Scenic Sites in Downtown Des Moines

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There’s nothing quite like exploring your own town to enjoy the nostalgic moments and seeing the changes or new features you never noticed before. We had gorgeous weather the other weekend, and took the opportunity to grab some boba and wander through downtown Des Moines. I thought I’d share the notable places we toured this weekend, and hopefully you can take a chance to see them on your next trip!

Pho Real Kitchen & Bar

200 4th St, Des Moines, IA 50309

Blueberry Oolong Milk Tea with Honey Pearls from Pho Real Kitchen & Bar

We decided to start our journey with some boba tea at the Pho Real Kitchen & Bar which is on the corner of 4th street and along the infamous Court Avenue. This pho restaurant opened in the summer of 2019 and has a delicious Pho soup, other delicious food items, and a fun range of milk teas. I also love that you can adjust the sweetness level in the milk teas, as not as many bubble tea locations around here have that option. I’ve tried the taro milk tea (which is delicious), but was intrigued with the blueberry oolong. My husband wasn’t as big of a fan of it compared to his Taro, but I really enjoyed it! A perfect way to start the day and walk along the nice restaurants and bars of Court Ave.

Des Moines Riverwalk

If you continue heading down Court Avenue a couple blocks, towards the river and bridges and turn left, there are some great views along the Principal Riverwalk. There are different off-shoot areas with parks, sculptures, or parking along the riverwalk you can stop at.

In the picture above, there was an extended out portion over the river and with a closer view of the bridge. You could even feel a slight mist from the water fall there!

Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge, Des Moines, IA

Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge

We decided to walk over the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge, which I actually haven’t been across before! The inductees are listed throughout the bridge, and the nominees have various requirements before they are even selected. They have to be historical women who were born in Iowa, achieved prominence within Iowa, had been a resident of Iowa for an extended period after achieving prominence, and then selected based on their merit.

Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge, – Inductees
Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge – Des Moines, IA

It was pretty cool to see the names on there and overall the bridge had a great view of the river and the capitol. I won’t lie though, it was a windy day and my husband and I could feel the slightest swaying so we walked across a bit faster.

Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens

Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens – Des Moines, IA

After crossing the bridge we got to walk past the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens. During warmer months, there are different garden areas and waterfalls to look at, but the John Deere Chinese Pavilion seen above stays strong year round with it’s vibrant colors and unique architecture.

The Gardens are a monument honoring Robert D. Ray (1928 – 2018), who was an Iowa governor from 1969 to 1983. This also highlights the importance of diversity and contributions brought by the Asian American community to Iowa. Governor Robert D. Ray worked on the passage of the Iowa Burials Protection Act of 1976, which was the first legislative act in the United States that specifically protected American Indian remains.

His tenure in office was also notable for his humanitarianism efforts for the Southeast Asian Tai Dam refugees. He accepted many refugees in his resettlement program and provided relief efforts as well, which was very controversial at the time!

Des Moines Murals

Downtown Des Moines actually has quite a few notable murals throughout, they are very instagram worthy and bring a lot of color to the city! This mural we walked past was a new one for us, which was in a parking lot along with this neat colorful gate. It was a great way to end our walk as we headed back from a lovely day!

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