Grab your sisters, get off campus, and go see what Iowa’s biggest city has to offer. Here’s how:
1. Shop the East Village
Downtown Des Moines’ East Village is bursting with local boutiques fit for the neighborhood’s young and vibrant crowd. Stop by the trendy yet affordable Matilda Muse, which stocks dresses perfect for fun sisterhood events or a weekend date party. And don’t forget about the accessories. From fine jewelry to glam statement pieces, Leona Ruby has the jewels to finish off your new look. Before you go, get a dose of Midwestern pride at Raygun, where graphic T-shirt designs border between insult and comic genius.
2. Take a study break
Countless readings and a planner full of assignments can create overwhelming stress. But there’s something about getting off campus that offers relief—even if it is just to study. Diner meets coffee shop at the always-busy Smokey Row. When you’re lucky enough to find a seat, it’s the ideal setting for group meetings or solo study breaks. Brick interiors warm the shabby chic furniture of Java Joes, located downtown just off of Court Avenue. Live music from next door often seeps into the coffee house, so don’t bring along work that requires too much focus.
3. Catch a Game
Nothing comes between a sports fan and her team. But supporting your favorite home team can be difficult when away at college. Luckily, Des Moines is home to several professional athletic teams that will help keep that competitive spirit alive. Gather some sisters at the beginning of Fall semester to watch the Iowa Cubs, the Triple-A affiliate for the Chicago Cubs, at Principal Park. The Iowa Energy (NBA D-League), Iowa Barnstormers (IFL), and Iowa Wild (AHL affiliate-Minnesota Wild) kick off their seasons later in the year at the Wells Fargo Arena.
4. Sing your Heart Out
From small, hole-in-the-wall venues to sold-out stadiums, Des Moines is a music city. Go to local favorites Vaudeville Mews and Wooly’s for up-and-coming artists. Both venues offer a close-knit experience and reasonable ticket prices. Check out the Wells Fargo Arena for big-name artists, including Taylor Swift this fall.
5. Break a Sweat Outdoors
Face it, too many late-night Quad orders of cheese curds and mozzarella sticks adds up. Turn those extra college pounds into a positive by joining your sisters for an enjoyable workout. Walk the short route of downtown’s Western Gateway Park, which hosts more than 20 art sculptures. Rent kayaks or paddle boards at Gray’s Lake in warm-weather months, or grab a group and a mat and attend their free Saturday morning yoga—a refreshing way to end a long week of classes. As the weather cools down, visit the Brenton Skate Plaza for an open-air skate in the heart of downtown. Go at night when the illuminated skyline is a picture-perfect backdrop.