Downtown Des Moines is a bit of a concrete jungle, but there are wonderful outdoor spaces all over. I walk downtown daily, putting on three-five miles every day and I've discovered so many trails that provide a nature buzz right in the heart of the city. Walking the Des Moines River is wonderful with the many trails, the Principle River Walk, and parks providing ample opportunities to discover your nature zen without heading to the burbs or rural areas. Whether fishing, watching bald eagles, running, biking, whatever...downtown gets it done. I can't wait for the City to optimize the river area, bringing all kinds of water sports to downtown.
While there is a great deal of construction and improvements being made this year, your patience will pay off by 2022. Now is a great time to buy downtown, especially if the hands-free lifestyle interests you. Great selection of condo homes are available and if you're tired of mowing, shoveling snow, vetting contractors to fix stuff, etc...this may be the lifestyle for you.
Believe it or not, finding a pet-friendly complex is so easy these days. They're everywhere with plenty of river space, dog parks, and trails to get your fur-buddies their exercise. Give downtown a try...I've lived there two+ years and I love it...it's great!