As one of the nation’s least visited states, Nebraska kind of chills out in the background. Modest. Quietly confident in its offerings. And its state capital just might be its best kept metropolitan secret. After a whirlwind road trip, we decided we liked the area. A lot. And here are just a few actually cool things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska.
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#1 On My List Of Cool Things To Do In Lincoln, Nebraska? Get Your Drink On In Historic Haymarket.
Y’all already know I’m good for a solid historic district and oodles of street art. So, welcome to the Historic Haymarket district. #1 on my list of actually cool things to do in Lincoln. Haymarket is indeed your standard revitalized warehouse district with countless boutiques, breweries, and tasty restaurants, but I just never seem to tire of them.
Take a walking tour and admire the historic brick buildings and countless marquees. Or, hop on a pedal bar for a boozier experience. Stop by the old railway station to check out the trains and the old-timey clock. And track down the street art alley and “Starry Night Serving Hands” sculpture. Last but not least, be sure to support the local businesses with a little shopping and a satisfying meal.
Stroll Around Pioneers Park Nature Center
Pioneers Park Nature Center is actually on the outskirts of Lincoln, but is a really incredible outdoor space within the city limits. The vast expanse has around eight miles of trails and multiple ponds. The park basically broken into three areas—a manicured park area with some historic pillars, the Nature Center and animal preserve, and the Prairie Building. All of which make it among the fun things to do in Lincoln.
The stone columns are hands down the most recognizable feature of Pioneers Park. Gifted to the city of Lincoln in 1907, they’re actually from the U.S. Treasury building during the time of Abraham Lincoln. Continue further into the park and find the Prairie Building and the old schoolhouse. Fourth-grade classes are actually held in the schoolhouse, where students are taught all about prairie life and Nebraska state history. Just beyond the Prairie Building is the animal preserve, where you can see bison, elk, deer, turkey vultures, and owls in their natural habitat.
Tour The Third (& Final) Nebraska State Capitol
After a lot of back and forth about which city the state capitol would even be in, the construction of a capitol building finally began… in Lincoln. What you see here is actually the third capitol building. The first was, well… “modest.” The second literally started to crumble. And, the third… well. here we are.
It’s not your standard dome. It’s a 400-foot tower with a 19-foot bronze statue of “The Sower” on top. (No one really explains “The Sower: anywhere, but my guess is it’s related to the biblical parable. What do you think?) Carvings on the exterior of the building represent the evolution of democracy and murals on the interior of the building depict Nebraska’s Native American and pioneer heritage. They offer free guided tours, too! So, stop by and get in on one of the cooler things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Experience The Gorgeousness of Sunken Gardens
If you ask me, Sunken Gardens is truly the best of all the things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s a point of pride for the city. With good reason. It was literally transformed out of a former dump site. Each year, they select a new floral theme, which features over 30,000 annuals. There are three official gardens—the Healing Garden (all white), the Annual Garden, and the Perennial Garden—all gorgeous. And, they have water features and art installations to boot. Entry is free, so definitely make it a point to stop and smell the roses here.
Root For The Home Team At University of Nebraska
No trip to Lincoln would be complete without a tour of the University of Nebraska flagship campus. And, if you can manage it, witness the fanfare of a Huskers football game. (People come from across the state to support their home team!) With over 27,000 students, University of Nebraska Lincoln is Nebraska’s largest 4-year university. The campus is stately and sprawling, and has a seemingly inordinate number of museums. Visit the State Museum or the Great Plains Art Museum; the Tractor Museum or the International Quilt Museum; the Textiles Gallery or one of several arts galleries. (Yes, it’s a little bananas. Or… “corny?”)
Where To Stay… While Checking Out All These Cool Things To Do In Lincoln, Nebraska
If I may… Because our hotel was so awesome, I figure a lodging recommendation was in order for this particular post. We stayed during the pandemic with limited services available and had a great time, so I can’t even imagine how this place would be with their bar and restaurant open. The Graduate Lincoln had excellent service, super fun retro rooms (Husker themed!), and comfortable beds. I even had a separate work area to blog in. Should you ever be in the Lincoln area, this is the place to stay.
More Cool Things To Do In Lincoln, Nebraska?
As is always the case, this list is by no means all-encompassing. (No, there are not only five actually cool things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska.) But these are some of the fun things the #AdventurePartnerForLife and I got up to during our short stay in this magical little city. (Insert unicorn emoji here.) Have you been? What was your favorite thing to do? Drop a comment below or send me a message via my Contact page. Don’t forget to check out all these other awesome things to do in Nebraska, too.
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