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Here are the Free Ways to Visit Downtown DSM

Free ways to get to Downtown DSM

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 and free parking in Downtown Des Moines.

Free parking in Downtown Des Moines

Continued changes to parking in Downtown Des Moines mean there are now more spaces available than ever. 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 $.25 per hour.

Free Trails Near Downtown Des Moines

There are more than 800 miles of connected walking, biking and running trails in the region, with Downtown Des Moines as the trails hub where many of the connected trails culminate. 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 Des Moines.

If you don’t have a bike, an affordable option is to use a BCycle. The bike sharing program has multiple stations and several pay options such as the pay-as-you-go plan, which costs $1 to unlock the bike plus either 10 center per minute for a classic bike or 30 cents per minute for an electric bike. 

When exploring Downtown Des Moines, check out the many free Downtown Des Moines art pieces including murals, sculptures and monuments.

Free Bus Rides in Downtown Des Moines

The saying goes that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. In Downtown Des Moines, you can get to lunch at one of the area’s award-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 (including extended hours during May through October for the Downtown Farmers' Market!). View DART’s route schedulesbus stop finder, fares and days available.

Look for a list of free things to do each month, posted on the Downtown DSM USA blog. And find more information on Downtown Des Moines parking and navigation, plus Downtown Des Moines attractions, restaurants and nightlife, and lots more!

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.