Iowa’s capital might be square in shape, but it definitely is not square in character and definitely not a dull place. Whether you are into culture, shopping, or history, the city has something to offer for everyone.
Des Moines is home to the only John Wayne Museum in the world, featuring movie posters, scripts, and outfits as well as letters from the actor and a documentary about his life. A broader piece of history can be found at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, which showcases detailed exhibitions highlighting different topics of the state’s history across three floors. Entrance is free and so is the parking lot across the street, so you can easily drive your rental car there.
Just like the State Historical Museum of Iowa, the Iowa State Capitol is located in the Historical East Village. Take a guided tour or snap some shots from the outside before you continue exploring this lively neighborhood with tons of restaurants and shops. If you happen to visit on a Saturday, you can also go shopping at the Downtown Farmers’ Market. More than 300 stand holders from all over the state gather here to sell their fresh produce, art works, and crafts while street artists entertain passersby.
For retail shopping, you can drive to the Valley West Mall in West Des Moines. However, in case you are looking for something unique, West End Architectural Salvage is a hidden gem. This store gathers and sells decorative items from around the world and also creates custom furniture and jewelry.