Feeling stir crazy, but also a bit wary? Have no fear, you don’t need to make a road trip across the country to find adventure. There’s plenty of fun to be had in your own backyard (not your actual backyard, you’re probably sick of that too). Plan a Des Moines staycation and forget about doing laundry and the dishes for the weekend. Here are a few staycation suggestions for destinations around the metro for families, friends, and couples. Enjoy our city safely and responsibly (and as we say, “when in doubt, do takeout”).
West Des Moines Shopping Staycation
Visit the shopping and entertainment mecca of West Des Moines. Here’s you’ll find big brands, small boutiques, famous eats, and plenty of ways to stay entertained all weekend long!
For your West Des Moines staycation, relax and unwind at the new and luxurious Rewind Hotel. With Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse on site and fluffy robes and slippers in your room, you’ll be able to treat yo’ self right.
On Friday night, start with dinner at Fleming’s Steakhouse and shopping at Jordan Creek Town Center, which features popular brands like Pottery Barn, Dillard's, Scheel’s and Apple. Just outside the mall you can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the lake surrounded by restaurant patios or check out the latest blockbuster in the comfort of a luxury lounger at Cinemark Theater. If you’re a night owl, head over to nearby West Glen Town Center and check out The Escape Rooms or The Operating Room, an adult arcade with games, pinball and craft cocktail slushies.
On Saturday, get up early to enjoy a nostalgic breakfast at Eggs and Jam where you’ll take your dressed up breakfast classics with a side of 90’s hip hop. After breakfast and a cup of coffee to go from La Barista, you’ll can work off the calories from your chicken and waffles with a trip through the shops at Historic Valley Junction. The historic district is known for locally owned boutiques and galleries with an emphasis on vintage, antiques and hosts lively community events year-round.
While you’re still in the vintage mood, plan for a stop at the Jordan House Museum and learn how early West Des Moines came to be through the development of the railroad and how James Jordan played a role in helping freedom-seeking slaves on their trek along the Underground Railroad.
And the history lesson doesn’t end there! Next, you’ll want to make time for a pint or two at The Hall – a lively beer hall fashioned from what once was a train depot (look for the tracks preserved under plexiglass floor!). Here you can sample your way through dozens of beer styles and enjoy bites prepared by The Kitchen DSM – a concept designed to provide kitchen skills training and job placement for those in need.
It’s Sunday Funday! Begin your Sunday with the over-the-top brunch at Gilroy’s Kitchen Pub and Patio, known for serving up the best Moscow Mule selection in the metro. After brunch, tap into your competitive spirit with the plethora of gaming options at Smash Park - with the largest outdoor patio in Iowa, it's the perfect place to watch football, challenge your friends to a bags tournament, or play board games, darts and classic arcade games. Pro tip: the food is great too, so fuel your competitive spirit with a tray of nachos or sliders.
Staycation with the kids
Treat the kids to a staycation in Greater Des Moines that’s basically just as fun as Disneyworld – well, if not as fun, certainly cheaper!
Friday: What’s more fun than swimming at the hotel pool? If you have kids under ten, the answer is “nothing”. Swimming at a heated hotel pool that’s both indoors AND outdoors! Stoney Creek Hotel in Johnston will be a delight for the whole family, your dog included! This woodland lodge themed hotel features room options with fireplaces and bunkbeds and everyone will love the complimentary hot breakfast in the morning. For dinner Friday night, order pizza from the popular local joint Taste of New York (the slices are as delicious as they are HUGE) - just be sure to wait 30 minutes before swimming!
Saturday activities: In nearby Grimes, take the kids to burn off some energy at Sky Zone Trampoline Park or Pole Position Raceway – an indoor go kart track and arcade. Fuel up for an afternoon of fun with lunch at Jethro’s Pork Chop Grill in Johnston. After a stomach-patting lunch of boneless chicken wings and smoke pork ribs, get some fresh air at Terra Park or if it’s nice out and you’re feeling particularly ambitious, rent kayaks at Quarry Springs Outfitters and explore Beaver Creek.
Before heading back to your hotel room, swing by Merle Hay Mall and check out the “how did I not know about this before?” coolness of the Selfie Station to help chronicle your staycation (and create major FOMO with your friends on social media) before picking up fajitas (and margaritas for the grownups) to-go from Nuevo Mexico.
Sunday: Rise and shine early today and fuel up with a hearty farmer’s breakfast at the Machine Shed Restaurant in Urbandale. Kids will go wide-eyed for dinner plate-sized cinnamon rolls.
Next you’ll head downtown for a kid-tested, mother-approved educational experience at the Science Center of Iowa, where hands on exhibits will get kids thinking and problem solving. Contemplate the size of the universe in the star planetarium and “ohh and aww" during live science demonstrations.
After the science comes the science-fiction with lunch at Zombie Burger, where kids and adults alike will dine on delicacies such as the zombie bride wedding cake shake and the undead ched burger. And of course, if you go downtown but don’t stop by the Sculpture Park, were you really there? Selfie or it didn’t count!
Everyone will be feeling full and ready to start a new week after this action-packed weekend!
Downtown couples’ staycation
Treat your sweetheart to the staycation of their dreams! The new Surety Hotel offers the perfect backdrop for a romantic weekend downtown. With well-appointed rooms featuring pieces by local artists and a cozy lobby with pool tables and stunning views, you’ll be certain to fall in love all over again!
For dinner on Friday evening, you’re just a short walk to Centro, an Italian eatery with street-level views of downtown, a relaxed atmosphere and wood-fired pizzas that will make you wonder what you’ve been doing with your life this whole time. After dinner, walk three-blocks to Noce Jazz Cabaret. Here you’ll listen to local crooners and musicians performing Rat Pack favorites and original compositions. The cozy, cool vibe is the perfect place for date night.
For late night drinks, head to Hello, Marjorie, a classic cocktail bar with a menu inspired by the newspaper that once occupied the space. Cuddle up on one of the retro velvet sofas and sip on libations with tempting names like the Editor’s Note or Above the Fold.
Saturday – Sleep in a bit! You have from 10 am – 2 pm to grab brunch at Mulberry Street Tavern in the Surety. The menu features breakfast classics, sweet pastries and healthy-ish entrees – all with ingredients sourced from local farm partners.
A great place to visit no matter the weather, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is the perfect place to spend an afternoon strolling indoor gardens under the domed conservatory or exploring the abundant outdoor garden with sweeping views of the downtown skyline.
After you’ve had your fill of flora and fauna, you’re in the neighborhood to shop and dine in the Historic East Village. Here you’ll discover locally owned shops and boutiques as well as many options for fine dining and cocktails. Allow us to recommend a rousing skeeball competition at Up Down followed by tropical cocktails at Bellhop Tiki.
For dinner, you may elect to taste the chicken confit gnocchi at Alba or the eggplant parmesan at Lucca – both offer romantically-lit settings with views of East Village passerby. After dinner, the fun continues at The Republic on Grand, a cocktail bar on the sixth floor of the AC Marriott hotel, or sip and sample at Purveyor, a modern, European-style market that curates the best local charcuterie and serves wine on tap.
Sunday – Plan for a fresh breakfast at St. Kilda before heading out for the day. Here you can have your pick of light or hearty dishes such as avocado toast or salmon and eggs. After brunch, visit the Des Moines Art Center and trade takes on the collections. If it’s warm out, you can take a walk through the Rose Garden behind the art center and admire the outdoor sculpture collection.
As a token of your staycation together, stop into Chocolaterie Stam on Ingersoll for some chocolates to take home and a hot cocoa for the road. Cap off your Sunday date by sampling a flight of local wines at Jasper Winery. This weekend out will leave you refreshed and ready to take on the new week ahead.