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Surprise - 48 Hours in Des Moines is NOT Enough!

48 Hours in Des Moines

August 30, 2023

My original thought was Des Moines is an easy three-hour drive from Kansas City and has a couple of good restaurants and nice hotels, and if nothing else, it would be a nice change of scenery for a quick couples get away. Much to my surprise, we found so many things to do that those 48 hours weren’t enough time in Downtown Des Moines (DSM).

Checking Into the Surety in Downtown Des Moines

Our visit started with a check-in at the beautiful Surety Hotel, a former bank building with historical architecture coupled with modern, sustainable features. With entertainment, dinning and drink options, you don’t really even have to leave the hotel, but when you do — there’s a lot to see!

Surety Hotel

Things to Do + Places to Eat in Downtown Des Moines

A must on the list is the John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. This walkable 4.4-acre park is pedestrian-friendly right in the grid of Downtown DSM. The Pappajohns’ contribution of more than 30 works for the park is the most significant donation of artwork ever made to the Des Moines Art Center and unlike anything other park in the United States. Bonus: It’s free to visit.

Our hotel was steps away from the restaurant, Fresko. There is something on this menu for everyone, including any vegans, and if cocktails are your thing — you will have an amazing, creative selection. From their website: Fresko, meaning fresh inspires our creation of seasonal menus made from locally sourced ingredients. Fresko makes natural food from the bounty of Iowa farms whenever possible. Fresko believes we are what we eat and eating well means living well.

On the Patio at Latin King

Continuing to eat well, we also enjoyed Louie’s Wine Dive, which had amazing live music on the Wednesday night we visited, as well as a great creme brulee from their monthly chef’s menu. The food showstopper was The Latin King, that’s been making amazing meals since 1947. Everything we tasted was delicious, from the Steak Deburgo to the Tiramisu to the Burrata. I would visit all three again. Honorable mention? Mars Coffee, where we stopped in to caffeinate on our way home.

Mars Coffee

After our meal at Louie’s Wine Dive, we weren’t quite ready to head back to the hotel and remembered seeing a bridge on our way to dinner. Little did we know that the bridge we saw would be the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge at the Principal Riverwalk loop. It’s beautiful. Peaceful. Great place to walk day or night. At the other end of the loop, we saw a skateboard park. It was full of people skateboarding, riding scooters, families and people of all ages just enjoying the space and cool summer evening. We even caught the tail end of a free concert! I think I was pleasantly surprised at all of the free things to do in Downtown DSM {mid-week} and already have my list of things to do next time we visit.

Downtown Des Moines Skyline

Visit Downtown DSM, you will not be disappointed, and you will definitely need more than 48 hours!

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. Find event information and follow @downtownDSMUSA on Facebook and Instagram for other news, tips and events happening downtown.

Mikita Watson-Burton

Mikita Watson-Burton is a Lifestyle Influencer in Kansas City who blogs about her family, parenting, dating, travel and fitness. She is a 200-hour certified yoga instructor and manages social media for a million-dollar company.