Girls Day: Discovering Downtown Des Moines

I’ve lived in central Iowa for nearly 15 years, three of which I lived in Des Moines itself. But, it wasn’t until last summer that I really got out and explored this city. When I lived here during my college days, I didn’t really have a big desire to go downtown. The draw just wasn’t there. As a country girl, I felt a bit like a fish out of water in this big (to me) city. Just getting to and from my job at the Meredith Corporation at the time was enough of as hassle to make me want to avoid the area. When I got married and moved back to the country several years ago, my only connection to the city was my day job. I commute in, work, and drive home. To be completely honest, driving in downtown Des Moines intimidates me. I don’t know which streets are one-ways. I don’t know where anything of interest is located. There is always a lot of construction. Parking is difficult to find and/or expensive. All of this sends my anxiety skyrocketing and I find it easier to just not go. The few occasions that I do, I’m with a friend and I usually prefer that they drive (and I pay for parking). Admittedly, a year later, I’m slowly becoming more familiar with the area. I still prefer others to drive, but if I had to go alone, I think I could get to a few places.

I took these shots last August when Mrs. Jo Zilla and I spent the day wandering around various places in the downtown area, as well as a stop at our alma mater (where we met and all the shenanigans began), Drake University.

Old Main Drake Univ. 1 watermarkedOld Main 1 watermarkedOld Main Bulldog Strong watermarkedOlmstead painted bulldog watermarked

We started out with breakfast at Scenic Route Bakery in the East Village. They have some amazing pastries.

Then, we wandered the streets of the East Village, snapping away and doing a little shopping here and there until we were hungry again. I mean, no trip to the East Village would really be complete without a bit of shopping (Raygun, anyone?).

Raygun window matte watermarkedWords on a sign watermarkedpainted piano watermarkedUpDown flyer wall 2 watermarkedWolly's matte watermarkedMint Botique East Village SH watermarkedPink Door East Village 2 watermarkedNarnia Door East Village watermarked

Then we stopped for a delicious lunch at the Angry Goldfish–this small pub on Des Moines south/east side has great food!

Des Moines has some fantastic street art. The Metro Waste Authority and the Des Moines Social Club were a couple of the stops we made to capture some colorful creations.

No Action Too Small mural 1 watermarkedNo Action Too Small mural 2 watermarkedNo Action Too Small mural 3 watermarkedNo Action Too Small mural 4 watermarkedno action too small watermarkedDSM Social Club Art 1 watermarkedDSM Social Club Art 2 watermarkedDSM Social Club ocean mural 2 watermarkedDSM Social Club ocean mural 3 watermarkedDSM Social Club ocean mural 4 watermarkedDSM Social Club ocean mural 5 watermarkedDSM Social Club ocean mural square watermarkedDSM Social Club ocean mural pano 1 watermarkedDSM Social Club ocean mural pano 2 watermarkedturtle street art DSM Social Club watermarkedturtle street art DSM Social Club color reveal watermarked

The Pappajohn Sculpture Park is another must-stop spot. But, before we explored the park, we stopped across the street at Black Cat Ice Cream for a mid-day snack. I ordered the Cyclone (even though I am as far from a Cyclone fan as one can get)–because, cherry and lemon cake, umm, yes, please.

Thinker looking at DSM luster watermarkedLooking over Thinkers shoulder watermarkedRed metal sculpture 2 watermarkedred metal sculpture watermarkedSpider sculpture looking dt watermarkedsculpture park horses watermarked

Des Moines also has some incredibly beautiful architecture.

Hotel Ft. Des Moines Lobby watermarkedWest End Salvage fire escape watermarkedEast Village fire escape 3 watermarkedEast Village fire escape 1 watermarkedEast Village fire escape 1 matte watermarkedfire escape downtown dsm watermarkedfire escape downtown dsm lustre watermarkedfire escape downtown dsm 2 lustre watermarkedHohberger building blchdim watermarkedBuilding blue sky relfections watermarkedDowntown looking at Locust watermarked

And of course, there is that one moment where I feel the need to get a little creative. While standing down at the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge, I caught the reflection of the bridge and the Center Street Dam in Mrs. Jo Zilla’s sunglasses. This is probably one of my favorites from this day–it was just a fun, in the moment shot.

Rayban reflection 2 watermarked

We rounded out the day with drinks, tapas, and an awkward encounter with a guy who drunkenly decided to seat himself at our table and order himself a drink at the Stuffed Olive. It wasn’t long before he left, thankfully, and we could laugh about it over our martini’s. Our one disappointment was that by the time we arrived here at a little after 7, they were already out of several of their tapas, which was pretty disappointing. We enjoyed most of the ones we tried, but 7 seemed a bit early to be running out of food.

Des Moines is actually a really fun city with a ton of things to do, great places to eat, and lots to see–don’t believe, me hop on over the Catch Des Moines and see for yourself.

I can’t believe I forgot to post about this day. I didn’t realize until I was searching the blog for a photo from this shoot that I never did a blog post on this, so I apologize for the extreme delay. I’m not sure how I managed to push them aside and forget about them (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve likely already seen a few of them).

3 thoughts on “Girls Day: Discovering Downtown Des Moines

  1. Josh Driver says:

    Hey, I’ve felt the same about driving in downtown Minneapolis and I’d rather not every time. I’m used to it in a sense now but never comfortable. Also, those doors in your photos are really cool. I would go back and try to do some awesome things like bnw or framing or compression. Great post !


    • tcphototography says:

      Thank you so much! I can’t imagine trying to navigate Minneapolis! I did it one time back in college, but I don’t really remember much other than we had a hard time figuring out how to get out of the Mall of America! I haven’t been back since, although I’d really like to. Great suggestion about the doors– I’ll keep that in mind. I’d like to get another city shot in soon if I can swing it!

      Liked by 1 person

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