Happy summer!

Today is officially the first day of summer! June 21 is the summer solstice, the day when the earth is tilted closest to the sun. That means it is also the longest day of the year with 15 hours of daylight.

To kick off the next 3 months here’s a list of 10 things to do while the sun is shining and the days are long.

1. Des Moines Art festival June 25-27, this 3-day annual event is a favorite. Learn more about the featured artists later this week.

2. Nitefall on the River What’s not to like about an outdoor concert? Every Thursday night through July head to the Simon Estes Riverfront Amphitheater shows start at 7 p.m. and tickets start at $12. Artists include Barenaked Ladies, Vertical Horizon and Ingrid Michaelson.

3. Iowa State Fair August 12-22. Whether you go for the animals, the art, the people watching, food on a stick or DMU Day at the Fair August 15, it’s fun for the whole family.

4. 4th of July Des Moines takes their fireworks seriously. Some years I have been able to see fireworks three nights in a row! Kick the weekend off  July 1 with the Des Moines Symphony’s Yankee Doodle Pops concert on the Capitol lawn followed by fireworks (a personal favorite). There are also fireworks after the I-Cubs game and there’s always a great show July 4 in Urbandale. 80/35 music festival in Western Gateway Park is also that weekend, featuring Modest Mouse.

5. Iowa Cubs Head to the ballpark to catch the minor league version of the Chicago Cubs. Don’t miss fireworks after Friday night games.

6. Adventureland Iowa’s theme park has more than 100 rides and attractions, including water rides.

7. Farmer’s Markets You haven’t experienced summer in Iowa until you’ve eaten fresh corn on the cob or any other Iowa produce. Check out our market round up from earlier this spring.

8. Catch a race The USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championship are at Drake Stadium June 23-27. Or head to the Iowa Speedway in Newton (45 minutes outside Des Moines) for INDY and NASCAR races.

9. RAGBRAI The Register’s Great Annual Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (July 25-31) is a week-long bike ride that draws riders from all over the world. DMU has a team of riders who will be pedaling their way through small-town Iowa.

10. Gray’s Lake Did you know you can take canoe or sailing lessons at the park, Saturday morning yoga and monthly birdwatching? You can also rent bikes at the lake.

Want more to do in Des Moines this summer? Check out this list of 100 things to see and do in Des Moines!

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