Historic Valley Junction offers unique shopping, excellent dining

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West Des Moines’ Historic Valley Junction offers some unique shopping opportunities, as well as some excellent dining options.

Valley Junction is the original downtown for the city. The area saw success after the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad moved its roundhouse, switch yard and repair shop here.

The area recognizes its railroad history with a caboose along a small park.

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Valley Junction has morphed from a western downtown to a retail and entertainment district featuring about 150 stores and restaurants.

The district has an eclectic feel. Visitors can shop at antique and vintage stores, art galleries, clothing stores, as well as a variety of other selections.

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We visited on a Sunday, and some stores were closed.  Oh well.

The ones we did visit were worth the stop.

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Flashback Vintage and Retro was a fun stop. While Lisa was looking at old post cards, I watched a videotape of the best of Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.” Man, I laughed loud and non-stop. A guy joined me in watching the clips. David Letterman doing stand-up comedy, as well as a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom animal segment.

The store offered a look into the history of American culture. Old coffee pots, plates, cups, clothes and furniture abound. A troll sat comfortably in a lounging chair.

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Hinge offered a look at vintage items. The store offers a sofa made from the rear of a pick-up. Or, nothing says “Home” like some chicken decorations.

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One store had an old Coca Cola pop bottle cooler. I paid 10 cents a bottle to get a soda out of the machine as a kid. Today, they wanted more than $4,000 for the cooler.

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G Migs Fifth Street Pub features a local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, as well as a mural featuring American wars.

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Theatrical Shop is a unique store. It’s a cross between a costume store and a character museum (at least to me).

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The store has a wide selection of costumes for all ages. But, the mannequins on display in costume were awesome! I told one of the employees it was like walking into a costume museum – Superman, Super Girl, Wonder Woman, Batman, Darth Vader, as well as so many more. There’s even a Mardi Gras display.

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I swear I stepped back into the 1960s (childhood, by the way) at Cosmic Place! Talk about retro clothing. Men’s platform shoes sit on shelves from the floor to the ceiling. Nancy Sinatra could do a lot of walking with the knee-high white Go-Go boots on display.

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Since it was lunch time, we headed to Cooper’s on 5th. The casual comfort food restaurant is a great place to eat. Lisa had a chicken salad sandwich. I had a meatloaf sandwich. Both were delicious.

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After enjoying a nice break, we checked out more businesses. Gary’s Depot is an antique store in an old depot. I bought a couple of NFL football record books from the 1960s.

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Heart of Iowa is a store that offers Iowa-based products. Foods, jellies, desserts, souvenirs…Anything you want to buy that is an Iowa product, they can help with. They have gift baskets, as well.

As we continued our journey through the shopping area, we came upon Wines of Iowa. This store offers several Iowa-produced wines. We arrived during a wine tasting session, so Lisa sampled a couple. She liked them.

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Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what Valley Junction has to offer. We’ve discussed coming back during the holiday season and see how it’s decorated. We imagine they’ll put some effort in setting up some great holiday lighting displays, etc.

For more information on Historic Valley Junction, check out its website at www.valleyjunction.com

Comments

  1. This looks like just my type of shopping experience. Love the fun retro stores!

  2. What a fun place to explore!

  3. Thanks for your love and kind words about our district – it is appreciated! And yes, holidays are a great time to visit again, we have great holiday lights and events all throughout the season. Thanks again!

  4. I love browsing through antiques and collectibles shops–and then some wine tasting. Sounds like a perfect Sunday afternoon to me. I need to put Des Moines on my list to visit. Just stopping for lunch on my way out to Omaha obviously wasn’t enough.

  5. This looks like so much fun! I love most things vintage and for me, this would be a fun date. Now, my husband on the other hand…not so much.

  6. That looks like such a fun place to explore! I cracked up at that truck bed sofa. Oh my gosh. And that creepy troll doll. I never did care for those things!

  7. I need to see places like this as the destination rather than a detour. I have been through Des Moines many times and have never heard of this section of town. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thank you for all the kind comments about our corner of the world. We have a complete story directory and packed calendar of events on our website, ValleyJunction.com. We are an exceptional historic business district, albeit a bit of a hidden gem. We have over 150 independent businesses here and invite you to join us!

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