Thoughts of Iowa usually evoke images of sprawling corn fields that stretch for miles, and for good reason. Iowa’s nickname is the Corn State, and 90 percent of the land in Iowa is devoted to agriculture. But wait, the friendly capital city of Des Moines, Iowa, has so much more than that going on.

Located near the center of the state, Des Moines has a population of 233,000 and rates very high as a great place to live and raise a family. U.S. News rated 125 of the most populous metro areas and Des Moines came in near the top at number four. To make the list, the area had to have good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market and offer a high quality of life.

Des Moines gets a lot of national attention as the site of the Iowa Caucus, and every year the internationally acclaimed Iowa State Fair attracts more than a million people from all over the world. Other nationally acclaimed yearly events include the Des Moines Arts Festival and the World Food Festival.

Des Moines has a thriving economy and is a center for the insurance, financial services and publishing industries. The city is the headquarters to several corporations, including the Principal Financial Group, Ruan Transportation, EMC Insurance and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

There's plenty to do and see in Des Moines. The Downtown Farmers' Market is ranked number 2 in the country, and the downtown area also hosts cultural events and festivals throughout the year. As you stroll through the downtown, you will find a great selection of unique shops and locally owned restaurants, and don’t forget to check out the art centers and museums sprinkled throughout the city. At night, things liven up at the hip bars and breweries. With over 50 bars in Downtown Des Moines, there are plenty of places to meet up with friends.

For outdoor recreation, there are countless city parks, with amenities like disc golf, dog parks and more than 800 miles of biking trails.

The median home value in Des Moines is $134,378 and housing prices in Des Moines proper are well below the national median. Arbor Peaks is close to downtown and a popular place for young professionals. Beaverdale, with its beautiful brick houses, is a neighborhood close to downtown and the shopping malls. Sherman Hill features historic homes with yards, within walking distance of downtown Des Moines.

If finding a friendly, vibrant city in America’s heartland appeals to you, then Des Moines should be at the top of your list.