Last week marked the end of Des Moines Metro Opera's 40th anniversary of their summer festival. Full disclosure right off the bat: not only am I fan, but I also happen to be married to their marketing director. As I walked out into the lobby after a stirring performance of Eugene Onegin I saw several friends. I walked up to one and said, "So, what did you think?" And he said, "It was so incredible, I just wish that I had come to the opera before now."
I can't seem to get this comment out of my head. It's made me think of all the things that I have wanted to try in Des Moines and haven't gotten around to yet. I think of all of the restaurants that I drive by saying to myself, "I never remember to go there, but I want to try it!" What if I am missing out on something as special as experiencing the opera?
Summer in Des Moines is my favorite time to explore. Major annual highlights, of course, always include the Des Moines Arts Festival, 80/35 Music Festival, and Des Moines Metro Opera's summer festival — but there are also quirkier events to attend, like driving to Winterset for John Wayne's birthday celebration in May and the National Balloon Classic in Indianola in August.
This city has so much culture both within its limits and within driving distance. We should all be going out there and taking advantage of every single thing. "I'll do that sometime," we always say to ourselves about some of Des Moines' more hidden gems. Make sometime right now.
My birthday is Aug. 31st and I have decided to challenge myself to try 31 new things in the month of August.
I have scoured the Internet and every community calendar to find the perfect list of events and attractions. I am finally going to eat a Cheesie at the Cheese Shop of Des Moines. I am going to run on every bridge downtown and check out that Chinese pagoda by the river. I am going to get up the nerve to attend the Iowa State Fair on East Side Night. I am going to ride on the Heritage Carousel in Union Park and see the Maytag Dairy Farm in Newton. And because the founder is from Des Moines, I am going to actually make one of the recipes I pin on Pinterest.
I say it every month: "This city has so much to offer." And now I am going to walk the walk too. I am going to try everything and have a response for every person that says there is nothing to do in Des Moines. The Southside Sculpture Park? Ask me about it next week.
The World Food Prize building? I can't wait to see it. The Iowa Arboretum and the Flying Frog Hosta Farm? I love nature (sort of). Art Along the Trail in Clive on the bike path? I'm not very good at biking, but that's not going to stop me. And yes Mom, I am planning on wearing a helmet.
I have challenged myself, but every good challenge needs partners in crime. So now I am challenging you. What have you always wanted to see or do? Now is the time to get out there in the sweltering heat and enjoy this city for all it has. Make your own list and share with friends. Let's fall even more in love with Des Moines.
She basically said everything that I have ever wanted to say about this amazing town. I love how simple yet engaging Des Moines is; there's something for everyone here. So I think I'm going to make my own list of things I want to see/do in Des Moines this late-summer/early-autumn.