Explore Des Moines: Planning a Family Weekend in the City

Welcome to Des Moines, Iowa! While this state capital is best known for hosting the Iowa State Fair every August, there is still plenty to do at any time of year. Des Moines is a family-friendly city with many activities and attractions that kids of all ages can enjoy. Read on to see our itinerary for the ultimate three-day family weekend while staying in our centrally-located Des Moines rental suites.

Pappajohn Sculpture Park
Courtesy of Pappajohn Sculpture Park Facebook Page


Friday morning is the ideal time to travel to the city and check into your short-term Des Moines rental. Once your family has settled in, grab lunch at Fong’s, which serves up incredible Asian-inspired pizzas. Then, spend the afternoon strolling around Pappajohn Sculpture Park and admiring the larger-than-life sculptures. The newly-installed “LOVE” sculpture is a great spot to snap a selfie! Finish your first day in the city at the Science Center of Iowa. The second Friday of every month is $5 Family Night, where you can explore the museum after 5 pm for just $5 a ticket. Don’t forget to grab dinner at the Food Chain Cafe while you’re at the SCI.

Day 2

There’s no better way to kick off a Saturday morning in Des Moines than with a little breakfast and shopping at the Downtown Farmer’s Market. Kids will enjoy exploring the booths of different vendors selling interesting food, fresh produce, flowers, handmade crafts, and more. The farmer’s market is open from May through October. If you’re in town during the offseason, we recommend stopping for breakfast pastries at La Mie instead.
Grab lunch at the infamous Zombie Burger before heading to Adventureland Park for the rest of the day. Adventureland is located just outside the city in Altoona and has over 100 rides, shows, and attractions, including a waterpark. After a long day of fun, head down the road to enjoy a late dinner at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl and Grill. This underwater-themed restaurant offers plenty of family-friendly menu items (plus a few adults will love, too).

Adventureland Park
Courtesy of Adventureland Park Facebook Page
Blank Park Zoo
Courtesy of Blank Park Zoo Facebook Page

Day 3

Get an early start on Sunday to make the most of your last day in Des Moines. Head downtown for a hearty breakfast at Mullets Restaurant. Mullets serves up favorites, like omelets, breakfast burritos, and meatloaf hashbrowns. After enjoying breakfast, spend the rest of the day at the Blank Park Zoo. The zoo is home to more than 100 different animal species, so your child is sure to see their favorite animal! On your way home, stop for dinner at La Cabana Mexican Bar & Grill for some traditional Mexican food or at Big Al’s BBQ and Catering to enjoy some American comfort food.


If you are looking for even more fun you can have with your family, here are a few more recommendations:

  • Living History Farms – a 500-acre open-air museum that educates about Midwestern rural life from the past 309 years (open May-October)
  • Gray’s Lake Park – a 167-acre park with a playground, swimming beach, and boat rentals
  • Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens – home to thousands of plants and flowers, with a greenhouse dome, plus seven acres of outdoor gardens
  • RAYGUNa t-shirt symposium known for its shirts with quirky, witty sayings on them
Living History Farms
Courtesy of Living History Farms Facebook Page

And there you have it! Three days worth of Des Moines family fun, all packed into a weekend itinerary. Des Moines is a great city to visit with kids of all ages and you’ll need to find a nice place to stay during your trip that is family-friendly as well. That’s where we come in. Frontdesk offers two-bedroom suites that are the perfect size for families. Our suites are centrally located, securely-managed, and offer many amenities like smart TVs and fully-stocked kitchens. Search Frontdesk’s Des Moines rentals now!

Visiting DES MOINES?

You’ll need Frontdesk’s Des Moines Guidebook. It’s curated by local experts and filled with only the best bars, restaurants, and places to visit.


Celebrate the 36th International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN

The International Blues Challenge (IBC) is a five-day event held annually in Memphis, Tennessee. This year marks the 36th annual challenge, which draws thousands of music lovers to Memphis to celebrate the blues and watch 250+ bands and performers compete to be named the best! Here’s everything you need to know for attending the IBC, as well as our recommendations for the best places to eat, shop, and stay in the area.

Annual Blues Challenge
Courtesy of The Blues Foundation Facebook Page


This year’s International Blues Challenge will take place from January 28 through February 1 along historic Beale Street. Prior to January 28, affiliated Blues Societies worldwide host their own regional IBC competitions. The winning band and solo/duo blues performer of each of these preliminary events then go on to represent their regional organization in Memphis’ International Blues Challenge. The IBC is judged by blues aficionados from around the world who have a deep understanding of the genre and years of experience in producing or creating blues music. The performers are judged on a variety of criteria including blues content, originality, vocals, instrumental talent, and stage presence.

There is a lot crammed into the five-day challenge, and chances are you won’t make it to everything. You can view the full schedule of events here, but these are the highlights we recommend:

  • International Showcase on Opening Night: January 28 at 8:00 pm
  • Quarterfinals, Round 1: January 29 at 5:00 pm
  • Quarterfinals, Round 2: January 30 at 5:00 pm
  • Youth Showcase: January 31 at 5:00 pm
  • Semifinals: January 31 at 6:20 pm
  • Finals: February 1 at 12:00 pm; doors open at 11:30 (Orpheum Theatre)

There are also many other musical showcases over the five days as well as other events such as networking, health screenings, jam sessions, parties, yoga, master classes, and special exhibits. 




B.B. King's Blues Club Memphis
Courtesy of B.B. King's Blues Club Memphis Facebook Page
Memphis Music
Courtesy of Memphis Music Facebook Page
Frontdesk Rental
Taken from Frontdesk Short-Term Memphis Rentals

Along Beale Street, you can find many of Memphis’ most iconic restaurants. Probably the most famous of these eateries is B.B. King’s Blues Club, which features live music, great barbeque, and other spectacular Southern dishes. Just down the road, you’ll find the Jerry Lee Lewis Cafe & Honky Tonk, created by the rock and roll legend himself. The restaurant serves up delicious Southern favorites that you can enjoy while listening to live music and exploring the rockabilly musician’s memorabilia. For breakfast, treat yourself to some classic soul food from Miss Polly’s Soul City Cafe; their chicken and waffles are the best in the city!

The shops on Beale Street are eclectic and unique, just like Memphis! You’ll find everything from rare vinyl to clothing, art, and even voodoo accouterments. A. Schwab is one of Memphis’s unique dry goods stores, where you’ll find quirky souvenirs and gifts, plus it also has an old fashioned soda fountain counter. Blues City General Store is another popular gift shop featuring a variety of Memphis-themed merchandise. Memphis Music sells lots of records and tapes, as well as unique wall art and – wait for it – handcrafted toilet seats. Beale Street isn’t all kitschy gift shops; you can also check out the clothing store Eel Etc. Fashions.

While visiting Memphis for the 36th Annual International Blues Conference, you’ll want to stay somewhere close to the action. Consider staying with Frontdesk in one of our furnished short-term rentals in Memphis. We offer one-bedroom suites that are located just a short 5-minute drive from Beale Street. Each of our apartments features modern amenities like fully stocked kitchens, smart TVs with Roku and Netflix, access to laundry facilities, and a fitness center. Wherever you decide to stay, we hope to see you in Memphis for the International Blues Challenge! 

The 36th Annual International Blues Challenge is a historic event for Memphis, Tennessee. Not only will you be able to experience the passion and culture of Blues music, but you’ll also have a chance to explore the diverse community within the city. Start planning your trip today! Check out all of the available Memphis suites on Frontdesk.

Visiting Memphis?

You’ll need Frontdesk’s Memphis Guidebook. It’s curated by local experts and filled with only the best bars, restaurants, and places to visit.


January 2020 Travel Guide: What You Should Know

January is a surprisingly great time for travel – in fact, one of the best! There is no better way to start a new year than with a trip to a new destination. In January, prices have dipped back down after the holiday price hikes, and you have a nice window of time before they spike back up due to spring break travel. Because this time of year isn’t a peak travel time for most destinations, you can also enjoy the best of what a city has to offer without fighting crowds.


When it comes to the best places to travel in January 2020, there are many great options. January is the ideal time to visit your dream destination, whether you’re looking to escape the cold weather or embrace it. Some of these spots are great for winter activities, while others offer a much-needed dose of sunshine, but they all have something for everyone. Here are a few of our favorite destinations!

Courtesy of Nicole Geri on Unsplash
Courtesy of Vlad Busuioc on Unsplash
Courtesy of Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Minneapolis, Minnesota

For those looking for a snowy getaway, Minneapolis is one of the most popular spots to travel. The city has fun winter activities like cross-country skiing, bobsledding, and visiting Excelsior’s majestic ice castles. Plus, the Great Northern Festival will be held in the Twin Cities from January 23 through February 2. This winter festival features ski races, ice carving competitions, hockey championships, a beer garden, and local food trucks. While in Minneapolis, you’ll also want to check out staples like the Mall of America and Juicy Lucy burgers!

Houston, Texas

Houston is another great destination with mild winter temperatures ranging from 45 to 60 degrees. Explore a day in the city by visiting the Houston Zoo or take a stroll through Buffalo Bayou Park. There’s also plenty to do indoors, learn the history behind Space Center Houston or enjoy an afternoon of fun at the Museum of Natural Science. For those who want a little taste of winter, ice skating at Discovery Green will be open until February 2.

Tampa, Florida

If you’re looking to escape the cold this January, Tampa is the place to go! Temperatures average between 52 to 70 degrees with lots of sunshine, but without the sticky heat that comes in the summertime. While you’re in the city, visit the popular Hyde Park shopping center or spend a day at Busch Gardens amusement park!


Flight Times
Courtesy of Matthew Smith on Unsplash

You’ll be able to find more affordable flights near the end of January, as prices may still be high from the holiday season during the first week of the month. The single cheapest day to fly will be January 21, and in general, Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be the best days of the week to travel. Weekend flights tend to be more expensive, so avoid flying on those days if you can.

Airline prices change frequently, so we always recommend shopping around to get the best deal for your flight. Currently, here are the best deals of the month:


  • Depending on where you’re flying out of – or to – you may run into some winter weather that can cause delays and cancellations. Be sure to read up on the airline’s policies before booking, so you’re not caught by surprise!
  • Use a hard-sided suitcase, which will be water-resistant and easy to clean. This is a must-have if you’re traveling to a city where they’ll be snow.
  • Invest in packing cubes, particularly if you’re bringing any bulkier sweaters or jackets; they will help you save valuable suitcase space.
  • Remember to pack your SPF! It can be easy to forget in the dreary winter months, but you need to protect your skin year-round from the sun.

No matter what destination you choose for your January 2020 vacation, you’ll need to find a great place to stay. Frontdesk has you covered! Our short-term apartment rentals are secure, trendy, and centrally-located. Find a one- or two-bedroom suite in any of our cities today!


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Best Cities to Plan a Lovers’ Getaway This Valentine’s Day

February 14 is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to start thinking about and setting Valentine’s Day plans. What cities are the best for a romantic getaway and what should you do there? Keep reading for our best Valentine’s Day recommendations in San Antonio, Scottsdale, Louisville, and St. Petersburg.


The Lone Star State is full of romance and San Antonio is the pinnacle: an adventurous city home to some of Texas’s most famous historic sites and fine cuisines. What better place to spend Valentine’s Day? 

San Antonio River Walk
Courtesy of San Antonio River Walk Twitter Page
Marriage Island
Courtesy of Unsplash
Biga on the Banks
Courtesy of Biga on the Banks Facebook Page

Relax on the San Antonio Riverwalk

Make a day out of the San Antonio Riverwalk. Write you and your beau’s initials or a cute message on a lock and leave it on the famous Love Lock Bridge – a romantic tradition that started in Paris before spreading worldwide. Spend an afternoon of pampering at the Mokara Spa. Take a Riverwalk Barge Tour to take in breathtaking sights and attractions by boat. In fact, there is so much to do on the Riverwalk that we have a devoted an entire article to it

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Propose on Marriage Island

If you’re planning to pop the question this Valentine’s Day, there is no better spot. This tiny bit of land in the San Antonio River is famed for proposals and wedding ceremonies. Local legend says that this romantic spot will also bring good luck to your union.

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Dinner at Biga on the Banks

Closeout the night with a classic romantic dinner at Biga on the Banks, a chic, fine-dining eatery on the Riverwalk. The menu is continually changing, but you can always count on a delicious meal. Classic menu items include seared foîe gras, beef ribeye, and Mexican chocolate mousse.

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Scottsdale, AZ

Scottsdale, Arizona is the perfect getaway for couples looking for some relaxation this Valentine’s Day. Known for its desert scenery, spa, and fine dining, Scottsdale has plenty of couple-friendly things to enjoy.

LUXE Nails & Spa
Courtesy of LUXE Nails & Spa Facebook Page
MacDonald's Ranch
Courtesy of MacDonald's Ranch Facebook Page
Café Monarch
Courtesy of Café Monarch Facebook Page

Get Pampered at a Luxury Spa

Enjoy a day of couples massages at one of Scottsdale’s infamous luxury desert spas. We recommend trying La Vidorra Spa at The Scott or Spa Avania at the Hyatt Regency. Most spas offer couples packages and they are widely known for encompassing natural elements of the desert into their treatments.

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Explore MacDonald’s Ranch

If you and your date are the more active type, there’s no better way to spend Valentine’s than by riding on horseback together! MacDonald’s Ranch offers stagecoach rides, and you can book in advance for a romantic Moonlight Ride.

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Dinner at Café Monarch

Café Monarch is one of Scottsdale’s best-kept secrets. The menu changes weekly and also tends to have special occasion four-course prix-fixe dinners. The wine list and inventive house cocktails also make this restaurant one of the top on our list.

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Louisville, KY

Louisville, Kentucky is known for its horses and bourbon, but don’t underestimate the romance of this midwestern/southern blended city. There is lots to do here to make for a great Valentine’s getaway.

Commonwealth Theatre Center
Courtesy of Commonwealth Theatre Center Facebook Page
Louisville Brew Bus
Courtesy of Louisville Brew Bus Facebook Page
La Chasse
Courtesy of La Chasse Facebook Page

Appreciate the Theatre

Louisville has a great theatre scene. While most famous for their Shakespeare in the Park series in the summertime, the theatre scene is excellent year-round. Catch a show like The Secret Garden at Commonwealth Theatre Center or Miss Saigon at The Kentucky Center. Then, follow up the evening with dinner or drinks.

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Take a Brewery or Distillery Tour

While most people would opt for a bottle of wine on Valentine’s Day, don’t underestimate a brewery or distillery tour! Louisville is known for both its breweries and its bourbon, so you’ll enjoy top-quality drinks while also learning a lot.

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Dinner at La Chasse

La Chasse, in the historic Highlands area of Louisville, is the perfect spot to take your date for Valentine’s dinner. The restaurant features innovative dishes with Southern French and Spanish influences, as well as boutique wines, artisan cocktails, and craft beer. Popular dishes include their fried oysters, chicken Osso Bucco, and inventive cocktails like their Hibiscus Negroni.

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St. Petersburg, FL

What better place to escape for a Valentine’s getaway than to a beachside destination? St. Pete is certainly known for its beaches and sunshine, but also has more in store for couples this Valentine’s Day.

Dali Museum
Courtesy of Dali Museum
Sunken Gardens
Courtesy of Sunken Gardens Facebook Page
Il Ritorno
Courtesy of Il Ritorno Facebook Page

Discover Culture at the Dali Museum

Impress your date with a bit of culture and visit the Dali Museum. This museum is home to the most extensive collection of Salvador Dali’s artwork in the world. Afterward, enjoy a glass of champagne and a dessert pastry at the museum’s Cafe Gala.

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Tour the Sunken Gardens

Nothing says romance like flowers. But instead of the traditional bouquet, treat your partner to a tour of the Sunken Gardens. It is home to cascading waterfalls, beautiful gardens, and more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers.

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Dinner at Il Ritorno

The intimate and rustic Il Ritorno makes for a great selection to whisk you and your date away from the hustle and bustle of St. Pete. They serve up contemporary Italian dishes like black truffle spaghetti, grilled octopus, and mushroom carbonara. The wine list is not extensive, but is high quality and perfectly matched to the food.

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No matter what city you plan to travel to, there is plenty for you and your partner to do this Valentine’s Day! And despite how busy the new year can become, it’s important to spend time with the person you love most. For your next romantic getaway, book your stay with Frontdesk.


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St Petersburg FL Visitor Guide


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Guide Book to Memphis TN


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