Des Moines, Iowa – Top Gay Neighborhoods

Like many large cities in Des Moines the main LGBT neighborhoods are located in the heart of downtown, in the historical districts and in the hipper, artsy areas.  The city is generally gay-friendly but some areas are definitely more progressive than others. 

Most of the gay bars and clubs are downtown on or near Mulberry Street, where it is also possible to live… however this is also the financial heart of the city and it can harder to find less expensive condos or homes right around here. The neighborhood is quite charming with many of the old hotels and office buildings now being sold as condos.  There are also many quaint Victorian rowhouses in this area.  The lake and its cycling trails is just a short jog away and Des Moines International Airport is just ten minutes away.

A more affordable and livable neighborhood is the Indianola Hills area, which is right downtown and close to everything. This area boasts a lot of lofts and chic cafés. The streets are wide with trees and the homes have quite a bit of space between them.  The area is very near the Raccoon River where a hiking and cycling trail runs along the south bank and heads west to Gray’s Lake. It is also near a huge high-end mall which is just southeast of the area.

Also gay friendly is the McKinley Columbus Park neighborhood, which is just south of Indianola Hills. This historical area has narrower streets and modest homes that face the river and also just steps to the gay clubs downtown.

The River Bend area of the town is located near the River and its main drag, 3rd Street, cuts through both the Business and Entertainment districts of the town.  The center of this charming area is historic Nollen Plaza which is has a fountain.  The square is a community center surrounded by oyster bars and wonderful little café houses.  It is also close to the Mercy Medical Center and the urban campus of Des Moines Area Community College.

There are over fifty-eight neighborhoods in total taking part in the Neighborhood Revitalization program.  These are neighborhoods aggressively being revitalized and include housing in the downtown area near the De Moines Downtown Farmers market as well as development in McKinley Columbus Park, Indianapolis and River Bend.

Another thing to note about Des Moines is that it was named #1 for jobs by Forbes magazine for the summer of 2013. The city has experienced a remarkable recovery of economic activity with business expansions including a $350 million investment by Wells Fargo and The Principal Financial Group and Facebook’s announcement of creating a $1.5 billion data center in nearby Altoona.

For more information about Des Moines neighborhoods, attractions and real-estate revitalization visit the city’s Chamber of Commerce website at

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