If you ask a Lincolnite for some of the city’s must-see attractions, the Sunken Gardens will probably be on their list. (It’s on TripAdvisor’s too.) Here are my five favorite things about the Gardens:
1. It has an impressive backstory. The 1.5-acre site was constructed in 1930 as a Depression-era project. (Maybe Nebraska Mountain isn’t so far-fetched?) Ok, cool story. Did I mention the 1.5-acre site used to be a dump? Slightly cooler story. The Lincoln Parks Foundation will tell you everything else you’d possibly want to know.
|Entrance dome. Also where wedding parties and prom groups congregate for photoshoots.|
2. You can cuddle with a cat. The Sunken Gardens cat is not just a legend; he’s the real deal. If you go to the Gardens, you’ve got a 50/50 shot of seeing (and potentially cuddling with) this calico cutie.. I’m a Millennial with an aversion to pet commitments, so this is as close as I get. Local tip: Garden Gary* loves mornings. If you’re cat stalking, swing by in the a.m.
*not his real name
|Garden Gary really is in this photo, center path. |
He's a friendly fella, but he got distracted by a bird or something.
3. The people watching is sublime. In addition to Jazz in June and bluegrass shows, the Sunken Gardens has some of the city’s best people watching. For the novice people-watcher, check out this Wiki tutorial.
|Watching people watch fish.|
|Watching more people watch fish.|
4. You can fill your smartphone to capacity with flower photos. And you won’t be the only one doing so. Visitors stage senior photos (last week featured a ballerina), family shots and even video montages. Volunteers rotate the flowers as the seasons change, meaning you’ll be missing out if you only visit once a year. I’m definitely not a horticulturist, but I do appreciate the variety. The Garden’s big puffy white flowers, I just learned, are hydrangeas.
|Almost the American flag.|
|I believe these are hydrangeas. Or something.|
|Traditional flic (flower pic.)|
|A little jungle foliage for diversity.|
5. It doubles as a great workout spot. As with cat cuddling, I’d recommend you save Garden workouts for the a.m. Don’t have access to high school bleachers? The Garden has several great spots to run stairs, pictured below. You may get a few funny looks from the 7 a.m. volunteer gardener, though (or maybe that's just me.)
|Stair workout #1. Boy + dog = proof that you shouldn't work out here past 9 a.m.|
|Stair workout #2. This one is kinda wimpy, but a nice lady was sitting on my prime stair-stepping spot...|
|So I (politely) asked her to move, because I had to show you this: The Garden-Stepper Xtreme. |
Otherwise known as stair workout #3.