Touring Sunken Gardens & Our First Runza Sandwich – Day 4

If you are ever in Lincoln, Nebraska, one thing is for sure, touring Sunken Gardens is a must!

On a little less than 2 acres, Sunken Gardens displays close to 30,000 blooming annuals. The view is simply breathtaking, and the massive color the annuals provide is only the beginning!

touring sunken gardens
The entrance area to Sunken Gardens. The display of annuals in full bloom is simply beautiful.

Touring Sunken Gardens

Sunken Gardens is an 85-year-old annual display garden that is free and open to the public. It’s run by the Lincoln, NE. Park and Recreation Department Public Garden division.

The spectacular beauty of 30,000 annuals in full bloom.

It was originally part of the Public Works Project, and was created back in 1930.

Today, it is the only Nebraska garden listed in the “300 Best Gardens to Visit in the United States and Canada” by National Geographic Guide to Public Gardens.

And it is easy to see why!

touring sunken gardens
There are gorgeous views from every point on the property.

Winding brick walkways, fish ponds and waterfalls fill the space with a beauty that is hard to believe. Especially when you consider the location is in the middle of the city.

An All Volunteer Effort

But what makes it even more special is that it is all created and maintained by volunteers. And remember, these are annuals, which means they have to be planted again and again every single year!

touring sunken gardens
Loved this view with the red plumes on the ornamental grasses.

We were fortunate enough to find Zach, the volunteer coordinator, on site and working the day of our visit.

He explained to us that every spring, they have a big planting day where all of the volunteers come together to plant the display. And each year, there create a new theme for the garden to add a new twist.

The volunteers maintain the gardens through the summer, and then come back for a fall event to clear the space. They finish by adding in a few inches of compost on top of the beds, and prepare it for the following year’s planting.

touring sunken gardens - jim and mary competti
We even had time for a little selfie in the gardens :).

It was an incredible sight to see in person, and a wonderful way to start off touring the gardens of America as we head around to all 50 states.

Having Our First Runza Sandwich

So, to be perfectly honest, before this week, I had never heard the word Runza. Let alone, know it was a sandwich that was born and bred in Nebraska.

runza sandwich
My first Runza sandwich ever. And I have to say – it was simply delicious!

So for those like us that have no clue what it is, a Runza is best described as a doughy bread pocket filled with seasoned beef, cabbage and onions.

It was created in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1949 by Sally Everett when jobs were scarce after World War II.

She created the sandwich from an old family recipe and started selling it at a local carhop.

And the name Runza? Completely made up by Sally back in 1949! Although today it is a household name in Nebraska.

And yes, they are delicious! I think Mary may have to re-create a version of this for a recipe when we get back home.

Runza – Before this week, we never knew it even existed!

Love all of the new and interesting things we find as we roll around this gorgeous country. If you missed any of the days, you can check each one out here : Our Journey Day By Day

Well, it’s on to North Platte, Nebraska tomorrow, and a stay at the world’s largest railroad yard. This should be interesting for sure!

Happy Traveling! Jim and Mary.


  • Day 4 of 365
  • States Visited 1 / 50
  • Stayed In : Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Miles Driven : 250
  • Total Trip Miles To Date : 1390
  • Total Gallons Used : 102.96
  • Biking Miles : 8
  • Biking Miles To Date : 8

About Our Living Simple Tour

On September 9th, 2019, we set out in our NuCamp T@B 400 Teardrop Camper to travel to every state. You can check out all of our dates here : Dates for the States

You can follow along by signing up for our twice weekly email updates at the bottom of the page. You can also follow us on Facebook : Live Simple Tour Facebook and Instagram : Live Simple Now Instagram Page.

11 thoughts on “Touring Sunken Gardens & Our First Runza Sandwich – Day 4

  • September 13, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Runzas are soo yummy! Soo happy you got to try one! Safe travels ❤️

    • September 14, 2019 at 3:28 am

      Sounds like a great start to your journey! And-I’ll look forward to that RUNZA sandwich recipe! Yum! The garden is absolutely beautiful! Wow what wonderful volunteers!

    • September 16, 2019 at 1:05 am

      Thanks Roxi – we are glad we tried them as well! Loved coming to Leo’s and meeting you!

  • September 13, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    RUNZA! No need to re-create the recipe. Most of us here HAVE the recipe! LOL. We’ll be happy to share it.

    The sunken garden is amazing. Especially as it started it’s life as the neighborhood dump, literally! Prior to it’s revitalization in the 30s, the low spot on the creek was the dumping ground for the near South Neighborhood as the dump.

    The annual ‘wake the beds’, and ‘put the beds to sleep’ are great events. As well as the giant rose garden across the street, they can’t be missed. (Newly rennovated Children’s zoo is also across the street and can’t be missed.)

    • September 16, 2019 at 1:06 am

      Love all the info you gave us for Nebraska! It is so cool to have so many people helping us out with great info along the way.

  • September 13, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Check out the Tendermaid Sandwich Shop in Austin, Minnesota. Features the loose meat sandwich. Fun!

    • September 16, 2019 at 1:07 am

      Alice, now that sounds delicious! Thanks to so many of you leaving comments, we are finding so many great places to enjoy along the way.

  • September 13, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Try the lentil Runza, delicious! Love going to Lincoln just to eat a Runza.
    Safe travels!

    • September 16, 2019 at 1:07 am

      That sounds like it would be a good one too! Cannot believe we had never heard of them before. Jim and Mary

  • October 30, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Homemade Runzas (although for every person you ask there is another recipe)

    1 pound lean ground beef
    1/2 cup chopped white onion
    2 cups shredded cabbage
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2, heaping, teaspoon black pepper
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1/2 cup water
    1 cup of shredded cheese (I prefer cheddar or motz provalone mix)
    1 package frozen dinner rolls, thawed

    Brown the ground beef and onion until done.
    Drain off any grease and rinse.
    Add the shredded cabbage, garlic powder, salt, pepper, butter, and water.
    Mix well.

    Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
    Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. IT MUST BE COOL!

    Take two of the balls of dinner roll dough and roll into ovals, lightly flour if needed.

    Place about 1/4-1/3 cup ground beef filling onto one of the ovals and sprinkle shredded cheese on top and add the other oval of dough. I lightly moisten the edge with a fingertip of water and then push out as much air out as possible when putting the top oval on and then crimp the edges, **You can also use frozen bread dough or fresh and roll thinly and then cut into 8/9″rectangles and then add some beef filling and roll like a enchilada.

    Continue this until you are out of filling.

    Place the filled ovals on wither a greased cookie sheet, non-stick cookie sheet, or a cookie sheet pan with parchment paper on it.

    Cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place 30 minutes.

    Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

    OR Cook for 10 minutes and allow to totally cool and then wrap well and freeze to cook later.

    • October 30, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      Thank you so much for the recipe! With your permission we would love to publish your Runza recipe on one of our other websites as well. Just let us know!


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