Spring in Greater Des Moines

While the S's in Des Moines are silent, our spring activities are anything but. Get ready to explore a blossoming, flourishing, lively, and sun-filled city! Here's a quick list of activities for a fantastic spring getaway in Greater Des Moines:

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Rain or shine, things are always in bloom at this beautiful, seven-acre public garden in the heart of downtown. This cultural institution has multiple indoor and outdoor gardens (including every so often, the popular Corpse Flower) along with educational programming, workshops, and even one of the best lunch spots in town, Trellis Café.  

Woman And 2 Children At The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Grab a picnic basket or a frisbee and head over to Pappajohn Sculpture Park for 4.4 acres of awe-inspiring art and selfie opportunities. The crown jewel of Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park, this open-air public art display features 30+ sculptures by internationally acclaimed artists that were donated to the Des Moines Art Center  by the Pappajohn family. Cap off your Instagram adventure at Centro and Hello, Marjorie, two of Des Moines’ buzziest restaurants and bars. There you’ll find food and drinks (not to mention Hello, Marjorie’s iconic neon sign) that are just as photogenic as the art.  

4 Woman Posing For A Photo At John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Des Moines Art Route
Enjoy the warm spring weather by traveling the Des Moines Art Route. The Art Route leads you on a six-mile journey, showcasing more than 80 pieces of art throughout downtown. This route covers 20,234 steps with painted crosswalks, sculptures and murals. Download the app, put on your walking shoes and hit up popular restaurants like AmericanaSplash Seafood and HoQ along your cultural expedition.   

Drake Relays

Run, don’t walk, to get your tickets for the Drake Relays, where every year, hundreds of athletes of all ages come to compete for world records on the iconic Blue Oval. You don’t need to be a track and field fanatic to enjoy one of the country’s most storied sporting events. Pole vaults, long jumps, shot puts and, of course, relays are just a few of the many events for the whole family to enjoy. Grab a cheeky Relays shirt at Raygun and then catch the intensity of the 111th Drake Relays on April 22-25 at Drake Stadium.  

Crowd Watching A Race At Drake Stadium Drake Relays At Night

Outdoor Trails

When you live in the Midwest, you don’t take good weather for granted. That’s why once the snow thaws, you’ll find locals exploring the more than 800 miles of connected trails throughout Greater Des Moines. Get some fresh air and walk, hike, bike, run, or rollerblade while taking in the beautiful spring weather and picturesque settings. Speaking of pictures, one essential trek you won't want to miss is the High Trestle Trail. Never far from a bite or a brew, the High Trestle Trail runs for 25 miles through five towns and four counties and includes a glowing, half-mile, 13-story high bridge extending across the Des Moines River, making it one of the largest (and most photographed) trail bridges in the world. 

Two Cyclists Passing Over  High Trestle Trail Bridge In Greater Des Moines

Iowa State Capitol

If you visit Des Moines but don’t go to the capitol, were you really here? Named one of the best capitol buildings in the US, it’s the only 5-domed capitol in the country covered in 23-karat gold. But like they say, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Thankfully, the inside contains more than 100 rooms, decorated in 29 types of marble, including the magnificent law library, the most photographed room in Iowa. The Iowa State Capitol houses the governor's offices, legislature, and the old Supreme Courtroom and is open for free self-guided (or guided) tours all year long.  

Iowa State Capitol Building Dome Interior

Prairie Meadows Casino & Racetrack

Feeling lucky? Then throw on your fedora, sing-along to some Sinatra, and hit up Prairie Meadows Casino and Racetrack. Offering non-stop casino action, live and simulcast horse racing, sports wagering, concerts, the best prime rib in town, and family-friendly activities like the famous annual camel, zebra and ostrich races, you’ll feel like a high roller no matter the stakes. And with a world-class hotel on-site, it’s truly a one-stop-shop for an aces weekend.   

Jockeys On Horses At Prairie Meadows Casino & Racetrack

Des Moines Art Center  

The Des Moines Art Center makes art accessible with free admission to world-class art exhibits and contains permanent collections comprised of 20thand 21st century works of modern and contemporary art, along with some of the most sought-after traveling exhibits in the country. With over 5,000 works of art, along with classes, tours and workshops, you’ll connect with your inner Bob Ross in no time.   

Living History Farms  

We’re not all farms, you know, but the ones we do have are pretty epic. This 500-acre outdoor museum transports you back to the town of Walnut Hill in 1876. Walking trails and horse-drawn carts connect to three other different farms from different eras, each authentically farmed and worked by historical interpreters. Your adventure includes everything from milking cows to watching a blacksmith or even some old-timey baseball.  

Children With Horse At Living History Farms

Blank Park Zoo  

Lions and tigers and red panda bears, oh my! Go wild at the Blank Park Zoo, with 104 different species of animals, including the unique black rhinos and red pandas. Whether it’s daily giraffe feedings with the kids or popular events like Zoo Brew for the over-21 set, there’s a habitat here for everyone!  

Girl Feeding Giraffe At Blank Park Zoo In Greater Des Moines


Hear from locals about where to eat, drink, and spend your time while visiting Greater Des Moines. Catch an insider look at events, suggested itineraries, places to shop, and a few of the many delicious restaurants. These are just a few of our recommendations! Check out an entire list of blogs here.

Leisure & Travel Blog