The capital of Nebraska, Lincoln is a lovely historic city well-known for its cultural attractions ranging from awesome museums to art galleries and entertainment venues. From the 400-foot-high Nebraska State Capitol and its observation tower which offers spectacular views of the city to the lovely Historic Haymarket District where travelers will find a vast array of shops and restaurants, there are many interesting things to do in Lincoln, NE. Thanks to the central campus of the University of Nebraska, the city boasts a lively nightlife with plenty of options for going out in the evening. Without further ado, here is a list of the best attractions and things to do in Nebraska’s capital city.
1. Lincoln Children’s Zoo
Families with children visiting Lincoln will definitely want to stop by the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. Home to more than 400 animals, this fabulous zoo is specifically designed for kids who wish to enjoy up-close encounters with a variety of animals ranging from owls to armadillos. The highlight of this place is the scale model train that takes visitors around the zoo. There are also many workshops, summer camps, and educational programs that visitors can look forward to when visiting the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.
2. Sunken Gardens
Located in the heart of Lincoln, the breathtaking Sunken Gardens are simply a must-visit destination when exploring the streets of Lincoln, Nebraska. These beautifully manicured gardens are home to more than 30,000 individual annual plants including everything from tulips and roses to daisies, and lily pads. There are 3 main gardens on-site including the Annual Garden, the Perennial Garden, and the Healing Garden which is also known as the White Garden.
3. Nebraska State Capitol
Nebraska State Capitol is without a doubt the number one attraction in Lincoln. Located in the downtown area, the building was designed by the famous architect Bertram Goodhue and constructed back in the 1920s. Enjoy a free tour of the capitol’s main attractions including the Great Hall, works by Kenneth Evett, and the legislative rooms. Don’t forget to visit the observation tower on the 14th floor where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city.
4. Pioneers Park Nature Center
A 668-acre nature preserve nestled just a short drive from the center of the city, the Pioneers Park Nature Center is a great place to visit for all you nature lovers visiting Lincoln. Whether you wish to enjoy a network of 8 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails and explore beautiful wetlands, get up close and personal with birds and animals such as bison and white-tailed deer, or visit the Chet Ager Building where you will find many exhibits ranging from a herb garden to a bee skep, there are many attractions at the Pioneers Park Nature Center to keep you entertained throughout the day.
5. Lincoln Children’s Museum
There are many amazing things to do in Nebraska when traveling with the little ones and a visit to the Lincoln Children’s Museum is definitely one of them. This interactive and educational space is one of the best kid’s museums in the country and features everything from imaginative programs to more than 40 interactive exhibits and displays spread across three floors of the museum. Take your kids to create, build, climb, and explore throughout the museum as a form of learning.
6. Museum of American Speed
If you are a fan of racing and cars in general, a visit to the Museum of American Speed should be included in your Lincoln travel itinerary. This fantastic museum preserves the American automotive history and boasts a bunch of cool exhibit cars such as Model T’s, race cars, and a couple of vintage classics dating back to the 1920s. You will also have a chance to see toy cars, motorized toys, and lots of automotive memorabilia. In case you wish to enjoy a guided tour of the museum, these tours are usually held in the afternoon and last for about 2 hours.
7. Historic Haymarket
Nestled in the downtown area, the Historic Haymarket Lincoln, Ne is a lovely place to grab something to eat, admire the architecture of late 19th-century brick warehouses, and explore establishments like the Lincoln station and the Pinnacle Bank Arena. During the summer season, this area is home to farmers’ markets and hosts a couple of festivals. If you wish to mingle with the locals, enjoy hearty cuisine, and shop for souvenirs while visiting Lincoln, Historic Haymarket is the place to go.
8. Memorial Stadium
Sports fans can spend an afternoon exploring Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium. Located on the University campus, this American football stadium is the home venue of the almighty Nebraska Cornhuskers football team and offers a unique game-day experience with more than 90,000 visitors per game. It is worth mentioning that the stadium is also used for other university and state activities.
9. Pinnacle Bank Arena
One of the best live entertainment venues in Nebraska, the recently built Pinnacle Bank Arena is a multipurpose area that encompasses nearly 500,000 square feet and hosts everything from sporting events and family shows to college basketball and large concerts. Popular bands and musicians like Jay Z, Elton John, and Pink have performed at this venue. You can also purchase a ticket and watch the University of Nebraska’s men’s and women’s basketball teams in action at the Pinnacle Bank Arena.
10. Holmes Park & Lake
Situated in Southern Lincoln, Holmes Park & Lake is a beautiful lakeside park with many well-maintained walking paths that visitors can enjoy. Whether you wish to play sand volleyball or golf, enjoy fishing with friends, or have a picnic, there are many activities available at Holmes Park & Lake. Travelers visiting with kids will be happy to hear that this lakeside park has a nice playground with a bunch of slides, tire swings, and ladders. If you are visiting on the weekends, you might stumble upon kid’s birthday parties and company events at the park.
11. Governor’s Residence
A postcard-perfect mansion, the Governor’s Residence with its nicely manicured lawns and colorful gardens is one of the most beautiful buildings in Lincoln. Opened back in 1958, the mansion is located close to the state capitol and features about 30 rooms. Guided tours are available on Thursdays, but you need to reserve a tour at least two weeks in advance. During the tour, visitors can visit the living room which usually serves as a pre-dinner gathering spot and boasts a lovely fireplace. There is also the formal dining room with a nice chandelier where the governor hosts dinner parties for his guests.
12. Pinewood Bowl Amphitheater
If you wish to see a theater performance or catch a cool concert, pay a visit to the Pinewood Bowl Amphitheater in Lincoln. This open-space venue is surrounded by natural beauty and is one of the best places in the city to watch live entertainment. The outdoor venue can accommodate nearly 6,000 people in a breathtaking natural setting under the stars.
13. Nebraska State Holocaust Memorial
Holocausts should not be forgotten and the Nebraska Holocaust Memorial offers an educational experience to its visitors. Located on the grounds of the Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, the Nebraska State Holocaust Memorial is dedicated to the people who suffered and died during the Holocausts. It also honors all of the survivors of holocausts.
14. Antelope Park
Nature lovers and travelers visiting Lincoln with children should not miss the Antelope Park that is located just a short drive from the center of the city. Expect to find tennis and basketball courts, as well as a lovely pavilion, playgrounds for kids, and many walking trails. As for the playground, it features everything from swings and slides to ladders and climbing walls where the little ones can play. In case you get hungry, Antelope Park is located just a short walk from many nice restaurants and bars.
15. Gateway Mall
Wish to go shopping in Lincoln, Ne? The city’s best shopping destination, the Gateway Mall is the largest enclosed shopping center in the city and features a wide selection of national retail and exclusive boutiques. Here, you will find brands such as The Buckle, Forever 21, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Finish Line, and many others. There is also a nice food court with a variety of options.
16. Group Therapy Bike Tours
Hop on a multi-pedal trolley bike and experience Lincoln from a unique perspective with Group Therapy Bike Tours. These bikes can accommodate about 15 people and the guided tours are conducted by friendly and knowledgeable guides who will tell you everything you need to know about the culture and history of the city. During the 2-hour tour, you will stop at famous landmarks and local restaurants and bars. The good news is that you can book a private tour for all types of celebrations and experience the city on a bike with friends and family.