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Court Avenue District
Historic District
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 244-7211
In the heart of downtown, you will find this district has a lot to offer. Saturdays from May through October, a vibrant farmers market comes alive with a wide variety of choice and quality goods. Fine restaurants and many retail shops make it a wonderful place to stroll. When the lights go down, another Des Moines comes alive in this area. Here you will find a variety of musical entertainment, theater and dancing.

Science Center of Iowa
4500 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
(515) 274-4138
This excellent science center hosts a great permanent collection and many special events throughout the year including live demonstrations and education programs. The Center also features a planetarium complete with laser shows as well as the Challenger learning center with an immersive shuttle simulator. Don't forget to visit the gift store before leaving.

Blank Park Zoo
7401 SW 9th Street
Des Moines, IA
Plan a trip to this Zoo on your visit. Animals from five different continents roam through magnificently landscaped habitats. These simulated habitats feature natural exhibits where visitors can observe over 800 different species. For children of all ages, there is also a petting area. A gift shop and snack bar complete the Zoo's attractions.

Historic Valley Junction
217 Fifth Street/South door
Fifth Street (physical address)
West Des Moines, IA 50265
(515) 222-3642
If you fancy just strolling and browsing, then come down to Historic Valley Junction. Here you'll find numerous shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, art galleries and antique haunts. Fun by day or night, this is one of the earliest settlements around Des Moines, dating from the mid-1840s when James C. Jordan first built and settled the area. He later went on to become a State Senator. Jordan's home became known as a safe haven on the 'Underground Railroad' and it was with money from Jordan that the Valley railroad was born. With the railroad came the businesses. Once a coal mining community, Des Moines quickly became a major railroad hub with the repair shops and switching yards of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The town expanded as more investment moved to the area. A vibrant downtown grew up with banks, schools, a trolley line and new homes, attracting all sorts of characters, not all of them reputable! Nowadays, though, downtown Des Moines certainly presents a more family-friendly atmosphere.

Birthplace of John Wayne
224 S. 2nd Street,
Winterset, IA
While in Des Moines, you should check out the birthplace of an American Icon, John Wayne. See where life began for this world famous star. The four-roomed home built in 1880 has been brought back to its appearance of 1907. Here you can reminise on the 'Duke's' life by viewing the memorabilia and photographs. Visit the gift shop and welcome center, too.