Years ago, I was selected to work on a project to hire airport security screeners (the TSA) around the country. I was pretty excited for the project, but had one request: Don’t send me to North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Wisconsin or Iowa. To my disappointment, I was sent to Des Moines, Iowa, but ended up having a blast. Despite working 80 hours a week, our team had fun exploring and getting to know the city. It was a home away from home.
So, as my birthday approached, Ryan and I considered our drivable options and determined that Des Moines would be the best place to spend my birthday weekend being that it was only 3 ½ hours away, it was affordable, and we already knew plenty of things to keep us busy.
We checked into our hotel (the Renaissance Savery in downtown Des Moines) and got our weekend started by heading to The Continental for drinks, specifically Pisco Sours, my favorite drink there.
|Look at all those lemons -yes!|
|Mixed greens, toasted almonds, gorgonzola & peaches.|
|Roasted eggplant pureed with carrots, onion, celery and drizzled with goat cheese cream.|
On Saturday morning we woke up early to do yoga at Gray’s Lake. It was my first time doing an outdoor yoga class and I loved it. The instructor was great and there was even a flutist to really set an earthy vibe.
Last time we were in Des Moines (almost a year ago) we were amazed at how much the farmers market had grown. Back in 2002, it was pretty small with only a few farmers, some jelly producers and a couple crafters. Now, it’s a sprawling market with food vendors, activities, and many farmers from all over the state.
Ryan and I grabbed a freshly grilled mozzarella and basil sandwich, a beet-apple-blueberry smoothie, and stocked up on ingredients like mushrooms, squash, apples, pears and green beans for meals back home.
|Grilled sandwiches, green bean "fries" and grilled sweet corn.|
|Fresh made juices and smoothies made at the market.|
|Falafel, pita, hummus, feta, olives & mixed greens.|
I didn’t get pictures of everything (hey, I was on vacation!), but we did eat at a few more places like Fong’s Pizza (think Chinese food, but on a pizza), Gateway Market & Café (like our co-ops + a café with an array of sandwiches, salads, and entrees), Ritual Café (Horchata latte was the best!) and our new discovery: Django. If you are ever in Des Moines, you must try this place. They have a pretty extensive menu, but the mussels in blue cheese cream sauce really caught my eye and did not disappoint. They were the freshest mussels we have ever had and the blue cheese cream sauce was to die for. We also split a cheese flight (triple cream brie, creamy gorgonzola & marigold infused gouda) and got so full that we couldn’t finish it. They offered me a birthday dessert and I sadly had to decline!
We ended our trip at the High Life Lounge, a kitschy tribute to all things retro. Wood paneling, shag carpet and Miller High Life decorations all over the place; they don’t serve any beers made after the 1970’s.
|High Life everything!|
Ryan and I holed up in a booth, put quarters in the jukebox, and sipped on Tangermeisters. Yep, Tang + Jagermeister. It’s surprisingly good and while meant as a shot, I prefer to sip it.
As you can see Des Moines IS a great getaway destination, especially if you like to eat and drink (like we do!) and it is quite affordable and easy to navigate; a great break from the Twin Cities.
Have you ever been to Des Moines? What are your favorite things to do while on vacation?