Pioneer Park – Des Moines, IA

Des Moines receives critical praise for blending urban energy with a relaxed rural feel in many of its neighborhoods. Perhaps no other neighborhood embodies the urban-rural model better than Pioneer Park, a small yet densely populated community that sits directly southeast of downtown Des Moines. Residents of the neighborhood enjoy the wildlife and natural splendor of Easter Lake to the south and the winding Des Moines River to the north. Whether you want to live close to hip East Village boutiques or boat docks along Easter Lake, Pioneer Park has you covered.

Restaurants & Nightlife

With the downtown skyline in clear view, Pioneer Park residents have an abundance of dining options located less than 10 minutes from their homes. However, don't deal with traffic and pay for parking when one of the area's iconic restaurants graces your neighborhood. Scornovacca's Ristorante has served critically praised authentic Italian cuisine for decades. The south side dining gem takes pasta to a new level, with chicken cacciatore and penne pesto leaving an indelible flavor profile on your taste buds. Sitting just a bridge ride over the Des Moines River, the East Village has a diverse selection of independently run restaurants that satisfy the most demanding palate. Warm your soul with a bowl of the hearty parsnip and sage soup at Alba before digging in to the beef cheek stroganoff. Mullet's, which operates at the confluence of the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers, delivers the best Cajun-Creole cuisine found in the city. From enjoying live music at Wooly's to dancing the night away at Joker's, Pioneer Park residents have the most popular Des Moines nightlife options at their fingertips. Both the Court Avenue District and the East Village attract residents from all over the area to spend a night on the town. Pioneer Park residents barely break a sweat walking to any of the venues located in the two busiest nightlife districts in the Des Moines Metropolitan area. If unwinding after a busy day appeals to you, Pioneer Park acts as the quintessential chill hub for bars such as Brew Haus and Fireside Lounge. The neighborhood's zoning ordinances prohibit the operation of nightclubs and live music venues.

History & Culture

As one of the first settlements founded to alleviate overcrowding in downtown Des Moines, Pioneer Park has a rich history of providing refuge for busy professionals that wanted to live close to their workplaces in downtown Des Moines. The neighborhood has undergone several development changes, as the multiple unit apartment buildings that once dominated the neighborhood now share real estate with single-family homes that ensure the neighborhood enjoys the financial rewards of a stable property tax base. After the Great Flood of 1993, Pioneer Park prohibited the development of residential and commercial properties along the Des Moines River. Residents enjoy several Des Moines area cultural icons within 2 miles of their homes. The Des Moines Art Museum and Des Moines Science Center open their doors to the public in downtown Des Moines, while the Blank Zoo, 4 miles south of Pioneer Park, gives families a day of relaxing educational fun.


Pioneer Park's close proximity to downtown Des Moines gives residents numerous transportation options. The carpooling specialist Uber has a strong presence in downtown Des Moines, as do the cab companies that wait for fares at downtown hotels and nightspots. Walk one of the wide sidewalks in the neighborhood to reach your work destination, or enjoy the afternoon basking in the sun inside of the neighborhood's premier recreational center, Pioneer Park. Southeast 14th Street acts as the principle road for residents who shop on the south side of Des Moines. Parking costs nothing in Pioneer Park, even along the bustling roads in the area. The Des Moines Regional Transportation (DART) agency runs several routes through and adjacent to the Pioneer Park neighborhood. Pioneer Park residents can hop on the number 6 Indianola or number 7 SW 9th routes to reach cultural and commercial amenities located on the south side. DART's central station sits less than a mile from the northern border of Pioneer Park. The public transportation hub provides Pioneer Park residents with quick access to any neighborhood in the Des Moines area.


Unlike living in neighborhoods located near downtown in other large cities, living near downtown Des Moines does not cost you an arm and a leg. With the cost of a one-bedroom apartment averaging $598, Pioneer Park residents pay roughly the same for a one-bedroom that residents of outlying neighborhoods pay for one-room rentals of similar size. The same principle applies to other categories that comprise the cost of living index, as Pioneer Park residents pay just less than 1 percent more for groceries, health care and entertainment. Public transportation costs the same wherever you live in metro Des Moines. A 2-hour, one-transfer fare costs $1.75, which represents a highly affordable and efficient way to reach any destination in metro Des Moines. Domestic draw beer prices can exceed $3 at many of the bustling bars and nightclubs located downtown. You save yourself money by bellying up to one of the nearby south side bars and can expect to pay only $2.50 for a 2-ounce glass of domestic draw beer. Gas prices in Pioneer Park run a little more than the average for Des Moines area service stations. Yet, neighborhood prices for a gallon of gas run 6 percent below the national average.


With the primary center of commerce at Southridge Mall located 15 minutes to the south of Pioneer Park, residents should consider closer shopping options that include one of a kind boutiques that operate within the East Village. A quick drive over one of the Des Moines River bridges lands you in shopper's paradise. From Our Hands stocks a wide variety of handcrafted glass, metal, clay and wood artwork. Pioneer Park homeowners looking for an interior design upgrade find stylish modern pieces of furniture at Projects Contemporary Furniture. High-end shoppers who live in Pioneer Park typically make the short drive on Interstate 235 to reach Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines. With a Hy-Vee located just outside the Pioneer Park perimeter, residents can meet all of their grocery shopping needs in one place. Several ethnic grocery stores operate along SE 14th Street, including Italian food stores that have conducted business in the neighborhood for over 50 years. Des Moines Italian sausage purveyor Graziano's sits just to the south of downtown along the Des Moines River. Locally grown organic produce attracts health-conscious shoppers to the Des Moines Farmers Market, which runs from early May through the end of October.


Pioneer Park attributes its name to the large green space that provides refuge for neighborhood residents. Two open-air shelters host family reunions and graduation parties. Although the city charges for renting one of the open-space shelters, entrance to Pioneer Park costs you nothing. Enjoy the relaxing ambiance of quiet green space while you wait for your steaks to cook on one of the park's grills. Children romp in the large playground that sits near the main park walking trail. Exercise aficionados need to travel to Gray's Lake to reap the benefits of intense cardio workouts. The park has a number of cycling trails that cut through the over 100-acre city park that overlooks downtown Des Moines. Gray's Lake hosts an annual softball tournament that attracts the best players throughout the Midwest. Residents of Pioneer Park have a bird's eye view of the annual fireworks display held every July 4 on the Capitol park grounds. Canine lovers take their furry best friends to the Riverwalk dog park that sits just north of downtown Des Moines.
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2101-2111 E Caulder Ave, Des Moines, IA 50320
1 / 34
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2201-2202 E Rose Ave, Des Moines, IA 50320
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1516 Evergreen Ave, Des Moines, IA 50320
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