Explore Des Moines: An Unexpected Family Destination

If you are looking for a family getaway full of unexpected surprises, skip the overly developed tourist trap cities and travel right into the heart of the midwest and visit the greater Des Moines, Iowa area. Des Moines is full of surprises from world class accommodations and exciting activities to unique and delicious food. This capital city is incredibly family friendly without being just for kids. Explore this sweet spot in Iowa with your whole family. There’s still time to book a trip before summer ends. 

Your Home Away from Home

Located in Urbandale, Hotel Renovo gives you modern accommodations with midwestern charm. The first thing you will notice about Hotel Renovo is the unique architecture. It is a modern style farmhouse, which makes it feel so authentically Iowa with all the luxury you desire in a hotel. This hotel is full of light and everything is brand new. It is a breath of fresh air, located across the street from Living History Farms. This hotel is so nice it is, in fact, the only 4 star rated hotel in the Des Moines, Iowa area. Hotel Renovo is like a shabby chic, farm style Pinterest board come to life. If you like clean, classic design, this place will inspire you.

There are 102 guest rooms, all with gorgeous and comfortable decor. You could snuggle up in the comfortable beds all day! Every room features 1802 Beakman Amenities, that will revitalize your body with their fresh air scent and natural and safe ingredients. World class personal care amenities are just one of the small details that add up to a first class experience at this hotel. The rooms really are incredible with marble floors, glass barn door showers and modern artwork. The mix of the latest in clean design combined with the farm style is so unique yet feels so right, here outside Des Moines.

There are six types of rooms from which you can choose to meet your needs and your budget: Two Queen, King, Deluxe King, Loft Suite, Master Suite, and Boardroom Suite. All the rooms are spacious and comfortable with large bathrooms. The Loft Suite is a large, 2 story suite with a wet bar, and the Master Suite is the largest of the room choices at 600 square feet, overlooking the pool. Whichever room you choose, you will be quite pleased.

Breakfast and dinner are served at the hotel. If you want to take a dip, there is a wonderful indoor pool with high ceilings and an oversized deck that you can enjoy year round. Need to work off a little stress from traveling? Get in a good workout at the fully equipped fitness center.

Food for All

Every meal during your wonderful time in Des Moines will be delightful. The variety of cuisine ensures that there is something that everyone will enjoy. From donuts to sushi and everything in between, you won’t have a bad meal in Des Moines. Here are some of our favorite recommendations: 

CJ’s Bagel Basket – Grab a quick bagel breakfast here or a fresh salad for lunch.

Topped Doughnuts – You have to try one of the gourmet, made fresh daily doughnuts here. You won’t believe the flavor combinations they come up with at this popular stop.

Miyabi 9 – Hands down, the best sushi in Des Moines. If you don’t mind sitting at the sushi bar, the chef is great. Don’t let the stern face fool you; he loves to chat and entertain. The sushi was some of the best we have ever had!

Malo – For the best in Latin cuisine, visit Malo. Enjoy amazing food in an artistic atmosphere downtown. You can sit outside on the patio and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. This restaurant is actually located in a historic fire station in an art deco building! The menu includes Cuban and Mexican cuisine.

Hoq – There are lots of healthy options here. It is a bit upscale. Kale veggie meatloaf for lunch is great for vegetarians. We also love their twist on grilled cheese, a salmon grilled cheese. With incredibly fresh local ingredients, this restaurant represents the best of Iowa.

La Mie Bakery – This bakery is perfect for breakfast and lunch. They serve lots of nice pastries. The yogurt parfaits and steel cut oatmeal for breakfast will fuel you up for a day exploring the area. There are lots of hearty salads for lunch.

Krunkwhich Ramen House and Tacopocolypse – These restaurants are owned by the same chef. As you can guess from the names, they offer funky twists on ramen and tacos. These fusion restaurants are so fun! At both places they serve meat, but cater to vegans as well. In addition to ramen options like you’ve never tried, they make unique sandwiches and tots. Tacopocolypse also serves brunch.

Centro – This urban Italian eatery is very upscale with a great atmosphere and new world Italian food. Come in to grab a pizza and a drink at the bar or plan to spend the evening enjoying a multi-course meal. Try one of the wood grilled entrees or fresh pastas. They also serve delicious burgers and sandwiches.

Activities for Everyone

Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market – Every Saturday, May through October, the Farmers’ Market in downtown Des Moines is the place to be! Take the whole family to enjoy the local farmers and grocers. This isn’t some little produce stand. They block off Court Street and the place is packed with local, fresh produce, meats, cheeses and more. There are nearly 300 vendors. You can also enjoy musical performances by local artists. Grab something yummy for breakfast here while you are shopping and taking in the sights. You can easily spend all Saturday morning here.

Iowa State Capitol – The State Capitol in Des Moines is something to see. The building’s dome is made of 23-karat gold! Inside the Capitol, you will find the governor’s offices, legislature and the old Supreme Court room. Free tours are available, Monday through Saturday. You can schedule a tour here. After your tour, let the kids burn off some energy and run around the park and grounds surrounding the Capitol. There are lots of open spaces and views of the city. 

Science Center of Iowa – This place is full of hands on experiences for all ages. The Science Center is huge and located downtown. One incredibly unique experience that stands out is the Star Theater, a 50-ft domed digital planetarium. You lay on the floor and watch the show above you as if you are laying under the stars outside. There is also a six-story dome IMAX theater featuring the latest IMAX films. With several themed experience platforms on every floor, you can visit here over and over again and learn something new every time. Learn about the earth, space, movement, and more. If you are traveling with young children, there is a space just for kids seven and under called Small Discoveries. Young kids will love role playing in the Toddler Town or blowing bubbles in the Bubble Bay. We love when you can incorporate learning in a fun way into a trip and the Science Center of Iowa does this perfectly.

Climb Iowa – Adventure seekers look no further than Climb Iowa for an exciting and athletic activity in Des Moines. This is the biggest indoor climbing and training facility in Iowa. It is perfect for beginners or well seasoned climbers. You don’t need an appointment to climb and they are open everyday.

Ledges State Park – This state park is a great place for a hike with 4 miles of hiking trails. You’ve never seen anything like the bluffs and canyons that make this park so popular. We love that this park maintains the gorgeous craftsmanship of an arch stone bridge, stone steps and stone shelter all built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. If you like to bike, Ledges State Park is part of the Central State Park Bike Route that connects 3 Iowa state parks. You can fish and canoe in the Des Moines river. Outdoor adventures await you in this gem of a state park.

Reiman Gardens – With a trip to these gardens, expect to see all the natural beauty of Iowa that changes with each season. No matter what time of year you visit, you will find a landscape that is ever changing, full of a variety of plants, some native to Iowa and some that are not. A highlight for kids will be the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing where you can take in all the colors and vibrant life of over 800 butterflies.

Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad – All aboard! What kid doesn’t love a train? Here, outside Des Moines, your kids can experience a real train ride through the magical midwest. Times have changed and traveling by train isn’t as popular as it once was but we are fascinated with trains nonetheless. Book your family on the Basic Excursion. It takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes, round trip. You will journey in a 1920s era coach car through the lovely Des Moines River Valley. Savor the moment as you watch the wonder on your child’s face as you cross the 156′ tall Bass Point Creek High Bridge, as well as the Des Moines River.

Adventure Land – This Iowan amusement park is packed full of fun stuff for everyone. In fact, there are over 100 rides, shows, and attractions. If you love rollercoasters and thrill rides, some of the most exciting ones in the country can be found here. You will find children’s rides throughout the park and if you want to get wet, there are also water attractions at Adventure Bay. The shows here include circus acts, juggling and more. You will find plenty to eat at Adventure Land with places to grab a sweet treat, a quick bite or dinner and drinks. If you can, plan to spend an entire day here.

Are you ready to book your trip to the midwest now? Des Moines is waiting for you and your family and you will not be disappointed! Every detail will be just perfect and you will not be ready to go back home when your trip comes to an end.

With so many photo “opps” in Iowa, you will want to bring your camera. Here are some helpful tips for Traveling with Your Camera Gear.

Photo Credits: everyavenuegirl




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A Russian by birth, Floridian at heart, Elena's favorite pastimes are traveling, photography, volleyball, reading business, psychology and parenting books and finding cool products. Elena started Daily Mom with a vision to provide quality content and help to busy modern women. Follow her life and adventures with her 7 year old daughter at Every Avenue Life and Our Little Voyages. or on Instagram at: @everyavenuelife @everyavenuegirl @befitandtravel @ourlittlevoyages

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