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Des Moines Travel Guide

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Des Moines © Iowa Tourism Office

An oasis of modern living amidst miles of rolling farmland, Des Moines is the biggest city in Iowa and its cultural and administrative capitol. The city's slick skyline houses a major business centre for the Midwest, and visitors expecting a 'hick town' will come away with a vastly different impression of their holiday in Des Moines.

Located at the junction of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, the city traces back to 1843 when settlers built a fort there for trading with the local Sauk and Meskwaki Indians. The city grew rapidly, and today is home to more than 200,000 people. It has a number of historic buildings, including the gold-domed Capitol Building, the Tudor-style Salisbury House, and the Governor's residence at Terrace Hill. Other Des Moines attractions include the Des Moines Art Center, the State Historical Society, and Hoyt Sherman Place.

Children will have plenty to see and do in Des Moines as well, like feeding the giraffes at the Blank Park Zoo, playing in Bubble Bay at the Science Center of Iowa, and riding the roller coasters at Adventureland Park.

Des Moines has a busy and eclectic arts community, with many theatres and live music venues; the city boasts its own symphony, ballet, and opera. The East Village has a broad range of buildings, shops, restaurants, and art galleries, and is a pleasant neighbourhood to explore; while the Court Avenue Entertainment District is the heart of the Des Moines nightlife, with a number of restaurants and nightclubs. The city hosts several festivals over the summer, including the Des Moines Arts Festival in June and the World Food Festival in October, among many others dedicated to food, wine, film, music, and more.

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