Des Moines is a recreational walkers’ paradise with more than 450 kilometers of trails available for walking, hiking, and cross-country skiing in the winter. The busy Gray’s Lake is a fun park area with a three-kilometre paved track encircling the lake and paddle boats, canoes, sailboats, and bikes available for rent. The larger Saylorville Lake is a 25-min drive north of downtown, has camp grounds and golf courses and is a favorite place for water activities, including boating, swimming and fishing. One of the city’s newest and most interesting parks is the Pappajohn Sculpture Park located in Western Gateway Park. It’s an outdoor museum with 24 world-class sculptures valued at more than $40 million donated by local philanthropists.
The historic Salisbury house dates to the 1920s, when cosmetics magnate Carl Weeks had it built to emulate the King’s house in Salisbury, England. The gorgeous 42-room mansion features Tudor, Gothic, and Corolean styles in its décor and includes antique art, furniture, tapestries, and books. A great time to visit is when it hosts one of its regular events, including chamber music concerts, a “Gatsby Gala,” the Salisbury Automobile Classic, and outdoor performances of Shakespeare on the lawn.
The Iowa State Capitol has dominated the Des Moines skyline since 1886 and is among the most beautiful state capitol buildings in America. Visitors are delighted by the 84-meter, 23-karat gold-leafed dome that towers over the city flanked by four smaller copper domes. You can climb to the peak inside for spectacular panoramas of the city. The building also houses some interesting curiosities, including a scale model of the USS Iowa, a collection of first lady dolls, and an assortment of historical flags. The building sits on a ten-acre “people’s park” complete with lush gardens and promenades.