Two months ago, my husband turned 40. I knew he wanted an experience more than a gift, so I looked to the obvious: Des Moines. This city has evolved since I visited it on our more exciting weekends as a kid. It’s the same loveable place, but more …awesome. (I should really be a travel writer.)
I asked my parents if they’d like to host the kids for a sleepover, and when I got the green light, a dream was born. This, my friends, is that dream.
Our Saturday Des Moines Adventure
We got the kids settled in at my parents and took off like the wind for Des Moines! Our first stop, as is tradition for so many of us (according to Facebook), was Bass Pro for Ry’s birthday.
He grabbed some kayaking gear and a patriotic shirt–I had informed him that since he’s a dad, he’d probably better invest in a red, white, and blue shirt.
Here’s a picture of him with his favorite rusty ol’ truck.
Next up we headed to East Village to grab lunch. I had a planning fail and was going to take Ry to a restaurant that was closed…so we regrouped, walked around the shops for a bit, and then I found the perfect lunch spot for sushi.
Ry loves sushi, and I was determined to find it for his birthday lunch. We loved it, and I even enjoyed my sushi too!
Lunch was amazing, but it turns out we weren’t done eating. We’d found a Molly’s Cupcakes when we were wondering around East Village before lunch, and decided it was meant to be.
Molly’s is so incredible that we’d stopped by their Iowa City location on our last big out-of-town date. It’s kind of a thing with us, and it should be a thing with you, too. They donate a portion of their profits to local schools, you guys! We’re big on supporting local schools while satisfying our cravings.
I’m going to let my pictures do the talking here.
We then headed to our AMAZING Airbnb rental, also in East Village. It’s in walking distance to the Wells Fargo Arena, or the Iowa Events Center.
I like to call it the Instagram Place.
Our place was a one-bedroom apartment with gorgeous views of the city and mid-century modern styling that made it feel FAN-CY! It’s so much fun to stay at a place with a distinct style that’s a bit different from your usual.
We even got a taste of some cable TV, which we don’t have at home. We watched competitive cornhole on ESPN, obviously.
That’s regular ESPN, without any numbers after it. I’m not sure what the big wigs at ESPN are thinking, but it gave us a good laugh.
I was super excited for dinner, and the fact that Ry didn’t know at all what he was in for.
Spoiler alert: THE BEST FOOD EVER.
We went to Bubba, an AMAZING southern cuisine restaurant. Ry is a big fan of southern food, ever since our North Carolina days, and I was so happy he could experience grits (YOU MUST GET THE GRITS) once again.
I had the fried chicken, black-eyed peas, and grits, and Ry got chicken and waffles, with, of course, the grits. We were two happy campers.
If you go, I recommend making a reservation–I used OpenTable and it worked like a charm! We were in and out for our next adventure, and the waitress was really understanding of how we wanted to move quickly. What was happening next, you ask? I’ll give you a hint–fried chicken and grits made the perfect pre-concert meal.
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Ryan became a fan of country music once we moved to North Carolina, and we thought Tim and Faith would be the perfect entertainers for a night in the Big City.
I’m going to have bragging rights forever because I TOUCHED TIM MCGRAW. (It’s okay, Faith didn’t mind. Neither did Ry.) He and Faith each sang a song while walking through the crowd, and Tim came right by us. So Tim and I are pretty close now.
Faith and Tim were both so sweet, genuine, and inspiring. My favorite concert moment was singing Live Like You Were Dying with the crowd. But my real favorite moment was when Ry leaned over and said, “Thank you.” He melts my heart.
When we got out of the concert, some of the people around us were talking about flooding. I turned on the TV when we got back to the Instagram Place and found some pretty crazy news.
One part of the city was flooded, roads were closed, evacuations were ordered, and sadly, one person was swept away. People were stranded (we later found out some friends from church were among them) and I knew that some of those people had to be our fellow concert-goers.
We prayed and crashed.
Our Awesome Sunday in Des Moines
I thought Des Moines was going to continue to get worse, but when we woke up there wasn’t much danger anymore. Lots of people were cleaning up and some were displaced, like the people who lived in these apartments (that’s not a parking lot, it’s a pond.)
We were thankful the sun was out again and ready to grab some brunch! I always think of How I Met Your Mother when we have brunch. 🙂
We ate at Railroad Bill’s, a hard-to-find little spot with tons of character and the best french toast ever! They make it with challah bread.
After brunch, we said goodbye to the Instagram Place and did a little more shopping. Ry loves a good bookstore, so we hit Barnes and Noble and smelled all the coffee and books we possibly could.
At about 2:00, I started to miss my “babies”. But we had one more place to stop, and this one was for me.
Because I’m a small town girl, I never get the chance to go to a craft store. But I love planning, and everyone knows that Happy Planners are on sale at craft stores ALL.THE.TIME. I didn’t even check for sales, I just flew into Michael’s and found what I was looking for. They were 40% off.
After buying an AWESOME PLANNER we started our little trip back to my parents’. We saw this on the way.
That’s not supposed to be a lake, so pray for Iowa!
To make a long story short (too late), we found our kiddos were perfectly entertained and content the whole time. The kids both immediately napped in the car on the way home, and the grown ups were pretty worn out too.
Hit The Road with Your Hubby
It can be hard to coordinate, even hard to get away from the kids emotionally, but I can’t recommend getaways with your spouse enough! You’ll never regret marking special occasions with a little trip. We don’t do this often (once a year or less) but when we do, it strengthens our marriage and refreshes our parenting. Getaways are great for your self-care and health!
Find a way to take the occasional getaway, and you’ll make memories for a lifetime.
p.s. If you want the specific Airbnb that we stayed at, get in touch and I’ll send you the link! Also, my Airbnb link will get you a sweet $40 off your first stay!