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5 Free Things to Do in Downtown DSM in March

Five Free Things to Do

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.

Enjoy the Action at Hoops & Hops

Thursday, March 16 – Saturday, March 18 | Cowles Commons, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines
Watch March Madness and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at this free event taking place March 16-18 at Cowles Commons in Downtown DSM. You’ll find a heated tent with large TVs to watch NCAA matchups, food trucks, basketball courts, live music and beverages at the Iowa Craft Beer Tent and Iowa Spirits Bar. The action will continue rain or shine!

Come One, Come All to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Friday, March 17 | Throughout the Western Gateway Neighborhood
March is the month for green! The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick will host the annual free parade throughout Downtown DSM’s Western Gateway neighborhood on Friday, March 17. Don your best festive attire, bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on and snag a spot along the route, then settle in for festive Irish floats and lots of St. Patty’s Day fun!

Find Books and Fun at the DSM Book Festival

Saturday, March 25 | Capital Square, 500 Locust St., Des Moines
Coming up later this month, Capital Square will be bursting with excitement for the third-annual DSM Book Festival featuring nationally acclaimed authors, hands-on workshops, children’s activities and much more. This year’s headlining authors are:

  • Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 24 books including “The Flight Attendant”
  • NoViolet Bulawayo is the author of the novels “Glory” and “We Need New Names”
  • Sequoia Nagamatsu is the author of the National Bestselling novel, “How High We Go in the Dark,” a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and the story collection, “Where We Go When All We Were is Gone”
  • Sarah Penner is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of “The Lost Apothecary” which has been translated into 40 languages worldwide. Penner will be hosted in partnership with Des Moines Public Libray’s AViD Author Series.


Explore Indoors Throughout the Skywalk

Spanning the Historic Court District to Western Gateway Neighborhoods
With four-plus miles of indoor, climate-controlled skywalks to navigate, weather can’t stop this Downtown DSM adventure! Play I Spy, try a family-friendly scavenger hunt by finding all the letters of the alphabet on the various skywalk signs or make a game of searching for 20 unique restaurants. The opportunities to play and explore are endless. Use our helpful Downtown DSM map to find your way!

Browse Art + History at Hoyt Sherman Place

Hoyt Sherman Place, 1620 Pleasant St., Des Moines
Did you know Hoyt Sherman Place was became the first public art gallery in Des Moines in 1907? Self-guided tours of the art collection and original Hoyt Sherman mansion, built in 1877, are available at no charge during weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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.