Whether you’re looking for vibrant, urban living or a fresh start in the surrounding suburbs, Greater Des Moines (DSM) has many communities to call home. Explore each of the unique cities around Des Moines and uncover exciting places filled with opportunity. From Downtown Des Moines (DSM) districts to the family-friendly neighborhoods of the suburbs, each community has its own unique appeal — all within an easy commute to anywhere in the region. Find out which community resonates with you as you start your new adventure in Des Moines.
Interested in relocating to DSM? Learn more about Why DSM USA!
Why DSM USA Toolkit
Adel | Altoona | Ankeny | Bondurant | Carlisle | Clive | Dallas County | Des Moines | Elkhart | Grimes | Grinnell | Indianola | Jasper County | Johnston | Knoxville | Madison County | Marshall County | Marion County | Mitchellville | Newton | Norwalk | Pella | Perry | Pleasant Hill | Polk City | Polk County | Poweshiek County | Urbandale | Van Meter | Warren County | Waukee | West Des Moines | Windsor Heights
Welcome to Adel, Iowa, a thriving community known for its friendly people and delicious sweet corn. The city has a rich history and is Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick’s birthplace. Adel has several parks, a family aquatic center, a historical museum and more. The community serves as host along the growingly popular Raccoon River Valley Trail. Located in Dallas County, Iowa, Adel was founded in 1847 and is home to approximately 4,000 people living 13 miles west of Interstates 35 and 80.
Altoona sits at the crossroads of America’s busiest interstates and provides residents and visitors thrills and spills, live concerts, freshwater aquariums and more. Altoona is known as an entertainment center in the region, with Adventureland amusement park, Bass Pro Shops and Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack and Hotel in addition to a host of great restaurants, trails, community events and the forthcoming Outlets of Des Moines. This vibrant city has contagious community pride, locally owned businesses, music in the parks and more for everyone. The community is dedicated to education, business, cultural and recreational opportunities.
Ankeny is one of the fastest-growing communities in Iowa. Neighborhoods are bursting with growth, the business community is welcoming new businesses weekly and the school district offers world-class education. Ankeny is also home to many shopping options, including the Delaware Shopping Corridor and many boutiques around the community. Prairie Trail is a great place to stop for food and entertainment options. Uptown Ankeny is the heart of the suburb, filled with local restaurants and craft breweries. As the trailhead for many walking, running and biking trails, Ankeny provides access to the High Trestle Bike Trail, the Gay Lea Wilson Trail and the Neal Smith Trail. For sports-minded families, Prairie Ridge Sports Complex is home to numerous baseball, softball, soccer and football fields. Each July, join the city for its community-wide celebration, Ankeny Summerfest. There is always something new happening in Ankeny — come see what Ankeny has to offer!
With its small-town appeal, Bondurant is a great place to live, work, learn and play. Away from the larger cities, Bondurant is a community built upon good, old-fashioned family values. The community has friendly neighborhoods, a great school system and plenty of room to enjoy the outdoors. New residents of Bondurant have been relatively young, interested in growth and increasingly affluent. Bondurant is conveniently located outside Des Moines, right off Interstate 80 and within minutes of Interstate 35.
Carlisle is a convenient distance from Des Moines, making it a great place to call home or start a business. Its close access to the Highway 65/69 Bypass provides for quick access to Downtown DSM and the western suburbs. Carlisle prides itself on its school district, its trail system and its church community. Living in a small town has many advantages. It offers safe neighborhoods and an environment where citizens can get involved and make a difference. Drive into Carlisle and rolling hills and woodlands — where residents have big city amenities while living in a small town.
Located at the crossroads of Interstates 35 and 80, Clive is an urban community that continues to grow. Clive has exceptional housing developments and amenities. The Greenbelt Park runs through much of Clive, offering a variety of recreational trails and opportunities, as well as providing wildlife habitat and a trail connection to Downtown DSM. Clive is on the western edge of the region, offering big city living combined with community attributes.
On the west side of the region, Dallas County's population of more than 66,000 made it the fastest growing county in Iowa, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The county is made up communities including Adel, Bouton, Clive, Dallas Center, Dawson, Desoto, Dexter, Granger, Linden, Minburn, Perry, Redfield, Urbandale, Van Meter, Waukee, West Des Moines and Woodward. Adel is the county seat, offering a picturesque town square with ample shops, eateries and historic sites. Perry is famous for the Hotel Pattee, a 40-room hotel with storied historic roots. West Des Moines and Waukee are growing suburbs with rapidly changing streetscapes including new housing developments, restaurants, school districts, shopping options, parks and recreational amenities. Additionally, the Raccoon River Valley Trail connects many communities within Dallas County — an ideal place for bikers, runners and walkers. Experience welcoming, energetic and vibrant communities in Dallas County.
Dallas County resources:
The City of Des Moines includes many welcoming and established neighborhoods. With numerous housing options, residents can choose from single family gems to modern lofts. Find out more about what makes each Des Moines neighborhood unique.
Des Moines South Side
The South Side of Des Moines is a vibrant area with some of the city’s best parks, restaurants and neighborhoods. The South Side is the area south of the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers and east of 63rd Street. It includes both of Des Moines’ largest in-town lakes, Easter Lake Park and Gray’s Lake Area. Ewing Park on Indianola Avenue boasts a soap-box derby track. The district includes Blank Park Zoo, as well as a myriad of other parks and sports/recreation areas.
The South Side is connected to the extensive recreational trail system in the city with the Des Moines River Trail that runs from the baseball complex in Soldier Park (Hartford Avenue and SE 22nd Street) to Downtown DSM. The South Side is home to a wide variety of locally owned, one-of-a-kind establishments — many of Des Moines’ best kept secrets are on the South Side.
Des Moines South Side resources:
Des Moines West Side
Des Moines’ West Side is an established area with a rich history in retail and services businesses, higher education, restaurants, boutiques, professional offices, cultural amenities and nonprofits. From the sole proprietor coffee houses to major universities, this area boasts a diverse employment base.
Substantial investments have been made in the various cultural and business centers of the west side of Des Moines, including the Ingersoll corridor, Roosevelt Shopping District and the Drake University area.
Des Moines West Side resources:
Des Moines East Side
The East Side boasts some of Des Moines’ best recreational opportunities, including the Iowa State Fair, Sleepy Hollow Sports Park and the Birdland-Union Park, which provides boat access to the Des Moines River and sits on a bike trail that connects to hundreds of miles of Des Moines trails, running from the north edge of DSM to Soldier Park, and beyond.
Des Moines East Side resources:
Downtown Des Moines
Downtown DSM is a vibrant, urban community bursting with businesses, nonprofits and residents. Whether residents want a nightlife rich with options, an easy commute to work, award-winning restaurants or festivals and events that draw tourism from around the world, all can be found in Downtown DSM.
The recent renaissance of Downtown DSM living includes a growing number of apartments and condominiums in new and rehabbed buildings. Neighborhoods include Sherman Hill, Historic East Village, Western Gateway, Historic Court Avenue District, Market District and Gray’s Landing.
Historic Sherman Hill is Downtown DSM’s oldest residential neighborhood and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. Beginning in the 1870s, many of the city’s most prominent citizens built grand homes in this area just west of Downtown DSM. Since the mid-1990s, significant investments have restored many of these homes to their former grandeur. Today Sherman Hill is a vibrant neighborhood, offering the very best of old and new.
Historic East Village
Located on the east side of the Des Moines River in Downtown DSM, the Historic East Village begins at the Des Moines River and extends east to the beautiful Iowa Capitol building. As one of the original commerce areas of Downtown DSM, the Historic East Village features an eclectic mix of historic buildings, boutique shopping and award-winning restaurants.
Home to a myriad of music and art festivals, Western Gateway park is Downtown DSM’s entry corridor. Located on the western end of the city, this neighborhood is built around the nationally renowned John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Historic buildings meet rolling green spaces in this hub of urban activity.
Historic Court Avenue District
Residential lofts and apartments meet a hive of activity here in Downtown DSM’s dining and nightlife headquarters. Restaurants, bars, live music and more all come together here in the shadow of the Polk County Courthouse.
Gray's Lake Area
Located smack dab between Downtown DSM and Gray’s Lake, DSM’s newest neighborhood is growing fast. New apartments, houses and retail spaces are being planned and built, adding another vibrant neighborhood to the existing Downtown DSM community.
Elkhart, "the heart of Iowa," is a growing city located between the Ames and Des Moines metropolitan areas. A short drive to anywhere, residents enjoy small town atmosphere while maintaining a close proximity to big city amenities. Elkhart is part of the growing North Polk Community School District, which has tentatively planned to add their newest elementary school to Elkhart in the coming years. Offering one of the lowest property tax rates in the region coupled with a competitive tax abatement program and affordable utility rates, Elkhart makes an appetizing prospect for both commercial and residential development or relocation.
Due to the close proximity to Interstate 35 and Ankeny, Elkhart has seen recent success in the rapid development of affordable housing options, as well as the relocation and expansion of multiple regional businesses into the city's light industrial park. The major draw in Elkhart and highlighting feature is the City Festival held each summer in June. Elkhart is the only city to hold a truck and tractor pull on a city street. This event grows each year and is expected to exceed 4,000 in 2018. Residents of Elkhart are resolute in their sense of community pride and are passionate about their individual identity as a rural city within the DSM region.
Small town. Big city. Grimes is located within the region, and it retains the charm and character of a small town while offering access to the services and conveniences of a large community.
Because of its prime location at the interchange of Highway 141 and Interstates 35 and 80, Grimes has great transportation access to anywhere, whether in the metro or anywhere in the country. Downtown DSM is only a 20-minute drive, and a multitude of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences are in Grimes and within a 10-minute drive. Grimes is well-known for having great quality school systems (Dallas Center/Grimes and Johnston). The community offers a wealth of entertainment options, including Climb Iowa, MB2 Raceway and Skyzone — all thrilling recreational activities.
Grinnell is rightfully known as the "Jewel of the Prairie," with many noteworthy independent restaurants, a host of unique retailers and a bustling downtown. Add in world-class athletic and recreational facilities, a thriving arts and culture community and one of the nation’s top liberal arts institutions, Grinnell College, it’s easy to see why Grinnell has been named one of the Top 10 Coolest Small Towns in America (CBS News). Grinnell is located along Interstate 80, less than 60 minutes from Downtown DSM.
Indianola is a beautiful city of nearly 15,000 residents located 12 miles south of Downtown DSM. The historic downtown square is lined with retail businesses and friendly restaurants. A cornerstone of the community is Simpson College. Founded 154 years ago, its beautiful campus sits on 75 acres in the center of Indianola and offers a nurturing and rigorous academic environment that’s close to career, internship and entertainment options available in Des Moines.
From thoughtfully designed senior living communities to 15 miles of paved bike trails, Indianola serves residents of all ages. Many residents consider Indianola the perfect size community with close access to a large metropolitan area. It is home to a variety of local events, including the National Balloon Classic, the world-renowned Des Moines Metro Opera, Bike Night and the Friday Night Live concert series.
Located 35 miles east of Des Moines, Jasper County is a beautiful county that features many lively communities. This area is known for its conversation and recreation areas, including the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Jacob Krumm Nature Preserve, Mariposa Recreation Area and several prairies.
Jasper County resources:
Johnston’s population continues to grow at an extraordinary pace. A special census revealed that the suburb has grown 18.4 percent since 2010 and has a population of more than 20,000. Many factors have contributed to the city’s growth: world-class schools, outstanding employers and high quality of life, to name just a few. In 2011, Johnston was recognized as the 13th Best Place in America to Live by CNN Magazine. Global businesses such as DuPont Pioneer and John Deere Financial Services are located in Johnston, to take advantage of the skilled talent pipeline and favorable business climate.
Welcome! Knoxville, located on the southeast side of the region, is a buzzing community of 7,000 residents. Just minutes from Lake Red Rock, Knoxville residents can enjoy walking and biking trails, hiking, fishing, swimming, kayaking, camping, birding and other outdoor recreation at the Lake and surrounding areas. Additionally, Knoxville is dubbed the Sprint Car Capital of the World — home to Knoxville Raceway and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum. Find a calming connection to the great outdoors or fast-paced action in Knoxville — whichever suits you and your family best! Make Knoxville your next home.
Welcome to the birthplace of John Wayne and home of the historic covered bridges popularized by Robert James Waller's novel “The Bridges of Madison County” and the feature film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.
Located just 30 minutes from Downtown DSM, Madison County includes the towns of Winterset, Earlham, Bevington, Patterson, Macksburg, St. Charles, East Peru and Truro.
This fascinating and fun place to visit, explore and live has a rich history, enticing shopping and dining, welcoming lodgings, a thriving business community, a responsive economic development group and a whole calendar’s worth of great community events.
Madison County resources:
Marshall County is strategically positioned to provide transportation access to major centers throughout the United States. The county is located at the intersection of U.S. Highways 30 and 330, providing four-lane access to Interstates 35 and 80 in just 30 minutes. The county is also on the mainline of the Union Pacific Rail for multiple modes of transportation. Known as a community at the forefront of innovation, the business and industry of Marshall County take a progressive approach to operating in a global business environment.
Marshall County resources:
The people and history that have shaped this area provide a rich tapestry of experiences that people remember long after they leave. Marion County’s low crime rate and rural lifestyle provide visitors from the city a fun family getaway. Cities in Marion County include Pella, Knoxville, Pleasantville, Melcher-Dallas and Bussey.
In Marion County, life is centered on going to the lake on sunny weekend days, sipping a warm coffee with friends as the sun rises and enjoying community activities at night. It isn't about neon and glitz. Life in the Red Rock area is about community and family. The communities are built around a central square with shopping, restaurants and services.
Marion County resources:
Mitchellville is a small community on the east side of the region, just minutes from Altoona, Bondurant and Newton. With a population of 2,000, residents of Mitchellville enjoy a close proximity to city amenities with a close-knit community vibe. A nearby wildlife refuge, an amusement and water park, a pumpkin patch and corn maze, as well as a casino complete with horse racing provide endless entertainment for young professionals, families and empty nesters. Mitchellville also offers public amenities like parks and trails, a public library, city parades and much more. Find a community suited for you in Mitchellville.
Newton offers a rich history, a bright future and an excellent quality of life. The city's quality schools have a wide variety of extracurricular opportunities, while smaller class sizes allow students the opportunity to participate in many activities. Visitors can enjoy rich cultural experiences, including the Iowa Speedway and the Valle Drive-In, one of the last operating drive-in theaters in the state. Guests can also explore the colorful painted murals and unique sculptures found throughout Newton's many parks and trails. In addition, Downtown DSM is only thirty minutes away, offering nearby big-city amenities.
Single professionals, young families and empty nesters all can find a home in Norwalk. This booming community has excellent schools and an excellent location. The bypass conveniently connects Norwalk with the rest of the region. Norwalk is a treasure that has been attracting a steady flow of residents over the past decade who want great schools, a superior quality of life, a close-knit community and convenience. Norwalk boasts three golf courses, a disc golf course, soccer fields, a new football stadium and tennis courts.
Pella has it all: cultural heritage, business opportunities, recreational abundance and more. Whether people visit to learn about Lake Red Rock, the Dutch heritage, manufacturing in Pella, Central College, relocating to Pella, economic development, volunteer opportunities or just to experience “a touch of Holland,” they are sure to find plenty of things to admire about Pella.
Located in Dallas County along the North Raccoon River, Perry boasts a population of more than 7,500 people. Formerly a major railroad junction, this beautiful piece of Iowa is home to the Historic Hotel Pattee. With themed rooms, including many related to the railroad, this one-of-a-kind Iowa hotel is a destination into itself.
Pleasant Hill is a young community on a quick pace of growth. In the past 10 years, the residential population has grown by almost 40 percent. Business is growing rapidly as well, with four shopping complexes and the area’s largest health care facility.
Pleasant Hill is home to many types of entertainment: a nine-screen multiplex, nine- and 18-hole golf courses, a great dance studio and a variety of great restaurants, including Chinese, Italian, Mexican cuisines or good old-fashioned family dining. Pleasant Hill also offers outstanding parks and walking trails.
Pleasant Hill resources:
Polk City, the “City for All Seasons,” is the region's recreational playground. Located between Saylorville Lake and Big Creek State Park and just minutes north of the metro, Polk City offers affordable housing, year-round recreational opportunities and unparalleled quality of life. Some of Iowa’s best golfing, fishing, boating, bicycling, swimming, hunting and cross country skiing are found near Polk City.
Polk City was incorporated in 1875 and was given the name Polk City after the 11th President, James Knox Polk.
Polk City resources:
Polk County, Iowa, is home to the state's capital of Des Moines, as well as the Iowa State Capitol building located in Downtown DSM. Polk County also includes communities such as Alleman, Altoona, Ankeny, Bondurant, Clive, Des Moines, Elkhart, Grimes, Johnston, Mitchellville, Pleasant Hill, Polk City, Runnells, Sheldahl, Urbandale, West Des Moines and Windsor Heights. Locals enjoy the unique nature offerings in Polk County — including Saylorville Lake for fishing, boating and other water recreation, as well as the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers near Downtown DSM. Polk County is home to many colleges and universities — including, but not limited to Drake University, Grand View University, Mercy College of Health Sciences and Des Moines University — as well as 11 quality K-12 school districts. Find the heart of the region in Polk County, an ideal home for the young, young at heart and everyone in between.
Polk County resources:
Home to 18,914 people in the southeastern part of Iowa, Poweshiek County runs along Interstate 80 between Downtown DSM and Iowa City. With deep historical roots, the county seat, Montezuma, is named for the Indian chief of the Fox tribe who signed the treaty ending the Blackhawk War. Though this county is home to many prominent Iowa communities, the largest is Grinnell, home to Grinnell College and a variety of exciting attractions.
Poweshiek County resources:
Urbandale is located in the northwest corner of the metro along Interstates 35 and 80. With a population of nearly 42,000 residents, Urbandale offers a unique combination of large city amenities and a tight-knit community experience. An extensive trail system (40 miles of maintained trails), dozens of beautiful parks and an enclosed public pool provide a variety of recreational opportunities for residents, employees and visitors. Other top attractions include the spacious and innovative Urbandale Public Library, Living History Farms and the Des Moines Bucs ice hockey arena.
A number of small businesses flourish in Urbandale’s quaint downtown district complete with brick streets and water features. Neighborhoods near the downtown district reflect the 100-year-old city’s history. The rapidly-growing western edge of Urbandale provides many beautiful new residential development options.
Tradition with a vision, Van Meter was formed in 1869 and has a proud place among Iowa's most storied communities. National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller was a native of the city, and visitors are welcome to enjoy the Bob Feller Museum located in town. As of 2014, Van Meter's population was approaching 1,200 people and continually on the rise with the addition of multiple housing developments offering a variety of options that fit any family size. A river town located just outside the greater metro community, Van Meter offers picturesque views in a more rural setting. The Van Meter School District is a nationally recognized comprehensive K – 12 school located on a single campus in a town boasting a 14-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio.
Van Meter resources:
The gem in the heart of Iowa, Warren County has a growing population of more than 50,000 people with 16 incorporated communities. Named for the American Revolutionary War hero, General Joseph Warren, the county has a long, proud history within the state. Warren County is home to many popular events and attractions throughout the year like; the world-renowned Des Moines Metro Opera, Indianola Bike Night Series, wineries, distilleries and even a brewery! In addition, there are plenty of options for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the many parks and trail offerings stretching across the county.
Warren County resources:
The City of Waukee is recognized as one of the fastest-growing cities within the state of Iowa (currently 17,945 residents) and is located in Dallas County, the fifth fastest-growing county within the United States. It is nestled just west of Des Moines, off of Interstate-80 to the north.
Waukee offers a family-friendly environment featuring great amenities such as parks, trails and special events. It is home to the Waukee Community School District, the state's fastest-growing district known for high-quality educational opportunities. With all of these features, it's no surprise that Waukee is consistently named a Best Place to Live (Family Circle, 2015; MONEY Magazine, 2015; CNN Money, 2013; Movoto, 2014).
The City is also dedicated to economic development and expanding business opportunities, including the recent creation of its 1,500-acre mixed-use development, Kettlestone.
From its inception, West Des Moines has been well-positioned, set at a junction of railroads and a haven for those seeking a high quality of life. The schools here are among the best in the state and the country, according to the Iowa Department of Education. And districts like the Historic Valley Junction bring history to life in exciting new settings. Residents of West Des Moines can find ideals of the Midwestern town intersecting with the vibrancy of cosmopolitan city life. The bustling entertainment and shopping district includes Jordan Creek Town Center, Valley West Mall and West Glen Town Center. From first-class education to unlimited entertainment opportunities, West Des Moines is a welcoming community in which new businesses and ideas are fostered every day.
West Des Moines resources:
Windsor Heights is a community of 5,000 citizens that offers the highest quality of public services. The city is a safe, friendly place with a diverse demographic makeup and convenient access to area attractions.
Windsor Heights creates community-centric events and strong volunteer support. The Windsor Heights Community and Events Center, nestled in Colby Park, is the signature piece for rentals and city-wide special events, including Movies in the Park, Windsor Heights Annual Mini Marathon, July 4th Celebration, Oktoberfest and Windsor Wonderland. Outdoor summer concerts may be enjoyed weekly during Music in the Park at the outdoor Performance Pavilion. The park includes tennis courts, a baseball diamond and a playground designed by kids. Windsor Heights celebrates the citizens and staff, past and present that have contributed to our safe, enjoyable living environment, community spirit and civic leadership.
Windsor Heights resources: