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Des Moines is the capital of the farmland state of Iowa. This safe, peaceful city is situated on the Des Moines river which flows into the Mississippi. Des Moines is famous for the annual Iowa State Fair, which gets over one million visitors per year. It’s also a great location for visiting nearby destinations by hire car, such as Iowa City,Minneapolis,Kansas City and Fort Dodge.
If you’re arriving via Des Moines International Airport then it’s a five-mile drive by rental car to downtown Des Moines. En route you can take a detour to Racoon River Park which has a lake, beach, swimming, walking trails and playgrounds.
There are various hire car providers to suit your budget and preferences, including Dollar, Alamo and Thrifty. Many offer extras like free cancellation, unlimited mileage and zero excess collision cover.
Des Moines has a variety of attractions. These include Blank Park Zoo, home to over 800 animals, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, situated on the East bank of the Des Moines river, and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, which has a wide range of striking exhibits. A 10-mile drive away by rental car is Living History Farms, a 500-acre open-air museum celebrating Iowa’s agricultural history. The Iowa State Fair is a popular event that takes place over eleven days in August every year.
Situated on the Iowa river, Iowa City is a 114-mile drive from Des Moines. Home of the University of Iowa, it has a thriving arts and literary scene and is the only Unesco City of Literature in the US. Some of the city’s key attractions include the striking 19th century Iowa Capitol Building, the University of Iowa Museum of Art, which includes a work by Picasso, and Waterworks Prairie Park, which is the largest urban prairie in the state and includes wetlands, walking trails and canoeing.
Kansas City, located in both Kansas and Missouri (the two sides are separated by the Missouri river), is a 193-mile journey by hire car. The city is located in the Great Plains area of the US, west of the Mississippi. Kansas City is known for its jazz music heritage, its barbecues, and the amazing art deco architecture of its downtown area. Highlights include the Worlds of Fun amusement park, which has an adjacent water park, the revered Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the award-winning National World War I Museum and Memorial.
Due to its abundant golden cornfields, driving through Iowa by hire car can be a pleasant and scenic experience. Take care and plan ahead while travelling through Iowa in winter, as snowfall can be thick. When driving in the US, remember to keep an eye on your mirror, as drivers don’t always indicate a direction change. Every state has different driving laws, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the Iowa ones before your visit.
Feeling inspired to explore Des Moines and the rest of Iowa? Check out this City Guide and use the Expedia search tool to help you find the best car hire, flight and hotel deals and to research the best attractions and activities.
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