Leaving friends, family and favorite places behind to move to a new city can be bittersweet. We miss our sense of fitting in and being in the know about home. As a newcomer, it can be daunting trying to learn about your new community.
Figuring out how to become acquainted with the Des Moines metro area takes time. For anyone out there who feels a bit lost being such a newbie, here's a hand up. We've put together a list of ten essential things to do in Des Moines and to see after moving to Iowa's heartland.
Eat a Loose Meat Sandwich at Maid-Rite
Iowa is famous for its loose meat sandwiches, which are like Sloppy Joes without the sauce. Iowan Jon Yates has eaten many a loose meat sandwich from Maid-Rite restaurants since a junior high job changed the culinary course of his life. Yates says that loose, sautéed ground beef is more flavorful than a hamburger, because loose meat is "porous," unlike a solid burger.
Take a Class at the Des Moines Social Club
Politico identifies the Des Moines Social Club as a growing cultural force that is improving Des Moines while offering classes, performances and do-good opportunities, including fundraisers.
Attend the Iowa State Fair
Come to the fair, August 10 to 20. Grandstand entertainment by famous musicians, Four H Club competitions, auto shows, a flea market and livestock exhibits are all part of the sweet, cotton-candy excitement lined up for this year's fair.
Ponder the Huston Cemetery in West Des Moines
Atlas Obscura, an online compendium of oddity, includes Waukee's tiny Huston Cemetery among its listings of unusual places to visit. This 19th century graveyard is stranded as an island in the middle of a traffic roundabout.
Tour the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden
Meredith Publishing, which produces Better Homes and Gardens magazine, offers free tours of its test gardens, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, on Fridays from noon to 2 p.m.
Visit the Waukee Coal Mining Museum
Agriculture wasn't the only livelihood in the Des Moines area in the 1800s. Coal mines were all over Iowa, including one in Waukee that eventually closed in 1949. The Waukee Coal Mining Museum is housed in the city's public library.
Shop at West Des Moines' Valley Junction Farmers Market
Every Thursday through September 28, the Historic Valley Junction neighborhood hosts a farmers market and live music. Valley Junction is the heart of West Des Moines.
Do the Zoo Brew at Blank Park
Every Wednesday June through August, 5:30 to 9 p.m., HyVee markets sponsors Zoo Brew at the Blank Park Zoo, 7401 SW 9th Street, Des Moines. Enjoy live music, beer and a walk around the zoo.
Lend a Hand at a Community Garden
Look around and you'll find a community garden program near you. If you don't need your own garden plot, then lend a hand at Global Greens Farm, 4444a Fuller Road, West Des Moines. A project of Lutheran Services in Iowa, it helps immigrant families gain access to healthy food, reduce their grocery bills and become market farmers.
The Des Moines area has some amazing things to offer the newcomer or the seasoned renter. If you are looking for different things to do or some awesome local deals, check out these great Groupon deals!
Growing in the Community
Plants aren't the only things that grow in a community garden. Friendship blooms as people work side by side. Friendship also flowers in friendly apartment communities, such as the Springs at Waukee and West Des Moines' Springs at Jordan Creek.