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Here are the Free Ways to Visit Downtown DSM

Free ways to get to Downtown DSM

August 14, 2018

Getting around Downtown Des Moines (DSM) has never been easier with hundreds of miles of bike trails, more parking spots than ever and regular bus services connecting the region to Downtown.  Here’s the insiders’ tips on navigating and exploring the delights of Downtown for free.

Free parking

The changes to parking in Downtown DSM mean there are now more spaces available than ever. Of the 30,000 or so public parking spaces in Downtown DSM, more than 900 of them are free either all day or on evenings and weekends. This map shows where to park in the various neighborhoods Downtown.

Free all-day parking can be found at the following locations:

  • On the north side of Locust Street from 15th Street to 17th Street in Western Gateway.  

In addition, free parking Monday to Friday 5 p.m. – 5 a.m. and all day on weekends can be found around the Historic Court District

  • At the Polk County Courthouse lot at Fifth Street and Cherry Street and Fifth Street and Wagner Street.
  • At the Polk County Administration lot on the northeast corner of Second Street and Court Avenue.
  • At the Polk County Auditor lot on the Southwest corner of Second Street and Court Avenue.

And for good measure, free parking is available on the southeast corner of 10th Street and Locust Street Monday to Friday 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and all day on weekends. 

If you still can’t find a free space, City of Des Moines parking garages charge $1 per hour and street parking can cost as little as $0.25 per hour.  

Free trails

There are more than 800 miles of connected walking, biking and running trails in the region, with Downtown DSM as the culminating point for many of them. Hop on your bike or take a stroll and you’ll likely wind up in the heart of Downtown. For more interactive trail information, try the Iowa By Trail app. The Central Iowa Trail Association updates trail conditions daily for Center Trails such as Greenwood/Ashworth Park, located on the western edge of Downtown DSM.

If you don’t have a bike, an affordable option is to use a BCycle. The bike sharing program has multiple stations and costs $6 for a day pass. 

When exploring Downtown, check out the free Art Route trail that connects 87 pieces of public art over six miles. The path includes circles spaced roughly 20 feet apart and chevrons that point toward each of the pieces of art. Art Route visitors can download a mobile app to utilize in conjunction with following the painted pathway. Find a map of the Art Route DSM path and more information on how to download the mobile app.

Free transit

The saying goes that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. In Downtown DSM, you can get to lunch at one of the area’s awarding winning restaurants by taking a free bus. DART offers a free Downtown D-Line Shuttle with buses stopping every 10 minutes at bus stops on Grand Avenue, Locust Street and Walnut Street Downtown Monday through Saturday. View DART’s route schedulesbus stop finder, fares and days available.

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