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There are few better experiences than having a casual lunch, with a great friend, in a beautiful location. There are certain places around our fair city that make me fall in love with it all over again. Des Moines in the fall offers the perfect combination of perfect locations and just-right weather (the kind where you can be in a sweater but the sun is shining down on you comfortably and all is right in the world). So as the summer ends this month and fall kicks up, take your last moments of the year to spend as much time outside as possible at these locations.

Near and dear to my heart is Baru at the Art Center. The courtyard and reflecting pool is enclosed by the magnificent architecture of the museum, so it feels like a cozy hideaway. The lunch is delicious and the staff is always attentive.

My go-to spot lately has been Trellis at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Their updated and expanded outdoor gardens are the perfect spot for lunch. The combination of the gardens and a gorgeous view of the skyline make it must. Speaking of combinations try the half and half specials where you can try more than one item on the menu.

For lunch or after-work drinks, The Rooftop in the East Village blends good drinks, great location, and lovely weather. It’s one of those places that makes me think of the often quoted, “I’m outdoorsy in that I like drinking on patios."

Finally, if you’ve brought your lunch from home, try taking it to the Meredith Test Gardens. Or even better, stop by one of the food trucks parked by their entrance and walk your lunch over to one of their benches. Open May through September on Fridays from noon to two pm.

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