Things to Do in West Des Moines IA – 2024 Ultimate Guide

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Welcome to West Des Moines, a vibrant city in Iowa waiting to be explored! Nestled in the heart of the Hawkeye State, West Des Moines offers a perfect blend of urban amenities and natural beauty. Whether you’re a foodie, nature enthusiast, or history buff, this city has something for everyone. Join me as we uncover the top things to do in West Des Moines, ensuring you have an unforgettable experience in this charming Midwestern gem.

Can’t-Miss Attractions

West Des Moines, Iowa, offers a variety of attractions that cater to different interests. Here are the top 5 must-see attractions in West Des Moines:

1. Jordan Creek Town Center:
Jordan Creek Town Center is a premier shopping destination in West Des Moines. This expansive mall features a mix of well-known brands, boutique shops, and dining options. Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful outdoor area with a lake, walking paths, and a playground. Jordan Creek Town Center is a must-visit for shopping enthusiasts and families looking for a day of leisure and entertainment.

2. Raccoon River Park:
Raccoon River Park is a scenic outdoor retreat offering a range of recreational activities. The park boasts a picturesque lake where visitors can go fishing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. With numerous trails for hiking and biking, Raccoon River Park is an ideal spot for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The park’s serene ambiance and diverse wildlife make it a must-visit for those seeking relaxation and adventure.

3. Valley View Aquatic Center:
Valley View Aquatic Center is a popular water park in West Des Moines, perfect for cooling off on hot summer days. The center features thrilling water slides, a lazy river, and a large swimming pool. Families and thrill-seekers alike will enjoy the exciting water attractions and amenities at Valley View Aquatic Center. A visit to this water park promises fun and excitement for visitors of all ages.

4. West Glen Town Center:
West Glen Town Center is a vibrant entertainment district offering a mix of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Visitors can explore unique boutiques, dine at diverse restaurants, and catch a movie at the cinema. The center’s lively atmosphere and diverse offerings make it a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the local culture and entertainment scene in West Des Moines.

5. Historic Valley Junction:
Historic Valley Junction is a charming district known for its historic buildings, local shops, and cultural events. Visitors can stroll along the streets lined with boutiques, art galleries, and antique stores. The district also hosts farmers’ markets, festivals, and live music performances, providing a glimpse into the vibrant local community. Historic Valley Junction is a must-visit for history buffs, art enthusiasts, and anyone interested in experiencing the unique charm of West Des Moines.

These top 5 attractions in West Des Moines offer a diverse range of experiences, from shopping and outdoor recreation to entertainment and cultural exploration. Whether you’re a local resident or a traveler passing through, these must-see destinations showcase the best of what West Des Moines has to offer.

One-day trip

If you’re looking for exciting day trips within a 2-hour drive from West Des Moines, you’re in luck! Here are five fantastic destinations to consider:

1. Pella – Known for its Dutch heritage, Pella is a charming town located just an hour east of West Des Moines. Visitors can explore the picturesque streets lined with tulips, visit the Vermeer Windmill, or indulge in delicious Dutch pastries at Jaarsma Bakery.

2. Ledges State Park – Situated about an hour northwest of West Des Moines, Ledges State Park offers stunning hiking trails, unique sandstone cliffs, and beautiful picnic spots. Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the park’s natural beauty and scenic views.

3. Amana Colonies – Just over an hour east of West Des Moines, the Amana Colonies are a group of seven historic villages known for their German heritage. Visitors can tour museums, shop for handmade goods, and savor traditional German cuisine at local restaurants.

4. Lake Red Rock – Located less than an hour south of West Des Moines, Lake Red Rock is Iowa’s largest lake and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, and hiking. Nature lovers will appreciate the serene surroundings and abundant wildlife.

5. John Wayne Birthplace & Museum – Roughly an hour and a half west of West Des Moines in Winterset, the John Wayne Birthplace & Museum celebrates the life and legacy of the legendary actor. Visitors can view memorabilia, watch films, and learn about the Duke’s impact on Hollywood.

These diverse destinations offer a mix of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, making them ideal choices for day-trippers looking to explore the beauty and history of Iowa within a short drive of West Des Moines.

Restaurants and bars

When exploring West Des Moines, be sure to check out these five exceptional dining establishments that offer a delightful culinary experience:

1. The Rustic Spoon: Indulge in modern American cuisine at The Rustic Spoon, known for its cozy ambiance and innovative dishes. Don’t miss their signature dish, the Truffle Mac and Cheese, a creamy delight that keeps patrons coming back for more.

2. Blue Willow: Experience a fusion of Asian flavors at Blue Willow, where traditional dishes are given a contemporary twist. Their famous Crispy Orange Chicken is a must-try, perfectly balancing sweet and savory flavors for a memorable dining experience.

3. Firebirds Wood Fired Grill: Savor the flavors of wood-fired cooking at Firebirds, a popular steakhouse offering a wide selection of grilled specialties. The Slow-Roasted Prime Rib is a crowd favorite, cooked to perfection and bursting with flavor.

4. The Stuffed Olive: Delight your taste buds with Mediterranean-inspired cuisine at The Stuffed Olive, a charming restaurant known for its fresh ingredients and bold flavors. Be sure to sample their famous Spanakopita, a savory pastry filled with spinach and feta cheese.

5. Jethro’s BBQ n’ Pork Chop Grill: Dive into a feast of barbecue delights at Jethro’s, a local favorite for hearty meals and friendly service. Their award-winning Baby Back Ribs are a highlight, featuring tender meat smothered in tangy barbecue sauce.

For a relaxing break or a night out, here are two top cafes and bars in West Des Moines that offer a unique experience:

1. The Whimsical Bean: Step into The Whimsical Bean for a cozy atmosphere and artisanal coffee blends that cater to every palate. This charming cafe is a favorite among locals for its friendly staff and relaxing ambiance, making it the perfect spot to unwind.

2. The Tipsy Steer: Enjoy craft cocktails and gourmet burgers at The Tipsy Steer, a trendy bar known for its creative drink menu and mouthwatering food offerings. With a lively atmosphere and top-notch service, this bar is a go-to destination for quality drinks and delicious bites in West Des Moines.

Interesting Facts

When exploring West Des Moines, you’ll find a plethora of unique activities that showcase the city’s charm and character. Here are three surprising and interesting facts about West Des Moines that will surely pique your interest:

1. Historic Valley Junction: One of the most intriguing aspects of West Des Moines is its Historic Valley Junction. This charming district is filled with boutiques, galleries, and eateries housed in historic buildings, giving visitors a glimpse into the city’s past while enjoying modern amenities. Strolling through the streets, you’ll find a vibrant atmosphere with a mix of old-world charm and contemporary flair.

2. Raccoon River Park: Nature enthusiasts will be delighted to discover Raccoon River Park, a hidden gem in West Des Moines. This expansive park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking trails, fishing spots, and even a beach for swimming and picnicking. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an adventure in the great outdoors, Raccoon River Park has something for everyone.

3. Jordan Creek Town Center: For a unique shopping and entertainment experience, look no further than Jordan Creek Town Center. This premier shopping destination features a diverse range of stores, restaurants, and entertainment options, making it a must-visit spot in West Des Moines. From high-end retailers to family-friendly activities like mini-golf and a movie theater, Jordan Creek Town Center has it all.

Exploring West Des Moines will reveal a city brimming with history, natural beauty, and modern amenities, making it a destination that caters to all interests and preferences.

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