The metropolis of Des Moines is seemingly bursting at the seams with a palpable energy. Between its electric nightlife, its burgeoning industry and its cosmopolitan culture, the Hartford of the West is a bustling city, offering all the amenities of a major metropolis while retaining its own unique small town charm. It seems that no matter how fast the city seems to be growing, it always keeps its polite composure, embracing residents and tourists alike with open arms and a congenial smile. This trend is perhaps most evident in Des Moines’ exponentially expanding nightlife, where despite always meeting someone new, there is also an immersive and comfortable atmosphere of familiarity. It is for this reason that I have elected to list some of Des Moines’ most well-known, most exciting, and most reputable nightlife establishments:

El Bait Shop

No, this is not a literal bait shop. Already caught for you, the fish here is some of the most delicious seafood you can find at a reasonable price in the entire metropolis. Not to mention, and perhaps more importantly, El Bait Shop offers 180 (yes, 180, it’s not a typo) different beers on tap and even more bottled options. From IPAs to Saisons and lagers to ales, El Bait Shop can and will satisfy your thirst with delicious beer right up your alley no matter what you prefer. Put frankly, it’s the spot to be.

High Life Lounge

As the title might imply, the High Life Lounge is an ode to High Life beer by Miller Light. I know, that’s not exactly a selling point (unless you’re an advocate of the champagne of beer), but the bar is fantastic despite what some may consider to be a sleight against it. Fashioned after a 1960’s style, the bar has a Formica bar top, vintage wallpaper, wood paneling, retro light fixtures, and vintage Miller beer promotional signs everywhere. Although the beer’s legacy was created half a century ago, it thrives to this day. The friendly staff, unique atmosphere, and excellent service keep patrons coming back again and again. Oh, did I mention it was named Best New Bar and Best Downtown Hangout by Cityview Magazine; because it was. It was even featured on the Travel Channel’s famous Man vs Food show in addition to being spotlighted in none other than the New York Times. They call it the Champagne of Bars for a reason, after all.


An arcade bar, Up-Down actually offers more than forty vintage arcade games from the 80’s and 90’s in addition to pinball machines, three skeeball alleys, Nintendo and Sega console games, and even Connect Four. Each game is only a quarter to play which ensures that your wallet, if anything, will appreciate the night out to Up-Down. However, that’s not at all to discredit the drink selection.

In fact, there are a respectable twenty beers on tap (not including bottles and cans) as well as classic 80’s and 90’s cocktails. Quench your thirst with drinks from the past while you game on vintage pinball/arcade machines. What more could you possibly ask for from a night out?