Try DSM: Tune into the Music Scene in Des Moines for Jazz, Symphony & Classics

Greater Des Moines (DSM) is filled with music opportunities of the classics: jazz, symphony, classical, even opera! If you love a good orchestra or major stage production, we’ve got you covered with this guide for classical music options around DSM. (And don’t miss our companion guide for the music-lover highlighting live, local and big-name mainstream music in DSM as well!) 

Weekend Guide to Classical & Jazz Music in DSM

Hotel Pick: Hotel Fort Des MoinesStay at this iconic historic hotel in Downtown Des Moines (DSM) that has hosted presidents and celebrities, such as John F. Kennedy and Elvis Presley. It features luxurious accommodations within a well-preserved historical landmark.  

Jazz & More Music on Friday Night in DSM 

  • After you check in and get settled, take a two-minute walk to have dinner at Centro, an urban Italian eatery. Take time to savor every bite as your show for the night is right next door. 
  • The Temple Theater within the Temple for Performing Arts hosts a variety of acts from plays to comedians to musicians, such as the Benny Benack III Quartet, an amazing jazz group. Schedule your weekend visit when there is a show in town that best aligns with your musical style. 
  • Another great music option to kickoff your weekend is Noce, a jazz and cabaret club bringing in touring national acts and local crooners to the heart of Downtown DSM. Hear tributes to favorite famed jazz musicians like Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra. 
  • For a nightcap, visit Proudfoot & Bird or the hidden speakeasy In Confidence, both located within the Hotel Fort Des Moines.  

The Saturday Music Scene Around Des Moines 

  • From May to October, you can visit the Downtown Farmers’ Market located in the Historic Court District (about a 10 minute walk or two minute ride on the free DART D-Line shuttle from your hotel). Pick up a hot tea or latte, a breakfast sandwich and fresh-baked treat as you navigate several blocks of local farmers and makers. In addition to live entertainment like musicians, dancers and artists on nearly every street corner, you’ll want to fill a tote bag with goodies to take home, too! 
  • After walking around The Market, rejuvenate with a bite to eat at Fresko — a fresh food lunch eatery with craft beer, wine and cocktails also located not far from your hotel. Then pop into your room for a little downtime, if you prefer! 
  • Spend the afternoon at the Des Moines Civic Center, which attracts Broadway greats on the regular. Enjoy the lighthearted matinee performances of family-friendly shows like Air Play, an interdisciplinary show that includes comedy, circus acts and visual arts. Throughout the year, the Civic Center hosts touring Broadway shows, such as Hamilton, SIX, Moulin Rouge, the Lion King and many others. You can also catch performances by the Des Moines Symphony and other touring classical musicians playing in this venue. 
  • We recommend getting reservations for dinner at Bubba, the restaurant next door to your hotel that serves upscale Southern comfort foods and signature cocktails.  
  • After dinner, take a short drive to the Des Moines Community Playhouse to watch a talented cast of local performers put on shows such as Kinky Boots, Little Shop of Horrors and more. If you have kids who love to perform, you’ll have to come back for a visit to their children’s theater programs or consider enrollment in several kid-friendly theater camps. 
  • Or take a slightly (but not by much) longer drive to catch a performance at the Des Moines Metro Opera in Indianola. This premier company is part of the major American Summer Opera Festival and produces over 100 performances per year. 
  • Additional options: Check out the lineup of musicians coming to Hoyt Sherman Place, a beautiful historic mansion with a vibrant theater, and Prairie Meadows in nearby Altoona. And don’t miss seasonal performances by the Des Moines Community Orchestra, as well. 

Find Sunday Tunes in Greater Des Moines

  • For brunch, head to Americana. The restaurant has a hip industrial vibe, but on Sundays, it’s known for its Bombshell Brunch. You won’t walk away hungry! 
  • After brunch, stroll across the street to see the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. You can go at your own pace, or follow along on a free audio tour. If the weather doesn’t allow for time outdoors, stop by the Des Moines Art Center to see the latest exhibits. Admission is always free to the Art Center! 
  • There are a variety of options for Sunday afternoons. In the summer, you could travel south to Indianola for an afternoon of music and wine at Summerset Winery. At the right time of year, you could also see performances by Ballet Des Moines or stay for an extended visit and enjoy artists hosted by the Civic Music Association including the Belin Quartet of strings which typically performs during weekdays.   

Finally, don’t forget to explore even more music to love around Greater Des Moines with part one of our guide for music fans, which highlights live, local and big-name artists with a companion weekend itinerary to consider.  

As you take in live music, concerts and entertainment, you’ll find Greater Des Moines (DSM) offers a place where you can do something greater: Chase your career dreams, live affordably and get connected in a welcoming community. Get to know DSM and find your greater here. 

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