By Regina Lynch Hudson
In the heart of the Midwest lies the capital city of Iowa. Des Moines has undergone a renaissance over the last five years, becoming the essence of a cosmopolitan city with small-town charm. Because of its central location — at the intersection of Interstates 80 and 35 — the city is easy to get to from anywhere in the country.
The Greater Des Moines area boasts a population of 556,230. As the third largest insurance center in the world, Des Moines serves as the hub for Wells Fargo Financial, Principal Financial Group and Nationwide/Allied Insurance companies. The city is also known for publishing, finance, manufacturing and agribusiness. Other major employers include Iowa Health, Mercy Medical Center, MidAmerican Energy and CDS Global.
Steven James has lived in Des Moines since 1977, after relocating from New Orleans in search of “a slower pace.” Leaving his “young and crazy” days behind, the former data processing professional opened Fat Tuesday, a Cajun restaurant located one mile from the Des Moines International Airport, in March of 2009. Not to be confused with the Fat Tuesday chain, the name derives from James’ status as a once chubby baby. The menu also threatens to add inches to the waist line. Fat Tuesday’s airport-friendly address makes it easy for jetsetters to indulge in the delectable cuisine. www.fattuesday-restaurant.com
It takes less than 30 minutes to commute across the entire metro region. Downtown, the Des Moines Regional Transit Authority buses and the free downtown trolley, the D-line, make getting from place to place a cinch. www.dmmta.com ww.seedesmoines.com/get_around/d-line_downtown_shuttle.php
The addition of the new $40 million John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park has made Des Moines an energized cultural focal point. There’s no admission charge, so all you need to bring is your camera. www.seedesmoines.com/do_more/sculpture_park.php
The Suites of 800 Locust Hotel caters to the upscale businessperson and offers its visitors a luxurious stay. The hotel’s Cosmopolitan Lounge — featuring a martini bar with jazz-infused atmosphere — is the perfect place for business networking. A full-service spa allows guests a satisfying retreat; and a boardroom and business center make it the ideal stay for professionals.
The Power Lunch
The Western Gateway Park district’s recently opened Proof Restaurant, is a contemporary fine-dining eatery featuring Mediterranean flavors. Proof, a favorite lunch spot of downtown workers, is also open for dinner on Fridays. www.proofrestaurant.com
Yanni’s Grill and Vineyard offers a unique combination of Greek and Italian dishes. Try a gyro platter with zesty Tzatziki sauce, or Mousaka, a Greek-style beef and eggplant specialty. www.yannisgrill.com
Java Joes offers fresh cups of coffee with beans roasted daily. Connect with your own computer while you enjoy the relaxing atmosphere or use one of the computers in the CyberCafe. www.javajoescoffeehouse.com
Court Avenue Brew Pub’s welcoming atmosphere and location in downtown Des Moines’ Court District ensures you’ll see a number of business professionals — and they’ll see you. www.courtavebrew.com
Voted “Best Public Course” by the Des Moines Business Record in 2009, Legacy Golf Club continues to be a favorite of locals and visitors. www.thelegacygolfclub.com
Footloose & Fancy-Free
‘Do More’ in Des Moines — there’s plenty of attractions to keep you busy. The 110,000-square-foot Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater encourages learning with interactive areas and hands-on experience. Enjoy the arts by visiting the Des Moines Art Center.
AirTran Airways offers flights to Des Moines (The Des Moines International Airport) and more than 56 major U.S. cities. 1.800.AIR.TRAN, www.airtran.com.
Thanks to our friends at The Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau and other urist venues for providing us with facts, figures and fun information for this article. www.SeeDesMoines.com