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Welcome first years, to the town with the silent ‘s’


Netley is a first-year pharmacy student and can be reached at jared.netley@drake.edu

First of all, let me welcome you to Drake University, and even more expansively to Des Moines, which was unofficially named “The Greatest City in the World.”  I have lived in the vicinity of Iowa’s capital city my whole life, making me an “expert” on the subject of all things “Des Moinesy.” When you choose a college you also choose the city that comes along with it, and since you will be spending your next four years here, I encourage you to make the most of it.

But let us get some things straight, this is Des Moines, famous for its own things that make it unique and that distinguish it from other Midwest cities. It’s not, nor do we claim to be The Twin Cities, where everybody is happy and perfect and you can frolic around on your pet moose down the city streets. I don’t know what makes Minnesotans love their state so much, but don’t mess with one unless you want them to put a bag (say it with the accent) over your head. Nor do we compare ourselves to Chicago. Yes, you do have taller buildings than us, more museums, more restaurant, and more shopping places. However, when a person here says they are from Des Moines, they are actually from Des Moines and not some suburb an hour away from the actual city limits. Kansas City you can keep your BBQ, and you don’t have to remind us about Worlds of Fun being larger than Adventureland, trust me, we already know.

“Des Moines, which is indeed French for The Moines,” still has a lot to offer you for whatever you are looking for, you just need to get off campus to experience it all. “So let us exceed your already low expectations.”

If you get bored or need a break from studying, than check out my top pick: The Des Moines Art Center. The Art Center is famous for its architecture and boosts artwork that could give The Museum of Modern Art a run for its money. The Pappajohn sculpture garden downtown is another place to check out one of a kind art and enjoy the views of the city. My other top tip is to wake up early on a Saturday morning and go to the farmers’ market downtown. There are all different kinds of venues and great food to eat! Other ideas are to tour the Capitol building and take a tour in the dome, and yes, it does have more gold than yours. Check out the next blockbuster hit at the IMAX dome in the Science Center of Iowa. Take a yoga class at Gray’s Lake for free or walk/bike/run many of the trails around the lake and along the almost complete River Walk. If sports are your thing, there is the Iowa Cubs for baseball fans, Buccaneers for hockey fans, Iowa Energy for basketball fan, or the Des Moines Menace for soccer fans. When the weather gets cold, don’t miss ice skating at the Brenton Skating Plaza.

Des Moines hosts many venues for music and whatever genre you may like. Part of the Principal Riverwalk is Wells Fargo Arena, home to the largest venues that come to town. But if you are trying to get by on a college budget, check out the bands coming to the Val Air Ballroom. Many of the bars and restaurants downtown have live bands, The Lift and Vaudeville Mews are some of my recommendations. Around the city are many outdoor concerts including the ones on the River Walk and if you stay during the summer check out 80/35.

Food. Des Moines offers everything from the sketchy taco trucks (which are pretty good if you muster up enough courage) to the 801 Chop Shop at the top of the tallest building in downtown. Some highlights for college students include Zombie Burger, A Dong, Gusto Pizza Co., Fong’s, Palmers, Gateway Market, and Spaghetti Works. Check out Centro, Django, Latin Kin, or Johnny’s Steakhouse if you are looking to impress. But don’t forget the eateries close to Drake that you can just walk to!

Des Moines isn’t just a place where you “wave when you fly over and isn’t located off-center from the middle of nowhere.” Jordan Creek may be the only thing you think we have for shopping, but Valley West and Merle Hay malls are closer and dare I say it, have better deals? For one of a kind shopping, check out the shops at West Glenn, Valley Junction, and the East Village (home tonRAYGUN, where some of my quotes come from).

This isn’t heaven, it’s only Iowa; but get to know us and you might find your little slice of heaven somewhere in the city. Oh yeah, I almost forgot whatever you decide to call us:(Des Moinesians, Des Moans (rhymes with Samoans), Des Moiners, Des Moinista, or Des Moinae, (yes, even we don’t know what to call ourselves )just remember one thing, don’t pronounce the “S.”

For more things “Des Moinesy,” check out the YouTube video, Shit People from Des Moines Say. Remember to keep it classy Drake and get ready for a great year!


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  1. Bulldog August 30, 2012

    When you mentioned sports options, you neglected to mention the Drake Bulldogs. Nice school spirit.

  2. Ben Hoffman September 2, 2012

    When he mentioned food, he forgot to mention Sodexo. Oh, you mean because he was writing about things outside of Drake, kind of like with sports, because the article was about inheriting the Des Moines area as well? Interesting what happens when you read.

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