Heartland Swing News

Swingin' in the Heartland

Des Moines: Don’t Miss These Hot Spots

The Heartland of America spans great distances throughout the center of the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, but there is one special place that the Heartland Swing Festival is putting on the map: Des Moines, Iowa.

It may not be Chicago, New York, or LA, but that’s what love about it. It’s a charming and friendly city— not-too-big, but not-too-small— perhaps one might say, “It’s just right.” Oh, and rush hour can only set you back 10 to 20 minutes at most.

There really are a lot of things to do and if you’re thinking of finding activities during the day on Friday or when you’re not tearing up the dance floor, here are some ideas:

For the History Buffs and Science Nerds

capitolA visit to the state historical building or the the Iowa State Capitol would suit your tastes.The capitol allows self-guided tours and if you would like a guided tour for ten, both types of tours are provided at no cost. Self-guided tours of the Capitol and Capitol grounds are available anytime during normal business hours, 6 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.  Download brochure.

The State Historical Museum is also admission free and has interesting exhibits for your entertainment. Hours are 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Saturday.

Feed your intellect and watch a live science demonstration or heck, do something mindless and watch ‘Batman vs. Superman” in an IMAX theater. You can do both at the Science Center of Iowa which is in downtown Des Moines and open 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Tuesday- Saturday.

For the Avid Shoppers

dorotheasDes Moines has several places for you to check out. One store that any true vintage enthusiast should visit while in Des Moines is Dorthea’s Vintage Closet, which happens to also be downtown and in close proximity to the Temple of Performing arts. The hours are Wednesday through Saturday, noon-5 PM.

Another hip store to step into during your visit to Des Moines is Raygun. Known for its witty and sometimes snarky commentary adorning simple but distinguished tee-shirt designs, this is a booming business native to Des Moines which proudly represents our state and capital city.

And if you want to spend the ENTIRE DAY shopping, head west to Jordan Creek Town Center or Valley West Mall. At Jordan Creek you can catch a movie, get some lunch or shop ’til you drop! (No theater at Valley West). Merle Hay Mall is another local shopping center which includes a Flix Brewhouse: entailing beer and movies conjoined into one delightful experience!

For the introverts

botanicalFor something peaceful and relaxing to do before your full weekend of swing, you could walk into the Des Moines Botanical Gardens to observe nature and greenery OR for some artsy indulgence, you could take a trip to the Des Moines Art center. The Botanical Gardens are open Daily 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. and there is a $6 admission fee.

The Des Moines Art Center has FREE ADMISSION and would entertain you for hours as you look through the exhibits and the permanent collection. The Art Center is open during city park hours, which are sunrise to midnight.

And don’t forget to check out the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. It’s Just a block west of the Temple of Performing Arts!

For the Foodies

zombieWe can’t forget about some local eating establishments that will help you experience Des Moines to the fullest. Here are just a few of the most renowned restaurants: Fong’s Pizza, Centro, Zombie Burger, Jethro’s Barbeque (multiple locations), Flying Mango, Django Restaurant, Eatery/A and MANY More!

Check out our travel page for maps and more restaurant recommendations.


If you have any questions pertaining to how to entertain yourself on Friday or throughout the weekend, feel free to contact Heartland staff members to obtain further information. We will be glad to help.  Des Moines welcomes you! Heartland, here we come!

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