EXPLORE: Central Iowa from A-Z

By Jeff Pitts

26 of Des Moines’ most unique places

A...xe throwing at Ironside Axe Club allows you to “embrace your Viking spirit,” 2700 University Ave., Suite 100, West Des Moines, www.ironsideaxeclub.com.

B...ike like a cyco-path, but first, consider all your vehicle options at Bike World, “On your left!” Multiple locations in central Iowa,

C...ars. check the classic hot rods at American Dream Machines,
1500 Locust St., Des Moines; www.admcars.com.

D...ome. There’s no place like... dome. The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s geodesic conservatory dome contains 665 panels, and under this iconic roof overhead is an entertaining and educational cultural experience. Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden,
909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines; www.dmbotanicalgarden.com.

E...lectrify your hair and get some crazy bed head with hands-on exhibits at the Science Center of Iowa, 401 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Des Moines; www.sciowa.org.

F...ine art. On  display for free at Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Ave., Des Moines; www.desmoinesartcenter.org.

G...ong Fu Tea offers steaming cups of the finest tea from around the globe. 414 E. Sixth St., Des Moines; www.gongfu-tea.com.

H...20. Des Moines River Trail and Women of Achievement Bridge, linking the east and west sides of Des Moines over the river (H2O) at the northern edge of the Principal Riverwalk loop.

I...owa Hall of Pride offers a look at the greatness achieved by Iowans from across the state. 330 Park St., Des Moines;

J...ethro’s mouth-watering brand of finger-licking flavors has central Iowa coming back again and again. Chow down. Multiple locations; http://jethrosdesmoines.com.

K...Watch for a strikeout at an I-Cubs game, signified as a “K” on scoresheets, downtown at Principal Park, www.iowacubs.com.

L...OVE has arrived in downtown Des Moines’ Pappajohn Sculpture Park. The public park has a piece titled “LOVE” by American Pop artist Robert Indiana. Other interesting selfie options at the park include: “Pondering Rabbit,” “Alphabet Head” and “A Giant Garden Trowel.” John & Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park, at 15th and Locust streets in downtown Des Moines; www.desmoinesartcenter.org/visit/pappajohn-sculpture-park.

A woolly M...ammoth’s skeleton at the State Historical Museum, downtown Des Moines, 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines;

N...ighttime sessions of the LASERTRON Experience (Laser Tag) at Great Escape is a fun-filled battle of wills. Great Escape also offers bowling, virtual reality, bags, an arcade and more. 655 N.E. 56th St., Des Moines; www.greatescapeiowa.com.

O...lympics. Lauridsen Skatepark, an 88,000-square-foot concrete skatepark is the largest of its kind in the U.S. The park will serve as the only global Olympic Qualifying event for Street and Park Skateboarding disciplines in the U.S. this year (May 20-23) leading into the Tokyo Olympic Games in July, where skateboarding will make its debut.
901 Second Ave., Des Moines, www.dsmskatepark.com.

P...ickleball’s biggest paddle, according to Guinness World Records, resides at Smash Park, 6625 Coachlight Drive, West Des Moines;

Q... OK, technically, it’s a pool “cue” and not a pool “Q,”
but whatever, play billiards at The Rack, 2249 N.W. 86th St., Clive;

R...uff, ruff. Take Fido to the dog park at dog parks around the metro. Look at that face. How can you say no? If the weather isn’t suitable for outdoors, Stylin’ Paws Play Place is an indoor dog park with dog-approved play structures, agility equipment, seating and waste removal supplies. 3901 121st St., Urbandale, www.stylinpawssalon.com.

S...mokey Row Coffee Co., a gargantuan coffeehouse with high ceilings and teeming with caffeinated happiness. Order a Butterfinger latte, loaded with espresso, butterscotch, chocolate, steamed milk, whipped cream and a Butterfinger topping. 1910 Cottage Grove, Des Moines; www.smokeyrow.com.

T...ornado. Ride the Tornado, a classic wooden rollercoaster at Adventureland/Adventure Bay, 3200 Adventureland Drive, Altoona; www.adventurelandresort.com.

U...FO. A 30-foot tall unidentified flying egg-shaped object and a couple dozen other unique pieces of giant art at a privately owned, but open to the public, South Des Moines Sculpture Park, at the corner of Southwest Eighth and McKinley in Des Moines.

V...alley Junction’s Theatrical Shop offers the opportunity to become an evil witch or to disguise yourself as a monster, villain or maybe even a superhero. 145 Fifth St., West Des Moines; www.theatricalshop.com.

W...affles with chicken (chicken & waffle, Nashville hot boneless chicken strips on top of a large Belgian waffle served with cream
cheese sauce and maple syrup) after a bike ride to The Chicken,
4221 S. Orilla Road, West Des Moines; www.thechickenorilla.com.

X… marks the spot (I.E. the cross) at Lutheran Church of HOPE,
925 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines,

Y...ellow Banks Park in Pleasant Hill inspires awe with its 140-foot-tall bluffs above the Des Moines River with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. These bluffs were formed from loess soil deposited by the wind during the time of the glaciers. Hiking trails at this 552-acre park lead to scenic overlooks, an oak savanna, a Native American burial mound, and a unique backpacking camping area.

Blank Park Z...oo allows access to an African lion, an amur tiger, a slender-horned gazelle and many other exotic forms of wildlife.
7401 S.W. Ninth St., Des Moines; www.blankparkzoo.com.