The “Other” List: What I Love About Des Moines

Juice has come out with a list called “50 Things We Love About Des Moines”.  I’m not a “list” person by any means.  There are far too many things about living here in Iowa I love, and about Des Moines, since I’m a resident here.

This is going to be Des Moines-centric, so for you fellow readers out in Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa, you have been warned.

With that said, I have no opposition or issues with the list.  It’s a good list.  But, as my eccentric nature of independence, there are a few things not on the list that I love about living in the Des Moines area.

Looking for tickets for the State Wrestling Tournament next week? Good luck.

1.  State Tournaments  Did you know that high school state tournament season begins the next week with state wrestling?  Des Moines has a pep in its step when teams and fans from across the state arrive to Wells Fargo Arena for wrestling and girls and boys basketball action.

2.  First Saturday of Farmers Market The first Saturday in May has become an unofficial holiday as the start of the Downtown Farmers Market kicks off.  20,000+ people, with babies, dogs, and shopping bags looking for the freshest goods available.

All locally grown.

I'm looking forward to renting out a B-cycle this spring.

3. B-Cycle The B-Cycle is on its way to becoming the new way to tour the city, without burning gas in the car.  The city-owned bicycle rental program is one of the best ideas to take advantage of the great bike trails in the Des Moines area.

4. Manhattan Deli  No bells, no whistles, and no splash.  Just simply walk up, order, and then sink your teeth into a local sub sandwich delight.  PGA golfer, Cedar Rapids native and Drake grad Zach Johnson has a sandwich named after him.  It’s the only sub sandwich I order when I go there.  Oh, cash and checks only.  No debit or credit cards.

5. Americana’s “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” Americana Restaurant’s “Bombshell Brunch” is the place to be on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but if you are not a morning person, schedule a trip for Monday nights for “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.”  Endless amounts of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cornbread is all waiting there to be dined on as you decompress from the start of the work week.

Des Moines skyline.

6.  A view from the Capital Head to the Capital, park your car (no meters), get out of car, and walk around.  Take in the view of downtown.  Get some fresh air, albeit cold wintry air.

7. East Village There was no such thing as East Village when I moved here from college in 1998.  Slowly and quietly, the area between the Capital and the Des Moines River downtown has become the model of success for local shops.  From Vitae to the Kitchen Collage, The Village Bean to eden, East Village is the original local success story of entrepreneurship and realizing big dreams.  Which leads me to…

Your mission for 2012: get to know Christian Renaud (left) and Tej Dehwan. They run Startup City Des Moines.

8.  The Silicon Sixth If you haven’t heard of Silicon Sixth Avenue, make 2012 the year to learn about it and the people involved.  Dwolla is located on the Sixth, so is Startup City Des Moines, ShareWhere, and the Des Moines hub of Silicon Prairie News.  The Silicon Valley isn’t the only place where new ventures and technology are being created.

9.  Mars Cafe The Drake Neighborhood got a jolt of caffeine when Mars Cafe opened.  Similar to East Village, Dogtown, as the locals affectionally call it, is another great example of neighborhoods being revitalized and attracting visitors and patrons alike.

10. Home Sweet Home Many people in my age group couldn’t wait to get out of Iowa after college.  I never had an inclination to leave.  Why?  I’m happy here in Iowa.  Des Moines has always been a city where if the right people, the right time, and the right opportunities fall into place, it could be a great place to live.  The verdict:  it is the right place for me.

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2 thoughts on “The “Other” List: What I Love About Des Moines

  1. Thanks Claire! I know that not all are locally grown, the goal and the intent to support and build the local presence is still the ultimate pursuit. I’m not the smartest grocer in the world, and sometimes can’t tell from local to a chain. It would be nice if there is a list of those who do everything locally that is planning on being at DTFM for 2012.

  2. Hey Romelle! I love your post and agree that all the things you picked are awesome. Only one slight disagreement. Most of the produce brought in to the Farmer’s Market for the first few Saturdays are probably not locally grown. One possible exception might be Larry Cleverly’s lettuce! Also, I guess there could be some greenhouse growers.

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