Top 5 low-cost summer activities in Des Moines

You don’t have to break the bank when looking for summer activities in the Des Moines area. You can choose from many great low-cost options. It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting the capital city for the first time or a local resident. You can have a lot of fun in the sun and still go easy on your wallet. You can start by looking into these five options in the Des Moines area.

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The One Street Challenge: Eat your way through Valley Junction

Welcome to our newest series: the One Street Challenge! Each month we challenge ourselves to eat every meal on one street in the Des Moines area. Per official challenge rules (that we wrote ourselves…) we’ll spend one day, eating three meals and after dinner drinks without leaving the area. This month’s destination is so good it almost feels like we’re cheating. Join us as we eat our way down fifth street in Valley Junction.

Breakfast anyone?

Start the day on a healthier note at Big Acai Bowl. This restaurant got its start as a food truck that’s grown into two brick and mortar locations. Jake, the owner, discovered a love for healthy eating after moving to California and lucky for us he brought that knowledge back to Des Moines. Here you’ll find the magic that started it all, the acai bowl (think a fancy smoothie in a bowl with stuff on top). You can also find an assortment of smoothies, coffee, and avocado toasts. We’ll take a classic bowl with mixed berries and a mango picante toast.

Big Acai Bowl
117 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Time for lunch!

Next up is The Tavern. It’s a notably less healthy option than breakfast but, as a true Valley Junction staple, it can’t be missed. The Tavern opened during the Great Depression and has only been owned by two families—first the Rileis who then sold it to Chuck Celsi in 1988. They’re known for their thin crust pizza but the true hero here is the onion rings—trust us on this one! We’re digging into The Works and side of onion rings with #noregrets.

The Tavern
205 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Dinner’s on!

Whether we’re spending the whole day or just stopping by for dinner, a visit to Cooper’s on 5th is pretty much required in our book. Cooper’s serves classy comfort food and boy are they good at it. We recommend the mac and cheese with kielbasa added (so good!) or the port braised short ribs and you can’t leave without trying one of their signature egg rolls. Erm..Egg rolls? Stick with us here—Cooper’s features a different egg roll each day and with flavors like chicken parmesan and Philly cheesesteak, these aren’t at all what you’re expecting. 

Pro-tip: Take a look across the street as you leave Cooper’s—Mr. Cooper himself is about to open up The Winchester Pub. We asked him about this new venture and he says he’s trying to fill a gap in the Valley Junction area. We have a great sports bar and dive bar but there isn’t a nice place you can go for a drink after work. We wholeheartedly agree and can’t wait to add The Winchester to our list of favorite places.

Cooper’s on 5th
227 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Time for a nightcap

We’re rounding out our perfect day of food with a stop at Vino209. Vino209 has an excellent lunch and dinner menu prepared by executive chef Andrew Phelps but we like to stop at the end of the night for dessert and glass of wine. They feature live music every Tuesday and free wine tastings on Wednesdays so plan your trip accordingly!

Pro-tip: Can’t decide which wine to try? We recommend a flight. For $18 you can sample four different wines which they assured me these aren’t your standard grocery store selections. Luckily, if you love you choice, you have the option to buy a bottle to take home!

209 5th Street
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Next up—we’re heading to the East Village! Let us know where we should go in the comments.

Seven family-friendly activities in Des Moines

Spring is finally here and the weather is warming up – don’t spend your weekend at home.  Check out these great activities in Des Moines for your whole family.

Blank Park Zoo

The Blank Park Zoo offers activities and sights to last your family a few hours or an entire day.  Don’t forget to visit the Kids Kingdom to give your kids some playtime.  You’ll pay a reasonable admission price based upon your kid’s ages – and kids age 2 and under are free!  For an additional fee, schedule a behind-the-scenes tour and check out animals like the giraffes, sea lions or wallabies.

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Des Moines’ Best Movie Theaters

The now-closed Varsity Theatre. The business opened its doors on Christmas Day in 1938, and it showed its last film on December 30th, 2018.

The recent closing of the Varsity Theatre, located across the street from the campus of Drake University, is a major loss to cinema lovers across Iowa. However, there’s still plenty of alternatives for movie-goers searching for their new favorite place to watch the latest and greatest films. Whether you’re looking for Hollywood blockbusters or more indie films, there’s a theater to suit your interests.

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