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5 Free Things to Do in Downtown DSM in February

Five Free Things to Do

Header image from Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a great place to be year-round — and it’s affordable, too! This month, take a look at these five totally free events and things to do in Downtown DSM taking place during February.

Wander the Wintry Sculpture Park

Downtown DSM Neighborhood: Western Gateway
You may think of the John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park as a warm weather activity, but picture how beautiful the artful sculptures are when covered in a soft blanket of snow! Snag a hot coffee or hot chocolate from a nearby café and stroll the park’s 4.4 acres with the visitor guide in-hand. Free audio tours are also available, using your SmartPhone to scan QR codes near each piece of art. Don’t forget to use #downtownDSM when you post your obligatory selfie!

Sculpture Park in Snow

Celebrate Groundhog Day

Downtown DSM Neighborhood: Historic Court District
The High Life Lounge’s Groundhogs Day celebration might be one of Downtown DSM’s best kept secrets. Join in the festivities and watch whether Polk County Paula sees their shadow this year to predict an early spring or a few more weeks of winter. (Don’t recognize the local lingo? Polk County Paula is a person dressed up in a groundhog costume!) Doors open at 6 a.m. on Groundhog Day — Friday, Feb. 2 — and free beer is served, while supplies last.

20th Groundhog Day

Tour the Iowa State Capitol

Downtown DSM Neighborhood: Historic East Village
Open to the public Monday through Saturday, take a self-guided tour of the gold-gilded Iowa State Capitol or schedule a formal tour intended for groups of 10 or more. Peek inside the impressively beautiful State Law Library with regal windows overlooking the Downtown DSM skyline, and stop into the gift shop to browse Iowa-centric merchandise. Additionally, you can brush up on the latest news from Iowa's Legislature before you visit, as the State Legislators are currently in session.

Inside the Iowa Capitol

Dive Into Black History Month

Downtown DSM Neighborhood: Western Gateway
Here are several tangible, free ways you can engage in Black History Month in Downtown DSM throughout February:


Monumental Journey

Photo Credit: Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation

Explore Art at the Polk County Heritage Gallery 

Downtown DSM Neighborhood: Historic Court District
Venture through Iowans’ art on display including the current exhibit by artist Brittany Brooke Crow titled, "artist as model | model as artist," which continues now through Thursday, Feb. 15. The gallery is housed in the 1908 Beaux Arts Post Office, part of the Polk County Administrative Building, making for a great stop before a weekday lunch or dinner at a restaurant in the Historic Court District.

Brittany Brooke Crow Exhibit

Plan your visit to Downtown Des Moines (DSM) with these tips for parking and navigation and follow @downtownDSMUSA on Instagram for more epic, things-you-just-can’t-miss happening around Downtown.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

DSM USA is the regional identifier for Greater Des Moines (DSM). DSM USA is a bold statement to the world: This is a welcoming, diverse and vibrant community with affordable and accessible amenities for residents and businesses. This regional identifier is the result of significant quantitative and qualitative research. The Partnership will champion the DSM USA message, and encourages its Investors, its more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and DSM USA Ambassadors to help share the region's story with One Voice.