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Gray's Lake Area


The conversion of century-old warehouses into lofts and trendy eateries, complemented with new developments, is helping to shape this up-and-coming neighborhood as it develops into a vibrant addition to the existing Downtown Des Moines (DSM) community. Nestled between Downtown and Gray’s Lake, Gray’s Lake Area is among Downtown DSM’s newest neighborhood.

Things to Do Near Gray's Lake

Principal Park is one of the nation's most breathtaking minor league ballparks and home to the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs). The Escape Chambers, offering live room escape games, can be found here as well as axe-throwing adventures at nearby Lumber Axe.

Outdoor Fun

There are more than 800 miles of connected walking, biking and running trails in the region, with Downtown DSM as the culminating point for many of these trails. Living in Gray's Lake Area, you'll have quick and easy access to these trails. The nearby Meredith Trail connects Principal Park to surrounding restaurants, bars and other attractions including Gray's Lake and Water Works Park. A recently completed tunnel connects Gray's Lake to Water Works Park for cyclists, runners and walkers, and the Lauridsen Amphitheatre and Killinger Family Stage provide a unique outdoor venue for concerts and other events.

Additionally, the newly renovated MacRae Park sits just south of the Gray’s Lake Area. It is home to the city’s oldest oak tree canopy, providing beautiful scenery and shady areas, as well as the EMC Overlook with fantastic views of the Downtown DSM skyline, a natural playscape, a splash park area, an urban fishing pond, bike trails and boardwalk, indoor-outdoor park shelters and lots more to experience and explore.  

Getting Around

Many of Gray's Lake Area living options are two to four blocks from some of Downtown DSM's largest employers and companies along Mulberry, Locust and Grand Ave.

Thanks to Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART), traveling in Downtown DSM and the region is convenient and easy. DART bus lines make trips to many Downtown DSM business districts and residential areas. See the schedule here.

You can get anywhere Downtown in less than 20 minutes by bike. Use the Gray's Trailway and Chris and Marcie Coleman bridge to connect from other neighborhoods of Downtown DSM to Gray's Lake trails, beach, concessions and the watercraft rental hub. Gray’s Lake also provides seasonal bike rentals, or you can check out BCycle if you don't have your own. 

Just with a 10-minute walk or a five-minute drive from Gray's Lake Area, you can explore the surrounding neighborhoods that also offer their own unique ways to experience Downtown DSM.

Restaurants & Nightlife Near Gray's Lake

With plenty of development still in the works, new residents can get in on the ground floor of this emerging neighborhood but not before visiting the rooftop patio at 300 Craft & Rooftop. It boasts some of the most impressive views of Downtown DSM’s skyline and is close to must-see attractions like Jasper Winery.

Linked by a bike trail and housed in a former furniture warehouse, popular eatery St. Kilda Café & Bakery has flipped Downtown DSM’s brunch scene on its head by offering Australian fare in the heart of Downtown DSM. Other favorites near Gray's Lake Area include, Blaze Pizza, Fuzzy's Tacos and Thistle’s Summit bakery.

ChuChu Donuts and Des Fresh restaurant are both directly across the street from the CityVille on 9th Apartments. And Mad Meatball sits on the first floor of the LINC Apartments at the corner of Southwest 11th Street and MLK Jr. Parkway. Enjoy a cold brew off the bike trail from Confluence Brewing Company, one of Iowa's leading breweries, found just south of Gray's Lake Park. 

Don't miss out on these tasty restaurants! Regeneration of the old and rapid development of the new is setting Gray's Lake Area as a top destination in Downtown DSM for a unique urban experience.

Housing Near Gray's Lake

This neighborhood is bursting with rental and home ownership opportunities with partnerships from some of the most major Downtown DSM developers.

From rental apartment homes, entry-level townhomes to high-scale homes, Gray's Station is the first urban development that will house more than 1,000 Downtown residents. Homes within the first phase are available now with future expansion on the horizon.

More Developments in the Area

The Pro Iowa Stadium and Global Plaza is on deck to open in 2025, with match-play for Iowa’s first-ever professional-level team set to play in the USL Championship league, USL Pro Iowa, to begin play upon opening. Other additional housing and hotel opportunities, such as a 55+ active-adult community, are also in the works along MLK Jr. Parkway in the Gray's Lake Area. This also includes additional pocket parks, retail, commercial and connection opportunities in the Western Gateway and Sherman Hill neighborhoods located just to the north.