This post is part 5 of 5 in the series Quick Trips from Des Moines.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Des Moines is one of the best places to take a visit. A small town that prides itself in beauty and tradition. Packed with cultural events, recreational activities, and unique shopping, Pella is a fantastic place to day trip. No matter what your intentions are for your visit, you are definitely going to find something of interest in Pella.
Known as “America’s Dutch Treasure,” Pella greats visitors with Dutch Heritage in almost every corner of town. From the traditional city square featuring Tulip Toren to the Molengracht and the Scholte House Museum & Gardens. And if you didn’t know – Wyatt Earp once lived in Pella and his house is just off the square. History is literally pouring out of every inch of this town.
Pella is also known for performing and visual art spaces. The Pella Opera house, built in 1900, features several performance throughout the year as well as tours. Joan Kuyper Farver Art Gallery and Mills Gallery on Central College’s campus both host exhibits throughout the year as well.
Of course, a trip to Pella would not be complete without viewing the tulips. Tulip Time (the festival which celebrates the Dutch heritage of Pella) takes place May 7-9.
From bike trails and camping to Central College events, Pella has a wide variety of activities to choose from. Not far from Pella is Red Rock Lake, a great place for wild life watching as well as a great resource for outdoor rec (boating, fishing, kayaking, etc.). There are several campsites near the lake area, as well as the Cordova Cabins which are available to rent.
Shopping and Eating
Unique shops and food rank high on my list of places I visit when I hit up Pella. Kaldera, the authentic Greek restaurant, George’s Pizza, and OPA’s Deli (located alongside In’t Veld’s Meat Market) are some of our top picks for dinner or lunch. For just grabbing a coffee we hit up Smokey Row or Brew Coffee House. Definitely for dessert, a stop at the frozen yogurt shop Mango Tree, which supports Haiti Missions. Of course, no trip to Pella is without a stop at either Jaarsma or Vander Ploeg Bakery for some Dutch Letters or other traditional Dutch treats. In’t Veld’s Meat Market is also known for being a local meat market where you can pick up some Pella Bologna.
From unique restoration pieces to jewelry and everything in between, several shops offer anything and everything you might need. Check out these local stores: Silver Lining, Boats, Thistles Flower Shop, Embellish, and Brick & Mortar.
I spent four years living and breathing Pella culture and loved every minute of it. For anyone who has not visited, I would definitely recommend checking it out. Word to the wise, though—if you wish to check out the city on the weekend, the town traditionally is closed up for rest on Sunday.
Have you ever day-tripped to Pella? What are some of your favorite places to visit?
Read more from our Quick Trips from Des Moines series!
- Destination: Omaha
- A Weekend Getaway in Kansas City
- Take a Lake-cation: Clear Lake, IA
- Family Fun in the Amana Colonies