The Des Moines Farmers Market is the BOMB!

Lately, I’ve been focused so much on creating exciting seafood dishes and introducing people to new ways to cook seafood, that I’ve failed to post about traveling. Bear in mind, I don’t want this blog to be a travel blog, there’s plenty of those already … but I do want it to embrace sea life and everything that encompasses a life lived with the well being of our oceans, rivers, lakes and waterways in mind. So I’ve made a little deal with myself (yea, this is me trying to be organized) and from here on out, I deem the third day of the week: Tuesday Travels. First installment, Des Moines.

One of the great things about living in the Midwest is how close you are to a number of interesting cities. Here in Indianapolis, you can get to Cincinnati in two hours; Louisville in three; Chicago in three; St. Louis in four; Detroit in five … and there are plenty of smaller towns along the way. Des Moines is a seven-hour drive from Indy, doable, but also an easy flight. Best time of year to visit is definitely the summer! Why?? The farmers market …

Exploring Des Moines (yes, there’s more to do than this, but these are my favorites)
The Des Moines farmers market is unlike any farmers market I have ever been to. Ever. Last time I was there I actually came home on the plane with tomatoes. Have you ever tried currant tomatoes? I’d never heard of them … they’re tiny (like a currant) and sweet and explode in your mouth. The market is smack dab in the middle of downtown … the city shuts down multiple blocks and vendors selling everything from kombucha to tomatoes to herbs to cleaning products to baked goods (and everything in between) line the streets every Saturday during the summer. And if you go, go hungry because you will want one of the breakfast burritos. The line is long but it’s well worth the wait.

  • The Botanical Gardens are right across the river from downtown. Great spot for an afternoon walk, or, if you’re like me, you’ll add this area in on your run.
  • World Food Prize Hall of Laureates is right downtown. The museum recognizes great achievements in agriculture and fighting hunger. The grounds are beautiful and you can schedule a tour in this amazing building whose honorees are dedicated to feeding a hungry world.
  • The Capital Building and the blocks surrounding it are loaded with commemorative statues and plaques. Another great place for a stroll, or again, if you’re like me, you’ll head up the hill as part of your run.

Running Des Moines
Because I’m one of those mermaids that has legs, I always search out waterways where I can run when I visit other cities. And running in Des Moines is absolutely awesome. Seriously! While there might be neighborhoods and parks to explore, the best place to run is the riverwalk. You can make your run short, long or somewhere in between by crossing the Des Moines River on one of the many bridges. PLUS, you can’t get lost! There’re tons of directional signs that not only tell you where to go, but also tell you how far you have before you get there.

Eating & Staying in Des Moines
Stay downtown. It’s not a big area, but it’s vibrant and has plenty of fun restaurants.

  • Spaghetti Works, where everyone can be happy: order your favorite style of pasta, with your favorite sauce or try two or even three different sauces. And they have a traditional salad bar that will knock your socks off.
  • Fong’s Pizza (a local favorite), where you can drink kamikazes (a house tradition) and eat crab rangoon pizza. Hey, don’t knock it ‘till you try it.
  • The Drake Diner, where you can order a delicious patty melt, a bacon burger, shoestring onion rings and milkshakes that will have you wanting more and more and more.
  • Splash, where you can order just about anything from the sea; grilled octopus, to raw oysters, to halibut. All exquisitely prepared.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is your five-minute read on Des Moines. Coming up NEXT on the blog … smoked salmon pizza with crème fraîche. And in the next installment of Tuesday Travels, Oregon’s 101 HWY: the beaches and towns along the coastal highway.

Want more from The Midwest Mermaid? Be sure to follow along here, and on Instagram for all the latest in seafood news and chews | @shaunanosler

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DISCLAIMER: I’m a writer and an editor. And I try my best to make sure every post is articulate and free from errors. However, being that I edit my own work—and it’s next to impossible to properly edit your own work—I admit, occasionally there may be an error or two I miss. But doing so doesn’t make me an idiot so don’t be mean. Just smile, pat yourself on the back for finding an error and be glad you’re not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes … yes, even mermaids slip up every now and then. xoxoxcropped-logo-image4.jpg

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Hey there. I’m Shauna—a West Coast transplant in the landlocked state of Indiana … when I moved here I missed the beaches, the mountains, the desert, the rivers … and it took me a while to find places nearby that paralleled my old stomping grounds. BUT. Now that I’ve lived here for over 15 years, I’ve had time to explore the region and you know what? It’s amazing. There’s so much to do—from skiing in northern Michigan to relaxing lakeside in southern Kentucky to rocking the nightlife in one of the many metropolitan areas. And I love it here. I really do. BUT. I do miss the sea … and the sand and the rush of the waves … the smell of seawater … even the sting of too much sun after a day spent lollygagging at the beach. And I miss the constant supply of seafood and shellfish and riverfish? About that … since I’ve moved to the Midwest I’ve noticed that a lot of people here don’t consider fish that come from the river seafood … I’m not sure I agree, but hence the new word I’ve created, “riverfish” … time will tell if Webster picks it up ; ) So this little blog is my way of bringing a little bit of sea life (or is it sealife?) to the Midwest. Here you’ll find all kinds of information … some that you might find more useful than others—like where to find the best seafood (and riverfish) in the Midwest. And some, you might just find amusing … or not. Either way, and if nothing else, I hope you leave my little space here on the world wide web a little refreshed and maybe even a little inspired to bring a little bit of the ocean home with you. (Yes, I did use the word “little” four times in one sentence … it’s OK … mermaids like to repeat themselves.) Cheers! The Midwest Mermaid Oh, and if your curious, yes, I do actually write for a living … if you want to know about the organizations I work with and the publications where you can find my land legs, swim on over to the “Portfolio” tab … and thanks for visiting.

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