A travelers Guide to Des Moines, Iowa

A big part of the fun of being a traveling health professional is the constant opportunity for new adventures. Rather than being stuck in one facility in the same town for years, life as a traveler means getting to dip your toes into so many different places all the time and experience what each region has to offer. Every place, whether it is a large, busy city or a sleepy small town, has its own particularly unique character, history, and sights to get out and explore. Pamela’s List has placement options in so many places, both big cities and small towns, that choosing where to go next can be a truly tough decision to make. This blog will help to paint a picture of some of these destinations that might not be as well known as others, but are wonderful places to visit and explore nonetheless. This week, we take a look at Des Moines, Iowa; an oasis of art and culture in the heart of central USA.

Iowa may often be considered a “fly over” state with nothing but corn fields for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see… Which is quite a ways since a lot of Iowa is incredibly flat. However, there is a lot more to Iowa than the fly over reputation may lead you to think! This is definitely the case in regards to Iowa’s capitol city of Des Moines. There is so much to see and do in the Des Moines area, but this is especially true for the art enthusiast. In addition to being the state’s capitol city, Des Moines is a cultural and entertainment hub for the state of Iowa. Whether you are interested in music, painting, sculpture, or live theater, you can find it here in Des Moines. 

One of the first must-sees you should see in your time in Des Moines is the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Take a stroll through this 4.4-acre park in central downtown Des Moines to see the impressive collection of 28 large sculptures from several well known sculpture artists such as White ghost by Yoshitomo Nara and Nomade by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa. You also could easily spend an afternoon walking through the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, home to over 1,200 different species of plants and frequent live music performances. Make sure to spend some time at the Des Moines Art Center, an art museum with roots tracing back to 1916 when it started out as space within the Public Library of Des Moines and has only grown since then. The museum building itself is a combination of Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles and the permanent art displays include paintings by artists like Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keefe, Claude Monet, Francis Bacon, and so many more. In addition to their permanent displays, the museum also features traveling exhibit shows so there is always something new and different. Best of all: because of Des Moines’ dedication to bringing art to the masses, a visit to the Des Moines Art Center is free for all visitors making a day at the art museum accessible no matter what your budget may be.

If you are more interested in live theater and musical performance than the quiet of an art museum, then you have to check out the Des Moines Performing Arts and Civic Center where there is always something exciting to see. Performances range from broadway style shows by traveling hits like Hamilton, Wicked, and Rent, to local comedy and improv acts, National Geographic Presentations, and more. 

Keeping the arts alive and thriving is a shared local vision of so many organizations in Des Moines and their performing arts center is a great example of that.

Des Moines, Iowa

Another absolute must-see area of Des Moines is the East Village. The East Village is a historic district where you can find the state capitol building, an architectural beauty, and the Iowa State Historical Museum. The East Village also is where you will find a variety of cool restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and some of Iowa’s best shopping. The East Village is home to Raygun, the 7,000 square foot store that dubbed itself “The Greatest Store In the Universe”. They sell everything you could possibly want, and all the things you did not even know that you needed!

If what you are really looking for is something to get your heart pumping, then you can drive just a short 20 minutes outside of downtown Des Moines to Altoona for the Adventureland Amusement Park! Adventureland is Iowa’s very own theme park, and it really gives Disneyland and Six Flags a run for their money! Adventureland Amusement Park in Altoona is an adrenaline-seeker’s paradise with several huge roller coasters like the Tornado, a classic wooden coaster built in 1978 and the Monster, a more recent addition featuring super speed upside down twists and turns. Adventureland has several different themed areas with fun for all ages and literally dozens of different rides. Altoona even has water park attractions for the warm summer months including giant water slides and a lazy river. Additionally, for fun a little more aimed at adults, head right up the road from Adventureland to the Prairie Meadows Horse Racing Track and Casino to try your luck on the track or on the slots! 

Des Moines is an under-recognized center for arts, culture, and entertainment in the heart of agricultural Iowa. Much more than just a “flyover” state, Iowa is full of opportunities for so many enriching experiences and plenty of ways to enjoy your time off whether you are looking for a musical performance or a ride on a roller coaster. 

Des Moines can be your next stop on your travel adventure because Pamela’s List has several exciting job placement options available in the Des Moines area waiting for you to take the leap. Let us know just what you are looking for and let us set you up with the perfect travel assignment for you!

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