaurant, and features a large selection of seafood purchased directly from fishing boats and docks. On the Waterfront in Ankeny serves up seafood just north of Des Moines.

Ice cream at Over the Top: With more than 35 flavors, Over the Top is Central Iowa's BEST homemade ice cream!

Watch local actors at the Des Moines Playhouse and Kate Goldman Children's Theater: The Playhouse has entertained audiences for more than 90 years, featuring the talents of local actors, while the children's theater delights young audiences with live performances of stage shows such as "How I Became a Pirate," coming in May.

Free tours of the Iowa State Capitol: Cap off your visit with a climb to the balcony of the building's dome, which is covered in 23-karat gold leaf.

Des Moines Arts Festival: Walk by more than 200 professional and emerging artists from more than a dozen genres fill Western Gateway Park for this three-day festival that is among the best in the nation.

Terrace Hill tours: Plan a visit to this ornate Victorian mansion that is home to Iowa's governor and his family.

Walk dogs at Water Works Park, West Des Moines Raccoon River dog park: Call it fitness for Fido, these locations are just one of many benefits of the extensive parks and trails system found here.

Brunch at Americana Restaurant & Lounge: A grill cheese station is just one of the highlights of this downtown brunch spot. View of the Sculpture Park only enhance your dining experience.

Walk over four miles in the downtown skywalk system: Get around in any weather and enjoy the many shops and restaurants along Des Moines' famous elevated-walkway system.

Apple Store, Sephora, Coach and Pottery Barn at Jordan Creek Town Center: No need to head to Chicago or New York. West Des Moines' Jordan Creek Town Center brings the big names to Iowa.

Hy-Vee Triathlon: One hundred of the world's top athletes will compete in the Hy-Vee ITU Elite Cup Triathlon, and hundreds more will compete in the amateur and youth triathlon events at West Des Moines' Raccoon River Park.

Take a hot air balloon ride at the National Balloon Classic: Soar over the skies of Central Iowa during this world-class ballooning event in Indianola.

Rock climbing at Climb Iowa: Families, groups and individuals of all skill levels can engage their inner adventurer at one of the Midwest's largest indoor climbing facilities.

$1 night at Buccaneer Arena: Des Moines Buccaneers hockey fans are some of the most dedicated people in town. Get there early, prepare to get rowdy and get ready for a good old-fashioned hockey fight.

Take a riverboat ride on the Jon Anderson White Riverboat: The authentic sternwheel paddle-wheeler has been refurbished and is available for private charters.

Vault tours at the State Historical Museum: Explore this underground area where 90 percent of its collection is stored through a very special walking tour of more than 100,000 artifacts guided by museum curators.

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad: Travel north to Boone for a scenic ride through the Des Moines River valley on one of the railroad's excursion trains.

Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival: The world's premier bacon festival offers unlimited sampling of bacon!

Coffee and entertainment at Java Joe's Coffeehouse: Enjoy a hot cup of coffee - coffee beans are roasted fresh daily - and enjoy a performance by local and regional musicians in this downtown hot spot.

Battle Zone Laser Tag at All Play of Des Moines: Enjoy 5,000 square feet of pure laser tag strategy for just $7 at a convenient location near the Iowa Events Center. Corporate rates are available in case you want to take team building to a new level.

The Parent Organization of the Des Moines Area Sports Commission
400 Locust Street, Suite 265, Des Moines, IA 50309-2350 (800) 451-2625
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