Gay & Away: Iowa - November 2011
My home state of Iowa may not be on most people’s lists of top travel destinations, but the “Hawkeye State” has many hidden gems that are worth writing home about. In this month’s article, I feature a few of my favorite spots in Central Iowa.
(Want to let people know where they should hang in your city? Send us an email!)
On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously upheld the 2007 Polk County District Court ruling, stating that there was no governmental interest in denying the public marriage licenses based on their sexual orientation. Licenses became available on April 27, 2009. Between April 2009 and March 2010, over 2,000 same-sex couples were married in Iowa, generating millions each year for the State.
Get more info on gay marriage in Iowa at About.com.
Suites at 800 Locust
Since its opening in 2000, Suites at 800 Locust has really been the most luxurious option for lodging in Iowa. This boutique hotel offers 51 guest rooms, including 31 fireplace suites and 11 whirlpool suites. Upon my last stay, I found myself not wanting to leave the bed, as the lavish bedding and pillows made it feel as if I was sleeping on a cloud.
800 Locust Street
Des Moines, IA 50309-3622
Photo: Trip Advisor
(located in Ames, IA)
Thirty minutes north of Des Moines is Ames, which is the home of Iowa State University—a sprawling, well-manicured campus of over 160 buildings. On a recent visit to the area, we opted to stay at the Iowa House, a fraternity-house-turned-hotel. As a former frat member myself, it took a bit of convincing for me to book rooms there, but after visiting the website and talking extensively with the owner, Monte, my fears were eased. I learned that the Iowa House was built in 1924 as the University’s Sigma Sigma Delta Chi fraternity house and was renovated in 2008. Today, the property boasts 15 spacious rooms with private baths, whirlpool tubs, and extremely comfortable beds—all offering historic charm. With the daily gourmet breakfast, Iowa House really feels more like a bed and breakfast than a hotel. We were also comforted to know that the Iowa House is not located on “Greek Row,” so our nights were quiet and peaceful.
Affordability is king at Iowa House as well; daily rates range from $95 to $155 per night.
405 Hayward Avenue
Ames, Iowa 50014
The Historic East Village in downtown Des Moines is an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and bars, all with the backdrop of the regal gold-domed Iowa State Capitol. My visits to Des Moines have always included a stop at eden, a “bath” boutique carrying lines like Kiehl’s and Molton Brown. Owner Jennifer Hansen has transformed the loft-like space into a crisp, clean white retail sanctuary—having out-of-town customers shocked they are in the heart of Iowa. Hansen has expanded her offerings from bath and body to cleaning products (think Caldrea), candles, jewelry, baby gifts, and more.
418 East Sixth
Des Moines, IA 50309
The Blazing Saddle
Where you never have to ask for a double.
Iowa’s famous gay nightclub.
112 Southeast 4th Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
Eat to your heart’s content in Des Moines at some of my favorite eateries:
Where should folks hang out in your city? Let us know!