Staying at the Valley West Inn affords you easy access to downtown Des Moines, less than 15 minutes away. A short drive east on the I-235, getting downtown is the easy part. Finding parking may prove a challenge if you are unfamiliar with downtown Des Moines. However, there are plenty of parking options if you know where to look.
There are over 30,000 parking spaces in downtown Des Moines, including 4,000 parking meters, ensuring that you can almost always find an open parking spot. There are also numerous public parking garages located throughout the downtown area. Most of these garages are connected to the city’s Skywalk system, allowing easy access between popular downtown buildings. Parking is further made easier in downtown Des Moines with the SmartCard parking meter program.
The SmartCard system is like a debit card. You can purchase a SmartCard at one of three locations: the 3rd and Court Parking Garage, the 9th and Locust Parking Garage and the City Hall lobby. There are SmartCard vending machines at these locations, where you buy the SmartCard for $5.00 before adding value to it using cash, a MasterCard or a Visa. To use the SmartCard when you park at a meter, insert the card into the front slot. The meter should tell you how much money you have on the card, and you can choose the amount of time up to the maximum limit to spend at the meter. Remove your card, and you are on your way to exploring the city. If you plan on spending a significant amount of time downtown, a SmartCard is a great convenience.
Although there are plenty of street parking meters, on the busiest times in downtown Des Moines, your best bet is probably one of the parking garages. Plan ahead by finding parking garages closest to your downtown destination. For example, if you are going to Iowa State Capital, park at the East Grand and Penn Ramp garage. If you are going to the Iowa Science Center, park at the Third and Court Ramp garage.
The great thing about parking in downtown Des Moines is that parking is completely free at all city parking garages and street meters from 6 a.m. Saturday through Sunday evening. Parking is also free after 6 p.m. on weekdays. This makes your trip into the downtown area from the Valley West Inn not only easy, but also affordable.