Enjoying Summer in Lincoln

Published: Tues., May 2, 2017

The trees are greening, the flowers are blooming, and finals week is (almost) over – summer is finally here! As the temperature gets warmer, the city starts buzzing with activity, hosting a variety of outdoor events that appeal to Lincoln’s diverse community. Here’s a few suggestions to get you out of the house (or lab!) and into the sunshine this summer.

Jazz in June

On Tuesday evenings in June, hundreds gather on the plaza north of the Lied Center for Jazz in June, a concert series that has become a tradition for Lincoln music lovers of all ages. In addition to the outdoor performances by jazz artists, the event also hosts a market featuring food and drink carts and local vendors selling handmade items. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and pick your spot, then listen to the sounds of internationally acclaimed jazz performers as the sun sets on the city.

Haymarket Farmers Market

farmers market
"Farmers Market" by overduebook; licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Wake up early on a Saturday morning and head down to the Haymarket Farmers Market to find fresh produce from area food producers, as well as baked goods, drinks, and crafts by local artisans. From baklava to kolaches and egg rolls to homemade root beer, the market sells products sure to appeal to every palate. After you’ve made your purchases, be sure to stop by Iron Horse Park at 7th & Q Street for performances by local musicians from a variety of genres.

Parks and Gardens

Although you may be busy with classes or research, be sure to take some time to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Lincoln’s parks and gardens in the summer.

Holmes Park

Featuring hiking and biking trails, baseball fields, volleyball courts, picnic areas, fishing, water sports, and golf, Holmes Park is one of Lincoln’s most popular recreation areas during the summer months. Spend a Saturday evening watching the sun set over the lake, then stop by Hyde Observatory to take in an astronomy program and view distant stars and galaxies through the observatory’s telescopes.

Pioneers Park

Pioneers Park
"Columns in Pioneers Park" by genibee; licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

A 668-acre nature preserve on the western edge of the city, Pioneers Park features eight miles of hiking trails winding through woodlands, wetlands, and prairie. Walk along the trails to observe free-roaming bison, elk, deer, and geese, and stop by the Nature Center, which offers up-close views of small mammals, turtles, and owls. Also be sure to check out the art scattered throughout the park, such as the Columns – four large Grecian columns removed from the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington D.C. in 1908 and gifted to the city of Lincoln by a friend of the late Nebraskan politician William Jennings Bryan.

Sunken Gardens

At full bloom during the summer months, colors abound in this multi-level public garden. Open 6am-11pm daily, the park features over 10,000 flowering plants, ponds, and an ornate gazebo. Largely hidden from the busy Lincoln streets, the park provides an escape from the city, where you can simply relax on a bench or walk the flower-lined paths during dusk.

First Friday Artwalks

On the first Friday of every month, galleries and businesses in downtown Lincoln open their doors to the public for the First Friday Artworks, allowing you to take in the works of local artists while enjoying free drinks and hors d’oeuvres. These artwalks are a great way to check out the talents of local painters, sculptors, and photographers (and maybe even find a piece to decorate your home!). A list of participating galleries can be found online here.

Flatwater Shakespeare Company Performances in the Parks

For over 16 years, Flatwater Shakespeare Company has entertained Lincolnites with high-quality performances of Shakespearean classics. Presenting The Merry Wives of Windsor during the Summer 2017 tour, the company will perform the play in parks across the city through June and July. The best part – the performances are free! Check out tour dates and locations online here.

Uncle Sam Jam

"Fireworks " by overduebook; licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Lincoln’s official July 4th celebration, the Uncle Sam Jam is held annually at Oak Lake Park, close to UNL’s City Campus. The event includes family-friendly activities, carnival games, contests, and live music, culminating in a massive fireworks display over the lake. Be sure to grab some local fare from the food trucks and enjoy the festive ambience as we celebrate Independence Day!

Whatever your interests, there’s plenty to see and do in Lincoln during the warm summer months. Make sure you take some time to enjoy the city and relax away from your lab or work this summer!