Historic Court District
The sounds of jazz, hip-hop and indie rock music spill into the streets most evenings, as do the tantalizing scents from the diverse selection of restaurants throughout the Historic Court District. You’ll find cultural food at local restaurants here like Hessen Haus’ German fare, the Royal Mile British pub and Mexican food at Bernardo’s Burritos. Other restaurants like RoCA, Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Co. and Pho Real Kitchen & Bar provide a vast assortment of food options. Tons of bars and nightlife venues bring the city scenery to life after dark, ranging from an extensive Scotch menu at The Red Monk to hundreds of martini flavors at The Stuffed Olive, even a game lounge and arcade bar called Ricochet. If food, drink and entertainment is what you’re looking for, Historic Court District is your one-stop shop.
Things to Do
The Historic Court District has seen several changes since its inception in 1846 but for more than 100 years, it has been anchored at the west end by the Polk County Courthouse. Thanks to a recent renovation, it looks as handsome today as it did when it was first built. Period streetlamps, planters and park benches dot the sidewalks as they extend east to the Meredith Trail and the Principal Riverwalk, making the Historic Court District an attractive and pedestrian-friendly outdoor setting.
Fresh flavors and smells abound year-round. Every Saturday from May through October, the Downtown Farmers' Market — with nearly 300 entrepreneurial vendors each week — entices throngs of weekend shoppers, street entertainers and musicians. The Market offers visitors and residents the chance to meander through one of the country's largest outdoor markets.
Additional festivals and events provide fun for the whole family in the Historic Court District. Hoops & Hops is an opportunity for locals and visitors to enjoy March Madness basketball both outdoors and within a heated tent for gameplay, typically taking place during Downtown Des Moines’ St. Patty's Day parade. The DSM Book Festival in nearby Capital Square also occurs each March, and a local tradition, the Dam to DSM half marathon, ends its race at Cowles Commons.
From baseball to Broadway, the Historic Court District is also the heart of Downtown DSM’s activity base. Nearby Historic Court District is the Des Moines Civic Center, which serves as an outstanding source of entertainment and enlightenment. Broadway shows from around the world come to the Des Moines Civic Center, and the world-class Des Moines Symphony also performs there.
Adjacent to the Civic Center is Cowles Commons, home to the Crusoe Umbrella art sculpture, one of several seasonal Downtown painted pianos and an eye-catching artful lighting display by Jim Campbell, “Swirl.” Cowles Commons hosts many outdoor events in a park-like setting throughout the year.
Just south within a short walk of the Historic Court District catch a game at Principal Park, a breathtaking minor league ballpark and home to the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs). Every Friday home game features fireworks displays which makes for a winning Downtown tradition.
A top attraction, the Science Center of Iowa, engages and inspires visitors of all ages.
An assortment of residential lofts and apartments perched above and throughout the Historic Court District encompass the live, work and play feel of the thriving Downtown DSM scene.
The Fourth + Court Hy-Vee grocery store and even more development slated, the Historic Court District is setting the standard for the future of Downtown DSM.
Restaurants & Nightlife
The sounds of jazz, hip-hop and indie rock music spill into the streets most evenings, as do the tantalizing scents from the diverse selection of restaurants throughout the Historic Court District.