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Introduction

Des Moines is the capital of Iowa, USA. Des Moines is the largest city in Iowa and the annual site of the Iowa State Fair. Because of Iowa's early presidential caucus date, the city is also a hotbed of political dreams and discourse every four years when presidential candidates tour the state and have multiple debates within the city.

The meaning of 'Des Moines' is not clear as local Native Americans, the Moingona, had already been using a term (which meant 'river of the mounds') due to the number of burial mounds which were popular in the area. French Trappist Monks (Moines de la Trappe) called their settlement areas at the mouth of the Des Moines River 'La Rivière des Moines' which, in English, translates to 'the river of the monks.' "De Moyn," which means "middle," may have been used on the map of explorer Jacques Marquette to help others locate the Des Moines River-area (equidistant between the larger Mississippi and Missouri rivers). "Des Moines," today pronounced "duh MOIN," is at the junction of the Des Moines River and the Raccoon River.

Fort Des Moines was settled in 1843 by a group of dragoons from the Sac and Fox Agency (Fort Sanford) led by Captain James Allen. Allen was going to name the area Fort Raccoon, but was instructed by the War Department to use the name Fort Des Moines. In 1846, the Fort was dissolved and the city was created.

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Sights and Activities

  • Capitol Building, E 9th and Grand Ave, ☎ +1 515 281-5591. M-F 8AM-3:30PM, Sa 9:30AM-2:30PM, closed Su. One of the more popular state capitols to tour, it is easy to spot it with its sparkling 23-karat gold leaf dome and four-surrounding smaller copper-topped domes. Those wishing to see the inside from a bird's eye view will climb 298 steps before reaching the top from their start on the second floor. Historic flags, some hailing from the U.S. Civil War-era, are on display, and tour staff are available during all hours in which the capitol is open to visitors. The Capitol Room, in the Capitol building, is available to rent for events such as weddings, corporate conferences and other private gatherings[1] . Cafeteria is on the bottom floor. Free.
  • Salisbury House, 4025 Tonawanda Dr, ☎ +1 515 274-1777, fax: +1 515 274-0814. Tour schedule varies. The house, built between 1923-1928, features Tudor, Gothic, and Corolean styles all throughout its 42 rooms. Also shelters many artifacts, including objects of art, furniture, tapestries and books. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has labeled it a "national treasure" and the property has also been featured on A&E and Home and Garden Television. Hosts many events during the year, including chamber music concerts, Gatsby Gala, Salisbury Automobile Classic, group meetings and Shakespeare on the Lawn. $7, aged 6-12 $3, 65+ $6.
  • Terrace Hill (Governor's Mansion), 2300 Grand Ave, ☎ +1 515 281-7205. Mar-Dec: Tu-Sa every 60 min from 10:30AM-1:30PM. Since 1971, has served as home for the Governor and First Family of Iowa during his or her term. The site was the home of Iowa's first millionaire, Benjamin Franklin Allen, with construction beginning in 1866 after being designed by William Boyington (designer of the Water Tower of Chicago which survived the Great Fire). Aptly named as it sits atop the Raccoon River.
  • Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Ave, Sculpture Park at 13th St and Grand Ave, ☎ +1 515 277-4405, fax: +1 515 271-0357, e-mail: informationdesk@desmoinesartcenter.org. Tu-W F 11AM-4PM, Th 11AM-9PM, Sa 10AM-4PM, Su noon-4PM, closed M. The Center boasts a permanent collection of contemporary art from the 19th and 20th centuries, including works from Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Georgia O'Keeffe, Henri Matisse, and Francis Bacon. It also boasts a restaurant with a 5-star rating from The Des Moines Register, featuring a different menu weekly and open for lunch only. In 2009, the Pappajohn Sculpture Park was opened in Western Gateway Park downtown and showcases more than $40 million of public art, topping off a complete overhaul of the Gateway area in little more than a decade. Free, Center and Sculpture Park.
  • State Historical Society of Iowa Museum, 600 E Locust St (East Village), ☎ +1 515 281-5111, fax: +1 515 282-0502. Tu-Sa 9AM-4:30PM, Su noon-4:30PM, closed M and holidays. Exhibits include a venture into Iowa's past when glaciers pushed their way through and mammoths roamed the plains, state's frontier and prairie past where kid-friendly activities such as pushing a plow or carrying buckets with a shoulder yoke can be had. Fossil, Native American, wildlife, and Iowa U.S. Civil War flags on display. Cafe Baratta's inside.
  • Science Center of Iowa, 401 W Martin Luther King, Jr. Pkwy (Court District downtown), ☎ +1 515 274-6868, fax: +1 515 274-3404, e-mail: info@sciowa.org. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. The Center hosts six different experience platforms including Science is Where You Find it (including exhibits Kitchen Chemistry and Physics in the Field), When Things Get Moving (including Design a Propeller and Robot Run), Who are We? (including Color my World and In Your Genes), Why the Sky? (including Cosmic Video Jukebox and Viewing the Night Sky, in addition to planetarium shows in the 50-foot dome), Small Discoveries (including Bubble Bay and World of Wonder, all geared toward children 7 and under), What on Earth? (including Iowa Habitats, Ant Farm, and the WHO-TV Weather Studio) and limited exhibits in Principal Hall. $16, aged 2-12 $13, 65+ $14 ($11/$7/$10 without IMAX).
  • Blank Park Zoo, 7401 SW 9th St, ☎ +1 515 285-4722. Permanent exhibits and activities, such as "Behind the Scenes" tours and "Feed the Giraffes", all throughout the year. Also hosts several special events throughout the year, including Zoo Brew (geared towards those 21+). Adults $10.95, aged 3-12 $5.95, 65+ $8.95.
  • Des Moines Botanical Garden, 909 Robert D. Ray Dr, ☎ +1 515 323-6290. Particularly popular during cold Iowa winters. Special events and learning modules all throughout the year. Connected to the parking lot is the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens with a featured Asian pavilion, built in honor of the Asian Americans who immigrated to Iowa in the late 1970s and of former Gov. Ray. Tours $5, $3 children, $4 seniors.

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Events and Festivals

  • Des Moines Arts Festival (downtown in Western Gateway Park). 3-day weekend in June. Started in the late-1990s after promoters decided to replace the 40-year running "Art in the Park." Attendance of around 250,000 people each year. Over 150 artists--from all over the country--bring their original creations to be seen and purchased. In addition to the various forms of art you'll see, there are also stages offering entertainment and food vendors selling their own edible creations. Free.
  • Iowa State Fair (Fairgrounds). 10 days in Aug. Each year, the Fair draws around 1 million visitors through its gates. Has a variety of things to see and do, much of it based around agriculture, the arts and food. At night, the beer tents and Grandstand come alive (past performances by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, The Jackson Five, and Reba McEntire). Park (cheaper) near the capitol building and take an MTA bus over to the fairgrounds, or park closer in front yards of residents (more expensive). $10, $6 for kids 60+, 5 and under free.
  • Taste of Des Moines. mid-July. The 1½-day event is still in its infancy but is improving each year. The event typically takes place downtown but has been at the zoo in the past. More than 40 vendors--most of which are local--provide food for hungry patrons. It's a good way to try new creations from area restaurants and for not a whole lot of cash. Alcoholic drinks are also available. $5, free before 5PM.

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

Being located near the center of North America, far removed from a large body of water, the Des Moines area has a warm summer type Humid continental climate, with hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. Summer temperatures can often climb into the 30-35 °C range, occasionally reaching 38 °C. Humidity can be high in spring and summer, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms. Fall brings pleasant temperatures and colorful fall foliage. Winters vary from moderately cold to bitterly cold, with low temperatures venturing below -18 °C quite often. Annual snowfall averages almost 1 metre, and annual precipitation averages 882 mm, with a peak in the warmer months.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max-2.2 °C0.9 °C8.3 °C16.6 °C22.8 °C27.9 °C30.4 °C29 °C24.2 °C17.9 °C8.9 °C0.3 °C
Avg Min-11.8 °C-9.1 °C-2.4 °C4.4 °C10.8 °C16.2 °C19.2 °C17.6 °C12.5 °C5.9 °C-1.2 °C-8.8 °C
Rainfall24.4 mm28.2 mm59.2 mm85.3 mm93 mm113.3 mm96 mm106.7 mm89.7 mm66.5 mm45.5 mm33.5 mm
Rain Days4.44.66.88.19.38.67.77.57.56.25.25.5

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Getting There

By Plane

Des Moines International Airport (DSM) is the largest airport in Iowa. It offers flights to/from Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Dallas, Chicago, Cancun, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Memphis, Detroit, Denver, Newark, Houston, Phoenix, Charlotte and Washington, D.C..

By Train

Nearest Amtrak station is 45 mi (72 km) south in Osceola at Main and E Clay Sts. In the town there are not many traveler services, although there is a casino to help pass the time, so it's best to do any extensive overnight stays in Des Moines. It is also possible to reach Des Moines from Osceola (or vice-versa) by Jefferson Lines bus which leaves from Osceola Amtrak station and arrives at Greyhound bus station in Des Moines.

By Car

Most travelers to Des Moines are likely to come via interstate, on either I-80 (from the east or west) or I-35 (from the north or south). Travelers will not have to worry about encountering any tollways or major traffic jams. Once in the area, those wishing to enter the city will use I-235 to get into Des Moines proper.

By Bus

Check Greyhound buses for options.

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Getting Around

By Car

The colder weather months (Nov-Feb) often bring snow and ice to area roads. Visitors who park their cars should be prepared in case their car is "snowed in" by snow removal trucks. Also, strict attention to parking rules and snow emergencies is recommended to avoid being towed away at the car owner's expense. During the winter months, a snow brush, ice scraper, and plenty of windshield washer fluid is essential, and many natives opt to carry a shovel, some sand, and a bag of ice melt/road salt in the trunk just in case.

Gasoline is reasonably cheap in the Des Moines area, partially from subsidies afforded to ethanol which is widely available at most gas stations to travelers. The most popular mixture, 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline, is generally considered safe for newer autos (not to be confused with 85% ethanol/15% gasoline blend). Ethanol and its usage can stir up quite a debate even in the corn-loving state of Iowa.

The Des Moines River serves as the marker for street names having the prefix "East" or not (and occasionally "West" when on the western side). This is especially important for streets running north-south. "1st Ave" would be on the west side of the river, E 1st Ave the eastern side and are thus completely different streets. Streets running east-west and which exist on both sides of the river typically have an "East" prefix if east of the river. There are some "West" prefixes for those on the other side of the river but this is less common. Perhaps more confusing, there are streets which lie on both sides of the river, such as Grand Ave, which is "E Grand Ave" east of the river but simply "Grand Ave" west of the river. Unlike the north-south streets, it is possible to arrive at your destination by simply continuing east or west—depending on your final destination. The demarcation for "SE" and "SW" prefixes is a bit more ambiguous but would certainly refer to a street south of Grand Ave/E Grand Ave and either the western or eastern side of the river. For most part, "NW" refers to streets west of the river and "NE" east of it, but not always so. Additionally, there is no standard reference point for determining when a street gains a "NW" or "NE" prefix.

Downtown has several one-way streets to ease traffic flow during rush hours. Turning left is allowed unless otherwise designated.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART), ☎ +1 515 283-8100. Routes are available throughout the day with some routes running well into the evening. Bus passes may be purchased through MTA. Most buses will accommodate users with bicycles. The bus also provides services for door-to-door pickup and para-transit services. Regular, express, commuter, and downtown shuttle routes are available. $1.75, express fare $2. edit
The free D-Line shuttle bus route 42 operates a downtown loop. This bus travels from Western Greenway Park to the State Capitol Building along Grand Avenue and Locus Street. The bus stops at several downtown hotels, the State Historical Society of Iowa Museum, city hall, and central public library. This bus runs Monday through Friday from 6:30AM to 6PM.

By Bike

Drivers tend to not be overly aggressive in Des Moines, and there is ample shoulder room or sidewalks to avoid a date with a jalopy. Some corridors to downtown have bike-only lanes and all city buses allow bikes on board.

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Eat

What to eat in Des Moines? Iowa is a meat-and-potatoes kind of place, with generous servings, and the possibility of a piece of pie afterwards. But when you're in Des Moines, keep an eye out for the locally invented steak de burgo, a beef tenderloin featuring garlic, butter, and sometimes a bit of cream.

  • Chuck's Restaurant, 3610 6th Ave, ☎ +1 515 244-4104. M-Th 4:30PM-10:30PM, F Sa 4:30PM-11:30PM. If the number of years one's been in business is the standard way to rate, few in Des Moines could mess with Chuck's more than 50-year reign on the northside of Des Moines. Chuck's has proven if you take old classics, such as spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf, and steak, and treat them with respect, you'll be in the neighborhood for a long time. Excellent pizza.
  • Drake Diner (North Side Diner in Johnston and West End Diner in West Des Moines), 1111 25th St (1 block SE of Drake University), ☎ +1 515 277-1111. M-Sa 7AM-11PM, Su 7AM-10PM. Drake location is the original location. Favorites such as omelets, French toast, reubens, crinkle-cut fries, and bacon cheeseburgers and Drake's own "Bulldog burger" dominate the menu (all three Diner's feature the Maytag Burger, oozing with Iowa's own Maytag blue cheese). During nice weather, there's a screened-in patio available to sit. Shakes and malts are made with Des Moines's very own Anderson and Erickson Dairy Ice Cream. $5 shakes, $9 omelets, $10 burgers.
  • Flying Mango, 4345 Hickman Rd (Beaverdale), ☎ +1 515 255-4111. Open for dinner but lunch by special appointment only. Began as a catering business but when their uniquely smoked Cajun and Creole creations caught on, they soon started to get a bigger loyal following. Full wine list. $15-25.
  • Jethro's BBQ, 3100 Forest Ave, 2601 Adventureland Dr, Altoona and 9350 University Ave, Waukee. Quickly earning locals' favor. Featured on the third season of the TV series Man v. Food, where host Adam Richman tried (and failed) to conquer the Adam Emmenecker Challenge (named after the former Drake basketball star).
  • Miyabi 9, 512 E Grand Ave, ☎ +1 515 288-8885. One of the more successful sushi joints in the area and perfect for those hanging out in the East Village. Don a Japanese fighter helmet should you indulge in a sake bomb.
  • Noah's Ark Ristorante, 2400 Ingersoll Ave, ☎ +1 515 288-2246. A Des Moines classic specializing in Italian food. Thin crust pizza. Convenient for those visiting the airport. $15-20.
  • Paradise Pizza Cafe, 2025 Grand Ave, West Des Moines, ☎ +1 515 222-9959. Creative pizza toppings. The Italian Wedding soup is a great starter. $15-35.
  • Trostel's Dish, 12851 University Ave, Clive. Tapas-style plates that are meant for sharing. Pineapple cheesecake, large enough to share but you might want your own. Extensive wine list by the glass (mostly reds). Very trendy, big-city feel. Dim lighting. Live music each Sa 8PM-11PM. $7-15 for tapas.
  • Woody's Smoke Shack, 2511 Cottage Grove Ave (take MLK, Jr Pkwy exit from I-235), ☎ +1 515 277-0005, fax: +1 515 277-0022. M-F 11AM-8PM, Sa 11AM-4PM, closed Su. You'd be a fool to miss out on barbeque while in Iowa's capital, especially pork ribs, considering Iowa vies with North Carolina for the top pork-producing state in the nation. Ribs smoked on-site. Small patio available. $10-15.
  • Maccabbees Glatt Kosher Deli, 1150 Polk Blvd (west side of Des Moines, near 48th and University Ave), ☎ +1 515 277-1718. Sun 11AM–4PM; Tu 11AM–5PM; Wed–Th 11AM–6PM; Fri 10AM–3PM. Closed Sat and Mon. Central Iowa's only kosher deli offers traditional New York-style Jewish deli sandwiches, as well as kosher groceries, bread, wine, and hard-to-find favorites. $15.

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Drink

Travelers would likely find the Court District district downtown enjoyable. There, one can find a variety of bars, breweries, dance clubs, live music hot spots and restaurants. It also draws a larger crowd when events downtown take place, such as games for the Iowa Cubs and Barnstormers. East Village rests near the capitol and has several restaurants featuring wine and mixed drinks which can be classified as upscale, but also has bars and live music venues. From the Western Gateway on westwards, bump elbows at any number of sipping places along Ingersoll Avenue. On the west side, in Clive on NW 86th Street, rests a bevy of bars, dance and comedy clubs, which tend to be particularly busy on Fridays for the "Clive after Five" [4] event, where live music and vendors gather to enjoy the end of the work week.

Alcohol sales cease at 2AM for all locations selling alcohol (stores included) in accordance with state law.

  • Cabaret Lounge (2 other locations in Johnston and West Des Moines), 8450 Hickman Rd, Clive, ☎ +1 515 276-9927. Outdoor patio available. Karaoke various nights. Big screen TVs and jukebox. Drink specials every night and also serve up some decent food. Same owners as "The Cab" and "Cabaret at West Glen". $2.
  • Chicago Speakeasy, 1520 Euclid Ave, ☎ +1 515 243-3141. A Des Moines classic. Live music, excellent prime rib and a number of fish offerings.
  • Court Avenue Restaurant and Brewing Co (CABCO), 309 Court Ave (Court District downtown), ☎ +1 515 282-2739, fax: +1 515 282-3789. Su-Th 11AM-midnight, (Nov-Apr) F Sa 11AM-2AM, (May-Oct) 9AM-2AM. Beers made on-site are featured and are the only ones available (Bud Light fans need not enter). Live music a few nights a week, including jazz. The food is equally delicious. Outdoor patio and gluten-free menu available. Martini specials on Saturdays. $4 drinks, lunch from $9, $15-30 dinner.
  • Star Bar, 2811 Ingersoll Ave, ☎ +1 515 244-0790. M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 9AM-2AM, Su 9AM-midnight. Featuring plenty of snack foods (BBQ chicken spring rolls $8), sandwiches (Niman Ranch Jambon Royale $10), and plates such as New York Strip ($20). Outdoor seating available. Martinis from $7.

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Sleep

Several major chains have rooms available in the area. The city does not have a large number of bed and breakfast establishments (although not the case with Iowa in general). Peak booking periods, especially downtown near Wells Fargo Arena, are common for three successive weeks in March when the city hosts the state athletic championships for wrestling, girls' basketball and boys' basketball.

  • Travelodge, 4685 NE 14th St (approx. 1 block S of I-80/35), ☎ +1 515 265-5671. Includes breakfast, wifi, pool, and in-room appliances.
  • J's Horse Ranch, 4310 NE 62nd Ave, Ankeny, ☎ +1 515 967-0005, toll-free: +1-866-967-0005. Bed and breakfast with pool and pond on-site.
  • Baymont Inn and Suites, 4685 NE 14th St (I-80 and exit 136), ☎ +1 515 265-4777. Jacuzzi suites available with free breakfast, wifi, newspaper, pool, fitness room, in-room applicances. 21 and over only for suites, 8 different styles including 2 Japanese suites. $70-140.
  • The Cottage, 1094 28th St (just N of I-235 in the Drake neighborhood), ☎ +1 515 277-7559, e-mail: johnandbeckyscottage@yahoo.com. Bed and breakfast surrounded by a white picket fence.
  • Hampton Inn, 7060 Lake Dr, West Des Moines, ☎ +1 515 223-4700. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Close to Jordan Creek Mall shopping and dining. Enjoy an On The House Hot Breakfast every morning, free hi-speed Internet access, business center, indoor pool and Whirlpool, and fitness center.
  • Ramada Tropics Resort & Conference Center, 5000 Merle Hay Rd, ☎ +1 515 278-0271. Offers guests the opportunity to enjoy the only indoor water park in the Des Moines area.
  • Valley West Inn, 3535 Westown Pkwy, West Des Moines (1 block NW of I-235), ☎ +1 515 225-2524. Good place to stay for those wanting to shop at Valley West Mall. Free 24-hour airport shuttle.
  • Butler House on Grand B and B, 4507 Grand Ave, ☎ +1 515 255-4096, toll-free: +1-866-455-4096, e-mail: info@butlerhouseongrand.com. Picked one of 2006 Top Ten Most Romantic Inns by American Historic Inns. $105-190.
  • Embassy Suites on the River, 101 E Locust St (next to Simon Estes Amphitheater along the Des Moines River), ☎ +1 515 244-1700, toll-free: +1-800-EMBASSY (3622779), fax: +1 515 244-2537, e-mail: dsmdn_ds@hilton.com.
  • Hotel Fort Des Moines, 1000 Walnut St, ☎ +1 515 243-1161, toll-free: +1-800-532-1466, fax: +1 515 243-4317, e-mail: reservations@hotelfortdesmoines.com. Member of the National Register of Historic Places. Famous former guests include Charles Lindbergh, Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Fonda, Nikita Kruschev, Joe Louis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and several U.S. Presidents.
  • Renaissance Savery Hotel, 401 Locust St (downtown), ☎ +1 515 244-2151, toll-free: +1-800-514-4706, fax: +1 515 244-1408. Formerly the historic Savery Hotel, built in the 1800's, it is now operated by Marriott. Features Bos restaurant, which sources from local and regional vendors to create contemporary Midwestern fare. Connected to the 3.5 mi Des Moines Skywalk. No two rooms are the same. Free 24 hour airport shuttle. From $129.
  • Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel, 1800 50th St, West Des Moines, ☎ +1 515 223-1800. 285 guest rooms and suites with in-room Internet, Sheraton Sweet Sleep bedding, Shine for Sheraton bath products and flat-screen televisions. On-property dining includes the Park Place Restaurant and the Waterfall Grille. The hotel features 15 convention rooms totaling 23,000 square feet of meeting space.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Accommodation in Des Moines

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Des Moines searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 18. Last edited at 10:13 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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