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Travel + Guide to Des Moines, IA

Des Moines Travel Guide

You’re probably thinking, Ashley why in the world would I want to go to Des Moines, IA? Well I thought that too, then Matt asked me out and then all of a sudden the blue-eyed boy I fell in love with lived in Des Moines. So what does a love-sick 18 year old do with a car? She drives to Des Moines, from Green Bay WI, and does it over a dozen times the next 3 years.

Des Moines is actually this wonderful place (despite being in the middle of nowhere it seems). If you’re a foodie, you’ll love it there! If you like to be outdoors, you’ll love it there too. Most importantly, if you have to be there you can enjoy it!

Travel Guide Des Moines



Zombie Burger: This burger joint has an apocalyptic feel to it, with fun burger names that are out of the ordinary. My go to order? A Walking Ched. It’s a burger with bacon, topped with mac and cheese. Did I mention that the bun is deep fried mac and cheese? Grab a shake after for desert or to take home, I love the rice krispy one! (add a little alcohol.) Each week they have a new special, so try that to!

Des Moines travel guide

Lunch at Lucca!

Lucca:  They don’t have a website, but seriously this place is amazing. Two of my friends and I stumbled upon it one time visiting Matt, and I insist on going back constantly. Their cracked pepper pasta is amazing, but anything there is good! Go for lunch if you’re looking for something cheaper, but if you want a nice dinner their food is delicious any time of day. Their bread is delicious, and I highly recommend their wine list! (420 Locust St)

Des Moines Travel Guide

Breakfast — My favorite part of Drake Diner!

Drake Diner: This place is the best. It’s over by Drake University’s campus (which is beautiful but more on that later) and the food is delicious, cheap and you can go at any point in the day. Which is great for anybody.

Tacopocalypse: So this is not Mexican food, it’s Mexican-Korean fusion. It was good, and I highly recommend it! (Matt’s been multiple times and loves it). I was a little disappointed because I thought we were going to get Mexican food, but after the initial disappointment I got over it and really enjoyed the food!




Des Moines Travel Guide

The sculpture park in August!

Sculpture Park: This is so cool, take lots of funny pictures walking around! It’s better when it’s not winter, we walked around in summer. Make sure to take a look at the businesses around the park as well.

Des Moines Travel Guide

Tulips in the East Village this April

East Village: This is one of my favorite parts! The shops and area are beautiful, and you can always find something you like! Make sure to check in at Raygun, which is a really funny store!

Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens: It’s really fun to go with friends, (and if it’s raining you might get in for free!). It’s a great way to get inside if it’s too cold or too hot.

Iowa State Capitol: Seriously a beautiful building. My friends and I just walked around, you should really consider  going inside the law library, it’s beautiful!

Johnson Creek: This mall is huge, and I’ve been to the Mall of America. This is on beautiful grounds, and you get to shop until you drop. Some of my favorite shops are there, and don’t worry, you’ll find a Starbucks to fuel your long shopping trip.

Drake University: Seriously this is a beautiful campus (sometimes I’m envious of it, but my campus has nature so it’s okay). Walk around Painted Street, see the beautiful buildings and take some selfies.


Des Moines Travel Guide

Grey’s Lake at dusk

Gray’s Lake: It has this beautiful trail that leads you around the lake, and it has great activities to try to! This is Matt and I’s favorite spot to walk around.


To Stay:

Unfortunately since I always stay with Matt on campus, I don’t have any first hand experience of hotel. While I was in Des Moines I attended a conference and all my friends stayed at the Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel. It’s in an amazing spot, and it’s beautiful! Did I mention Des Moines has a skywalk? It’s amazing in the winter, and this hotel is connected!


Have you been to Des Moines? What was your favorite part?



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  • loving all of the photos you included in this post! East Village looks so beautiful! x, kenz

  • Elana

    Those restaurants all look so good! Now I know where to go if I travel there!

  • My mom has been there many times when she did work for Meredith. She said it is lovely but terribly cold in the winter! I have heard many good things about Drake.

  • It actually looks beautiful. I want to visit when it isn’t so cold!

  • Boys always end up taking us to places we never imagined. (I moved over 3x due to my husband’s job). Thanks for sharing this post. If I ever went to Des Moines, I’d love to check out those beautiful Tulips in East Village.

  • Oh my goodness, Zombie Burger & Tacopocalypse sound so fun! I love travel guides for cities I never thought to visit, they’re always so eye-opening.

  • Looks like such a great trip! That burger place looks so fun!

  • Lunch at Lucca looked amazing! I’m a crazy pasta girl!

  • I think you just spoke to my foodie heart! I need to take a trip there!!

  • Ashley

    Not only does Des Moines look beautiful, but I’m dying to go there just to try the food!

    xo Ashley

  • I’ll take a Walking ched please!! Anything with mac and cheese sounds like heaven to me! Loved this guide!

    How 2 Wear It []

  • Nicole

    Those tulips would be an instant reason why I would come visit! I have friends in Des Moines, so it would just be a cherry on top!

    Nicole // Chronicling Home

  • I have to admit that Des Moines hasn’t ever been on my radar for places to visit, but it sounds like it would be an awesome place to take a food tour! All of the places you described sound so awesome!

  • I’ve never been to Iowa, but I know the feeling of “Why would I want to go to ______?” I drove through Idaho on my trip out west last summer and I was NOT looking forward to it but it turned out to be the PRETTIEST state and my favorite stop. Some places hold the prettiest and most special secrets!