History Buff - Group Travel

Discover the unique stories of influential people and the (sometimes literal) groundwork they laid to build Greater Des Moines into the rich cultural destination it is today. From helping escaped slaves on the path to freedom to establishing the “Nobel Prize of food,” early Des Moines leaders left incredible legacies and a challenge to future generations to continue to support the advancement of the region. 


DAY 1 

Iowa State Capitol
As the only five-domed capitol in the country, and covered in 23-karat gold, it’s not a stretch for us to say it’s the most beautiful and ornate capitol building in the country. Completed in 1886, it is decorated with 29 different types of marble and includes 100 rooms, including the magnificent law library, which is the most photographed room in the state. Open Monday – Saturday, both guided and self-guided tours are available.

State Historical Museum
With three floors showcasing Iowa’s accomplishments, contributions, and heritage across 99 counties, experience our state’s rich history through exhibits and artifacts. Popular exhibits include Hollywood in the Heartland, Iowa and the Civil War, and Iowa History 101. Open Tuesday through Friday, admission is free!  

The Latin cuisine restaurant is in the historic Fire Station No. 1 in the heart of downtown Des Moines. Malo moved into the renovated art deco building in 2014 and has no plans to say “Adios” any time soon. Stop in for dinner and a delicious mango margarita.   

World Food Prize
Situated along the Principal Riverwalk in downtown Des Moines, the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates housed in the former Central Library building was constructed in 1903 as part of the City Beautiful movement. The Hall of Laureates serves as a museum to recognize the importance of food sustainability and the fight against hunger. Featuring stunning artwork alongside interactive displays on hunger and food security, the museum is a popular location for events, conferences, and weddings.

Historic Swanson House & Clive Depot
The Clive Historical Society manages the Swanson House, Clive Depot, and railroad caboose properties all located together. This is the historic center of Clive which was platted in 1882. The Swanson House served as a general store and post office for the period from 1911 to 1929. 

Craveable food and drinks, outstanding service and a comfortable, casual atmosphere. Serving weekday lunch and dinner plus catering available. Excellent party space for any occasion, equipped with TVs and sound system, patio and private space. Awesome patio with live music in the summer and heaters in the fall/winter. 

DAY 2  

Living History Farms
Living History Farms tells the amazing story of how Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world. While at the 500-acre open-air museum, visitors travel at their own pace through four different historical sites with time periods spanning 300 years. On-site interpreters provide a unique learning environment of seasonal activities and demonstrations. A specific interest may be the Flynn Mansion. Built in 1870 by Martin and Ellen Flynn, this Victorian Italianate home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

Jethro's BBQ N' Pork Chop Grill
Serving world famous Jethro's BBQ and slow cooked meats. Try their State Fair pork chops, stuffed pork chops, shake n' bake pork chops or smoked pork chops. These Iowa Chops are served up just right and paired with your choice of two sides.  

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad
All aboard! Make your way to Boone and take a ride through spectacular scenery on a classic train car and learn about the history of railroading in Iowa at the museum. Come wintertime, the train turns into the “Santa Express” and goes all the way to the North Pole (wink wink)! 

Machine Shed
The Machine Shed, honoring the American farmer, is located at the entrance of Living History Farms. Try their award-winning steaks and chops, it’s farm to table food at its finest. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have a full bar and gift shop. Groups are welcome, banquet and catering menus are also available.


John Wayne Birthplace Museum
Head down to picturesque Winterset to see the birthplace of “Duke,” the most famous cowboy who ever lived. The John Wayne Birthplace Museum is located adjacent to his childhood home and features original movie posters, wardrobe, letters, artwork, and more. You can even relax inside the museum’s movie theater and catch a John Wayne flick.  

Bridges of Madison County
For a taste of pure Americana, take a short trip south of Des Moines to Winterset to see the famed covered bridges. Tour the six Instagram-worthy bridges where you can recreate scenes with your sweetheart from the classic romantic drama. Have lunch in Winterset. 

Historic Jordan House
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973, the Jordan House is an official site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The 1850s Victorian located in West Des Moines is one of five preserved underground railroad stops in Iowa. The Jordan House's 16 rooms tell the history of its builder, James C. Jordan, one of Iowa's earliest settlers. 

Bennett Schoolhouse
Built in 1926, the Bennett School was one of the last one-room schools to be built in West Des Moines and was in use until at least 1941. The school was eventually sold, remodeled slightly, and used as a private home for a number of years before being donated to the West Des Moines Historical Society by its final owners.  

Historic Valley Junction
Built upon a historic railroad district, and founded in the 1890s, Historic Valley Junction was developed near the depot of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad. During the first half of the 20th Century, grocery stores, meat markets, department stores, bakeries, banks, and theaters could be found up and down Fifth Street. Now, Valley Junction is a popular retail and restaurant destination, known for antique shops and art galleries. 

The Hall DSM
Rail car repair shop turned large gathering hall is exactly what you are getting when you head to The Hall at Valley Junction. This building was built in 1899, and when being transformed into The Hall, the builders could tell. Rails had to be removed from the floor, but the now owners showcase those rails to remember the history behind it. The Hall hosts 54 different beers, as well as wine and coffee. With food provided by the Justice League of Food, spanning burgers and pizza to German fare, you won’t go hungry either.   

For more information, contact:
Chris Baker
Director of Event Experience
(515) 699-3456