Tag Archives: Des Moines Dates

Des Moines ‘do something’ date ideas

It’s been awhile since I’ve put together a Des Moines Dates series post and I’ve seen a few cute options lately, especially after hours at some of my favorite cultural attractions. Even if our own date outings are rare (childcare logistics tend to take the wind out of making plans), someone should have fun with these!

GET DIRTY IN THE STUDIO: SIP & SPOON‘ at the Des Moines Art Center
7/21/17 – Details


I like the innuendo, Art Center. This is a pottery class designed for couples, and you make a set of serving spoons. I’m pretty sure my line to get Joe out of the friendzone had to do with spooning, so I’m very much on board with this concept. He’s going to be on RAGBRAI during this, but I hear they host the workshops monthly.

And, speaking of spoons, I saw a post on The Grateful Chef’s page about Wooden Spoon Workshops, which hosts small group cooking classes a few times a month. Maybe your date thinks the whole point of going out to dinner is for someone to make the food for you, but then I think you should ditch them and find yourself a lifelong learner who enjoys a challenge. This is a home kitchen setting, just FYI.

If you’re interested in cooking classes, you can also check out the Des Moines Social Club Culinary Loft, or Cooking with Alessandra. Joe and I have done a small group class with her and you leave wanting to go to Italy for a culinary tour. (Speaking of Italian food and love, who watched season two of Master of None? I love Dev!)

Maybe you’re more of a Big Bang Theory couple? Joe and I did reserve a babysitter so we could nerd out at the Science Center of Iowa’s lecture on the solar eclipse!

SCI hosts lots of geeky date night options, including their regular mixology night which has a more 21+ vibe with music, drinks and some manner of themed science-y entertainment.

Another great museum-after-hours activity that would make a fun date is the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s “Social Irrigation” series. It’s a Thursday night after-work event with live music. (I checked and this is kid-friendly, so we might actually do this!) If you haven’t been to Trellis or seen the Gardens in a few years, the outdoor space is gorgeous and the food is delicious. There’s so much going on in the East Village these days/nights, but the Botanical Garden has easy parking.

Have you been on any fun dates lately? This doesn’t really count, because it was a whole-family excursion, but we went on an epic sunset bike ride and made a stop at Captain Roy’s, the new “dive” at the Birdland Marina. Good for you if you can check it out without two kids in tow.

We got curly fries and tallboys and watched the sky reflected on the river as boaters floated by. It’s just a short jaunt up the trail past the Botanical Garden, if you’re in the neighborhood.

Been on any good dates or fun family outings recently?

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Des Moines Dates: Noce Night

Joe and I found ourselves with three hours of kid-free, Saturday prime date-night time this weekend and I wanted to invest it somewhere a baby and toddler would not be welcome. I’ve been dying to check out Noce, the new jazz club on Walnut Street since I wrote about it for DSM Magazine; this was the perfect red lipstick, polka dot dress occasion.

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Well, almost. We turned into pumpkins/had to pick up our kids at 9 p.m. so missed the second half of Amber Duimstra’s set. Sad trombone. Duimstra was funny and warm and her local talent filled the room with friends – some of whom happened to also be friends of mine. Because, Des Moines.

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I loved sitting with Joe, sipping a French 75 in such a lovely venue. I’m not a huge follower of jazz (can I admit here that I only knew “Killing Me Softly” as a Fugees song?) but the set included a great mix of standards and some new-to-me songs, like “Dat Dere,” which appropriately enough is about raising an inquisitive toddler.

If you want to try out Noce, Tuesday evenings from 7-10 p.m. features live jazz with no cover charge. Become a fan on Facebook to stay up on show announcements: nocedsm

Parent PSA: Emmett’s preschool Grace on Cottage Grove is doing a “Parent’s Night Out” series that’s open to kids potty trained and older. It’s $5 hr (3-hr. min.) from 6-10 p.m. with movies, crafts and activities. The next one is Saturday, Oct. 15. Emmett enjoyed himself while we enjoyed Noce! It’s open to kids who don’t go to Grace, so let me know if you want the details.

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An evening on the town

Date nights are few and far between. It felt so, so good to enjoy a night out together.

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Joe got us tickets to see one of my favorite bands, The David Wax Museum, play the Temple Theater as a Christmas gift, and I’ve been excitedly counting down.

We started the evening with tapas, churros and a bottle of red wine at Lurra Cocina, with a view of the Sculpture Park.

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{ENSALADA REMOLACHA – roasted beets, farro, fresh goat cheese, shallots, sunflower seeds, and a sherry-sunflower oil vinaigrette}

The Temple is honestly not my favorite venue, because I like to be up and dancing, but Des Moines Performing Arts obviously treated the band well, which is important. I love the sincerity in The David Wax Museum’s music and (maybe it was the wine and hormones), but I teared up once or twice.

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Total DSM Moment – we were seated right next to Jay Byers, the CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. We geeked out over the fabulous POLITICO article “How America’s Dullest City Got Cool” that just came out.

I got Suze’s new lullaby album (they take their 2-year-old daughter on tour with them!) at the merch table and was a total fangirl and asked for a photo.

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We left our kids with his sister and brother-in-law, and they were so worn out from playing with cousins that they mercifully slept in. Tonight we’re swapping and watching the cousins overnight. There will be five under the age of six. Wish us luck!

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Des Moines Dates: Strudl Haus

Ever since I’d heard about the Austrian restaurant Strudl Haus opening, I’ve wanted to try it. My tastebuds were craving the flavors we experienced on our Austrian honeymoon in 2010, and I’d heard it was a delightful spot.

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This morning, Joe and I decided to take advantage of Emmett’s playdate and make a day-date for brunch, with baby carrier in tow. What a difference five and a half years can make in a marriage! While we aren’t currently in a position to book a flight to Salzburg, it’s a mini-escape to hop on Indianola Avenue for a taste of Europe on Des Moines’ near south side.

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The small, sunshine-colored cafe opens into a compact dining room of unexpected elegance. A case of pastries catches the eye as you walk in – convenient if you’re just swinging by for a simple breakfast or dessert treat.

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We navigated the narrow room and took a seat in the burgundy-upholstered back booth, where we were quickly greeted. The crowd was an mix of couples and families with well-behaved small children who seemed excited about an after-Church treat.

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For starters, we split Nutella crepes, and for brunch I opted for the omelette with sausage and Joe went for the Strudl Haus eggs (served over easy and smothered in hollendaise sauce). The food was delicious, but the little details – like the coffee service on silver trays and petite chandeliers on the ceiling – made the meal feel special. We reminisced about all of the food we enjoyed on our honeymoon, and were in-and-out in about an hour.

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The spot impresses me as super-versatile — as perfect for a weekday morning coffee and croissant as I imagine it would be for one of their more expensive themed wine dinners. Since Strudl Haus specials change frequently, it would be smart to check their Facebook page or call to see what the weekly offering may be. Prost!

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Des Moines Dates: Temple Theater Day Date

I love a good Sunday afternoon date. Joe won tickets to see “Whirled New Tonight” at the Temple Theater through the Des Moines Performing Arts e-newsletter, and we were able to send Emmett to a babysitting co-op house, so it was a fun and nearly free afternoon of entertainment. We grabbed pizza and salad at Centro next door afterward.

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I’m kind of a snob about comedy (my taste is toward more witty than slapstick humor) and I genuinely laughed at this. When you walk in, the audience is asked to clip newspaper stories from the day’s papers and pin them to a bulletin board. The first half is improv, based on the headlines.

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The second half, they ask the audience to raise their hands and ask questions. The questions themselves were painfully awkward (“Should we have a second child?” “What should you do if your parents clearly have a favorite? – asked by a 17 year old who was sitting between her sister and parents; “What if you feel like the third wheel when you hang out with your boyfriend and his best friend?”) but the improv was even funnier than the news-related stuff.

Sunday was the last day of the Whirled News residency in Des Moines (at least for now), but the performance is based out of the iO Chicago Theater, so my Windy City readers can catch it anytime.

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Guest post up on “CAUGHT”

The folks over at the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau asked me to contribute to their new blog, “Caught,” and I thought it would be a fun opportunity to revisit my days as a writer for Juice magazine.

Since it’s just a few weeks until Valentine’s Day, and one of the most popular search terms used to find my blog is “Des Moines date ideas,” I wrote “Date Ideas to Melt Hearts, if not Snow,” which went live today.

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Des Moines Dates: Tarot for two

We needed to do something different. To get out of the sweatpants+Netflix rut of marriage in a Midwest winter. I wanted to check something off my “30 Before 30” list, and my aunt had gifted us some Christmas cash to spend on a date night*. So, naturally, I e-mailed some psychics and scheduled a couples tarot card reading.

Ula and Vianne of Visions Psychics were recommended by friends, and I liked the idea of going to a neighborhood psychic (they can come to you, but also offer readings in a home parlor in the North of Grand neighborhood.) We opted for two 15-minute tarot card readings, which they performed together at a round table lit by candles.

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I don’t really believe in psychic powers, per se, but I do feel that we all carry certain energies as part of our personhood. We weren’t searching for deep answers or anything, but it turned out to be an interesting experience.

I’m not sure if my aura or extensive presence on the internet clued them into my career in communications, but a big surprise was that the American Southwest kept coming up in connection with my moneymaking and career future/spirit guide. Hmmm.

Joe was excited to hear that his cards indicated something to do with food/alcohol and Colorado. I did get emotional when they showed cards that indicated a parent had died when Joe was younger. We told them that was true for me, but not him, and Ula elaborated in a way that made me reach for the tissues.

Do I feel like we’re really going to uproot ourselves from Des Moines to pursue some sort of brewery-running life in the mountains? Not at all. But after the reading, we went to Louie’s Wine Dive and split a carafe and lobster poutine and talked through what they said and had some good laughs together.

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We’ve been really wrapped up in the day-to-day logistics of parenthood, home ownership and work/volunteer responsibilities that it was nice to use our psychic reading as a catalyst for dreaming together and talking through some topics that we wouldn’t otherwise bring up on a random weeknight at home, or if we had just gone out to dinner.

*We saved money by calling on our babysitting co-op for free babysitting, using Christmas money and going out for a drink and appetizer instead of dinner, but the evening was still a little spendier than our typical outings.

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Des Moines Dates: East Village Hipster edition

Driving downtown on Saturday night, Joe and I realized how long it’s been since we’ve been out — sans baby. I almost opened the sun roof and howled at the moon. Really, I checked my phone every five minutes to make sure I didn’t have any texts about baby meltdowns.

Some friends offered to watch Emmett, and we hemmed and hawed about what to do on a kid-free night. We’ve been wanting to try Louie’s Wine Dive, which is nearby, but the news that I have to cut out dairy for awhile made me not want to go anywhere that would cause me to lust after menu items I can’t have.

So instead we decided to do a totally hipster East Village date: Dinner at the vegan New World Cafe followed by drinks at Up-Down, Des Moines’ new “barcade.”

My handsome date, about to challenge me to the “Iowa” course on Cruis’n USA:

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I wouldn’t say that New World Cafe exudes romance — it’s really more of a lunch spot — but it was fun to try something new. The menu here changes weekly and is influenced by what’s available seasonally. Joe got the East Walnut Street Burger: a walnut-veggie-quinoa patty topped with pickled veggie slaw, tomato jam, parsley-cashew “aioli,” arugula and sunflower sprouts. I ordered the Mexican Bowl: a mix of grains, beans, roasted potatoes & yams, veggies, avocado and green herb salsa. It came topped with a  smoky cashew “cheese” that gave the dish that melty flavorful finish I come to rely on (too much?) from the real thing.

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We were both worried the meal wouldn’t be filling, but it was nice to not feel overstuffed after dining out — and I didn’t feel the need to make myself a midnight snack!

Up-down was packed; it definitely feels like the new hotspot. We got an invite to the preview party, but it was while Emmett was in the hospital after his surgery, so had to miss out on being the cool kids who get first dibs on skee ball. But I did beat Joe for our first best-outta-three round! (Those are not our scores below.)

Are you following Up-Down on Instagram?

Are you following Up-Down on Instagram?

I grew up being terrible at video games — totally move the controller with my hands instead of pushing the buttons. And at public arcades, I mostly had to pretend to play because my parents would never give us quarters. Up-Down was offering double tokens before 8 p.m., and all games are just one token, so we got to play quite a bit on $3. My go-to games are skee-ball and pinball, and we hit up those, but we both became mildly obsessed with Burgertime.

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You basically run around trying to assemble burger patties before little fried eggs and hot dogs kill you. You can destroy them by throwing salt on them or plopping a bun/lettuce/patty on top of them. It’s totally sophisticated.

We have a few friends we do informal babysitting trading with, but Joe and I also joined a local babysitting co-op that uses an online point system to track sits. It’s a nice alternative to having to pay a sitter, and when you request a specific date everyone gets e-mailed with the option of picking it up instead of you having to make individual asks. One of the women from the co-op lives just down the street from us, so it’s introduced us to some new neighbors, too!

P.S. What’s the going rate for babysitters these days? 

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First Friday in the East Village

Joe and I hung out last night (OK, yesterday evening) in the East Village for the first time in a looong time. We went down for the DSM Magazine unveiling at Salon Spa W, because I have the “Second Cities” story in this issue. Talking with the sources in that story totally made me want to pack my bags for another trip. Theoretically, we could try Arnold’s Park in Okoboji this summer – or is that wishful thinking with a newborn?

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I should have gotten a photo of us because we managed to pull ourselves together nicely, but it was a packed house! We didn’t feel like wasting our put-togetherness on a “date” to get groceries at IngerDahl’s, so we went on an actual date to Zombie Burger instead.

Not this Friday, but NEXT Friday, May 3, I plan on hitting up the East Village again for a craft-themed First Friday, when lots of the boutiques stay open late and serve treats and host artists, etc. That Friday is like the shining beacon of light at the end of the tunnel of finishing up my capstone. It would be a fun date night, too! Marissa from The Moon and the Honey put together this lovely little video of some of the spots that will be hosting crafters next week. It definitely makes Des Moines’ East Village look the way it makes me feel, so I’m happy to share her video with those of you who haven’t had the chance to experience that area firsthand.

I’m not sure if Ephemera is participating (ladies?!) this time, but they did just get a shoutout on the DSM website.

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Des Moines day-date: Lunch Unplugged

I’m not a very good party-all-night person. I think I made it to 1 a.m. a couple of weeks ago, to see my friend Andy DJ at the Mews, thanks to Shirley Temples, his power pop playlist and a good crowd, but staying up has been a struggle lately. (I’m going to attempt to blame it on the bump and night classes, but I’m pretty sure I’m just solidifying my status a lame old lady.) So it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a live show, and possibly longer since I’ve seen an artist I wasn’t already familiar with.

Enter, the concert lunch date!

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Joe and I met up at the Temple for Performing Arts yesterday for “Lunch Unplugged.” We went to see Mieka Pauley.

I’d never heard of her, but was intrigued by how the series described her as a singer/songwriter whosepowerful alternative style melds together soul, blues, and rock, drawing comparisons to the likes of Ben Harper, Cat Power, Neko Case and Patty Griffin. She is the winner of the first ever Starbucks Emerging Artist Award, the Rocky Mountain Folk Festival Songwriter Showcase and the Rock Boat/BMI Song Contest. Mieka has performed over 650 shows in the past four years including bills with Eric Clapton, Jason Mraz, Citizen Cope, Wyclef Jean, Black Eyed Peas, John Legend and many others. Northeast Performer calls Mieka ‘a version of Sarah McLachlan with a switchblade in her shoe’.”

It was a fun show! I’m honestly not a huge fan of the Temple’s second floor stage as a concert venue (it feels really rigid and overly polite for some of the acts I’ve seen there), but it’s right upstairs from South Union. Of course, in the winter that means a hot sandwich and a big bowl of potato pepperjack soup, which is on my shortlist of things I miss about working downtown.

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Mieka has a dark sense of humor that she kept up in her between-song-banter and the lyrics themselves. She struck me as sounding like a rebellious sister of Norah Jones who I could imagine sneaking out of a bedroom window at 2 a.m. with a guitar slung over her shoulder, headed out to play a show at an underground bar in the city. Listen Mieka’s Daytrotter session.

Check out the rest of the series, which includes piano, dance, opera, Americana and and another female singer/songwriter at desmoinesperformingarts.org/LunchUnplugged. (Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door and you can BYO lunch.)

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