Since I’m not an Iowa native, I didn’t grow up visiting the State of Iowa Historical Building or the Iowa Capitol on countless school trips, and for one reason or another, I’d never gotten around to going. That is, until recently.
Now that I’ve lived in Des Moines for a little over five years (woah), I figured it was time to put together a list of some of my favorite places around the city. From my favorite place to get a gorgeously made latte to some of the best places to spend a free afternoon, you can find it all here.
Lately I’ve taken a little bit of a hiatus from blogging. For someone who spends all day writing as part of their career, I find that sometimes it’s important to step back and remember why I enjoy stringing words together so much. And then one morning I just wake up, itching to start scribbling something new, click-clacking on my keyboard to share a new adventure.
So hello there, I’m back. And while I get to writing, here are my favorite bits of Internet from the last week (or five):
Exciting extras: I wrote my first post for the Travel Iowa blog awhile back. You can read it and (if you enjoy it) help vote it into the top posts section, here.
Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out Olio in Iowa’s brand new Complete Guide to Roadside Attractions.
This is the smartest I’ve ever felt about finance.
Sometimes the right words find you instead. “And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”
Growing up one of my favorite holiday traditions was piling in the back of my mom’s station wagon to drive around snowy neighborhoods and admire the Christmas light displays. Every year my brother and I would get into our pajamas and pile into the backseat with blankets, armed with thermoses of hot chocolate and freshly popped popcorn, and ready to spend a good hour admiring the holiday lights.
While it’s a tradition we haven’t taken part in for some time, I was feeling nostalgic over the weekend when some friends and I ventured to Water Works Park for Jolly Holiday Lights, a holiday light display put on by Iowa’s branch of the Make a Wish Foundation. Admission is only $10 per car and the display spans over the park’s 3.5 mile trail, ending with Santa’s Workshop where little ones can meet the big man himself and munch on cookies. As twenty-somethings we had a great time, but this event would absolutely be a lot of fun for families with smaller children.
Jolly Holiday Lights, Water Works Park in Des Moines, 5:30-10 p.m. through Jan. 1
This year more than ever I’ve realized how quickly the holiday season can slip away—case in point, it’s already December 3rd. So in an effort to take a deep breath every once in awhile and remember to enjoy this time of year, I’ve compiled a holiday to do list, complete with some of my favorite winter activities.
- Go ice skating at Brenton Skating Plaza
- Bake & decorate Christmas cookies
- Host a movie marathon to watch “Elf,” “White Christmas,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas” & other classics
- Shop for families in need through the toy drive organized through my office
- Eat lots of candy canes
- Pack some hot chocolate & drive around looking at Christmas lights
- Make homemade marshmallows
- Visit the Christkindlmarket in Chicago
- Try to make as many DIY holiday gifts as possible
- Take a drive through Jolly Holiday Lights in Water Works Park.
For a smaller size city, Des Moines knows how to throw a good street festival. Come fall one of the biggest—and one of my favorites—is the World Food & Music Festival.
For one weekend in mid-September, Locust Street at the base of the Iowa State Capitol is transformed into a bustling collection of food tents and musicians. A bit like Des Moines’ version of Taste of Chicago—only a whole lot cheaper—the World Food Festival offers a variety of cuisines from around the world.Continue Reading…
A few weeks ago our intern informed me that he had a new ice cream place I just had to try. While I should have been embarrassed that my love for frozen treats is obviously apparent at work, I was immensely excited to act on his recommendation.
Before cooler weather hit a friend and I made the trip to Classic Frozen Custard with high hopes. And let me tell you, we were far from disappointed. I ordered a “regular”—the smallest size offered—black raspberry custard and tried not to let my jaw hit the floor when my order appeared at the window.
For roughly the same price (under $3.50) as a take-home pint, the “regular” is just about the same amount of custard. Not that I’m complaining by any means—just know what you’re getting yourself into. While Classic Frozen Custard isn’t open year-round, there’s probably a few more days of frozen goodness to be had. I know that I’ll be trying the pumpkin custard next time I visit.
Classic Frozen Custard, 4000 SE 14th Street in Des Moines
Along with donuts, hotdogs are high up on the list of foods I know are bad for you but can’t help indulging in once and awhile. While I hail from the land of the Chicago dog–never, ever ask for ketchup in public–I’m much more liberal when it comes to experimenting with different condiments.
Enter Hotshots: a craft hotdoggery that opened downtown at the beginning of May. Last week I finally had time to grab a bite to eat with a friend at one of Des Moines’ newest lunch spots. I ordered the Softail (kielbasa, caramelized onions, scallions, cream cheese and jalapeño peppers)–hold the jalapeños, please–and the Hotshots tots. My lunch was delicious, but I do wish the bun had been toasted as my deliciously over-stuffed dog busted through the soft bread after one bite and I ended up eating it with a fork.
And worry not, vegetarian friends! Any of Hotshots’ meat franks can be substituted for a veggie dog, which I have on good authority are pretty delicious.
Hotshots Craft Hotdoggery, 1220 Locus Street in Des Moines
Now that June has arrived it finally feels like summertime. Here’s to a weekend filled with perfect patio weather, picnics in the park and afternoons reading by the pool. Continue Reading…
After more than 52 hours in the car, seven days of togetherness and more pounds of gummy bears than I would like to admit, I’m back in Des Moines. Our road trip to San Francisco was a phenomenal success and I can’t wait to share all of our adventures.
Our first stop was in Omaha to photograph Stored Potential for an upcoming article in Think magazine. This 80-foot art installation on an out-of-use grain elevator is seriously cool, especially if you take the time to get up close and personal.
Next we stopped in Boys Town, NE to see the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps. It’s shaping up to be a crazy spring break – I know – but I have a secret love of “world’s largest” things and thankfully my friends indulged me. The ball weighs in at 600 pounds and was constructed over the course of three years starting from the core of a golfball.
To continue our nerdy trip, we made a stop in Lincoln to visit the Nebraska State Capitol. After the most terrifying elevator ride ever to the 14th floor, we walked around the capitol’s outdoor observatory and enjoyed not being in the car for an hour or so.
Always a lover of roadside attractions we stopped in North Platte, NE for dinner and couldn’t resist a trip to Fort Cody – a combination general store and museum just off of I-80. Slightly creepy? Absolutely. But worth a stop? Definitely.