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Stars and Stripes forever in Des Moines

One of the group itineraries developed by the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau has a patriotic theme: Stars and Stripes.

Day 1

Enjoy a tour of the Iowa state Capitol that has 275-foot tall central dome covered with 23-karat gold. Also take a tour of the 165-acre Capitol grounds with its many monuments including the Peace Officer’s Memorial, Soldier’s and Sailor’s Memorial, Korean War Memorial and Vietnam War Memorial.

On a bluff overlooking the Des Moines River Valley on the southern edge of the Capitol complex, see the Iowa Judicial Branch Building. This limestone-clad building is built in classical style in harmony with the Iowa State Capitol. The dome and roof are clad in copper. Have a complimentary tour and enjoy the rotunda and many murals.

Just one block from the Capitol is the State Historical Museum of Iowa. Permanent and temporary exhibits in the modern granite and glass structure explore the people, places, events and issues of Iowa’s past. The exhibit Honor the Colors: Iowa’s Civil War Battle Flags has more than 350 objects including weapons, uniforms, artillery and original art. Also featured are examples of battle flags conserved through the Iowa Battle Flag Preservation Project.

Take a break for lunch at Cafe Baratta’s in the State Historical Museum or enjoy one of the many restaurants within two blocks of the museum.

Then, feel the nostalgia that comes with walking through time in the shoes of the brave men and women of World War I and II when visiting the National Historic Site of the Fort Des Moines Memorial Park and Education Center, which preserves the heritage of service and sacrifice by African-American men of World War I and the women of World War II. The sites’ preservation of archival photographs, period art, interactive film displays and outdoor exhibits are a few of the attractions not to miss.

As the evening settles in, enjoy one of the area hot spots that is open 24 hours a day/seven days a week — Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino. Prairie Meadows features 1,900 slot machines, table games including poker and blackjack, thoroughbred and quarter horse racing spring through early fall.

Day 2
The first stop is Iowa Hall of Pride, where 27 interactive exhibits immerse visitors in the history of Iowa’s athletics, academics and arts.

Next, is the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at historic Camp Dodge. This newly renovated museum houses exhibits honoring Iowa men and women who have served from the Civil War through the present day, including uniforms, equipment, weapons, insignia and the everyday items used by service members.

After lunch, take a step back in time at Living History Farms. This 500-acre, outdoor museum re-creates history and lifestyles in four time periods — the 1700 Ioway Indians, the 1850 pioneers, the townspeople of 1875 and 1900 farmers. Historical interpreters dressed in period clothing complete the daily routines.

More on Des Moines:

Des Moines has done its homework
American Quilters Society
Stars and stripes forever