A quick weekend in Des Moines might be just what you need to clear the mind and body of undo stress. Located just three hours away up Interstate 35, the capital of Iowa offers an ample supply of authentic diversions in a city remarkably free of ersatz tourist attractions. Get there quickly and linger longer on your return. Here’s a sampling of things to do:
Downtown Farmers Market
It’s not an oxymoron and is considered by many to be the best farmers market in the country, drawing freshly grown produce from 52 surrounding counties every Saturday morning. Located on the first blocks of Court Street at the Des Moines River.
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Shakespeare on the Lawn
The play is King Lear performed by the Repertory Theater of Iowa, June 16-19. The lawn is at Salisbury House, the historic mansion with landscaped grounds that is now a cultural treasure. 4025 Tonawanda Dr. Tickets can be arranged at salisburyhouse.org.
Let’s See the Treasures
If you come on July 12 you can take a special privately led tour of Salisbury House to inspect many of the collections of art, furnishings, books and manuscripts rarely seen by the public. The 5:30 p.m. tour is followed by a reception. For ticket information go to salisburyhouse.org.
Art and Architecture
The Des Moines Art Center is easily absorbed over a weekend visit. The vibrant modern architecture boasts contributions from Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei and Richard Meier. All summer long, “Natural Histories,” an exploration of two portfolios by Cy Twombly will be on exhibit. 1330 Grand Ave.
Where to Stay
Butler House on Grand
A grand Tudor mansion indeed, with spacious rooms and room to roam. Kept in pristine original 1923 condition. Room rates range $115-$205/night.
4507 Grand Ave.
Des Lux Hotel
A beautifully appointed boutique hotel perfectly located downtown. Suites and rooms from $199/night.
800 Locust St.
Des Moines Marriott Downtown
Easy in, easy out and central to many restaurants and shops. Rooms from $203/night.
700 Grand Ave.
Where to Eat and Drink
A contemporary French bistro in suburban Windsor Heights. Chef David Baruthio aspires to bring his native Strasbourg cuisine to Iowa. Also try Baru at the Art Center. Multicourse. 6587 University Ave., 515-277-6627
Confluence Brewing Co.
Taste Iowa’s abundance through the brews at Confluence, one of the leading craft breweries in the state. Sample year-round brews, seasonal beers and limited release recipes in the taproom, open every afternoon except Monday. 1235 Thomas Beck Rd., 515-528-2427
The motto is “All French, No Attitude.” The menu ranges from classic French fare such as Lyonnaise salad with duck, to hand-ground hamburgers garnished with foie gras and truffles. 210 10th St., 515-288-0268,