Cradled between the Des Moines and Iowa Rivers, Central Iowa is a region with surprising variation, culture, and opportunity oft overlooked by the outside world. The western and eastern edges of this region are defined by the Lœss Hills, which give way to the rolling hillsides and wine regions of Côtes du Des Moines and Côtes du Iowa. Between these great rivers are the gentle plains of the Skunk River valley, home to the research powerhouse of Ames. At the southern end of the region the pastoral landscape gives way to the sprawling metropolitan region of Des Moines.
- 1 Ames - A prominent college town and research center, home to Iowa State University.
- 2 Ankeny - A suburban community on the northern edge of the Des Moines metro region.
- 3 Boone - Home of the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad and the closest town to scenic Ledges State Park.
- 4 Carlisle
- 5 Des Moines - The state capital and Iowa's largest city.
- 6 Grinnell - Home of esteemed liberal arts institution Grinnell College.
- 7 Marshalltown
- 8 Newton - Former headquarters of the Maytag Washing Machine Company.
- 9 Pella - Home of Pella Windows, Vermeer Manufacturing, and the annual Pella Tulip Festival.
- 10 West Des Moines
- 11 Winterset
The Côtes du Des Moines area on the western edge of Central Iowa is well known for its wine growing. The bluffs of the Des Moines River provide good drainage and a unique microclimate that shields the Côtes du Des Moines from the worst cold and heat of Iowan seasons. Wines here will be somewhat unfamiliar to many travelers as they are made primarily with Vitis riparia grapes, also known as the Frost Grape. Developed by the University of Minnesota to withstand the local climate, popular varietals include Boule de Poils (similar to Sauvignon Blanc), Marechal Foch, and Frontenac.