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Des Moines is the capital and most populous city in the state of Iowa, which also makes it the area’s primary cultural and economic center (it’s considered the insurance company capital of America). The city is located five and a half hours from Chicago and two hours from Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second largest city. Thus it’s a fantastic place to explore for a few days if you’re making a road trip through the Midwest, but can also be a great stand-alone destination when you rent an RV.
Even though the metro area has expanded to over the years, much of Des Moines has retained a rustic look. The downtown area is populated with historic brick homes (albeit with several skyscrapers nearby) and quaint shops. Many of these neighborhoods are quite walkable, and the DART bus system has 26 routes throughout the city. Therefore, it might be a good idea to leave your Des Moines travel trailer rental or RV parked at its campsite if one of these bus routes passes near to it.
When you book an RV in Des Moines, you’ll have the freedom to travel to all the sites and scenery around the region. You’ll also need a place to set up your base camp with the Des Moines rental motorhome. Fortunately, there are a number of RV parks close to Des Moines, and many of them have quite a few amenities.
Griff’s Valley View RV Park and Campground is located 15 minutes to the northeast of the city center and has exercise equipment, laundry facilities, and a pond for fishing. All of their sites have full hookups.
Another option is Adventureland Resort, which is 15 minutes northeast of the city, but just steps from the Adventureland amusement park and Prairie Meadows Casino. Their RV sites also have full hookups along with a playground and pool.
Twenty minutes to the west of Des Moines is Timberline Campground, which has a swimming pool, recreation hall with billiards and video games, and a basketball court.
Walmarts can be found in all directions around the city, so you’ll have the option to do some self-sufficient camping with the Des Moines RV rental overnight in one of their lots. There are two stores within the city limits, on its west and south side, along with one store east of the city in Altoona, and one farther west in West Des Moines.
As the largest city in Iowa, Des Moines has a number of great attractions for you to explore with your RV rental. The Science Center of Iowa is a massive museum focused on educating visitors of all ages about how the world works. It features hands-on exhibits, a planetarium, and even an IMAX theater. Another great museum is the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. It’s dedicated to Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug and educates visitors on global food and agriculture issues.
For some culture, head to the Des Moines Art Center, which is the city’s main art museum, housing numerous temporary and permanent exhibits from around the world. If you need a place to relax after all those museum visits, stop at the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden in the middle of downtown Des Moines. It’s a testing ground for plants, a display garden, and photography studio. It’s a really enjoyable place to take a relaxing stroll. There’s also the Salisbury House & Gardens, a beautiful and historic house built in the 1920s and inspired by the King’s House in Salisbury, England. It’s now a museum displaying the collection of art, documents, and furnishings of its original inhabitants.
With several great parks nearby, spending time in nature is easy with your Des Moines motorhome rental. The 1,500-acre Water Works Park is conveniently located near the city center and has tons of space for picnicking, cycling, walking, running, and even fishing. A couple miles to the west is Raccoon River Park, which has over 600 acres of parkland in addition to a 500-foot sandy beachfront on Blue Heron Lake. There are soccer and softball fields, a playground, and a fishing pier, so you’ll have no excuse for not spending some time outside with your Des Moines rental camper.
Just outside the city is Walnut Woods State Park, which has a picnic area, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, along with fishing and canoeing opportunities in the nearby Raccoon River. About half an hour north of the city is Jester Park, which sits on the edge of Saylorville Lake. The park has a playground, golf course, and an equestrian center, in addition to the usual hiking, picnicking, and boating opportunities.