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Only in Des Moines can you stroll through Valley Junction

I have a newfound love for Valley Junction.

Between its fun pops of color and old school charm, you’d wonder why I never truly appreciated it before. I mean, I’d only gone a bazillion times as a little girl, making frequent trips to the Theatrical Shop for leotards, new taps and everything else a Betty Hill dancer needs.

Now, as a young creative, I’m finding it’s the perfect place for inspiration and a getaway that still feels like home.

Here are five of my favorite things and places in Historic Valley Junction.

Thursday farmers’ market: The downtown market isn’t the only market in town worth noting. This Thursday evening tradition draws in a handful of fresh vendors to hit up. Local Yocals, anyone? Not only can you eat and enjoy live music, but you can linger in and out of the shops, too.

Hinge: Whether you’re looking for a floppy wool hat or rustic marquees for your kitchen shelf, Hinge has it all. Check out their new home across from Perry Bridal at 317 5th Street. They’ve even got an outdoor section for fun yard displays.

Coopers on 5th: Hands down the best grub on the street, Coopers on 5th serves everything from burgers to gouda mac and cheese. My fave? Their daily egg roll special, which includes playful egg roll mashups like the “Monty Cristo.”

The Longest Yard: Perfect for chilling and watching the game, this Hawkeye-friendly bar majors in beer and all things fried: cheese curds, pickles, tenderloins, you name it. Plus, they’ve got local live music on the regular.

Atomic Garage: AKA, a thrifter’s dream. Painted in swirly, psychedelic colors and John Lennon’s face, this vintage store can’t be missed. Sift through old records or adventure to the back in search of your perfect Halloween costume.