Try DSM: Plant Enthusiasts

Calling all plant fans! Explore all the best green spaces, gardens and plant shops in Greater Des Moines (DSM) as you consider making your move here or are getting settled. Public gardens, parks and plant-centric shops offer opportunities to discover scenic settings and see your favorite botanicals up close, no matter the time of year! Whether you’re a gardener yourself, or you just appreciate botanical blooms, this itinerary will highlight the best places to see flowers, plants, trees and more as you make your home in DSM. 

Hotel Pick: Surety Hotel Des Moines 

Recently renovated into a boutique hotel, the Surety Hotel Des Moines is located in the historic Midland Building, a 12-story building that offers a luxurious stay in Downtown DSM. Plant enthusiasts will love the Surety Courtyard, where hotel guests can enjoy the outdoors in a beautiful oasis while snacking on ceviche or sampling some vino. You can even take something home with you after your stay in DSM after perusing the shoppable merchandise in the Surety lobby before you check out! 

Thursday Night 

  • Grab dinner at Mulberry Street Tavern inside the hotel between 4 and 11 p.m. From wood-fired trout to cauliflower steak and a rotating selection of cuts courtesy of Old Station Craft Meats, an Iowa shop sourcing local meat. 
  • Thursday nights all summer long —and even into the fall! — enjoy Music in the Garden in the Koehn Garden at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden in the Historic East Village. The Koehn Garden is an outdoor event space featuring vibrant plant borders that provide an experience any plant lover will enjoy. Then make your way into the domed conservatory for a taste of the tropics. You’ll find cactus, agave and palm plants, to name a few. (And during the winter months, check out the Dome After Dark event series, which takes place on Friday nights and offers a chance to explore the Garden’s dome under an evening glow.) 
  • To keep the tropical vibe going, head to Bellhop Tiki for an island-inspired night cap.  


Brenton garden
  • Start your morning at The Slow Down Coffee Co., where you can shop an assortment of small plants for sale, provided by Renovation Jungle
  • Once you’re fully caffeinated, explore the miles of trails at The Brenton Arboretum, located in Dallas Center. The Arboretum is more than 140 acres of diverse Iowa plants so take in the beauty as you try to find your favorite tree — this pocket guide will help! 
  • In nearby Grimes, you can find typical American fare at Destination Grille or Food Depot Bar and Grill. Both offer patio seating where you can get off your feet for the moment, enjoy your meal and prepare for the rest of your afternoon exploring plant life in the region.  
  • Holding You-Pick Flower days in June and July, Jester Hill Farm lets you cut your own stems to make a gorgeous bouquet or fill up to a five-gallon bucket with flowers. And since you’re near Jester Park, too, stop in at the Jester Park Nature Center where you can see nature exhibits, enjoy the outdoor nature trails and nearby natural playscape and more. 
  • End your day with a Friday night paint and sip at Bottle & Bottega Des Moines. Many of the painting events feature flowers, landscapes and more.  


art terrarium
  • Wake up with tea from Red Dragon Herbs & Tea, where tea blends of fine herbs, flowers and spices offer a relaxing start to the day. Purchase some to-go from their booth at the Downtown Farmers’ Market – Presented by UnityPoint Health – Des Moines, which is open Saturday mornings, May-October, in the Historic Court District of Des Moines. You’ll also find many vendors selling flowers and plants.  
  • Grab lunch at Eatery A, where you can order one of their grain bowls or a Mediterranean-inspired entrée featuring local ingredients. Other options nearby include Gusto Pizza, Sakari Sushi Lounge and Ritual Café
  • As you head into the afternoon hours, consider stopping in at Petals + Moss and Art Terrarium. These local plant shops will help you start your own plant collection, and if you decide DSM is the place for you, they’ll help you pick out plants that will make your new home feel like you’ve been here all along. 
  • Stop at Water Works Park once you’ve filled your shopping bags. Events take place throughout the summer, including live music events at Lauridsen Amphitheater, or you can stroll through Arie Den Boer Arboretum. Walk through the pedestrian tunnel under Fleur Drive to make your way to Gray’s Lake, too, where you can rent a watercraft and grab some ice cream at the concession stand. 


Explore the DSM region further and pick one or two other spots to check out before your weekend is over: 

Find Your Community in Greater Des Moines 

Greenwood plants

DSM is full of ways to connect with other plant lovers. Once you’ve settled in, check out these community groups: 

  • Take part in the Botany Book Club, a collaboration between the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and Raccoon River Press. Meetings are held Mondays in the Garden in the Historic East Village in Downtown DSM at 5:30 p.m.  
  • The Des Moines Founders Garden Club is responsible for helping build the Rose Garden and Greenwood Pond and is heavily involved with the Des Moines Art Center, as well as with many other garden projects around DSM. This community organization is an opportunity to be a part of cultivating and educating on caring for our local green space. 
  • Garden talks are offered through Ted Lare Design + Build. Workshops cover a variety of topics, including backyard prairies, proper pruning, veggie gardening and more.  

Put Down Roots in Greater Des Moines 

Live life in full bloom (we can’t resist the plant jokes) in Greater Des Moines. Find a fulfilling career, a meaningful community and peace of mind and discover your own way to do something greater. Connect with DSM to learn more.