Des Moines - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Des Moines

Des Moines

An oasis of modern living amidst miles of rolling farmland, Des Moines is the biggest city in Iowa and its cultural and administrative capitol. The city's slick skyline houses a major business centre for the Midwest, and visitors expecting a 'hick town' will come away with a vastly different impression of their holiday in Des Moines.

Located at the junction of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, the city traces back to 1843 when settlers built a fort there for trading with the local Sauk and Meskwaki Indians. The city grew rapidly, and today is home to more than 200,000 people. It has a number of historic buildings, including the gold-domed Capitol Building, the Tudor-style Salisbury House, and the Governor's residence at Terrace Hill. Other Des Moines attractions include the Des Moines Art Center, the State Historical Society, and Hoyt Sherman Place.

Children will have plenty to see and do in Des Moines as well, like feeding the giraffes at the Blank Park Zoo, playing in Bubble Bay at the Science Center of Iowa, and riding the roller coasters at Adventureland Park.

Des Moines has a busy and eclectic arts community, with many theatres and live music venues; the city boasts its own symphony, ballet, and opera. The East Village has a broad range of buildings, shops, restaurants, and art galleries, and is a pleasant neighbourhood to explore; while the Court Avenue Entertainment District is the heart of the Des Moines nightlife, with a number of restaurants and nightclubs. The city hosts several festivals over the summer, including the Des Moines Arts Festival in June and the World Food Festival in October, among many others dedicated to food, wine, film, music, and more.

Information & Facts

Getting Around

Getting around in Des Moines is fairly simple thanks to the Des Moines River, which flows through the centre of town and acts as an orienting point. Streets east of the river are prefixed with 'East', and those west of it have 'West' or no prefix at all. The streets are easy to navigate, however driving in winter is not something to be attempted lightly, as snow and ice make conditions difficult for inexperienced winter drivers. The Des Moines Area Regional Transit system has a network of buses covering most of the city, and service that runs into the evening. There are several taxi companies available 24 hours, but cabs must be called in advance.

English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.

The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selection of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.