Iowa Trampoline & Tumbling is thrilled to welcome you to Des Moines for the 2019 USA Gymnastics Championships! We are confident that you’ll have a blast, not only at the competition, but spending time with your teammates and family seeing all that Des Moines, Iowa has to offer… which we promise, is SO much more than just our amazing cornfields. From a grand fireworks display over our gold-domed capitol on Wednesday, to a stroll through Saturday’s Downtown Farmer’s Market, you’ll experience great farm-to-table fine foods all week long and go home telling everyone about all of the “Iowa Nice” folks you met during your stay in Des Moines. Enjoy!
It’s okay, we get it. When you first found out Nationals were being held in Des Moines, most of you probably had to stop and ask yourself if Iowa was the state with the potatoes, the buckeyes or the corn (we’re the one by the way ). So now that you’re here (thank God you didn’t just fly over), join our T&T State Chair, Judge John – a Central Iowa native and former T&T athlete, as he answers the most important questions all coaches, athletes, parents and officials have on their mind:
Downtown Des Moines is home to some of the Midwest’s finest chefs and has been the backdrop for some of Man vs. Food and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives greatest segments. All of these great restaurants are within walking distance or a short ride-share from the competition venue. After your trip to Des Moines, you’ll tell all your friends how Crab Rangoon Pizza and Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots changed your life. Or, if you’re looking to get out of Downtown, the suburbs (only 15 minutes away by car) are home to some great dining/shopping/entertainment districts as well.
Time can be tight in between sessions. So many times we find ourselves leaving a competition saying, “That was fun, but all I got to see was the inside of the gym.” Well, here are a few fun things you can do to get out on the town – all just step away from the competition floor!
- Get your picture with Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson!
Well, a bronzed statue of her anyway…
ALL USA GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS ATHLETES can visit the Iowa Hall of Pride interactive sports museum, LOCATED RIGHT INSIDE THE CONVENTION CENTER, FREE OF CHARGE by showing their athlete credentials. (Sorry parents, coaches, judges and fans, you’ll have to pay the $10 admission fee.)
Visit the museum Mon-Fri between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.
- Take unique team pictures in front of the Des Moines skyline!
Head out the east doors of Hy-Vee Hall or Wells Fargo Arena and step into Rotary Riverwalk Park, where you can swing from a giant finishing pole statue on the banks of the Des Moines River. Then cross the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge and take a stroll around the Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens. Weather pending, this might be one of the best 20-30 minute breaks you’ll take from the competition venue all day!
While you should find Downtown Des Moines rather walkable, there are several other ways to easily get around:
- Skywalk System:
While most valuable during the winter, literally miles of downtown buildings are connected by second-floor skywalk, including the two competition venues. So, if it’s raining, it’s highly likely you can get all the way from your hotel to the competition venue without having to step foot outside. (However, please note that many segments of the skywalk are NOT air-conditioned and can get warm due to the sun; if it’s a nice day out, travel at street level.)
- Free Downtown Shuttle (The D-Line):
This free bus system runs a continuous loop from the Western Gateway to the State Capitol in the East Village with buses arriving roughly every 10 minutes. While this service won’t really help you get to the competition venue any faster, most host hotels are located along the route and can get you from one end of Downtown to the other rather easily. Weekday hours of operation are 6:30 am – 6 pm and Saturday 7 am – 5 pm. On Wednesday, July 3rd, the shuttle will run until 11 pm and will be the best way to get to the capitol for fireworks (other than walking). For full information, click here.
- Rent a BCycle:
With over 20 grab-and-go locations across Downtown, these short-term rental bicycles are a fun and convenient way to take a single trip or rent for a full day of exploring. If you’re looking for a scenic workout, grab a Bcycle and take a trip around nearby Gray’s Lake. For rates, pick-up/drop-off locations and payment app, click here.
And, just so you have the lay of the land, here’s some lingo to help you navigate:
- Downtown Des Moines: Downtown Des Moines can be broken down into several distinct districts:
- Court District: Just south of the competition venues, you’ll find numerous restaurants and nightlife outlets, as well as a full-service Hy-Vee grocery store with food court and pharmacy if you need to pick up any last minute items you left at home. You’ll also find The Science Center of Iowa and want to stroll around one of the country’s best farmers markets on Saturday morning.
- East Villiage: East of the competition venues and Des Moines River, you’ll find boutique shopping, specialty dining and plenty of nightlife sprinkled between the river and Iowa State Capitol grounds in the city’s most diverse and hipsteresque district. Be sure to check out RAYGUN – The Greatest Store in the Universe and dine at Zombie Burger + Shake Lab.
- Western Gateway: On the west side of downtown, you can enjoy a stroll around the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park before or after dining at some of the city’s best restaurants.
Yankee Doodle Pops – Iowa State Capitol
Wednesday, July 3, 2019 – Concert @ 6:30 pm | Fireworks @ 8:30 pm
Join the Des Moines Symphony for a free patriotic concert at 6:30 pm on the west lawn of Iowa State Capitol, followed by Des Moines’s best fireworks show at 8:30 pm over the five state capitol domes. Find complete details on street closures, free transportation shuttles, maps and vendor locations here. The state capitol is located in the East Villiage, across the river from the competition venues.
Iowa Cubs Baseball Post-Game Fireworks – Principal Park
Thursday, July 4, 2019 & Friday, July 5, 2019 – Following Baseball
If you can’t make the big bang at the capitol on Wednesday, there is still time to see some downtown fireworks after Thursday and Friday night’s gymnastics competition has concluded. The Iowa Cubs will shoot off fireworks following the conclusion of their games against the Memphis Redbirds at Principal Park on both Thursday and Friday evenings. First pitch for these games is at 7:05 pm with fireworks at approximately 10 pm. Principal Park is located directly south of the competition venues, south of the Court District.
If you’re looking to get out of downtown on the 4th, you can head to the suburbs and check out Urbandale’s Fourth of July celebration, which includes a huge parade and fireworks show. There are also many celebrations and fireworks displays in many of the neighboring suburbs and small towns.
While Des Moines doesn’t typically top the lists of hot vacation destinations, there is still plenty of vacation fun to be had if you have a free moment. Whether you’re looking for something free to fill a morning or a fun-filled day of adventure out on the town, there are plenty of options.