Each month, we highlight the most buzzworthy places and events in Greater Des Moines in a feature we call Des Buzz. It's your “in the know” list of places to go!

National Balloon Classic

A classic favorite in Des Moines is back! The National Balloon Classic in Indianola returns from July 29 – August 6. This event features over 100 hot air balloons that fill the sky with gorgeous colors. Balloons fly every night at 6:30 p.m. and feature live music each night as well. You can also experience “dawn patrol”, a 5 a.m. early morning session. There are also fireworks, an art festival, and food and beverage choices as well. With nine days to choose from, there’s something for everyone with the National Balloon Classic. 

Iowa State Fair 

Nothing compares to August in Des Moines, especially because of the Iowa State Fair. 11 days full of fried food, furry animals, and fast thrill rides. From August 11 – 21, enjoy one of the 53 new foods debuting this year like a Pork Picnic in a Cup and Minty Moo Parfait or stick to the classic corn dog and cheese curds. No matter what, they’re all sure to be delicious. Enjoy a concert or two, including headlining acts like Carrie Underwood and Alanis Morissette, or head to the free stage to see Hairball and other acts. Baby animals, parades, and anything you can imagine on a stick. There are so many ways to find fun at the Iowa State Fair!  

Surety Courtyard

We all know about the gorgeous Surety Hotel in downtown Des Moines, but do you know about the courtyard that goes along with it? No reservations are needed to enjoy the space, nor do you have to be staying at the hotel to enjoy it. They have live music in the Courtyard on Thursday evenings from 6 – 9 p.m. and Fridays 8 – 11 p.m. You can also bring your furry best friend for their Yappy Hour on both Wednesday and Thursday nights. Take in some live music, enjoy a cold drink, and take in the views of downtown Des Moines this month!


One of the best music festivals in Iowa returns August 4 – 7. Head 30 minutes outside Des Moines to the countryside for four days full of music. With over 30 acts, there’s something for everyone at Hinterland. Headliners include Glass Animals and Phoebe Bridgers, along with Billy Strings and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Hinterland has expanded not only the number of days this year, but the space, camping area, vendors, bathrooms and parking as well. Spend your weekend soaking up the sun while listening to hours' worth of music.

Big Grove Brewery

A beloved brewery for our friends over on the East side of the state officially opened their Des Moines location. Known for crowd favorite Easy Eddy, Big Grove Brewery’s brand-new Des Moines Taproom is huge. A giant dining area inside, a sneak peek area to see the brewing happen in action, as well as an amazing covered patio filled with seating and firepit areas. Open Tuesday through Sunday, Big Grove is one of the newest and hottest spots in Greater Des Moines. Oh, and the patio is dog friendly, so bring your furry friends to enjoy the new spot as well. 

Paws & Pints

If you’re a dog lover, this is the place for you. A completely dog friendly (more like dog centered) place, this place has so many things to do. A bar and coffeehouse that features 5 Borough Bagels. Indoor and outdoor dog parks. Doggy daycare and grooming. A “Bonetique” full of treats and toys for your pup. Obedience training and one on one private training. A vet clinic. Paws & Pints has all your dog's needs covered, plus some fun for the owners as well. Paws and Pints officially opens mid-August! 

Indianola Disc Golf 

Catch some pro disc golfers at the TruBank Disc Golf Challenge happening at Pickard Park in Indianola, August 19 – 21. This is your chance to see some of the best disc golfers. After competition on August 20, stick around for a concert at the park by Cory Wong. Get your tickets here

Rail Explorers 

Experience the rails of Boone in a brand-new way. Rail Explorers originated in Rhode Island and Boone is the only Midwest location that has opened thus far. A rail explorer is a pedal powered vehicle that rides on railroad tracks. Available in pairs or groups of four, this is the perfect family experience. A 12.5-mile round trip, take in Bass Creek High Trestle & the Des Moines River Bridge. The views alone are priceless, but if you’re looking to buy a ticket, you can do so here.