Summer Reading Spots in Central Iowa

(This post is for my fellow Iowans and anyone who might find their way to this special place I call home…)

Imagine for a moment that you just picked up the latest bestseller from your local bookstore or downloaded a few indie reads to your personal reading device. Now, imagine you have some time to yourself (I know, this might be a rare thing!) and you’re here in Iowa…maybe you’re visiting family, maybe you live here, maybe you’re lost (I kid, I kid!).

Anyway, you’ve got a book. You’ve got time. And you’ve got beautiful Iowa sunshine.

So, where should you go?! Here are my top picks! Enjoy!


1. Pappajohn Sculpture Park – This artsy destination is smack in the middle of downtown Des Moines, surrounded by places to eat and the busyness of the city. Sprawl out on the hill above Nomade and get lost in a good book.


Featured Book: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes


2. Iowa State Capitol Steps – When you pause to contemplate the end of a chapter, why not look up from the pages to an awesome view of downtown? And since you’re in the East Village there are plenty of places to stop in the event you get a little parched from that summer sun.


Featured Book: Eleanor & Park (swoon!) by Rainbow Rowell


3. Gray’s Lake – Shade trees will keep you from squinting and a breeze off the water will keep you cool. It’s a pretty great view, too.


Featured Book: Faithful Place by Tana French


4. The Outdoor Space Between Starbucks and the Des Moines Library – Located on Locust Street, this spot is also in the heart of the city…right between the Des Moines Public Library and Starbucks. Let me say that again, it’s between the library and Starbucks. Books and coffee. Coffee and books. The perfect setup for instagramming your next reading session. #coffeeandbooks, anyone?



5. Meredith Test Gardens – Sparkling water fountain? Check. Rich, floral aromas? Check. Tranquil atmosphere? Check. All you need now is the perfect book to enjoy in this cozy reading spot. Only open to the public on Fridays, but still completely worth it.



6. Iowa Arboretum – A bit off the beaten path, this reading spot is located in Madrid, Iowa. Pack a blanket and spend an afternoon among the trees and flowers in this oh-so-scenic environment. A $5 per car admission is asked of non-members.


Featured Book: My Brave Year of Firsts  (Tries, Sighs, and High Fives) by Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell, Model: Sawyer 🙂


Did I miss one of your favorite reading spots? Leave it in the comments below!

And one last Des Moines-focused tidbit…June 18-19 is the Wonder of Words Festival downtown and some of my favorite local authors will be there, including Stormy Smith, Michelle Eastman and more! I wish I could attend, but I’ll be out of town, however you definitely should!!

Happy summer reading, friends!!!!


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