A- A+

An Oregonian’s Iowa Adventure

Visiting Des Moines

July 25, 2023

I’m Justin Matthews with Axios Des Moines, and I visited this amazing city to meet with some clients and get a feel for what it means to live in Des Moines. I come from a smaller city in Oregon, working remotely for the company when I’m not traveling. I love my home in Oregon but it’s always a thrill to explore another community.

Exploring Downtown Des Moines

After my client meetings throughout the week, Saturday morning came. I woke up bright and early to check out a couple of Downtown Des Moines’ (DSM’s) staples: The Downtown Farmers’ Market and the John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. The first challenge was waking up at 6:30 a.m. to get an early start! I managed to get out of my apartment right before 7 a.m.

First things first: I needed to find some of the recommendations the people of Des Moines sent in via our newsletter! First stop, coffee from Northern Vessel. Cold brews are my actual love language.

Northern Vessel Coffee

Next, I needed a good breakfast to make it through the multiple city blocks of this incredible Market. I can’t remember the name, but it was an English muffin sandwich custom made. I was looking for the Pupusas someone had recommended but I was hungry and needed some food in my stomach with the coffee already swirling around in there.

After eating, I explored what The Market had to offer. I listened to some of the live music and got a lay of the land. (Remember to tip your musicians, folks!) There was a cover artist with “Ace Jones” painted across his guitar case. He had me hooked from the first song when he played a cover for Simple’s Plans’ “I’d Do Anything” followed by “Dammit” from Blink-182. If there were chairs in front of him, I would have just sat and enjoyed my breakfast there.

Ace Jones Entertainment 

As I continued through, I saw some gorgeous flowers and even found a booth with the same name as my dog who recently passed. Her name was Lulubelle but I always called her Lu for short. It felt like a sign from her, being that this was my first time traveling since going through that. If my flight wasn’t leaving in just a few short hours, I would have gotten fresh flowers for the rented-out apartment in her name.

Flowers at The Market

Next up: I had to get some treats. A chocolate croissant from Nadia’s French Bakery and some Crab Rangoons from Mao’s Eggrolls. An odd combination for 8 a.m. but I wasn’t about to pass them up after the people of Des Moines raved about them.

I continued walking around and simply watching the people that were here. It started to rain but that didn’t damper any spirits on the streets of Downtown DSM. Families, single people, couples, everyone was laughing and having a great time supporting the smallest of businesses with their own hard-earned dollars. It made me realize how special this city really is and how lucky I was to be spending my Saturday morning among them.

I met a lovely couple from California (Axios subscribers who recognized my shirt!!) that ended up telling me they were considering a move to Oregon, so naturally that started a great conversation! Even crazier, they wanted to know about Gresham, where my best friend back home is from. We visit them often, so I spend quite a bit of time there. Small world!

I finished my excursion with a bag of corn from Penick’s Sweet Corn that I took home for my own family BBQ for the 4th of July alongside my second coffee of the day from Travelin’ Tom’s Coffee Truck. I needed that extra energy.

Sweet Corn at The Market

All in all: Des Moines was an absolute treat. Our clients have wrapped us in support for the past couple of years and the community has supported us by subscribing to our newsletter that Jason and Linh work on day in and day out. Although I’m here sitting at Big Grove Brewery with one last IPA fight from local places here, waiting for my flight, I already can’t wait to come back.

Cheers to the most amazing Market visit I have brought home many random objects from Market visits but I think Iowa’s own famous corn takes the cake. Can’t wait to share a little piece of this trip with my family back home.

One last thing: If you haven’t signed up for Axios Des Moines, I’d recommend doing so. Our reporters work way too hard without getting as many eyeballs on it as possible. Thank you to the Des Moines community for everything!

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.

From May to October, experience local artists, live music and entertainment at the Downtown Farmers’ Market featuring more than 300 family farmers, bakers, artists and crafters from around the state. It’s easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options. Find the latest updates for The Market each week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Justin Matthews

Justin Matthews is from Oregon, working remotely for Axios as the Lead for Client Partnerships in Des Moines. He’s been in TV, newspaper and radio for the last 10 years. With where the world is headed digitally, I was ecstatic to join Axios and bring newsletters to across the US.