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Des Moines

Des Moines Travel Guide

The once sleepy county of Madison a few miles to the south of Des Moines has woken up to tourism since Robert James Waller’s best seller “The Bridges of Madison County” was turned into a blockbuster movie. The area is well worth a visit as the seven covered bridges where Robert and Francesca conducted their affair are still there. Francesca even has her own museum including the movie set in nearby Winterset, which was also the birthplace of John Wayne, who of course has a museum dedicated to him in the town.

Attractions in and around Des Moines.

Court Avenue District
P.O.Box 93742
Historic District
Des Moines, IA 50309
Tel: 515 244-7211
In the heart of downtown Des Moines, you’ll find this district has a lot to offer. Saturdays from May through October, a vibrant farmers market comes alive with a wide variety of quality goods and locally grown produce. Fine restaurants and many retail shops make it a wonderful place to stroll. When the lights go down, another Des Moines comes alive in this area. Here you will find a variety of musical entertainment, theatre and dancing.

Des Moines Symphony
221 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
Tel: 515 243-1140
Housed in the Civic Centre, the Des Moines Symphony is always engaged. The season brings seven pairs of classical concerts, family concerts, a three concert pop series, an annual Yankee Doodle Pops concert and the annual July 3rd concert. Taking its experience into the educational realm, the symphony presents many in-school ensemble performances. Definitely one of the nations most ambitious orchestra’s.

Des Moines Playhouse & Kate Goldman Children's Theatre
831 42nd Street
Des Moines, IA 50312
Tel:  515 277-8019
One of the six oldest continuously operating community theatres in the United States, this character theatre has been in operation since 1919. Its diversity of offerings include The Actors On Tour program, which brings professional performances into the communities' schools. It's an innovative way to enthral and spark the imagination of all school children; it also provides a discussion group after the performance. The Playhouse offers other in-depth education program for schools and community groups plus a Friday Funday for 4-6 year olds.

Science Centre of Iowa
4500 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
Tel:  515 274-4138
This excellent science centre hosts a great permanent collection and many special events throughout the year including live demonstrations and education programs. The Centre also features a planetarium complete with laser shows as well as the Challenger learning centre with an immersive shuttle simulator. Don't forget to visit the gift store before leaving.

 Ingersoll Dinner Theatre
3711 Ingersoll Avenue,
Des Moines, IA 50312
Tel: 515 274-4686
Treat yourself, friends, and family to an exciting night of theatre. The Ingersoll Dinner Theatre provides fun for all ages by producing Broadway musicals, rib-tickling comedies, suspenseful murder-mysteries, musical guest artists, and the Ingersoll Children's Theatre. At the Ingersoll Dinner Theatre, you and your friends will enjoy an award-winning four entree buffet, followed by a night of top-notch entertainment!

Des Moines Art Centre
4700 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50312
Tel: 515 277-4405
The Art Centre complex is composed of three buildings situated at the entrance to Greenwood Park, an impressive hilltop location for this award-winning design by the internationally known architects, Saarinen, Meier and Pei. It's a fitting structure to house the wonderful collections inside. The works of many famous artists from the 19th and 20th centuries are inspiration for taking one of the many classes offered here from painting to sculpture to photography, papermaking, ceramics and many more. Whether a family workshop or an individual project, there's a great variety to choose from. The Art Centre is well known for its neighbourhood outreach programs. The Arts after Hours program happens on the first Friday of each month bringing live entertainment to the Art Centre. There's also a cash bar and coffee bar. A wide variety of lectures, readings, poetry and films are regularly scheduled at the Centre, a gem of culture in the heart of Des Moines.

Des Moines Metro Opera
106 W. Boston Ave
Indianola, IA 50125
Tel:  515 961-6221
From its beginnings in 1972, this Opera is proof that the Midwest is hungry for Opera. Sophisticated audiences welcome a diverse selection of contemporary and classic opera. The impressively high subscriber rate assures the Opera a year round operation and has helped it gain worldwide recognition. Over 10,000 opera lovers flood in from across the U.S. and the world for the renowned Summer Festival, which takes place June and July and stages world-class productions.

Historic Valley Junction
217 Fifth Street/South door
Fifth Street (physical address)
West Des Moines, IA 50265
Tel:  515 222-3642
If you fancy just strolling and browsing, then come down to Historic Valley Junction. Here you'll find numerous shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, art galleries and antique haunts. Fun by day or night, this is one of the earliest settlements around Des Moines, dating from the mid-1840s when James C. Jordan first built and settled the area. He later went on to become a State Senator. Jordan's home became known as a safe haven on the 'Underground Railroad' and it was with money from Jordan that the Valley railroad was born. With the railroad came the businesses. Once a coal mining community, Des Moines quickly became a major railroad hub with the repair shops and switching yards of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The town expanded as more investment moved to the area. A vibrant downtown grew up with banks, schools, a trolley line and new homes, attracting all sorts of characters, not all of them reputable! Nowadays, though, downtown Des Moines certainly presents a more family-friendly atmosphere.

Birthplace of John Wayne
224 S. 2nd Street,
Winterset, IA
 Tel: 515462-1044
While in Des Moines, you should check out the birthplace of an American Icon, John Wayne. See where life began for this world famous star. The four-roomed home built in 1880 has been brought back to its appearance of 1907. Here you can reminisce on the 'Duke's' life by viewing the memorabilia and photographs. Visit the gift shop and welcome centre, too

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