Activities to liven up the summer in Iowa City

While campus may seem quiet as the summer semester continues, there is no shortage of fun and entertaining things going on in Iowa City.


Larry Phan

The construction of the Stanley Museum is shown on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

Emma Gaughan, Arts Reporter

While summer provides an opportunity for students to relax and unwind after a long year of hard work, it can also become boring without the structure and routine of the school semester. Luckily, Iowa City buzzes with activity even during the summer, and there is no shortage of activities. 

Summer is the perfect opportunity to finally visit the Stanley Museum of Art for those who may not have found time during the school year. While the campus may seem quiet during the summer semester, the Stanley Museum is open and always free. Stanley has amazing galleries to explore, as well as interesting summer programming for all different audiences. 

If you have been to Stanley before and want to go again, get some friends together and make a game out of your visit. You can explore the online gallery to make a painting scavenger hunt, or walk around the exhibit and try to guess the name of the paintings. The galleries are also excellent spaces for finding artistic inspiration.

On a day that is just too hot to be outside — even in a pool — sitting in a cool theater at one of the FilmScene locations and seeing the latest movies might be the best call. FilmScene is the place to go for all of the mainstream movies you want to see as well as all of the smaller indie films you could imagine. Sitting in a cool, dark theater is the perfect way to avoid the sun on days when the Iowa summer is just too hot to bear. 

If you are not interested in spending your summer inside, Riverside Theatre’s fifth performance of Free Shakespeare in the Park: Twelfth Night is a great event. The 90-minute play will be performed in Lower City Park, and as the name suggests, is completely free to attend. The event is perfect for Shakespeare fans and those who have never read anything Shakespeare-adjacent and is sure to be a fun opportunity. 

When you are craving something cool and need a boost of energy, you can check out one of Iowa City’s many coffee shops. Iowa City has no shortage of coffee, and no matter where you are in the city, you will not be far from a coffee shop. 

On a nice day, soak in some vitamin D and get an iced coffee from a shop you have never been to before. Keep track of where you have been, what you liked and did not like, and you might find your new favorite study spot. 

If you’re interested in what the backstage of a theater is like, see a performance at the Englert — and then tour the building! On July 5, the Englert will host a public building tour. It is a very historic theater with an iconic look, and if you’re interested in theatre, you will not want to miss it. 

Elray’s Live and Dive is the perfect place to see a performance on summer nights, with a large variety of music performances of many different genres. Elray’s features performers nearly every weekend, so there’s plenty of time over the summer for a visit. If you’re feeling bold enough, you could even attend one of their Karaoke Dance Parties and have your own performance. 

The sixth annual Iowa City Downtown Block Party will take place on June 24 and is one of the biggest events of the year. The event covers 14 blocks in downtown Iowa City and has many different programs and events, which are all free. It includes performances and activities for all ages, so it is the perfect place to hang out with friends and family this weekend.