Get to Know: Urbandale

Creating a life and business is easy in Urbandale. With programs like genYP, K.E.Y. in Des Moines and the Central Iowa Business Conference, there are ample opportunities for growth and engagement within the community. Urbandale’s Paragon Prairie, the largest Italian glass mosaic tile mural in the U.S., is a sight to behold, and the outdoor living museum, Living History Farms, is a must-visit attraction that also hosts holiday events, historic dinners and teas as well as summer camps and the infamous Living History Farms Race. The Machine Shed on Hickman Road serves up Midwest comfort dishes (think pot roast, country fried steak and meatloaf — yum!) and don’t miss out on its signature dessert, the apple dumpling. Nearby, the Merle Hay Mall revitalization project is underway where development will include the new Buccaneer Arena and Training Facility, a hotel, expanded retail and more. 

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Urbandale at a Glance

  • Population: 45,923 (2021, U.S. Census Bureau) 
  • Location within Greater Des Moines: West 
  • Distance from Des Moines: 11.7 miles 
  • Type of Community: Suburb 
  • School District: Urbandale Community School District 
  • Counties: Dallas and Polk  

Urbandale in one sentence: An suburban community that celebrates the prairies of the Midwest, Urbandale is also home to Iowa’s largest furniture store and a kid-friendly treehouse at centrally located Walker Johnston Park.  

The top five best things about Urbandale: This tight-knit community’s best attributes are that it’s a safe city, that the Urbandale Public Library hosts many activities and events in a central location for residents, it’s a short commute to Downtown DSM, its open-air historical museum, Living History Farms, as well as a vast and connected network of parks and trails sprinkled with artful sculptures. 

Hidden gems and unexpected finds in Urbandale: Stop by the Paragon Prairie tower in Urbandale, made of more than 5,400 sheets of mosaic glass, which pays homage to Iowa’s prairies and is the largest Italian glass mosaic tile mural in the U.S. Check out the walking trail and Charles Gabus Memorial Tree Park behind the Urbandale Public Library that crosses over to Walker Johnston Park. 

Community traditions and annual events: Miracle on 86th Street brings 50,000+ holiday lights and displays to mark the holiday season, while the Fourth of July celebration (including the famous parade!) is held each year at Lion’s Park. 

Best ways to get connected: genYP and the Urbandale Community Action Network are great ways to get involved. The City of Urbandale also offers volunteer opportunities, as does the Urbandale Food Pantry.  

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Community leaders to know: Bob Andeweg, Mayor of Urbandale, and Ruth Haus, President at Living History Farms 

Big things on the horizon for Urbandale: A three-acre dog park is expected to open in the summer of 2023. 

If you’re coming to check out the community, be sure to spend your day ... Kick off your morning at Living History Farms! You’ll explore the 1700 Ioway Farm, 1850 Pioneer Farm, 1900 Horse-Powered Farm and 1876 Town of Walnut Hill in an outdoor setting. (Insider tip: Once you make your move to DSM, purchase a joint membership to Living History Farms, Blank Park Zoo and the Science Center of Iowa, which includes perks like free admission year-round, discounts to special events and more.) Grab a bite of lunch from Hidalgo Mexican Restaurant or the U Bar & Grill, then check out Walker Johnston or the inclusive Northview Park, where the nearby connected trails system lends to hours of family-friendly fun. Head over to The Urban Grill for Winesday Wednesday, where wine bottles are half-price all day. Grab a cookie and a drink at HOMEgrounds, Homemakers Furniture’s café within the 215,000 square foot indoor and outdoor furniture showroom. 

Some of the ways Urbandale advances diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI): Urbandale is home to CultureALL, which celebrates community collaboration in all areas, expanding services for schools, businesses and more. Additionally, Urbandale Community School District’s equity and inclusion mission demonstrates leadership where #allmeansall in collaboration with students, parents, staff and the community.  

image of a wooded rope course