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5 Free Things to Do in Downtown DSM in February

Five Free Things to Do

February 16, 2023

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.

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!

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 while you’re here.

Ride DART’s D-Line Shuttle

Downtown DSM Neighborhood: Spans the Historic East Village to Western Gateway
Did you know Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) provides a free shuttle making a loop throughout Downtown DSM every 15 minutes? Now you do! Operating weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the D-Line includes stops all along Grand Avenue and Locust Street. The hop-on, hop-off format serves as a great option to explore all that Downtown DSM has to offer without reliance on driving a car, bicycling or walking. The route travels near the Sculpture Park all the way to the State Capitol with many sights along the way, so make a day of discovering something new in Downtown DSM!

Dive Into Black History Month

Downtown DSM Neighborhood: Western Gateway
Stop into Central Library in Downtown DSM where you can explore both authors and influential figures in Black history. The library offers curated book displays to get you started on a self-guided tour, or check the calendar of events for upcoming workshops, classes and activities!

Explore Art at the Polk County Heritage Gallery 

Downtown DSM Neighborhood: Historic Court District
Venture through Iowans’ art on display, where three competitive juried exhibits throughout the year highlight the state’s local talent. In 2022 alone, the gallery exhibited 360 pieces and hosted 2,600 visitors from around the world. 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.

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.