Des Moines

The capital of this so-called flyover state may not top your to-visit list, but Des Moines is a great place to live and raise a family. Elegant colonial and Tudor-style homes built in the early 1900s hide in quiet neighborhoods minutes from buzzy downtown, where lofts and condos draw the millennial crowd. Many families with kids flock to the suburbs where new housing developments continually pop up.

 And there's plenty to do and see in Des Moines. Cultural events and festivals draw all ages to the downtown area. One-of-a-kind shops, locally owned restaurants and hip bars enliven entertainment districts. And plenty of bike trails and parks (and even a few lakes) provide opportunities for outdoor recreation.

 The metro area of more than 600,000 has a small-town, know-your-neighbor feel to it. It's a place where you'll bump into people you know at the grocery store and get invited to backyard barbecues. Newcomers, take note: The people of Des Moines are some of the nicest you'll ever meet.

 

Des Moines