Passionate About Des Moines
and the Moms Who Live Here

Take a Des Moines Staycation

We are a stage in life where taking a family vacation is hard. Taking a vacation with just the two of us — no kids — seems nearly impossible. When Lance and I had the opportunity to have our two kids go to grandma’s house for a long weekend, I snatched it up and started planning our Des Moines staycation.

We live in a pretty great city, right? Des Moines is FUN. We have some cool attractions, delicious restaurants, awesome festivals, and it’s easy to navigate. Planning our Des Moines staycation was a blast, and I’m going to share with you a couple tips to make your own Des Moines staycation fabulous!

Take a Des Moines Staycation | Des Moines Moms Blog

1. Make it feel like a real “vacation” and stay in a hotel or a bed and breakfast.

I stayed at Hotel Renovo for a girlfriends’ getaway earlier in the year, and it was such a great experience. They are newly renovated and just off the interstate in Urbandale (next to the Machine Shed Restaurant and near Living History Farms). The suite I stayed in with my friends was decorated in a way that I think Joanna Gaines would be proud of: clean, light, bright, and airy. 

Take a Des Moines Staycation: Hotel Renovo | Des Moines Moms Blog

2. Eat some place local and new.

Lance and I did a progressive dinner date and had the best time. We started at one spot for drinks and appetizers, went to another restaurant for our main dish, and then ended at another restaurant for dessert!

For our dinner date we started downtown on Court Avenue at RōCA for happy hour (half off flatbreads [do yourself a favor and try the mushroom and goat cheese flatbread!], select wines, and beer — every day from 3-6 p.m.). I enjoyed the fact that it was also the location for one of the scenes from Chris Soule’s season on the Bachelor. I’m super cool like that.

For our main course we moseyed over to Beaverdale for dinner at The Flying Mango. I most ardently love their Dirty Shrimp and Rice, and my husband loves their smoked Big Chop. But prepare for mouth burn — the Dirty Shrimp and Rice is spicy delicious!

We thought about just hopping on over to Snookies for my favorite Black Raspberry Ice Cream Shake, but because it was actually Lance’s birthday, I let him have the final say (I’m nice like that). Because this was our adult “staycation,” we wanted to go places we don’t normally go with our kids, and my kids love Snookies, so we chose to go back downtown to Centro for dessert. If you have never had Centro’s Toasted Marshmallow Sundae, you are missing out on one of life’s pleasures. Do me a favor and just say yes. I’m also a big fan of their Creme Brulee. You can easily say yes to that option, too. πŸ™‚

Take a Des Moines Staycation | Des Moines Moms Blog

Roca mushroom and goat cheese flatbread

3. Do something without kids.

For us, that looks like going to the movies and seeing something that isn’t animated. What better place to see a movie in Des Moines than at Flix Brewhouse at Merle Hay Mall? PG-13 movies, comfy seats, adult beverages, and food? AWESOME!

4. Take in a local site.

This could be an Iowa Cubs baseball game, the Des Moines Botanical Center, the State of Iowa Capitol Building, etc. For our beautiful Saturday, we chose to take the short drive to Madrid and bike the High Trestle Trail Bridge. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, and it was a great way to burn a few calories before our progressive dinner date!

Take a Des Moines Staycation | Des Moines Moms Blog

5. Shop local.

We had some time to kill downtown between courses and walked around the East Village to shop at some of the fun places I don’t normally get to go. Pick up a tongue-in-cheek tee from RAYGUN as a souvenir!

Take a Des Moines Staycation | Des Moines Moms Blog

Giveaway (note: the giveaway has ended)

One of you will have the chance to win an overnight stay at Hotel Renovo and a gift card to Flix Brewhouse. All you have to do is comment below with something you would like to do on your own Des Moines staycation. Good luck!

So this summer when you are bemoaning the fact that you can’t go on a cool vacation to the Galapagos Islands, look around your own great city of Des Moines and visit a few of the things that make this a great place to live, work, and raise a family!

All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for them. 

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73 Responses to Take a Des Moines Staycation

  1. Erin Peterson
    Erin Peterson June 29, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

    Escape Chambers!

  2. Heidi Gruca June 29, 2016 at 1:11 pm #

    High Trestle Trail has been on my list for a while….time to get it done!

  3. Kristy June 29, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    Ooooh! Pick me! I would love to check out the Hotel Renovo, it looks so nice. Also, Summerset Winery on a Sunday afternoon with my hubby would be on my list.

  4. Becky
    Becky June 29, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

    Oh I’d love this! Zombie burger shakes and a trip to target are usually date night happenings for us!

  5. Lauren June 29, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    Love the progressive dinner idea!

  6. Ann June 29, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

    I would love to try cooking classes – Cooking with Alessandra!

  7. Jessica June 29, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    How have I not heard of Hotel Renovo? It looks amazing! Staying there for a night with my husband (and without our 14 month old son) would be awesome. Throw in an afternoon at Climb Iowa and a steak from Jesse’s Embers, and you’ve got a sweet staycation!

  8. Kristin Macri June 29, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

    I love the idea of a staycation! I love the idea of doing simple things that are hard with kids like the farmer’s market or an I-Cubs game.

  9. Shelley June 29, 2016 at 5:16 pm #

    I would go to the farmers market! Also any new restaurant always is fun!

  10. Megan June 29, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    I’d choose Noce for some live music without the kids!

  11. Anna Pham June 29, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

    My friends and I are biking the Trestle Trail very soon. A night out at Iowa State Fair would be fun. And taking a group of friends to Jim Gaffigan’s show would be hilarious. So many events and outings to choose from!

  12. Leah June 29, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

    A progressive dinner sounds great, or biking around Saylorville!

  13. Jessica June 29, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    Adventureland without kids πŸ™‚

  14. Stacy W June 29, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

    This would be fantastic! We’d definitely hit up Eatery A!

    • Kara Knaack
      Kara Knaack July 1, 2016 at 8:33 pm #

      Stacy you are our lucky winner! Please email [email protected] to claim your prize! Congratulations and have a great time!


  15. Autumn
    Autumn June 29, 2016 at 5:53 pm #

    We love Up Down for a juvenile yet sans kids outing, but there’s also so many great restaurants we’d like to linger at!

  16. Amy June 29, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

    So many good restaurants- Malo, Americana, Exile…

  17. Katie June 29, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

    Jester park, Beaverdale Books or Plain Talks books and coffee, river walk, drive in movie, Mars cafe , escape chambers

  18. Rachel Manley June 29, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

    I would just enjoy waking up on my own I’m a bed I don’t have to make!

  19. Kristin
    Kristin June 29, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

    A progressive dinner date is such a great idea! Would love to check out some hot spots downtown and in the East Village area. And Flix Brewhouse is our go-to date!

  20. Meredith June 29, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

    I would love to win this! We are having our next staycation in a few weeks and trying the escape chambers!

  21. Megan M. June 29, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

    I’ve never tried a progressive dinner date–that sounds like a great idea! And I’ve been interested in Hotel Renovo. I drive by it on my way to work, and it just looks so nice.

  22. Andrea June 29, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

    My husband and I just did a progressive dinner on a day date! Started at Eatery A, then Sakari, and ended with cupcakes at Creme! For a staycation I’d love to rent the city B-cycles and ride around Gray’s Lake Park, or get a bike taxi and hit up the local breweries! Des Moines has so many great options. And the Hotel Renovo looks like the perfect getaway! Great post, I’m always looking for ways to keep the magic alive πŸ™‚

  23. Tara Johansen June 29, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

    A progressive dinner sounds fun and I’ve also wanted to try the Escape Chambers!

  24. Rachel
    Rachel June 29, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

    Sleeping through the night in a beautiful hotel with breakfast and Starbucks in bed? Sounds dreamy….

  25. Emily June 29, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

    I’d love to wander around the Art Center and sculpture garden and then try a new restaurant with my husband. We are new to the area and still have lots of exploring to do! πŸ™‚

  26. Andrea June 29, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

    Love this! Brunch at La Mie would def be on our list!

  27. Beth June 29, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

    We would definitely sleep in, and then do brunch somewhere new! I’d love to hit up Flix Brewhouse or maybe the Art Center after brunch.

  28. Teri Selbher June 29, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

    Relaxing, talking with my husband, eating slowly, no schedule…sounds heavenly.

  29. Julie Johnson
    Julie Johnson June 29, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

    i would love all of the above!!! I mostly would love to go to Flix with my husband!!

  30. Julie June 29, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

    Never done a dsm staycation… Great idea would love to enjoy these places!

  31. Michelle Miesen June 29, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

    Escape chamber or high trestle trail/bridge without the kiddos πŸ™‚

  32. Erica June 29, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

    We love staycations! The progressive dinner is a great idea and definitely would hit up a movie. I think we’d do Gray’s Lake as well.

  33. Rebekah June 29, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

    Going to our favorite local coffee shop–Zanzibar!!!

  34. JODI PETERSON June 29, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    A night in a hotel!

  35. Leslie
    Leslie June 29, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    I would love to take in an Iowa Cubs game and try out the Iowa Tap Room.

  36. Megan June 29, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

    Sitting outside on the patio of a restaurant downtown sipping on an adult beverage enjoying the relaxation with my husband!

  37. Megan June 29, 2016 at 8:47 pm #

    Love the progressive date idea, that would be totally fun. I would also enjoy going to see some live music!

  38. Melissa Schulz June 29, 2016 at 9:14 pm #

    Stay-cation is a great idea! I would start the day at the DSM farmer’s Market, ride bikes on the high trestle Trail, get dinner at Eatery A and then dessert at Creme. Staying the night at the Hotel Renovo would be awesome!

  39. Molly June 29, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

    Love the ideas and would love to go to Flix for a nice date!!!

  40. Alissa June 30, 2016 at 12:13 am #

    An adult day Adventureland riding all the rides my kids aren’t tall enough to ride on would be fun and that could be combined with some time at Prarie Meadows, dinner at Jethrow’s or maybe a movie at the new Cinemark Theater with the reclining seats!

  41. Jill June 30, 2016 at 1:58 am #

    Sushi movie shopping with my husband !

  42. Allison Frederick June 30, 2016 at 2:32 am #

    For a Des Moines staycation, I would like to go to Flix Brewhouse! I have heard great things about it!

  43. Sebrina June 30, 2016 at 2:33 am #

    Out family had a staycation in Des Moines last week. The kiddos loved SkyZone, the zoo, and bowling. For our next staycation I would love to stay at a hotel (as our kiddos think that is pretty cool). There are so many things to do in Des Moines. I love our little big city!

  44. Lindsey June 30, 2016 at 2:46 am #

    This post is amazing!!! Think I’ll plan a weekend with my hubs to do all of the above! πŸ™‚

  45. Adriana June 30, 2016 at 2:51 am #

    Staycation for me and husband? Or staycation with the kids? Hmmm…. hard choice. If kids were involved, a trip to the zoo or Living History Farms would be fun. If it was just me and husband… then dinner and dessert and a night away would be a fun change! A special breakfast would be amazing too!

  46. Kim June 30, 2016 at 2:59 am #

    Love the idea of a progressive dinner date. We also want to visit one of the local wineries soon.

  47. Marybeth Boyle June 30, 2016 at 3:06 am #

    I would spend time exploring all the stores in the East Village. Always say I’m going to, but still haven’t done it!

  48. Sarah Cabildo June 30, 2016 at 3:52 am #

    Shopping in the east village, sushi or Indian food and a night in a hotel with sleeping in! ! Sounds like you and Lance had a great time

  49. Kristen June 30, 2016 at 4:02 am #

    Noce at night and then brunch in the am!

  50. Renea June 30, 2016 at 4:05 am #

    High Trestle, Sushi & a cool swimming pool!

  51. Melanie June 30, 2016 at 4:07 am #

    Centro and East Village shopping!

  52. Kate M June 30, 2016 at 4:08 am #

    Sushi would be fun and a walk through the sculpture park!!! Hitting up the trails to run together and maybe a trip to the art center!! Also- trellis would be a great spot for a date!! Love Dsm!

  53. sarah
    sarah June 30, 2016 at 4:10 am #

    farmers market, brunch at la mie, shopping, drinks on a patio, dessert at Creme Cupcake!

  54. Teresa June 30, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    Bike the trestle trail at night!

  55. Jennifer Gordon George
    Jennifer Gordon George June 30, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    So many great stay-cation ideas!!! I would love to hit up a production at the Civic center and enjoy one of the great restaurants downtown.

  56. Kelsey June 30, 2016 at 6:25 pm #

    Concert at Wooly’s without kids!

  57. Stephanie hager June 30, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    I’m due in 6 weeks so I really just want a beer or two and to go on a bike ride again!

  58. Jennifer Benson June 30, 2016 at 9:17 pm #

    I’d like to go paddleboarding at Gray’s Lake!

  59. Chuck Bortscheller July 1, 2016 at 1:23 am #

    Anything without the kids!

  60. Becky July 1, 2016 at 1:39 am #

    Progressive dinner! There’s so many restaurants I haven’t been to yet!

  61. Heather July 1, 2016 at 4:33 am #

    I’d love to go to greys lake and try some fun restaurants downtown.

  62. Jenny Lewis
    Jenny Lewis July 1, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    I’d sleep in and then I’d do everything you suggested:)

  63. Fallon July 1, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

    Catch a concert, preferably outdoors, with a couple beverages.

  64. Afton July 4, 2016 at 2:21 am #

    I would like to go wine tasting!

  65. Clorrisa Brooks July 5, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    Always wanted to try Flix. Walk around downtown to see the arts

  66. Jessica O July 5, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    I LOVE the idea of a progressive dinner!
    Sounds like a great way to spend a staycation. Especially with out kids… means no getting them in and out of carseats πŸ˜‰ THAT in itself is a vacation! Haha

  67. Marcia July 5, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    I would love to go painting. I have only lived here for a year so there’s a lot of things I would love to see or try.

  68. Jill July 5, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    I would love to try out more of the great local eateries!

  69. Tricia July 5, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

    Brunch at Americana. Take the DSM art walking tour that is new to downtown

  70. Abigail Westbrook July 5, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    I want to check out Architectural Salvage, and go to Snookies – never been to either one yet. πŸ™‚

  71. Chrissy July 8, 2016 at 1:03 am #

    I’d love to try FLIX and have dinner and a movie with my hubby.

  72. Jacqueline Gibson March 8, 2017 at 6:43 am #

    Hotel Renovo is the best for a staycation. We are from California and we stayed there for our 19th wedding anniversary and it was like we stepped into a different part of the US altogether. At least just for the right amount of time. In ref to the rest of our stay we trotted off in our new red VW Beetle to Jasper Winery for a summer concert. We had wine, cheese, laughs and well I better save the rest for your imagination! Being from the west coast it was a slice of Cali for the day!!

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