Things to do

20 Things To Do In Lincoln Nebraska

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Lincoln, Nebraska, a vibrant city brimming with rich history, diverse culture, and natural beauty, offers an array of activities for all interests.

Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or a foodie, Lincoln has something to captivate your curiosity. From exploring the captivating exhibits at the State Capitol to enjoying the scenic trails at Pioneers Park, this city is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.

Here are 20 must-do activities to make the most of your visit to Lincoln.

1. Visit the Nebraska State Capitol

Designed by architect Bertram Goodhue, this iconic building stands as a testament to Nebraska's pride and heritage. Completed in 1932, the Capitol is renowned for its distinctive and striking design, which combines elements of Gothic Revival and Art Deco styles. The structure features a 400-foot-tall dome, making it one of the tallest state capitol buildings in the U.S.

Inside, visitors can marvel at the intricate mosaics, vibrant murals, and ornate carvings that adorn the building. The interior is equally impressive, with the rotunda offering breathtaking views of the surrounding cityscape.

2. Explore the University of Nebraska State Museum

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The University of Nebraska State Museum, commonly known as Morrill Hall, is a premier destination for those interested in natural history and anthropology in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Located on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, the museum offers a fascinating array of exhibits that showcase the region’s geological past, including dinosaur fossils, ancient mammals, and interactive displays on paleontology.

Visitors can explore the "Elephant Hall," featuring mammoth skeletons and a massive Columbian mammoth, or delve into the "Ancient Seas" exhibit, where they can see real fossils from ancient marine creatures that once inhabited Nebraska's seas.

3. Stroll Through the Sunken Gardens

This stunning garden, located at 27th and Capitol Parkway, showcases meticulously designed landscapes that change with the seasons. As you wander through the Sunken Gardens, you'll encounter vibrant flower beds, serene water features, and elegant pathways that create a picturesque setting.

The garden is renowned for its seasonal displays, including colorful spring tulips, lush summer blooms, and rich autumn foliage. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool, often surrounded by meticulously trimmed hedges and ornamental plants, adding to the garden’s peaceful ambiance.

The Sunken Gardens also feature various themed areas, such as a tropical plant section and a rose garden, each offering its own unique charm.

4. Tour the Lincoln Children's Museum

Spread across multiple floors, the museum features a wide array of hands-on exhibits and activities that encourage learning through play. Children can explore themed areas like the supermarket, where they can shop for groceries and learn about healthy eating, or the water table, where they can experiment with water flow and movement. 

Other popular exhibits include a miniature construction site, a science discovery area, and a space for creative arts and crafts. The museum is designed to stimulate curiosity and imagination in children of all ages, making it a favorite destination for families looking to engage in educational and entertaining activities together.

5. Walk the Trails at Pioneers Park Nature Center

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At Pioneers Park Nature Center, you’ll find a sprawling oasis of natural beauty just outside the city limits of Lincoln, Nebraska. Covering over 1,000 acres, this park offers a range of activities suited for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The center features an extensive network of hiking and biking trails that wind through diverse landscapes, including forests, prairies, and wetlands. As you traverse these trails, you might spot a variety of wildlife, such as deer, birds, and butterflies, making each visit a unique experience.

The park also includes an education center with interactive exhibits that focus on local ecology and wildlife.

6. Visit the Sheldon Museum of Art

The Sheldon Museum of Art is a must-visit when looking for things to do in Lincoln, NE. This museum is located on the University of Nebraska campus and showcases a wide range of American art, from historical pieces to contemporary works.

The collection includes paintings, sculptures, and prints, featuring both well-known and emerging artists. Visitors can enjoy rotating exhibitions that offer new and exciting art experiences each time they visit. The museum's architecture is also impressive, providing a beautiful backdrop for the artwork.

7. Check Out the Lincoln Haymarket District

This is one of the top attractions in Lincoln, NE. This lively area is known for its historic charm and vibrant atmosphere. You can explore unique shops offering everything from local crafts to trendy boutiques.

There are also plenty of restaurants serving delicious meals ranging from casual bites to fine dining experiences. The district is home to historic buildings that add to its character, making it a great place for a leisurely stroll and to soak in the local culture.

Whether you're shopping for souvenirs, enjoying a meal, or simply taking in the sights, the Lincoln Haymarket District offers something for everyone to enjoy.

8. See a Performance At the Lied Center for Performing Arts

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In Lincoln, Nebraska, attractions include the Lied Center for Performing Arts, where you can experience a wide range of entertainment. Located on the University of Nebraska campus, the Lied Center hosts performances like concerts, theater productions, and dance shows throughout the year.

It's a cultural hub for both local talent and renowned artists, offering a variety of shows that appeal to different interests and ages. Whether you're into classical music, contemporary dance, or Broadway-style musicals, the Lied Center provides an excellent venue to enjoy live performances in Lincoln.

9. Explore the International Quilt Museum

Visiting the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln is a unique and fascinating experience, perfect for those looking for fun things to do in Lincoln. This museum is home to one of the largest and most diverse collections of quilts in the world.

Inside, you’ll find quilts from different cultures and time periods, showcasing intricate designs, vibrant colors, and fascinating patterns. The museum regularly updates its exhibits, so there’s always something new to see.

Whether you’re a quilting enthusiast or just curious, the museum’s engaging displays and educational programs offer a deep dive into the art and history of quilting. It’s a wonderful spot to explore creativity and craftsmanship while enjoying one of the fun things to do in Lincoln.

10. Relax at Antelope Park

Relaxing at Antelope Park is an essential part of things to do in Lincoln, NE, offering a serene escape within the heart of the city. Spanning over 100 acres, it's one of Lincoln's largest parks, featuring lush green spaces, winding trails, and recreational amenities.

Visitors can unwind by the tranquil ponds, perfect for picnicking or simply enjoying the scenery. The park also hosts the Lincoln Children's Zoo, where families can interact with animals and explore educational exhibits.

For active visitors, Antelope Park provides facilities for sports like tennis and volleyball, as well as playgrounds for children.

11. Visit the Nebraska History Museum

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For stuff to do in Lincoln, the museum provides invaluable insights into the state's past, complementing other local attractions like the Sunken Gardens and the vibrant Haymarket District.

Located in the heart of downtown, it showcases exhibits that span Nebraska's history, from its Native American roots through its pioneer days to the present. Visitors can explore artifacts ranging from early settlements and agricultural advancements to the state's role in the Civil War and beyond.

Interactive displays and immersive exhibits bring Nebraska's story to life, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in the region's cultural and historical evolution.

12. Go to the Lincoln City Libraries

The Lincoln City Libraries, a significant part of Lincoln, NE, attractions, offer a wide range of resources and services to the community. With a network of multiple branches throughout the city, including the Bennett Martin Public Library, which serves as the central hub, these libraries provide access to an extensive collection of books, digital media, and educational materials.

They host various programs for all ages, including storytimes for children, adult learning workshops, and cultural events. The libraries also feature modern amenities such as meeting rooms, computer labs, and quiet study areas.

13. Discover the Lincoln Railroad Museum

Located in the historic Haymarket District, the museum features an impressive collection of model trains, historical artifacts, and detailed exhibits that showcase the evolution of rail transport.

Visitors can admire meticulously crafted model railroad layouts that replicate various historical and modern settings, providing a vivid portrayal of how railroads shaped the development of Lincoln and beyond.

Additionally, the museum houses an array of railroad memorabilia, including vintage signage, uniforms, and documents, making it an engaging stop for history enthusiasts and families alike.

14. Shop at Haymarket Farmers' Market

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Located in the historic Haymarket District, the market operates from May to October, offering a wide array of fresh, locally-grown produce, including fruits, vegetables, and herbs. In addition to produce, visitors can find homemade baked goods, artisanal cheeses, and specialty foods, as well as handcrafted items such as jewelry, pottery, and textiles.

The market also features live music, cooking demonstrations, and other entertainment, creating a lively atmosphere that draws both residents and visitors. With its focus on supporting local agriculture and fostering community connections, the Haymarket Farmers' Market has become a cherished weekly tradition, providing a space where people can enjoy high-quality goods and engage with the local culture.

15. Check Out the Great Plains Art Museum

The Great Plains Art Museum, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, offers a rich cultural experience as part of the things to do in Lincoln. This museum is dedicated to showcasing art that reflects the history, culture, and natural beauty of the Great Plains region.

Established in 1968, the museum features an extensive collection of artwork by regional artists, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs. It highlights the diverse artistic expressions that capture the essence of life on the plains, from historic representations to contemporary works.

The museum’s exhibitions often include themes related to the environment, heritage, and daily life in the Great Plains.

16. Experience the Nebraska Wesleyan University’s “Performing Arts Series”

Hosted at the university's state-of-the-art O’Donnell Auditorium, this series brings together a wide range of performances, including classical music concerts, contemporary dance, theatrical productions, and jazz ensembles.

The series is designed to enrich the cultural life of both the university community and the public, featuring talented students, faculty, and guest artists from various disciplines.

Each performance is curated to provide audiences with high-quality artistic experiences, often highlighting innovative works and celebrating creative expression.

17. Attend the Lincoln Stars Hockey Games

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The Lincoln Stars are a prominent junior ice hockey team based in Lincoln, Nebraska, competing in the United States Hockey League (USHL), which is a premier league for developing young hockey talent.

The team plays its home games at the Ice Box, a dedicated ice rink renowned for its enthusiastic atmosphere and passionate fans. Attending a Lincoln Stars game is an exciting experience, characterized by fast-paced, high-energy hockey that showcases the skills and potential of future professional players.

The Ice Box itself offers a cozy yet vibrant setting, with seating that brings fans close to the action, creating an immersive experience. The games are a community staple, often accompanied by themed nights, promotional events, and interactive activities that engage fans of all ages.

18. Explore the Museum of American Speed

The Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Nebraska, is a captivating destination for automotive enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Founded by billionaire businessman and racing enthusiast Don Petersen, the museum showcases an extensive collection of automobiles, racing artifacts, and related memorabilia that spans over a century of automotive history.

The museum’s exhibits highlight the evolution of speed through various categories, including vintage cars, race cars, and engine technology. Visitors can marvel at rare and meticulously restored vehicles, from early 20th-century race cars to modern high-performance machines.

19. Enjoy a Day at the Lincoln Zoo

Despite its smaller size compared to larger zoos, it offers a rich experience with over 350 animals representing 122 species. Visitors can encounter a variety of animals, from red pandas and Amur tigers to playful river otters and meerkats.

The zoo focuses on creating interactive experiences for guests, including opportunities to feed giraffes and interact with animals up close during scheduled encounters. Educational programs and conservation initiatives are also integral parts of the zoo's mission, aiming to foster understanding and appreciation for wildlife and conservation efforts.

20. Drive Through Christmas Lights Show

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The Christmas Lights Show in Lincoln, Nebraska, is a beloved annual tradition that transforms the city into a winter wonderland. Typically held in various locations across town, including parks and downtown areas, the show features dazzling displays of lights and festive decorations.

Residents and visitors alike eagerly anticipate this event, which often includes synchronized light shows set to holiday music, towering Christmas trees adorned with colorful lights, and elaborate themed displays that capture the spirit of the season.

Families often make it a tradition to drive through or walk around these illuminated spectacles, enjoying hot cocoa and holiday treats as they marvel at the creativity and effort put into each display.