Don’t Just Wait: Turning Your Des Moines Layover into an Adventure

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Stuck at the Des Moines International Airport (DSM) on a layover? Don’t despair! This bustling airport, while not the biggest, offers a surprising number of ways to make the most of your unexpected downtime. From indulging in local flavors to exploring hidden gems near the airport, this guide equips you to transform your layover into a mini-adventure!

For the Foodie: A Taste of Des Moines

  • Explore the Concourse Delights: DSM boasts a diverse selection of restaurants and cafes catering to various palates. Craving a taste of Iowa? Grab a juicy burger or a classic pork tenderloin sandwich at the Hawkeye Chop House. Need a quick and healthy option? Freshii offers delicious salads and wraps. For a touch of international flavor, savor authentic Indian cuisine at Maharaja or indulge in fresh sushi at Sushi Mura.
  • Venture Beyond the Security Checkpoint (if your layover allows): For more options, consider venturing beyond security (check your baggage claim time to ensure a smooth return). The nearby Embassy Suites Des Moines Downtown offers a convenient location and a delicious on-site restaurant, “The Brick + Mortar.” Alternatively, hail a ride-sharing service and explore the “East Village,” known for its trendy restaurants and cafes. Sample award-winning BBQ at Smokey D’s or enjoy a gourmet burger at Zombie Burger + Drink Lab.

For the Art Enthusiast: A Dose of Culture

  • Des Moines Art at the Airport: DSM showcases its artistic spirit with a permanent collection displayed throughout the airport. Keep an eye out for sculptures, paintings, and murals by local and regional artists. These captivating works add a splash of color and spark conversation while you wait.
  • Hit the Streets (if your layover allows): If your layover permits and your luggage situation allows, venture outside the airport and explore the Des Moines Art Center, a 15-minute drive away. This renowned museum boasts an impressive collection of American art, spanning centuries and styles. Don’t miss the breathtaking sculpture garden, a serene oasis in the heart of the city.

For the Nature Lover: A Breath of Fresh Air

  • Get Active at Brown’s Woods: A short drive from the airport lies Brown’s Woods, a haven for nature lovers. Stroll along scenic trails, have a picnic lunch amidst the greenery, or rent a bike and explore the park’s winding paths. The serene setting is a perfect antidote to airport hustle and bustle.
  • Relax at Pappajohn Sculpture Park (if your layover allows): For a dose of art and nature combined, head to Pappajohn Sculpture Park, located within Gray’s Lake Park (a 10-minute drive from DSM). Explore a collection of thought-provoking modern sculptures displayed amidst beautifully landscaped gardens. Take a moment to relax by the lake and enjoy the fresh air.

For the Practical Traveler: Recharge and Refresh

  • Power Up at Charging Stations: DSM understands the importance of staying connected. Multiple charging stations are conveniently located throughout the airport, ensuring your devices stay powered up during your layover.
  • Relax in Comfort: Several comfortable seating areas are scattered throughout the terminal, allowing you to unwind and catch up on some reading or work. For ultimate relaxation, consider booking a day pass at the Escape Lounge, which offers complimentary snacks, beverages, and comfortable seating.
  • Shop Local Souvenirs: DSM boasts a variety of shops selling everything from travel essentials to unique Iowa souvenirs. Pick up a locally-made T-shirt, a jar of Iowa honey, or a quirky postcard to commemorate your unexpected Des Moines adventure.

Embrace the Unexpected: Turn Your Layover into an Adventure

So, the next time you find yourself with a layover at DSM, don’t resign yourself to boredom! With a little planning and this handy guide, you can transform your layover into a mini-Des Moines adventure. Embrace the unexpected, explore the local flavors, or simply escape into the beauty of nature. After all, sometimes the best travel experiences come in the most unexpected packages!