Des Moines Attractions

Enjoy the thrill of attractions in Des Moines

If you are visiting Des Moines, Iowa for business or pleasure, there are plenty of exciting places to see and fun activities to keep you busy. Des Moines is located in the center of America's heartland along the Des Moines River, making it easily accessible from all directions. For example, it is only a half-day drive from Omaha, St. Louis, Chicago or Minneapolis. When you are in town, there are several attractions that are sure to please.

Iowa State Fairgrounds

Often described as one of America's last classic fairs, the Iowa State Fair is among the largest in the country. Although the State Fair itself runs throughout August, events are held at the fairgrounds year round, so you can explore a variety of attractions located at the 400-plus acre venue at 3000 East Grand Avenue. Locating the fairground is easy, thanks to well-marked signs off the Interstate; the facility also boasts a full-service, 160-acre campground. Call (515) 262-3111 to learn what events are happening during your stay. While you are there, you may want to feast on fair classics, including corn dogs, cheesy pretzels and deep-fried treats. After your meal, catch a music, theater or rodeo performance at one of three arenas, not to mention the more than 200 carnival rides that also make an appearance.

Iowa Capitol Building

Do Not Miss the Iowa Capitol Building

Built in 1871, the Iowa Capitol Building is located less than a mile from the Des Moines city center, and many call it one of the most elegant government buildings in America. The golden main dome is a beacon visible throughout the city. Inside, the entire building is decorated with gold gilding, elaborate woodworking and murals painted by Edwin H. Blashfield, one of the state's most revered artists. You can opt to tour the building by yourself, as it is open to the public, or to call ahead and schedule a guided tour with a state historian.

Phone (515) 281-5591 or visit for more information.


One the most exciting attractions in Des Moines is Adventureland, a large theme park just north of the city offering fun for all ages. Whether you are seeking thrill rides like the Dragon roller coaster or a relaxing soak at the water park, Adventureland is sure to please. It is best to arrive early to beat the crowds, especially during the peak season of summer. Food, restrooms, ATMs and lodging are all available in the park.

Since hours vary by season, make sure to phone 800-532-1286 for the schedule during your stay.

Blank Park Zoo

A 22-acre facility, the Blank Park Zoo is home to more than 800 different animals. Since each animal is housed in its natural setting, you can experience arctic landscapes that house polar bears and steamy rain forests full of colorful bird and reptile species. Explore the zoo on your own, or participate in a staff lead educational tour to lean even more about each animal's unique habitat and characteristics.

Opening hours in November - March are 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; during April - October the zoo is open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Call 515-285-4722 for details.