We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.

“The one "must see" attraction in Des Moines” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Capitol Building

Capitol Building
Ranked #1 of 60 things to do in Des Moines
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Level Contributor
443 reviews
233 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 502 helpful votes
“The one "must see" attraction in Des Moines”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 30, 2014

We stopped at the capitol building one morning during a recent trip to Des Moines. We arrived on a Saturday, shortly after the building opened for the day for visitors.

The parking lots were almost empty, so parking was no problem. We entered at the basement level; however I stupidly didn't realize that it was the basement: I thought it was the first floor! I was looking around, wondering what the big deal was, when I finally noticed the map on the wall and realized we hadn't even seen the good sections yet:-).

We then walked up the stairs to the first floor, and after looking around there up to the second. We did not do a guided tour. Highlights were the dome, and the peek through the door window into the law library. Unfortunately, the door to the library was locked so we couldn't go inside. That was really disappointing to me, since I love libraries (work in one, in fact;-).

We did have to go through security to get into the building, but it didn't take long.

Visited April 2014
1 Thank kren250
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

565 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Volcano, California
Level Contributor
333 reviews
48 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 154 helpful votes
“A must-see in Des Moines”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 22, 2014

This is the 7th state capitol we've seen, and by far the most magnificent. Five domes, one covered with gold foil, and massive columns highlight the outside. Inside is all marble and mosaics and paintings and fine paneling, all in massive sizes. Make sure to take the guided tour so you can see all of the otherwise locked rooms.

Visited June 2014
2 Thank rwwaugh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
90 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Awesome Tour!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 17, 2014

This is a GORGEOUS building and I highly recommend taking the free, and short, tour! I was shocked at the artistic details in this magnificent building.

Visited April 2014
Thank tj1551
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Overland Park, KS
Level Contributor
211 reviews
89 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
“Amazing Architecture, A Lot of History”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 9, 2014

While visiting a friend in Des Moines, we decided to tour the State Capitol. I absolutely loved this beautiful old historic site. The colorful architecture accompanied by the beautiful marble and wood on the staircases took my breath away. We were able to enter many of the offices including the auditor's office and we were also able to climb the steep winding staircase to the dome. What a fantastic view from up there. The grounds around the capitol highlighting many memorials was also a great experience. The most breathtaking room in the capitol for me was the library. Oh my goodness what an amazing room that was, with it's 2 spiral staircases on either end of the room. I would highly recommend this self-guided tour to anyone with a few hours to kill in Des Moines. You won't regret it.

Visited June 2014
Thank KansasTravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
236 reviews
58 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 467 helpful votes
“Grand Capitol Building and Free to Visit!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 8, 2014

The Iowa Capitol Building is pretty awesome. The gold leaf dome is visible from a distance or from a 60 mph drive by on I-235. I had time for just a quick dash through. I liked the spiral staircase up to the viewing gallery of the house. Do not miss the library for more spiral staircases. The 18 foot model of the USS Iowa battleship is impressive with the ship's bell nearby. (The ship's silver is on display at the nearby State Historical Museum.)

I so not have the words to do justice to the architecture, woodwork, mosaics and other decoration. Suffice it to say that they don't make them like this anymore.

I wish I had had time for a tour which would have allowed me an opportunity to climb the dome. I managed the scary climb all the way to the lantern 50 years ago, I don't know if you can still go that high.

Park in the small visitor's parking lots on the south side, if available. Visitor entry is from the south (and maybe the west) on the ground floor. You will pass through a metal detector. Visitor information and tours are at the ground floor, center. I wish I had time to visit the memorials on the grounds.

Visited June 2014
5 Thank hoogo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Capitol Building also viewed


Been to Capitol Building? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing