20 Things To Do In Lincoln

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The legislative capital of Nebraska and the home of the University of Nebraska, the biggest and most prestigious public university in the state, Lincoln is a truly remarkable city to stop by in eastern Nebraska. Named in honour of President Abraham Lincoln, the city has several world-class attractions and unique landmarks, ranging from the second-tallest capitol in the United States to the 90,000-seat Memorial Stadium.

The city is also a hotbed for historic architecture and live entertainment and is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest. Whether it’s unblemished nature, charming historic neighbourhoods or one-of-a-kind attractions you’re after, there’s no better place to visit than Lincoln, the Cornhusker State’s beloved capital city. Here are the best things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

Lincoln, Nebraska

20 Things To Do In Lincoln

aerial view of the lincoln city skyline with the capitol building in the centre at dusk
You’ll find some interesting things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska, a city named in honour of Abraham Lincoln.

1- Cheer On The Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium

The biggest attraction in Lincoln, literary and figuratively speaking, is undoubtedly the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium, home to the varsity’s beloved Cornhuskers football team.

Located on the main campus of the University in downtown Lincoln, the stadium was built without state funding and opened in 1923 for Nebraska’s rivalry matchup against Oklahoma.

Since its inception, the stadium has been renovated and upgraded several times and is today capable of seating over 90,000 fans on any given weekend.

If you’re ever in the mood for an energetic game of local sports, there’s no better place to be than the always-buzzing Memorial Stadium.

Memorial Stadium is at 1 Memorial Stadium Drive, Lincoln, NE 68588. A fun way to explore Lincoln is by downloading a scavenger hunt.

2- Tour Nebraska State Capitol

State Capitol Building on a sunny day
One of the things to do in Lincoln is to visit the State Capitol Building.

Designed by renowned New York architect Bertram Goodhue and built over 10 years between 1922 and 1932, the Nebraska State Capitol is downtown Lincoln’s most important landmark.

The building serves as the legislative hub for the Cornhusker State and is the official seat of government in Nebraska.

Nicknamed the “Tower of the Plains”, the capitol features a three-story design and a dramatic 437-foot-tall (144 m) tower that’s visible from as far as 20 miles (32 km) outside Lincoln.

The capitol is open to the public for tours year-round, making it one of the most remarkable attractions to visit in Nebraska.

The Nebraska State Capitol is at 1445 K St, Lincoln, NE 68508.

3- Explore the University of Nebraska Lincoln Campus

The University of Nebraska is the Cornhusker State’s oldest and most prestigious public university.

There’s no better place to discover this world-class institution’s prowess than its main campus in downtown Lincoln.

Lincoln has served as the official home of the University of Nebraska since the institution was founded in 1869, with more than 856 acres (346 ha) of downtown Lincoln devoted to the university’s campus today.

The university’s Lincoln campus is home to several key attractions, including the University of Nebraska State Museum, Memorial Stadium and the historic Architecture Hall.

The University of Nebraska Lincoln Campus is at 1400 R St, Lincoln, NE 68588.

4- Visit Lincoln Children’s Zoo

Comprising over 10 acres (4 ha) and home to more than 400 animals from all around the world, 40 of whom are endangered, the Lincoln Children’s Zoo is among the most fun attractions to stop by in Lincoln.

The venue opened in 1965 and was purposefully designed by architect Arnott Folsom to allow kids to engage and interact with the zoo’s animals from up close.

The zoo is one of Nebraska’s most popular scientific and artistic attractions, drawing over 200,000 annual visitors of all ages.

Some zoo inhabitants include a Sumatran tiger, a Matschie’s tree kangaroo, an Amur leopard and a red panda.

The Lincoln Children’s Zoo is at 1222 S 27th St, Lincoln, NE 68502.

5- Unwind at the Sunken Gardens

Iron Art in the Sunken Gardens
Visiting the Sunken Gardens is one of the things to do in Lincoln Nebraska.

First opened to the public in 1930 and touted as one of the 300 most beautiful gardens in the United States, Lincoln’s Sunken Gardens is truly a spectacular outdoor attraction home to more than 30,000 individual plants.

The world-class venue redesigns its floral displays every year to match a predetermined theme, making the garden a timeless place to visit year after year.

Among the venue’s sights is the Healing Garden/White Garden, modelled after the White Garden of Kent’s Sissinghurst Castle in the UK.

Conveniently located in the heart of Lincoln, this stunning Nebraska attraction is among the best places to visit in the state and is always a fun destination to tour whenever you’re in Lincoln.

The Sunken Gardens are at S 27th St & Capitol Pkwy, Lincoln, NE 68502.

6- Discover the Haymarket District

The Haymarket District is Lincoln’s rejuvenated and gentrified old warehouse district, right in the heart of the Cornhusker State’s capital.

The district is among Lincoln’s busiest and liveliest venues, thanks to its proximity to the university campus and its plethora of top restaurants, shops and bars to stop by.

One of Lincoln’s most historic neighbourhoods, the district was the site of the first City Hall and was officially declared a Great American Neighborhood in 2009 by the American Planning Association.

Few districts tell the story and history of Lincoln better than the Haymarket District, making it a go-to space for learning about the city’s rich past and enjoying some of its best shops and eateries.

The Haymarket District is at 335 N 8th St B, Lincoln, NE 68508.

7- Tour the University of Nebraska State Museum

Commonly referred to as the Elephant Hall, the University of Nebraska State Museum is a fascinating history museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the Cornhusker State’s palaeontology, biodiversity and cultural diversity.

The venue opened in 1871 and is home to the world’s most extensive collection of elephant fossils and vast collections of minerals and meteorites, African and Native American artefacts, dinosaurs and ancient weaponry.

Complete with interactive wildlife dioramas, a gift shop, a rock shop, and the Marx Science Discovery Center, this amazing venue is one of Lincoln’s most visited attractions and always a great addition to any Nebraska itinerary.

The University of Nebraska State Museum is at Morrill Hall, 645 N 14th St, Lincoln, NE 68588.

8- See The Governor’s Mansion

gated governor's residence in lincoln Nebraska
The Governor’s Residence in Lincoln, Nebraska.

A short walk from the eye-catching Nebraska State Capitol building in downtown Lincoln, the Governor’s Mansion has been the official residence of Nebraska’s elected governor since the building was completed in 1957.

This stately Georgian Colonial-style home was partly designed by incumbent governor Victor E. Anderson, who drew inspiration for the estate from the governor’s mansions in Arkansas and Florida.

Featuring a red brick façade and six tall columns, this beautiful Lincoln estate is one of the state’s most recognised homes and is a popular attraction to visit thanks to its free-to-join guided tours every Thursday.

The Governor’s Mansion is at 1425 H St, Lincoln, NE 68508.

9- Visit Great Plains Art Museum

Established in 1981 to honour and celebrate the art from America’s Great Plains region, the Great Plains Art Museum boasts one of the most extensive art collections of any art museum in the Midwest.

The centre is situated on the campus of the University of Nebraska and was initially founded with drawings, prints, paintings and sculptures of the Christlieb Collection.

The museum has grown into Lincoln’s premier arts and culture institution, home to impressive works of art from the likes of Robert Fletcher Gilder, Charles M. Russell, Henry Jackson and Michael Forsberg.

This free-to-visit attraction features an impressive collection of permanent, rotating and curated exhibits and is one of downtown Lincoln’s must-visit destinations.

The Great Plains Art Museum is at 1155 Q St, Lincoln, NE 68508.

10- Catch A Show At The Pinnacle Bank Arena

The Pinnacle Bank Arena is among the more recent additions to Lincoln’s extensive list of entertainment venues.

It has been a significant centre for live sports, music and theatre since it opened in 2013.

Capable of seating up to 15,500 spectators, this state-of-the-art venue in downtown Lincoln sits right across the road from the famous Memorial Stadium and features an annual event calendar full of shows and performances.

If you’re looking for world-class entertainment during your visit to Lincoln, there’s no bigger venue than this newly-built arena in the city’s bustling downtown.

The Pinnacle Bank Arena is at 400 Pinnacle Arena Dr, Lincoln, NE 68508.

11- See The Cosmos At Mueller Planetarium

The Mueller Planetarium is a pioneering centre for audiovisual productions in Nebraska located in the same building as the popular University of Nebraska State Museum.

Opened in 1958, the planetarium features a 30-foot-tall (9 m), 360-degree view domed theatre that can dazzle visitors with vivid cosmos displays thanks to a customised fisheye lens projector.

This intimate window to the stars can seat up to 60 people and hosts all sorts of events and night sky tours throughout the year, so be sure to stop by it the next time you’re exploring downtown Lincoln.

The Mueller Planetarium is at Morrill Hall, 645 N 14th St, Lincoln, NE 68588.

12- Explore the Sheldon Museum of Art

Another world-class Lincoln attraction located on the University of Nebraska campus, the expansive Sheldon Museum of Art is a top-notch cultural institution specialising in 19th and 20th-century art.

The gallery was formerly known as the University of Nebraska Art Galleries and the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and is named after British artist Benjamin Robert Haydon.

Housing both the University of Nebraska and Sheldon Art Association collections, the centre is home to more than 12,000 individual artworks that encompass a broad range of mediums such as paintings, sculptures and drawings.

From American impressionism to geometric abstraction, there are so many great works to marvel at all throughout this unique arts venue in downtown Lincoln.

The Sheldon Museum of Art is at 12th and R St, Lincoln, NE 68588.

13- Stop by the International Quilt Museum

One of Lincoln’s most unique cultural institutions is the International Quilt Museum, a one-of-a-kind venue home to the world’s most extensive collection of quilts.

The museum opened in 1997 thanks to the donation of 950 quilts by Robert and Ardis James, which became the centrepiece of the museum’s ever-growing collection.

With more than 6,000 quilts on display ranging from early European and American quilts to more contemporary quilts, the venue is one of Lincoln’s most interesting places to explore and a great addition to any Nebraska itinerary.

The International Quilt Museum is at 1523 N. 33rd St, Lincoln, NE 68583.

14- Discover the Museum of American Speed

The Museum of American Speed has been Nebraska’s go-to landmark for speed freaks and car enthusiasts ever since this unique Lincoln attraction opened its doors to the public in 1922.

Celebrating and treasuring the history of the automobile, from unique engines to lightning-quick race cars, the museum has been collecting and gathering special vehicles for more than 100 years.

Featuring a massive exhibition hall home to one of the most extensive car collections in the world, the museum is among the most popular places to visit in Nebraska.

It offers both guided and self-guided tours to the public throughout the year.

The Museum of American Speed is at 599 Oakcreek Dr, Lincoln, NE 68528.

15- Relax At Scenic Antelope Park

Antelope Park is a vast public outdoor recreational area near downtown Lincoln that’s home to several of the city’s most popular attractions, including the Veterans Memorial Garden, the Sunken Gardens, and the Hamann Rose Garden.

This sprawling urban park is near the University of Nebraska campus, Memorial Stadium and the Nebraska State Capitol, making it incredibly accessible and great for a quick afternoon picnic.

Free to enjoy and open year-round, this beautiful outdoor venue is great for nature lovers and provides active folk with some of Lincoln’s best jogging and hiking trails.

16- Connect with nature at the Pioneers Park Nature Center

The Pioneers Park Nature Center is a scenic 668-acre (270 ha) outdoor recreation area outside downtown Lincoln.

Opened in 1963, the park features several pristine nature trails and the Chet Ager Building, a stunning facility home to several exhibits, a herb garden and a bee skep.

Regularly hosting events such as night hikes and educative programs, the park is a year-round attraction that is completely free to enjoy.

Be sure to stop by the park’s bison herd and scenic Prairie landscapes the next time you travel around Nebraska.

The Pioneers Park Nature Center is at 3201 South Coddington, Lincoln, NE 68522.

17- Visit the National Museum of Roller Skating

The National Museum of Roller Skating near downtown Lincoln is the only museum solely dedicated to roller skating in the world.

It has been a popular attraction in eastern Nebraska since the unique venue opened in 1980.

Now over 40 years old, the museum boasts the most extensive collection of roller skating artefacts and memorabilia worldwide and exhibits several rare items for visitors to see.

With certain artefacts on display dating back to the early 19th century, this interesting and historical centre is an excellent addition to any Lincoln itinerary.

The National Museum of Roller Skating is at 4730 South St, Lincoln, NE 68506.

18- Explore the Nebraska History Museum

The Nebraska History Museum is a cultural landmark that tells the story of Nebraska over 12,000 years through countless artefacts and objects.

Opened in 1878, the museum’s vast collection spans more than 125,000 individual items exhibited through a range of permanent and rotating displays.

The museum tells the story of Nebraska from when Native Americans called it home to the present day.

It covers important moments such as when Nebraska gained statehood or when the Lewis and Clark expedition stopped in Omaha on their way west.

The Nebraska History Museum is at 131 Centennial Mall N, Lincoln, NE 68508.

19- Take The Kids To The Lincoln Children’s Museum

Lincoln Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds
As the Nebraska state capitol, you’ll find many things to do in Lincoln.

A fully interactive and immersive centre solely dedicated to kids, the Lincoln Children’s Museum is among the most popular attractions for families in eastern Nebraska.

The venue was opened in 1989 and features over 23,000 square feet (2,137 m2) of total exhibition space.

Teaching kids about topics ranging from arts to science, the venue is a great attraction to bring the little ones to and it is conveniently situated near downtown Lincoln’s top tourist destinations and amenities.

The Lincoln Children’s Museum is at 1420 P St, Lincoln, NE 68508.

20- Visit The Unique Lester F. Larsen Tractor Museum

farm buildings in Lincoln Nebraska
Looking for things to do in Lincoln Nebraska? Visiting a farm is one of the activities to tick off your list.

Paying tribute to the vehicle that made Nebraska’s large farming community and industry so prosperous, the unique Lester F. Larsen Tractor Museum is the world’s only tractor-testing museum. 

This one-of-a-kind destination opened in 1980 and is the only fully functioning test laboratory for testing tractors for safety.

Apart from testing tractors new and old, the museum also boasts a collection of more than 40 antique tractors for visitors to learn more about, including a Ford 8-16, a Waterloo Boy N, and a Moline Universal D.

Officially known as the Lester F. Larsen Tractor Test and Power Museum, the centre is open to the public Tuesday to Friday every week, making it an interesting museum to visit to learn a little more about the workhorse that built modern-day Nebraska.

The Lester F. Larsen Tractor Museum is at N 35th St & Fair St, Lincoln, NE 68583. 

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Jessica Shaw is a storyteller who has lived in four U.S. states - Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and Illinois - and has visited many others. She loves history and nature and is a big fan of road tripping.