Greater Des Moines (DSM) offers many diverse vantage points and backdrops for live shots, interviews, b-roll and more. This list is a sampling of what the region has to offer. For more information and ideas, contact Courtney Shaw, Senior Vice President of Communications at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
Iowa State Capitol
With a 23 and 3/4 karat gold leaf dome that has been gilded six times, the Iowa State Capitol is regarded as one of the most beautiful capitols in the nation. Camera shots could either face the capitol or face one of the most sought after views of the Downtown DSM skyline looking west from the Capitol steps.
The 100-acre Gray’s Lake on the southwestern edge is a great location to capture b-roll of people doing outdoor activities including walking, running, bicycling or paddle-boarding. It also provides a beautifully lit bridge at dusk, evening or sunrise and a view of the Downtown DSM skyline about a mile away.
John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
With 28 works of art believed to be worth around $40 million, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park attracts families and people of all ages. The park is an open-air area in the heart of the city’s urban core with the city's Downtown skyline shining above it. The “Nomade” sculpture created by world-renowned artist and sculptor Jaume Plensa has become an unofficial symbol of DSM. The park also features sculptures from renowned artists including Keith Haring and Mark di Suvero. The Krause Gateway Center — a Renzo Piano design — or the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center can offer an attractive backdrop.
Historic East Village
Looking for a retail background? The Historic East Village is nationally-recognized as an up-and-coming neighborhood with a cool vibe. The Historic East Village features more than 200 shops and services and more than 20 unique restaurants.
Historic Valley Junction
Founded in 1846 and later becoming a stop for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, today Historic Valley Junction provides opportunities to use a vibrant retail setting as a backdrop. The area is easily accessible, just five miles from Downtown DSM in the suburb of West Des Moines.
Near Downtown DSM, Drake University provides an urban college campus backdrop with indoor and outdoor locations that can meet media needs throughout the year.
Grand View University
Grand View University gives a vibrant college setting and is just a 10-minute drive from Downtown DSM.
Iowa State University
About 45 minutes from Downtown DSM, the iconic Campanile and surrounding Central Campus at Iowa State provide an attractive backdrop.
The park offers great views of the south side of the Downtown DSM skyline.
The Meredith Trail in Downtown DSM provides a panoramic view of the skyline and the Principal Park baseball stadium. Find parking on Southeast First Street near the restaurant Mullets, or reach it on foot by walking south along the Principal Riverwalk past Principal Park.
Downtown Farmers’ Market
Every May through October, the Downtown Farmers’ Market presented by UnityPoint Health – Des Moines welcomes 300 small business vendors from across the state and draws approximately 25,000 people each Saturday to fill the Historic Court District in Downtown DSM. This is a great opportunity for a festival-like setting as a backdrop.
Covered Bridges of Madison County
For a scenic outdoor backdrop off the beaten path about a 50-minute drive from Downtown DSM, check out the Covered Bridges in Madison County, popularized by Robert James Waller's novel “The Bridges of Madison County” and the feature film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.
High Trestle Trail
About 40 minutes from Downtown DSM, the High Trestle Trail’s iconic half-mile, 13-story high bridge across the Des Moines River is one of the most unique pedestrian or bicycling bridges you will find.
Pella Town Square
For a taste of small town America about a 45-minute drive from Downtown DSM, check out Pella’s unique town square with a variety of stores, restaurants and coffee shops fitted with Dutch architecture. Pella is also home to Central College for a small college campus backdrop.
Indianola Town Square
A 30-minute drive from Downtown DSM, the Indianola Town Square provides an eclectic array of shops and restaurants as a backdrop. Simpson College can also provide a beautiful college campus visual.
Learn more about unique landmarks and offerings on our Communities page.