Easter Lake, Des Moines Iowa
Easter Lake

You're probably familiar with the greatest attractions in Des Moines, but can you think of any hidden gems? Well the area is full of them. Here's your chance to experience the smaller side of Des Moines and all the great things it has to offer, from hidden outdoor recreation opportunities to farms and restaurants.

Rusty Stars Alpacas, Winterset Iowa
Photo Courtesy Rusty Stars Alpacas Facebook page

Where to Go

1. Easter Lake

Tucked away on the southeast side of Des Moines, this beautiful lake offers the same beauty, peace and amenities as the area's more popular lakes. With kayak and pontoon rentals, a swimming beach, a picnic area and a four-mile trail and Instagrammable-bridge around the lake, it's a gorgeous getaway you never knew you needed.

2. Rusty Stars Alpacas

Get up and close with some of the world's cutest animals on a peaceful farm in Winterset. Rusty Stars is open to the public every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., during which time you can enter the alpaca pasture and feed and pet the animals for free. You can also visit the on-farm store to purchase your very own alpaca wool products like a fuzzy scarf or pair of socks.

3. Woodland Cemetery

If you've got a taste for history and the macabre, check out Iowa's oldest cemetery. Predating even Des Moines' days as the state capital, it was established in 1848 and contains 80,000 graves, including most of the city's founding fathers. The city occasionally offers historical tours, which are well worth it.

Where to Eat

1. Simon's

Though Simon's is a well known hidden gem, this does not stray away from its endless tasty dishes like Steak de Burgo and Chicken Florentine. And its cozy and inviting space with great customer service from Simon himself along with their complimentary red velvet cake ensure you'll have an unforgettable dining experience.

2. Fat Tuesday

You don't have to travel that far south for the authentic taste of New Orleans, just to Fat Tuesday. Serving up tasty dishes like gumbo, catfish and po'boy sandwiches and ever frog legs for the adventurous eater, you can experience the flavors of Mardi Gras right here in Des Moines.

Where to Stay

Hotel Pattee

Make your way up to Perry for the night for an unforgettable say in the Hotel Pattee. Recognized as one of the best historic hotels in the U.S., this unique hotel includes 40 guest rooms each with a different theme alongside a full-service restaurant, lounge, spa and bowling alley on site.