Just because Des Moines isn't a huge city doesn't mean it can't exhibit a worthwhile art collection inside an art museum that is worth seeing. Because it can. The Des Moines Art Center has a great collection of artwork on display on three levels that's worth ~2-3 hours of your time. Interesting sculptures, American and European paintings (including one of many of Van Gogh's olive tree paintings) are on display. Some funky and even humorous contemporary art will also capture your attention such as a dog on a vegetation covered chair and a piece that highlights the importance of vacuum cleaners (LOL!). It's not crowded and best of all, it's 100% free, too. Of course, donations are greatly appreciated. Great activity on a hot, sweltering day. TIP: The museum is not located downtown so you'll have to either drive, taxi, Uber or you can take a local public bus from downtown for about $2 which drops you off about two blocks away from the museum.
Ingersoll Ave / 42nd St, DSM
Bus #60 goes from downtown to this stop, which is just a couple blocks away from the art museum.