Leave the sweat and strain to the racers and take a load off at one of these viewing spots throughout the region, where you can get a bird's eye view of the action. Cheering works up an appetite (the athletes aren’t the only ones who need to carb load) and what kind of fan would you be without a drink to toast? From sculpture parks and covered bridges, along with the Des Best restaurants and bars in the metro, being a fan has never been so fun. Come experience the action on June 12, 2022.
SWIM COURSE AND TRANSITION VIEWING
Gray’s Lake Bridge
Enjoy watching the athletes participate in the swim section of IRONMAN Des Moines from the Gray's Lake Bridge. This 425-foot-long bridge is connected directly to Gray’s Lake, allowing you to cheer on the competitors from above. This is one of the only IRONMAN courses where you can see the athletes swim under you. Sorry fishes, but that’s way cooler than a glass-bottom boat! Snap a selfie with the Catch Des Moines signage on the bridge as well. Pics or it didn’t happen. Pro tip: You’ll also be a stone’s throw away from Confluence Brewery, one of the best breweries (and patios) in the city, and home to the appropriately named Long Ride pale ale.
Water Works Park
Enjoy one of the largest green spaces in Des Moines by packing a picnic and soaking up the sunshine! You’ll also be in the perfect location to see the athletes in transition, so double the win/win. Pro tip: Your best chance at seeing athletes in transition is at Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park.
BIKE COURSE VIEWING
The Chicken in Orilla
Bikers going by until 10AM
The Chicken in Orilla, Iowa is a classic roadhouse joint located right off the Great Western bike trail. Specializing in, you guessed it, chicken, they have everything from chicken and waffles to Nashville (and Iowa) hot chicken. And don’t sleep on the homemade cheese curds, served with marinara and ranch.
Bikers going by from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Known as the Covered Bridge Capital of Iowa, you can venture out to one of the beautiful covered bridges nearby before heading back to catch the running portion. Pick up a map of the bridges at the Chamber’s Welcome Center. Make sure to stop into one of the local shops on Winterset’s town square, grab a bite to eat, and then a sweet treat from Anything Sweet & More Café.
RUN COURSE VIEWING
Exile Brewing Company
This is the prime spectating spot to see your athlete do an out and back by the patio five times. Sip on one (or two) of their popular summer beers like Hannah (wheat) and Ruthie (pilsner) while noshing on truffle fries and soft pretzels right there on the patio. They even offer an NA beer that will have you thinking it’s the real deal!
Courthouse at Court Avenue
This is the turnaround point. Athletes will go by here three times before heading into the finish line.
Do you want to see the celebration at the finish line? Head to the heart of downtown Des Moines, at 5th Avenue and Mulberry Street. Celebrate alongside the athletes as they celebrate their victorious race, and experience seeing the emotions of crossing the finish line!
Pappajohn Sculpture Park
As if the Sculpture Park isn’t cool enough, add in hundreds of athletes running through downtown with everyone cheering them on, and you’ve got the perfect backdrop. With plenty of room to spread your legs and snap a selfie, you can bask in the excitement at the most picture-esque spot on the course.
Restaurants by Sculpture Park
A local favorite, Americana is sure to please. Located right on Locust Street, it is in perfect location to grab something to eat before or after the race. Americana may be known for their dinner options, but we recommend their Bombshell Brunch on the weekends. It's available from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and includes bottomless mimosas and a brunch taco bar (among about fifty other things). Sign us up.
Get some of the best French you never thought you’d find in the middle of Iowa. It’s French without the attitude. More than just steak frites and bouillabaisse, you can get salads, sandwiches, and juicy hamburgers. You’re in for a real treat when you order one of their craft cocktails.
We all know we’ve eaten a little too much raw cookie dough in our lives. At Dough Crazy, you have permission to be a kid again. They offer a wide variety of flavors, and even a flight of dough to try multiple flavors! You can also get your cookie dough as a sandwich, dough pop, or shake.
Grab a coffee and get re-energized to cheer on your athletes with a coffee from Horizon Line, which in our humble opinion, is the best coffee in the town. They have your typical coffee drinks like lattes and Americanos, but if you’re up for trying something different, this is your spot. Think bourbon peach latte or a lychee lavender latte. And when your order your drink to go, you get it in a reusable glass jar.
Court Avenue Restaurants
Court Avenue Brewing
Being that its namesake is literally the street that the runners will race along, this is a great place to see the action. With outdoor seating right out front as an option, enjoy some CABCo wings while sipping on a Weird Like Me lager as the runners coast by.
Johnny’s Hall of Fame
Known as Des Moines’ original sports bar, this is a first ballot option to watch the athletes race to the finish. Share a Sec Taylor Sampler (cheddar nuggets, onion rings, wings, and a quesadilla) and just pretend that those athletes are burning off those calories for you.
1908 Draught House
This cool, relaxed sports bar is a great place to cheer on the athletes. Whether you stop by for a taco pizza or just for drinks and an order of cheese curds, 1908 Draught House is one of the most appetizing options along the route. They also happen to have one of the best patios (with TVs) downtown. Score!
Anyone needing to carb load? This beloved family-friendly spot in downtown Des Moines, is known for their more than 700 different pasta and sauce combinations. They also have one of the largest salad bars in the city!
Looking for something unique to eat? Fong’s Pizza serves up Asian-inspired pizzas with everything from Crab Rangoon to General Tso’s Chicken. Don’t worry, they also serve your traditional style pizza as well. Grab a slice of what celebrity chef Alton Brown called “the best thing I ever ate” to-go and take it with you as you cheer your runners on to the finish line.