Unique Places You Need to Visit in Des Moines Iowa

I love visiting unique places in a city that you can’t replicate anywhere else. I did not expect to find so many unique places to visit in downtown Des Moines.

The next time you visit Iowa, you will want to add these destinations to your list. 

John and Mary Pappa John Sculpture Park horse

1. John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

1330 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA

I was really excited to find this gem because I LOVE sculpture parks!

You can view artwork by 22 artists from around the world at the 4.4 acre John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

Des Moines John and Mary PappaJohn Sculpture Park

Located in downtown Des Moines, the sculpture park is free to access and features a wide range of styles and mediums.

Open sunrise to midnight, the sculpture park is a wonderful place for pictures day or night.

Des Moines Sculpture Park

For a more in-depth look into the sculptures, sign up in advance for an hour-long guided tour between the months of April – October.

You can also access the audio tour from your cell phone by dialing  (515) 657-8264.

The audio for each sculpture lasts between 1-4 minutes.

Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden in Des Moines Iowa

2. Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden

1716 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 

Get inspiration for your next home improvement project at the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden.

Open to the public on Fridays from noon to -2pm.

From May through September, the test garden is a photographer’s dream and a popular spot for employee lunches and meetings.

Test Garden downtown Des Moines

The test garden is used as a photography studio for publications, display gardens, and a testing ground for plants.

Many of the ideas and questions from readers are put to test in the garden.

There are 22 different garden spaces within the test garden. There is a good chance that you might recognize some of the landscape designs from magazine covers.

 The varieties of plants within the garden change often which gives you a great excuse to return and get inspired again to try something new in your own backyard.

Raygun Des Moines

3. Raygun

505 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA

I like a store with sass …that can also make fun of itself.

Deeming itself “The Greatest Store in the Universe,” Raygun offers shoppers items ranging from clothing to home decor.

What started as snarky t-shirts business has grown into a beloved store that gets Midwesterners and their quirks.

And the t-shirts are still very popular.

Raygun store Des Moines

For example, Raygun pretty much nailed it with the “Midwest 7- Day Forecast” merchandise that describes what feels like to live in the Midwest where you can experience all four seasons in one week.

The threads of witty humor and satire throughout the merchandise in the store will definitely put a smile on your face.

Zombie Burger + Drink Lab Des Moines Iowa

4. Zombie Burger + Drink Lab

300 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 

I’m a sucker for a theme which is why I had to visit Zombie Burger once I found out about it.

Known for their gourmet burgers and hand-mixed shakes, Zombie Burger stays true to the Zombie theme throughout the restaurant.

Zombie Burger and Drink Lab

The themed menu items with the ambiance of zombie movies playing in the background really set the tone for your post-apocalyptic meal.

Des Moines Zombie Burger and Drink Lab

You can even opt to have your milkshake “spiked” with alcohol if you want to give it an extra kick.

The downtown Des Moines location has the full table service or quick service dining option if you are on the go.

Hotel Pattee in Perry Iowa

A Unique Place to Stay in Iowa

1112 Willis Ave, Perry, IA 

During our visit we stayed about 45 minutes from downtown Des Moines at a gem located in Perry, Iowa called Hotel Pattee. 

The hotel features 40 individually themed guest rooms with ties to Iowa and the Midwest.

Telital Room at Hotel Pattee

During my stay, I slept in the Telital Room that pays homage to the local paper, The Perry Daily.

Telital Room Pattel Hotel

The room is made to feel like the office of a 1930’s journalist.

There were several articles framed on the wall and I loved the vintage typewriter nightstand.

Marching Band Room

Another writer stayed in the Marching Band themed room.

I LOVE the lamps made with musical instruments. The attention to detail in each room is really remarkable and makes each experience unique for guests.

Dining at Hotel Pattee

During our stay, we enjoyed breakfast and dinner at the Hotel Pattee.

I highly recommend the Pain Perdu for breakfast (Fresh bread soaked in custard for 24 hours, grilled to perfection, topped with a berry compote and almonds) and the Irish Salmon (Chef Miguel’s twist on classic Irish salmon finished in a rich Irish cream & fennel sauce served over mashed potatoes and asparagus) for dinner.

Soumas Court

During your visit don’t forget to talk a walk through Soumas Court located next to the hotel.

This beautiful courtyard is a wonderful spot to enjoy a beautiful day.

5 Beautiful Bridges you need to see in Iowa

While you are in Iowa, there are also two noteworthy bridges in Des Moines that you need to add to your list. You can learn about them from my 5 Beautiful Bridges you need to see in Iowa post

Thanks again to Travel Iowa for hosting my visit.

Unique Places You Need to Visit in Des Moines Iowa

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