People at the Beer Garden

11 Events You Don’t Want to Miss This Summer

Highlights include a waterfront jazz festival, an exhibition on Pacific Northwest style, and NASA’s awe-inspiring celebration of the moon landing’s 50th anniversary.

Salsa Under a Starry Sky

Through July 13

New York

If the idea of taking dance lessons makes you recall an awkward high school prom, it’s time to make new memories. Instructors with Midsummer Night Swing will teach you how to swing, tango, and forró (a type of Brazilian dance). Then, you’ll get the chance to practice your new moves, set to live music, under the moon at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park. Don’t bolt once the last set is played. At 10 p.m., a silent disco takes over and you can groove to songs that DJs broadcast straight to your headphones.

Leap for Mankind

July 16–24

Houston

It was 50 years ago that Neil Armstrong took those first steps on the moon, and Space Center Houston is launching nine days of space-inspired fun at its Apollo Anniversary Celebration. Explore an Apollo 11–themed pop-up science lab, take a NASA tram tour, and jam out at the outdoor concert featuring Walk the Moon and Phillip Phillips. It’s all part of the countdown to the first official lunar steps, which took place at 9:56 p.m. Central Time on July 20, 1969.

Horse Around

July 19–24

Salt Lake City

This ain’t Days of ’47’s first Cowboy Games and Rodeo. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are on the line for adrenaline-inducing events like bareback riding and barrel racing. Get there before the 8 p.m. start time to take advantage of barbecued fare, a petting zoo, pony rides, and your shot at glory on a mechanical bull. Be sure to stick around for the parade on the final day.

Walk Down Memory Lane

Through August 11

Omaha, Nebraska

You might not know his name, but if you’ve ever read E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web or Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie, you’ve enjoyed his illustrations. Drawing on its extensive collection, the Joslyn Art Museum hosts Garth Williams: Illustrator of the Century. The largest retrospective of the artist’s work ever assembled, the exhibit delves into Williams’ nearly 50-year career by showcasing 28 of his most beloved books, as well as his cartoons for The New Yorker and the portraits he created while living in London.

Jazz Up Your Summer

August 23-24

Norfolk, Virginia

If Virginia is for lovers, Norfolk is for jazz. The Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival is coastal Virginia’s longest-running outdoor jazz festival, featuring more than a dozen performing artists. This year’s lineup includes Vincent Ingala and Everette Harp. Pro tip: For a different perspective, buy the boater package and anchor your boat offshore to bob along to the beat.

Study Up on Style

Through October 14

Seattle

Fashion and function needn’t be mutually exclusive, and Seattleites know that firsthand.  After a hypothermia scare in the 1930s, Eddie Bauer started exploring better outerwear options and eventually swapped his drenched, freezing wool clothes for a quilted down coat. His earliest  known surviving down jacket is on display at the Museum of History and Industry’s Seattle Style: Fashion/Function exhibition along with other innovative Pacific Northwest garb dating back to the 1800s and items from the modern era like a 2018 clear raincoat.

Experience Yorkshire for Yourself

Through September 29

Boston

If six seasons weren’t enough for you, you’re in luck. At Downton Abbey: The Exhibition at The Castle at Park Plaza, guests are transported back to post-Edwardian England to explore the history, fashion, and home decor featured on the show, and get a peek at the yet-to-be-seen costumes from the upcoming movie. Still not enough? Make it a themed weekend with a stay at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. Their Downton Abbey–themed packages include perks like a suite decorated by the Greater Boston Vintage Society, VIP exhibition tickets, and an afternoon of tea and tarts.

Cheers to Craft Beer

Through October 12

Denver

The hardest decision you’ll have to make at Denver’s downtown Skyline Beer Garden is which of the 12 brews on tap you should try first. Make a day of it with streets tacos and a game area, complete with ping-pong, mini golf, and cornhole. If beer isn’t your thing, the wine and cocktail selection is sure to hit the spot.

Feel Like a Kid Again

Through September 2

Memphis, Tennessee

There’s no need to grow up; “professional kid” Sean Kenney hasn’t either. He’s made a career of turning Legos into art, and he owns more than 5 million of the colorful blocks. On view now at the Memphis Zoo, the Giant Lego Brick Sculptures exhibit depicts endangered wildlife. Marvel at a giant dodo bird and take in the details of a massive coral reef. Kenney’s largest sculpture—featuring a polar bear and her cubs—weighs in at 625 pounds.

Visit Yesteryear Through Film

August 1–11

El Paso, Texas

Digital projection equipment and 35 mm film turned El Paso Community Foundation’s dream into reality one summer. Twelve years later, the Plaza Classic Film Festival lives on at this enlivened 1930s theater. Various films, from silent shorts to classic flicks starring Marilyn Monroe and Gene Kelly, unfold on the 44-foot-wide screen. Get there early to hear the historic Plaza organ played before screenings.

Explore the Home of a Literary Legend

Through October 31

Portland, Maine

Well-versed in seven different languages, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a man of many words. During the 1800s, the poet traipsed around Europe, translated the work of Dante, published extensively, and taught at Harvard. His childhood home in downtown Portland is Maine’s first house museum open to the public. From May through October, you can tour the home, see the summer dining room where he penned works like “The Rainy Day,” and walk through the family garden.


Kristin Blake is a former editorial intern for this magazine. To share details about an upcoming event, email us at letters@southwestmag.com.

Photography courtesy of Downtown Denver Partnership (header)