A clean, affordable and accessible city, Des Moines is an ideal destination for meeting planners. Situated at the Crossroads of America, this four-time "All American City" is within one-day's drive of 23 percent of the U.S. population. In fact, 56 million people live within a 500-mile radius of Des Moines, and approximately two million people visit each year.
Des Moines' increasing popularity as a meetings destination is largely due to a $2.85 billion city transformation. Continuing to step up its game, Des Moines is in the midst of a massive makeover that has infused the city with new life and given it a fresh, new face. From modern hotels to exciting new attractions, there is no end in sight to Des Moines' skyrocketing growth. One of Des Moines most ambitious undertakings is the Principal Riverwalk. A series of lighted pathways and bridges, the Principal Riverwalk will connect the east and west sides of town and is primed to redefine the riverfront experience and reinvigorate the city.
Arriving in Des Moines is both convenient and affordable with an average of 120 domestic flights arriving daily at Des Moines International Airport. Once in the city, the convenience continues with an efficient, free shuttle service called the "D-Line." With shuttles running daily, this new feature is a fun and economical way to maneuver throughout town. Additionally, Des Moines is home to the largest per capita skywalk system in the world. Totaling four miles, this climate-controlled system links downtown meeting facilities with shopping, hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Easy access is only the beginning when it comes to hosting a meeting in Des Moines. The Iowa Events Center, the city's centerpiece for meeting and convention groups, boasts over 300,000 square feet of meeting space. A complex comprised of Hy-Vee Hall, the Wells Fargo Arena, the Polk County Convention Complex and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the $217 million center allows planners the ease and versatility that comes from having several Des Moines event venues in one convenient setting.
With options for meetings and conventions of all sizes, Hy-Vee Hall and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium offer seating for between 500 and 17,000 people, plus an additional 17 breakout rooms and enough space for tradeshows of up to 1,020 people. Additionally, the award-winning Polk County Convention Complex offers 50,000 square feet of flexible space, of which 20,000 square feet can be divided into 10 different meeting rooms.
Another world-class meetings option is the expansive Iowa State Fairgrounds. Just 10 minutes from the downtown area and 20 minutes from the Des Moines International Airport, the Iowa State Fairgrounds offers 300,000 square feet of exhibit space within more than a dozen facilities. A full-time event planning staff along with parking space for 15,000 vehicles makes the fairgrounds a terrific site for tradeshows and other large-scale events and exhibitions.
Beyond the traditional event centers, meeting planners are pleased to find that Des Moines offers a host of additional unique facilities. From theaters to historic homes, museums to casinos, the many alternative spaces afford delegates a rare taste of the city. Host a seminar in the main hall of the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, offering space for 2,735 people along with phenomenal acoustics and superb sightlines. Small groups can gather in an elegant 1923 Tudor mansion at the Butler House on Grand. Or, invite guests to a memorable event underneath the sea or overlooking a rainforest at Blank Park Zoo.
Commonly referred to as "Hartford of the West," Des Moines is one of the largest insurance centers in the United States. Several large corporations are headquartered in Des Moines including Principal Financial Group, Meredith Publishing Company, Allied Insurance and EMC Insurance. Many prominent colleges and universities also call the city home including Drake University, Des Moines University and Grand View College.
The capital and most populous city in Iowa, Des Moines is the political, economic and cultural center of the state. Once a chain of military outposts established to protect the rights of the Sac Indians, Des Moines was originally known as Fort Raccoon before becoming Fort Des Moines and later simply Des Moines.
Settlements sprung up around the fort, which became the state's most populous city by 1900. Today, over 535,000 people enjoy the high standard of living in Des Moines. In fact, in 2007 Forbes magazine named the Des Moines Metropolitan Area as number 4 on its list of "Best Places for Business and Careers."
Part of a five-county metropolitan area expanding nearly 3,000 square miles, the city is also at the crossroads of America. It is situated at the intersection of I-80 and I-35, the 1st and 3rd most traveled interstates in the United States. Greeting guests as they travel into the city, the Des Moines skyline boasts grand skyscrapers including the 33-story Marriott hotel and the 45-story Principal Financial Group tower, the city's tallest building. Despite its vertical growth in the 1970s and 1980s, Des Moines still retains its historic charm in communities such as Owl's Head, Sherman Hill and East Village.
Aside from historic districts, Des Moines is growing in popularity for its first-class retail areas. With shopping districts cropping up around every corner, it's easy to indulge in a little retail therapy. Take a refreshing stroll through the new Village of Ponderosa, where specialty stores mingle with parks, walking trails and footbridges. Or, pay a visit to the West Glen Town Center, the fastest growing retail area in the state. Antique enthusiasts can explore Historic Valley Junction, a collection of over 120 outlets set within a renovated railroad district, while Valley West Mall is the premiere collection of department stores and national chains.
Beyond the shops, Des Moines is a haven of outdoor activities. Whether ice skating along the banks of the Des Moines River at Brenton Skating Plaza, walking amidst the fragrant blooms of the Des Moines Botanical Center, or watching the wildlife at Blank Park Zoo, visitors can find plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors in the city. Sports fans can catch an Iowa Cubs game at Principal Park, one of the top rated minor league stadiums in the nation, or get in the action at the spectacular Sleepy Hollow Sports Park. A 60-acre sports and recreation complex, Sleepy Hollow allows guests to tube, ski or snowboard down the slopes in winter or practice their golf swing in the summer.
The excitement continues indoors where attractions such as the new Iowa Hall of Pride teaches visitors about Iowa at one of 27 state-of-the-art exhibits. Covering everything from sports to the arts, the Iowa Hall of Pride is a fun and informative way to spend an afternoon. Alternatively, children and adults alike can explore the solar system or the inner workings of the human body at the new Science Center of Iowa. History buffs should not miss a visit to the State Historical Museum, which details the people, places and events that have shaped Iowa's past.
Des Moines nights are just as exciting as its days. From world-class dining to vibrant bars and clubs, the city has something for every night on the town. Pull up a chair at Alba Restaurant's chef's table, or settle in for dinner at downtown Des Moines' famed Azalea restaurant. Catch a Broadway show or performance by the popular Des Moines Symphony at the Civic Center Greater Des Moines. Night and day, indoors and out, the wealth of attractions in the city prove why it's easy for guests to "do more" in Des Moines.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Similar to most Midwestern cities, Des Moines has a humid continental climate that sees a wide range of weather conditions and four very distinct seasons. The summer months see an average high temperature of 86°F, while temperatures in the winter drop to a chilly 32°F. Winters have moderate to heavy snowfall that transforms the city into a powdery white wonderland. Rainfall typically occurs during the months of May and June with precipitation averaging 33 inches annually.
Although there is a high variability in Des Moines' weather conditions, the city's extensive climate-controlled skywalk system allows visitors to enjoy the city in comfort year-round. However, the absolute best time to visit Des Moines is autumn, when the weather is sunny and dry.
Iowa Events Center
The Iowa Events Center is a unique combination of three venues: Wells Fargo Arena, Hy-Vee Hall, and Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. Following a $42-million renovation, the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center now boasts 33,892 square feet of new meeting room space and a 28,730-square-foot ballroom. The entire Iowa Events Center now has 226,000 square feet of total space, including 150,000 square feet of exhibit space, 37 meeting rooms and a 17,500 seat arena. The renovation included unique upgrades including an infinite amount of LED lighting capabilities, eight large projectors that can display images that are 16’ tall by 30’ wide, technology to display both static marketing logos and dynamic videos interacting and cold water plumbed into each of the 21 meeting rooms.
Civic Center of Greater Des Moines
221 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
Iowa State Fairgrounds
East 30th Street
Des Moines, IA 50317
Total Meeting Space – 300,000 Sq. Ft.
Des Moines International Airport (DSM)
Approximate taxi fare: $18-22 USD
Located approximately six miles south of downtown Des Moines, the Des Moines International Airport is Iowa's leading gateway, serviced by eight airlines. Providing non-stop service to 18 destinations including Chicago, New York City and Washington, DC, Des Moines International handles more than two million passengers per year. United, Northwest and American Eagle offer the most flights coming to and from the airport.
To keep up with the growing number of passengers, the airport recently underwent a massive renovation and expansion effort. A new $4.8 million baggage claim area and two new parking garages that connect to the main terminal by way of skywalks were added as part of the plan.
Passengers traveling to and from Des Moines International will find the airport loaded with amenities including a business center, meeting rooms, currency exchange and short-term, long-term and economy parking. Additionally, with several shops and restaurants to choose from, travelers have plenty of options for grabbing a bite to eat or picking up a last-minute souvenir.
Airline carriers serving Des Moines International Airport
With a complete family of transportation services, the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) strives to provide access to jobs, schools and other destinations in the greater Des Moines community.
The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority operates a convenient and efficient public bus line that covers the cities of cities of Altoona, Ankeny, Des Moines, Clive, Urbandale, West Des Moines and Windsor Heights. DART's fleet of 90 buses travels over 15,000 miles making stops at shopping malls, business districts, residential areas and schools. Regular route fare is $0.75 for children ages 6-10 and $1.50 for adults. Express route fare is $0.75 for children and $1.75 for adults.
DART Paratransit provides demand response transportation service to senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Some services are provided free of charge under contract to a number of agencies including Polk County Social Service, State of Iowa Human Services and Link Associates. Other services require the passengers to pay a fare and are subsidized by DART member cities.
The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority has introduced a new free shuttle service that connects the Capitol Complex with the Western Gateway in downtown Des Moines. The shuttle, known as "D-Line", travels west on Grand Avenue from the State Capitol to Central Campus before turning to come back east on Locus Street. The D-Line operates Monday through Friday about every 10 minutes from 7 AM to 6 PM.
Several familiar rental car companies, including Alamo, Avis, Enterprise Rent a Car, Hertz, National and Thrifty, operate out of the baggage claim area at Des Moines International Airport. Additional rental car companies are located in the downtown area.
Taxi cab service is available from Des Moines International Airport to any destination in Central Iowa. Both Capitol and Yellow Cab companies provide 24-hour service from the airport and accept cash as well as major credit cards. The average fare from Des Moines International to the Iowa Events Center is approximately $20.
Exciting Meetings in the Heart of Downtown Des Moines
Experience the bold transformation of a downtown Des Moines hotel boasting renovations consisting of meeting space, restaurants and guest rooms at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown. Highlighted by the newly-completed M.I. Greatroom, this fully modernized Des Moines, Iowa hotel features three unique 'zones' designed to offer guests distinct areas to arrive, conduct business and mingle with friends. Ideally located in the heart of the business district, this hotel in Des Moines, Iowa is connected to the Iowa Events Center and Wells Fargo Arena by skywalk, making it one of the most convenient downtown Des Moines hotels. Dine at the delectable on-site Rock River Grill and Tavern, or discover the innovative City Center Lounge for casual downtown libations. Highlighted by 25,000 square feet of space, this Des Moines, IA hotel is ideal for conferences, weddings, retreats and events of all sizes.
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