John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

#2 in Best Things To Do in Des Moines
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Key Info

1330 Grand Ave.

Price & Hours

Sunrise-midnight daily


Free, Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend


  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

In 2009, John and Mary Pappajohn, a Des Moines venture capitalist and his wife, provided funding for and donated more than 30 sculptures to the Des Moines Art Center. Their donation transformed an assortment of dilapidated buildings into the attractive sculpture park that stands today. One particular highlight of the 4.4-acre park is Jaume Plensa's Nomade sculpture, a 27-foot-tall hollow human form composed of white steel letters arranged next to and on top of one another.

Past visitors called the sculpture park a must-see sight in Des Moines. Many also recommended packing a picnic to enjoy among the sculptures.

The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is located in downtown Des Moines. The park is open from sunrise to midnight. It's free to visit. Free audio tours are accessible online. For more information, visit the Des Moines Art Center website.

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Time to Spend
#1 Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Despite chilly Midwestern winters, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden remains a year-round top attraction thanks to the site's domed conservatory, which is kept consistently balmy to nurture the tropical plants housed within. Along with palm trees and a waterfall, the conservatory houses a variety of bright flowers, cactuses and succulents, among other plants. Outside the conservatory, there are numerous themed gardens interspersed with sculptures, including a rose garden and a water garden. In total, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden spans 7 acres.

According to recent visitors, the garden is a worthwhile stop year-round. Many who visited during winter referred to the conservatory as an oasis. Reviewers frequently used words like "beautiful" and "relaxing" to describe the garden.

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Courtesy of Catch Des Moines
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