Try DSM: The Art Scene

Live where you can connect with your inner artist! The Greater Des Moines (DSM) art scene bursts with colorful murals scattered from Downtown to town squares, renowned sculptures in public spaces and galleries supporting local artists. 

Hotel Pick: Hotel Grinnell, a boutique hotel in Grinnell, features more than 300 art pieces in a building that once served as the city’s junior high school. Full of history and inspiration, Hotel Grinnell is an option for artists and art enthusiasts.  

If you prefer to stay in the central metro core, make a reservation at Des Lux in Downtown Des Moines and enjoy the surroundings of a historic building with artful touches.  


  • Ahead of your trip, make a reservation at Italian favorite Aposto in Downtown Des Moines. The restaurant is located within a Victorian mansion and, thanks to impeccable food presentation, Aposto is the perfect place for an art enthusiast to spend an evening.  
  • If you’re here on the First Friday of the month, you absolutely must visit Mainframe Studios. During the First Friday events, usually held between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., you can tour more than 130 artist studios and enjoy live music for free.  
  • Then make your way over to Hoyt Sherman Place for a show in the Sherman Hill district, Des Moines’ oldest neighborhood. While you’re there, take in the first art collection in the city of Des Moines, founded by the Des Moines Women’s Club. See the Apollo and Venus painting by Otto van Veen and take in the impressive architecture of this building listed on The National Register of Historic Places. 
  • Stop for a nightcap at The Bartender’s Handshake before heading back to your hotel. 


Choose your own adventure for Saturday: explore the city of Des Moines and the surrounding suburbs, or head around the region. 

Region-Wide Options: 

  • Travel to Newton to see more than 100 installations of art and sculpture. Thanks to the Iowa Sculpture Festival, you can pick up the latest map at the Centre for Arts & Artists on Third Street. While you’re there, stop in at the Geisler Penquite Gift Shop to shop featured artists. 
  • Once you’ve selected something to support the arts, stop by Cardinal Corner for some ice cream or a slushie. 
  • Browse the Grinnell College Museum of Art and its permanent collection and special exhibits.  
  • Make a road trip of the day and check out dozens of murals across the region, using Catch Des Moines’ list as your guide.  
  • Enjoy dinner at the Prairie Canary in Grinnell. 

Des Moines and Suburbs Options: 

  • Enjoy a colorful breakfast at Early Bird in West Des Moines. 
  • Head to the Historic Valley Junction (also in West Des Moines) and visit 2AU Limited, Kavanaugh Art Gallery, Kunzler Studios and Olson-Larsen Galleries while you’re there. Check out three “Our Main Street” sculptures along 5th Street in the area, too. The pieces were designed by Iowa artist Gail Chavenelle. 
  • For lunch, head to Tangerine at the Des Moines Art Center for options like paninis, quiche and more. Open until 2 p.m., you can grab a bite before wandering through the exhibits.  (Fun fact: The Center is comprised three wings, designed by Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei and Richard Meier.) 
  • Next, make your way to the Polk County Heritage Gallery — it’s free and open to the public.   
  • Enjoy dinner at Star Bar, which features a rotating display of art from local artists. 


Other Options for Your Itinerary 

Choose your own adventure and mix and match with these options to plan an itinerary:   

  • Another hotel option in the region is Hotel Pattee in Perry, a boutique hotel famous for its 40 individually decorated guest rooms. Stay in the “1913 Farmhouse Room,” the “Dutch Room” or the “Louis Armstrong.” The hotel’s artwork collection is something to see! In Perry, grab a coffee at breakfast or panini at lunch from Perry Perk Coffee Shop. Perry’s The Proletariat offers live music, an outdoor patio, pizza, beer and more to enjoy during the dinner hour. 
  • In Perry, you are also just a short distance from Atelier at 1109, where you can shop glass, fiber and print products from local artists in Perry. And if you’re here later in the year,  
  • Check out Even Water, eight sculptures made of stainless steel and bronze that highlight how water plays a role in a community’s quality of life. This public art is located near the Raccoon River Dog Park in West Des Moines. Learn more about dog-friendly opportunities in the region here.  
  • Explore options for making your own art. Check out classes at Mainframe Studios, the Des Moines Art Center or the Ankney Art Center, just to name a few sources.   

Find Your Community. Do Something Greater.  

Greater Des Moines (DSM) is full of ways to connect with other artists, creators and aficionados. A few ways to get connected: 

Greater Des Moines (DSM) is full of ways to connect to art and the community. See how you can make DSM your home.

Learn More and Connect.