Centered around historic Valley Junction, West Des Moines is a modern city with beautiful neighborhoods, great shopping, and a happening restaurant scene. Located, you guessed it, west of Des Moines and part of the greater metropolitan area, planners of this rapidly growing community have placed a high value on creating an excellent quality of life for residents from the earliest vision to today. In addition to plenty of employment opportunities, the city also offers a range of housing options for everyone from young adults to empty nesters, as well as every amenity and service a person might need—all within easy reach of Iowa’s natural splendor. There are reasons for all those high ratings.
West Des Moines residents enjoy a system of biking and walking trails, including the Mills Civic Parkway Trail that connects residents to neighborhoods, schools, city government, shopping, and services. Racoon River Park features a 3.2-mile multi-use trail through nature, and there are several other shorter trails through the city. West Des Moines is also served by the DART (Des Moines Area Rapid Transit) public bus system, with some limited routes, but expanding services in 2023. There are a few pedestrian friendly areas such as Valley Junction, however, West Des Moines residents require a car to run most errands. The average commute is 17.2 minutes, one way, which is lower than the national average of 26.4, and there is a robust carpool system in place.
What do you want to do in West Des Moines? Find a great job or a beautiful home? Have an amazing meal, do some independent boutique shopping, play a round of golf, take the kids to the splashpad? How about a day at Racoon River Park with its swimming beach and walking trail? There are also three aquatic centers and a sprayground to cool off on hot summer days. The West Des Moines City/School Campus, “a place of natural beauty and culture” is where city hall, two schools, the library, a resource center, and a football stadium are clustered to welcome the community. At the center is the Jamie Hurd Ampitheater, which hosts the Summer Sundaze live music concerts and many other community events like Moonlit Movies and Trivia Tuesdays. West Des Moines has earned accolades for its diversity, as a wonderful place to live, as a good place for young professionals, and as a great place to retire. With housing options ranging from single family homes to apartments with a view, no matter what stage of life you are in, you’ll find something in West Des Moines.
One of the most influential early settlers to the area that is now West Des Moines was a cattle farmer from Virginia named James C Jordan. He chose his homestead on the gentle slope of the Raccoon River, and in 1848, built a log cabin there. He and his wife, Melinda lived there and raised six children and were instrumental in bringing the railroad to their area along with many other accomplishments. Perhaps their most important role was opening their home to escaping slaves as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Their home is now the Jordan House Museum, and the family is remembered in the name Jordan Creek. As more settlers arrived and the railroad was built, the small community that grew up around the station was called Valley Junction, but as the town matured, residents wanted a name that was less tied to the railroad, so in 1893, the City of West Des Moines was incorporated. From that inception, West Des Moines leaders have planned carefully with a vision for the future and a mission to provide the best services possible. As it grew, progress brought more amenities to the town such as the public library in 1942, schools, emergency services, and a bustling business community to provide jobs, goods, and services.
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