As the capital of Iowa, a notorious swing state, and a major stop on the campaign trail, Des Moines is an interesting destination for the politically inclined, but if you’re just looking for a good old-fashioned Midwest getaway, it’s a perfect option too. With 4 miles of covered Skywalks, it’s super easy to get around and explore the shining star of the Hawkeye state. According to the Chicago Tribune, Des Moines’ “walker-friendly downtown streets have enough outdoor sculptures, sleek buildings, storefronts, and cafes to delight even the most jaded stroller" so mosey on out and see what you find at these five fabulous photo stops and beyond.
Take a Selfie at the Capitol
The Iowa State Capitol building is by far the state’s grandest building with a 23-karat gold leafed dome surrounded by four smaller domes. It includes a number of photo-worthy sculptures including a World War II memorial, a Civil War monument, and memorials honoring those who served in the Spanish-American, Korean, and Vietnam Wars. Right outside is 10 acres of greenery, the “People’s Park,” with beautiful manicured lawns and landscaped gardens.
Relive the Good, ‘Ole Days
Living History Farms is an open-air museum with period actors that shows the life on a traditional Midwest farm. Broken up into a 1700s farm, 1800s farm, a 1900s farm, and the town center, explore agriculture, Indians, and pioneers on foot or by tractor. You could spend anywhere from 2-4 hours tanning hides, chasing pigs, and planting crops as you document your time travel through the decades.
Pieces from 22 of the world’s most celebrated artists, Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a fantastic open-air art space in the middle of downtown operated by the Des Moines Art Center. An especially good photo opp is “Seating for Eight” by Scott Burton, one of the only sculptures you’re allowed to climb and/or sit on.
European Elegance in the American Homeland
Inspired by England’s famed Tudor Mansion, the Salisbury House and Gardens is an impressive 42-room estate designed by architectural wonder, Carl Weeks. Home to a diverse collection of art, literature and antiques it’ll make you feel like you’ve been magically transported across the pond. When your friends see your photos, they won’t believe it’s Des Moines, Iowa.
Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden
An actual hidden gem, Better Homes and Gardens' uses this unique space next to their headquarters in Iowa as a test ground for various landscape designs to document and photograph. Laid out as mini, stand-alone backyards, the beautiful flora displays are open to the public to pose with and explore on Fridays from May through September.