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UMN News: Thinking outside the classroom: summer fun at the U


Food, music, art and more at or nearby the Twin Cities campus

There’s a million things to do at the UMTC campus this summer, but you’ll never have time for that many. In the spirit of the season, why not stick to the outdoors? Whether it’s touring one of the country’s largest and most dynamic public art programs, kayaking on the Mississippi, snacking on locally grown produce, or dancing to funk music, you won’t have to go far. This list of outdoor summer suggestions will help get your hips moving.

From the local land to U
The University of Minnesota Farmers Market begins its fourth season this summer on July 9. The market is held every Wednesday on the East Bank’s Church Street, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors sell locally grown produce, berries, and fresh flowers; maple syrup and apples from the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum will also be for sale. Sponsored by the Office of Human Resources’ Employee Wellness Program, the market brings fresh produce to the Twin Cities campus to promote a healthy workplace and a healthy lifestyle for employees and people from the surrounding neighborhoods.

Funk, punk and Elvis
From funk to punk, salsa, and jazz, plus a little Elvis on the side, the “Summer at Northrop” free concert series has something for everyone. U student bands will be featured during the week of June 23, and U staff bands the week of July 14. Take your fried peanut butter and banana sandwich (an Elvis favorite) outside from noon to 1 p.m. on weekdays now through July. All concerts move inside if it rains. Check out concert schedule for the full lineup and details.

Outdoor art
Public art graces more than three dozen locations around campus, and throughout the summer you’ll have enough nice days to see and ponder them all. Whether amusing, inspiring, or provocative, these installations share at least one trait: Each helps to create a unique sense of place on campus. Between May and October, guided walking tours of the public art may be scheduled. Tours are limited to 30 and may focus on the east or west bank of the Minneapolis campus or on the Saint Paul campus. Tour fee is $2 per visitor; U of M students are free. E-mail Jamee Yung or call 612-625-9656 to schedule your guided tour. Schedule two to three weeks in advance. For works and locations, see Weisman public art. For more information, see the story “Feast for the eyes.”

Landscapes and gardens
The Department of Horticultural Science Display and Trial Garden on the St. Paul campus has evolved over the years from a plant demonstration area to a combination of landscape features including decks, fences, seating, walkways, and a pergola. The garden is located on the north side of the campus at the corner of Gortner and Folwell. It is open to the public during daylight hours, seven days a week. For more information, see Trial Garden.

The thrill is not gone
Digging is dirty work, and that was reason enough to love it for most of us as kids. But the thrill of discovery kept us digging deeper, despite our parents’ insistence that a plane ticket–not a shovel–was the best way to get to China. With discovery at the University’s core, why not join one of the many summer Curiosity Camps–adventurous summer day camps for adults led by U and community experts–and learn more about the very land on which you stand? Not all of the camps focus heavily on the outdoors, but “A Geology Tour of the Twin Cities” suggests you bring a rock hammer or a small garden tool for fossil hunting–so you know you’ll have a chance to get dirty and do some digging. June 30, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Reduced rate of $100 for UMAA members, University faculty, staff, full-time students, and Circle of Scholars members. For more information, see Curiosity Camps, or register by calling 612-624-4000.

Food on the range
“The range of outdoor places to lunch on the Twin Cities campus is as bountiful as the day is long,” says this guide to lunchtime spots on campus. If you’re tired of the same-old office scenery, and the wall ads at your local eatery are getting stale, grab a quick bite and head to a fresh patch of campus green for some sunshine or shade. This list of favorite lunchtime hangouts will help get you started.

Still hungry? Try the Campus Club
For more than a century, the University of Minnesota has been researching barley and has contributed 18 new varieties. A 1992 study estimated that two thirds of all barley used for malting in beer production was developed by U researchers. Stop by the fourth floor of Coffman Union and do a little research at the Campus Club, the only place serving beer on campus. On a sunny day, the view from the outdoor terrace rivals any restaurant in the Twin Cities, providing a spectacular panorama of Northrop Mall and downtown Minneapolis. Refresh your energy with appetizers like patacones and Bistro Fries, as well as tasty salads and entrees. Membership is not required weekdays during June, July, and August, 3-6 p.m. Get all the discounts and details at happy hour.

You’ll need those calories for your next adventure
You can stroll through the East River Flats and sit with the geese for lunch near the U of M Boathouse, or you can rent a kayak from the U Rec Center (they’ll help you safely strap it to your car) and race the feathered floaters down the Mississippi, provided they play by the rules and don’t take flight. If they do, you lose–the U Rec Center does not rent aircraft. But they rent almost everything else, like tents and wetsuits, backpacks and stoves, and even snowshoes, which hopefully won’t be needed until at least December. With trips and clinics locally and nationally, the Rec Center’s Center for Outdoor Adventure (COA) provides alternative recreation experiences revolving around the great outdoors. The COA is open from noon to six, Mon.-Fri., during the summer, and can be reached at outdoor or by calling 612-625-8790. If you still want more outdoor fun, the U of M Bookstore has a section featuring Minnesota outdoor books with titles like “Short Bike Rides,” “60 Hikes within 60 miles,” “Gentle Hikes,” and many more.

Summer never ends on this islandSt. Anthony
Your lunch break might allow you just enough time to walk or bike to the U’s St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL)–the world’s only fluid-mechanics lab that uses a natural waterfall as its prime water source. Head upstream just a bit to Water Power Park on the northern edge of Hennepin Island and stand on one of three overlooks for great views of the downtown Minneapolis skyline. The rush of the falls is just enough to temper the sounds of the city; close your eyes, and you can convince yourself that summer won’t ever come to an end.

Out and about

Not far from Twin Cities, these adventures are worth the trip

Pause for the eerie cry of a loon
The Cedar Creek area is home to some of the greatest diversity of habitats in Minnesota–it’s a holy grail among ecologists, the birthplace of the modern science of ecosystem ecology, and now it’s accessible to the public. Recently rededicated as the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (CCESR) on June 5, the facility revolutionized the field of ecology, producing stunning insights about organisms and their environments. On June 29, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Bell Museum will sponsor an exciting exploration of the area’s wooded uplands, abandoned fields, lowland swamps, and open marshes. Cost is $12, $8 for museum members. To register, call 612-624-9050.

Additionally, an ongoing series of free public tours will be offered throughout the summer and early fall. Visitors can learn about bogs, birding, a flower called beardtongue, the benefits of fire in savanna ecosystems, and much more at this miniature copy of Minnesota. For more information, see Cedar Creek tours. Call ahead for public tours at 763-434-5131. Located an hour north of the Twin Cities in East Bethel.

When the sun goes down, look up
Universe in the Park is a summer outreach program hosted by the U’s Department of Astronomy and area state parks. At the events, representatives of the department will present short public talks and slide shows. Presentations cover a variety of astronomical topics, such as the history of matter, how astronomers “see,” and a journey through our solar system. Afterwards, if weather allows, attendees have the opportunity to view the sky through multiple eight-inch reflecting telescopes. Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), starting June 27 and ending September 6. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10 or 11 p.m. The events are free, but the park may require a vehicle permit for entry. For more information, see astronomy.

Shade yourself
“Treeology,” the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s 2008 showcase summer exhibition, is a salute to the power and beauty of trees. The arboretum is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and its partner–the U’s Horticultural Research Center–is observing its centenary year. Special events continue year-round. Free to members and visitors with paid general admission to the arboretum. For more information and other arboretum events, see Treeology.

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