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5 free things to do in Iowa capital of Des Moines

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 17, 2014 at 6:20 am •  Published: July 17, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Nestled in the middle of Iowa, surrounded by miles of rolling hills green with corn and soybeans, is the capital city of Des Moines. A metropolis that's experienced a popularity surge in recent years thanks to new businesses and housing opportunities, Des Moines has plenty of activities that will be kind to your wallet.


The historic East Village district encompasses several blocks of businesses and restaurants at the base of the gold-domed state Capitol. There are dozens of restaurants and quirky shops that are open for perusing even if you're not spending a dime. The Capitol, opened in 1886, is atop a hill offering views of the East Village and downtown below. The Capitol is open to visitors and there are regular tours. Nearby is the State Historical Museum, offering free exhibits about the history of Iowa.


Held every Saturday morning between May and October, the Des Moines Farmers Market offers local produce from hundreds of vendors from around the state. Located just west of the Des Moines River on nine city blocks in the Court District (a popular entertainment hub at night), the farmers market can connect the casual visitor to a plethora of food, drinks and crafts. It may be the delicious pastries or live music that draws visitors to the market, but it's the people-watching and sense of community that keeps them returning.


On the surface, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a 4.4-acre (1.8-hectare) park on the west end of downtown with art pieces on display year-round. But the park, which opened in 2009, is also a representation of the city's revitalization as a destination for out-of-state visitors. There are more than two dozen installed works of art, each with a range of height, size and theme. Using your cellphone, there's also a free audio tour available by dialing numbers listed with each piece. If you're looking for more art, the Des Moines Art Center is about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) west. The art center is free and boasts more than 4,800 works of art.

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