The following article was originally published on August 14, 2019 via The Washington Post.
By Melanie D.G. Kaplan

Des Moines

Iowa’s capital city, in the land of corn and caucuses, is on the move with an emerging food and cocktail scene.

I didn’t exactly go to Des Moines expecting corn fields, but I didn’t want to miss them, either. One night in the capital city this summer, I drove 30 minutes northeast of Des Moines and joined a weekly bike ride in the rural town of Maxwell . Our small group pedaled along quiet farm roads, past corn and soybean fields and over idyllic rolling hills, just as I had pictured. A small plane buzzed overhead, playfully looping and rolling, and I slowed to see grazing cows and a small cemetery. We finished our ride as the fiery sun set. Only then was I ready for the big city.

Des Moines, or DSM to locals, is a laid-back, easily navigable city with an impressive network of bike trails, one of the most beautiful and interesting capitol buildings I’ve toured and an emerging food and cocktail scene. Locals I met were kind and welcoming, probably more informed about presidential candidates than many of my D.C. neighbors and proud to host the country’s first caucuses during election season. Next year, the city will unveil the largest skate park in the country (with an 80-foot-long, totally skatable “WOW” sculpture) and host its first Ironman competition. It also plans to create a white-water destination on the river with a surfing simulator for extreme paddlers.

Des Moines is on the move. Go now, while it still enjoys the charms and convenience of a small town. Go before winter hits. Go while there’s still corn.



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