Posted on: March 4, 2024 Posted by: Niru Sherman Comments: 0

Lincoln may not be the first city that comes to mind when considering Midwest destinations. However, Nebraska’s capital has a lot to offer visitors. The city is a perfect blend of historical sites, university attractions, natural beauty, and family fun. Downtown Lincoln is a hub of historical landmarks, museums, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Visitors can explore places like the Nebraska State Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, and the Sunken Gardens.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is another major attraction in the city, with its beautiful campus, sporting events, and cultural activities. Lincoln is also surrounded by natural beauty, from the Pioneers Park Nature Center to the nearby Salt Creek. Families can enjoy a variety of attractions, such as Lincoln Children’s Museum, Lincoln Children’s Zoo, and the National Museum of Roller Skating. So, if you’re planning a Midwest getaway, don’t overlook Lincoln- it’s a true hidden gem! Here are 24 of the top things to see in Lincoln Nebraska.

Explore Downtow

Explore Downtow

Downtown Lincoln combines historic architecture with modern amenities. Start your visit at the Nebraska State Capitol, an imposing 400-foot tower modeled after the U.S. Capitol Building. Tour the Capitol and see the famous 14th-floor observation decks. Then stroll down the pedestrian-friendly Lincoln Haymarket District, home to shops, restaurants, galleries, and the historic Haymarket Park baseball stadium. Don’t miss the massive Train Town model railroad exhibit with its intricate recreated landscapes.

Immerse Yourself in History

Lincoln has several sites for history buffs to explore. The Museum of Nebraska History outlines the state’s past from prehistoric times to the present day with engaging exhibits and displays. For a poignant look at our nation’s past, visit the Nebraska History Museum to see its extensive collection related to the Holocaust and other genocides.

Fans of U.S. presidents will appreciate the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Highlights include the Donald F. and Connie L. Bryant Gallery with Lincoln’s historical artifacts, and the Treasures Gallery displays documents like a draft of Lincoln’s preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Tour the University of Nebraska

Lincoln is home to the flagship campus of the University of Nebraska. Start at the visitor’s center to grab a map and get oriented. Must-see university attractions include the Morrill Hall Natural History Museum with its towering mammoth fossil skeleton and the Mueller Planetarium for an out-of-this-world experience under the dome’s 67-foot screen.

Be sure to see Memorial Stadium, which hosts Huskers football games in front of an endless sea of red-clad fans. End your campus visit at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum to admire gorgeous quilts worldwide.

See the Sunken Gardens

An oasis in the city’s heart, the Sunken Gardens feature cascades, waterfalls, exotic flowers, and towering trees across its two acres. Visitors can stroll curved walking paths to see more than 200 plant species in this peaceful urban garden. Musical performances and other events are sometimes hosted here as well.

Adjacent to the Sunken Gardens, find even more blossoms and botanicals at the Sunken Gardens Conservatory and Butterfly Pavilion. It’s a part greenhouse with tropical plants and a habitat for hundreds of exotic butterflies fluttering freely around you.

Make a Splash at Family Attractions

Make a Splash at Family Attractions

Lincoln has lots of fun options to keep the kids entertained. At Lincoln Children’s Zoo, say hi to playful otters, monkeys, meerkats, or brave the zip line course. Go wild at Lincoln Children’s Museum with its massive indoor playscapes.

Cool off at city pools like Woods Park and Arnold Heights, or splash down the giant slides at Patriot Recreation and Funtime Pizza water parks. Score a strike while bowling at Round 1 Bowling & Amusement or race go-karts at KartTracks Indoor Speedway.

Explore Outdoor Activities


Lincoln provides plenty of ways to enjoy the sunny Nebraska weather. Pioneers Park Nature Center has hiking and biking trails through native prairie habitats, with a nature center featuring small animal exhibits, an aquarium, and more.

Wilderness Park’s 1,472 acres offer even more trails alongside creeks and limestone bluffs. Rent a paddleboat, kayak, or canoe at Holmes Lake to explore this scenic park. Dinosaur enthusiasts will dig the Laurel Dinosaur Tracksite, which contains 68 prehistoric footprints along a limestone shelf.

Attend Local Events

Throughout the year, Lincoln hosts a stellar lineup of events for residents and visitors alike. Cheer on runners along the Lincoln Marathon route each May. Enjoy carnival rides, livestock shows, and fried food galore at the Lancaster County Super Fair in August.

Hot air balloons color the sky during the Lincoln Balloon Festival in September. During the holiday season, Lincoln’s Christkindlmarkt transforms downtown into a magical German street market.

Tour the Food Scene

Visitors to Lincoln can sample local flavors for a tasty introduction to Nebraska cuisine. For breaded and fried Runza sandwiches or fruity NuWay Cherry Limeades, Lincoln offers several locations of these chains born in the state.

Trendy eateries like Norman’s serve fresh seasonal entrees and craft cocktails with a farm-to-table focus. Authentic Italian flavors shine at Venue Restaurant and Lounge—Ivanna Cone dishes homemade ice cream with unique flavors like masala chai and Thai tea coconut.

Sip Local Craft Beer

Lincoln has a blossoming craft beer scene. Top breweries like Zipline Brewing Company and White Elm Brewing Company offer tours, tastings, and dining options. Sample treats like Zipline’s popular Copper Alt brew or White Elm’s 3 Way IPA.

For a fun evening, visit Boiler Brewing Company with its giant slide from the mezzanine to the taproom floor. End your nightcap at a lively local favorite like Duffy’s Tavern or The Watering Hole.

Take in the Arts

Lincoln residents enthusiastically support the thriving arts and cultural scene. The university’s Lied Center for Performing Arts brings internationally acclaimed music, dance, and theatrical productions to town.

The Lincoln Community Playhouse stages outstanding local productions, while the downtown Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center screens independent and foreign films. The Sheldon Museum of Art on campus boasts an acclaimed collection of over 12,000 works of art.

Tour the Architecture

Many of Lincoln’s older buildings feature stunning neoclassical and Art Deco architectural styles from the early 20th century. Take a self-guided walk to admire the State Capitol, the Stuart Building on 13th Street, and the Scottish Rite Temple.

Standouts downtown include the Burr Block building, the Grand Manse Hotel, and the Ferguson House, along with the gilded dome of the State Bank of Nebraska. Don’t miss the unique former Union College entrance arch rising incongruously along a residential street.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

Lincoln’s shopping options range from major national retailers to fabulous local boutiques. Gateway Mall offers big-box stores and department store chains. For Nebraska-made wares, visit Nebraska Crossing Outlets or downtown’s Husker Shops.

Browse home decor at Trendz, skincare products at The Good Life Store, or fun fashions at Leela and Lavender. Find funky boutiques and specialty stores in the Haymarket, Railyard, Telegraph District, or College View neighborhoods.

Tour the Neighborhoods

In addition to downtown, Lincoln has several unique neighborhoods to explore. The historic Near South area contains some of the city’s oldest buildings and cultural sites like the Lincoln Indian Center.

College View was developed as a dry temperance community, with cute shops and eateries along its main street. Don’t miss the iconic Witherbee neighborhood– known for its curving Sheridan Boulevard lined with historic homes.

Havelock arose around the railroad shops with a small-town vibe. The Telegraph District features hip bars, coffee shops, and stores in a converted warehouse area.

Marvel at a Huskers Game

Marvel at a Huskers Game

Lincoln is obsessed with the Huskers, the beloved football team of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Attending a home game at the Memorial Stadium is an unforgettable experience. The energy and excitement are electrifying, with over 85,000 passionate fans packing the stands.

Try to score tickets for a big matchup against a rival like the Iowa Hawkeyes or Wisconsin Badgers. After enjoying the action on the field, join fans flooding the streets to celebrate victory or drown their sorrows over post-game food and drinks.

Tour the Nebraska State Capitol

Sitting majestically atop Capitol Hill, the Nebraska State Capitol is a must-see landmark. The 15-story tower was completed in 1932 and encompasses over 400,000 square feet. Walk through the main entrance with its towering columns and bronze relief depictions of Western migration.

Inside, the dome features Art Deco details along with Native American culture and pioneering symbols. Don’t miss the 14th-floor observation decks for panoramic city views. Guided tours provide a fascinating glimpse into the Capitol’s history, architecture, and art.

Meet the Mammoths at Morrill Hall

Located on the University of Nebraska campus, Morrill Hall is home to impressive museum exhibits, making it one of Lincoln’s top attractions. The towering mammoth fossil skeletons never fail to amaze visitors.

Other dinosaur fossils on display include a giant sea reptile called a mosasaur and an armored nodosaur. See the turtle fossil so large they named it Archelon – the “King of the Turtles.” Beyond fossils, Morrill Hall features vertebrate specimens from around the world, along with exhibits on Native American culture, pioneer history, and Nebraska wildlife.

Feel the Racing Excitement at TSC Speedway

Motorsports fans will want to catch some racing action at the high-speed Thunderbird Speedway. Sitting on 88 acres north of Lincoln, it’s one of the Midwest’s premiere dirt track racing venues.

The races make for an exciting night under the lights, hearing the roar of the cars and the cheers of fans. Weekly events run from April through September, including races like Late Model, Modifieds, B Modifieds, and Hobby Stocks. An on-site campground allows fans to extend the race weekend experience.

Rejuvenate at a Local Spa

With all there is to see and do in Lincoln, visitors may need to recharge with some rest. The city offers terrific wellness experiences at Nines Spa, an upscale oasis providing salon services and spa treatments like massages, facials, and body wraps.

For a more zen vibe, visit Tao Living Arts to indulge in an acupuncture session, reflexology treatment, or float therapy in a sensory deprivation tank. Sauna lovers should head to the Finnleo Lincoln showroom to experience their state-of-the-art Finnish saunas.

Family Fun at Devaney Sports Center

For year-round family fun, the Devaney Sports Center is one of Lincoln’s top sports and recreation destinations. The massive complex contains an indoor six-lane track, basketball courts, a rock climbing wall, and a gymnastics training facility.

Little ones can expend energy in the indoor playground while parents watch Huskers volleyball matches in the arena. The center also hosts events like roller derby bouts by the Lincoln Derby Rollers. With so many active options under one roof, the Devaney Sports Center is an excellent place for an energetic family outing.

Admire Vintage Cars at Speedway Motors Museum

Gearheads will find plenty to love at the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed. The museum contains over 75 vehicles chronicling auto racing history, rare pedal cars, racing memorabilia, gas station signs, and more automotive artifacts.

See Mario Andretti’s Indy 500-winning race car alongside vintage motorcycles and dragsters. The rows of shiny classic cars like T-Birds, Corvettes, Mustangs, and rare muscle cars make this a must-do pit stop for car buffs visiting Lincoln.

Tour Talented Local Wineries

Lincoln visitors can sample some of Nebraska’s finest wines at local wineries. James Arthur Vineyards crafts small-batch wines on its charming family farm. Their tasting room offers award-winning pours like the Becoming fog-wine hybrid.

Deer Springs Winery produces fruit and grape wines alongside hard ciders. Relax with a Brianna White or raspberry apple cider on the outdoor patio. For more great bottles, visit Miletta Vista, Dancing Bird Cellars, or Soaring Wings Vineyard to taste these wineries’ Nebraska vintages.

Catch a Show at Rococo Theatre

For entertainment options in Lincoln, the historic Rococo Theatre offers an intimate setting to catch national music, comedy, and theatrical acts—the elegant proscenium stage dates to the 1920s when the space started as a vaudeville house.

Today, you can see foremost contemporary comedians like Iliza Shlesinger and musical favorites from yesteryear like Craig Campbell and The Righteous Brothers. The Rococo brings considerable name talent to its 350-seat venue, giving Lincoln an excellent place for a date night out.

Hike the Wilderness Park Trails

Covering over 1,400 acres just southwest of Lincoln, Wilderness Park provides ample opportunities for hikers to enjoy nature. The park contains four main trails: oak woodlands, tallgrass prairie, wetlands, and limestone creek beds.

The Cottonwood Trail passes the historic Sowbelly Canyon stone shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Kiosks provide background on the different ecosystems and wildlife in the park, like white-tailed deer, coyotes, and red-headed woodpeckers. Enjoy a picnic after your hike at one of Wilderness Park’s scenic tables.

Catch a Movie at Marcus Theatres

Film fans visiting Lincoln have plenty of movie theater options to choose from. Head to one of Marcus Theatre’s Lincoln locations for blockbuster new releases. The capacious Marcus Majestic Cinema has 15 screens showing the latest Hollywood films. Their Railyard Theater offers a boutique experience with art-house fare and first-run films.

Visit downtown’s Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center for an indie movie fix. The two-screen theater shows foreign, documentary, and festival award winners. Free valet parking makes it a relaxed place to catch artistic and hard-to-find movies.

Prairie Lakes District Adventure

The Prairie Lakes recreational area offers water fun and outdoor adventure just southwest of the city. Set on nearly 600 acres, this artificial oasis centered around Capitol Beach provides beachfront lake access with lifeguards on duty. Rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard to explore the waters.

Anglers can cast a line to catch stocked fish like rainbow trout, catfish, and bass on Lakes No. 5 and 6. Miles of scenic trails allow hikers and bikers to traverse the prairie landscape. After working up an appetite, refuel at the full-service café.

Discover the National Museum of Roller Skating

Lincoln claims over 85 miles of multi-use trails, nicknamed the “City of Trails.” It’s only fitting that it’s also home to the National Museum of Roller Skating. Located at the city’s skate park, this quirky museum traces the history of roller skating starting in the 1700s.

View vintage roller skates and memorabilia relating to roller derby, disco skating, and roller rinks. See pop culture exhibits covering roller skating in television and movies. The museum provides a nostalgia-inducing look at this timeless pastime.

Enjoy Tropical Vibes at the Sunken Gardens

Enjoy Tropical Vibes at the Sunken Gardens

Stepping into the Sunken Gardens in downtown Lincoln feels like entering an oasis. This lush public park encompasses two acres filled with cascading waterfalls, koi ponds, curved walking paths, and exotic botanicals. With over 200 plant species from around the world represented, it’s truly a tropical paradise in Nebraska’s capital.

Towering trees like giant sequoias and Norway maples provide shade and drama within the garden. Visitors will find plenty of benches for resting amid the calming atmosphere. The Sunken Gardens offer opportunities to relish nature’s beauty without leaving the city.

Experience the Roca Berry Farm

Get a taste of life on the Nebraska farm with a visit to Roca Berry Farm, located on the outskirts of Lincoln. Family-owned since the 1940s, the farm has pick-your-own strawberries available each June. Late summer brings sunflowers, squash, gourds, and pumpkins to pick.

Kids will love playing in the corn box and pedal cart racing track. Seasonal events include Harvest Hustle obstacle mud runs and fright-filled visits to the Enchanted Forest Halloween attraction. Enjoy homegrown fruit pies, ice cream, and other refreshments at the on-site country store.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is there to do in Lincoln on a rainy day?

Some top indoor attractions in Lincoln when it’s raining include the Lincoln Children’s Museum, Muhammad Ali Center, National Museum of Roller Skating, and Gateway Mall shopping. You can also catch a movie at Marcus Theatres, enjoy Morrill Hall or Mueller Planetarium exhibits, or get comfortable in a café like The Mill, Le Quartier, or Coffee House.

What is there to do in Lincoln at night?

Top nightlife options in Lincoln include visiting Buzzard Billy’s or Duffy’s Tavern for drinks, catching a show at the Rococo Theatre, bowling at Round1, playing arcade games at Tilt Studio, laughing at Comedy Loft shows, or trying your luck at casinos like Hollywood Casino. Many bars and restaurants have live music performances in the evenings as well.

What are the best free things to do in Lincoln?

Some of the best free attractions in Lincoln include visiting the Sunken Gardens, hiking at Wilderness Park, walking or biking the extensive city trails, exploring the Haymarket District, visiting the Nebraska State Capitol building, strolling the UNL campus, catching a concert on the plaza during Alive! 


Lincoln may fly under the radar, but Nebraska’s capital has many exceptional attractions. History buffs, nature lovers, sports fans, and families will all find plenty to see and do in this Midwestern gem. Lincoln delivers an authentic look at the Heartland, Explore Things to Do in Des Moines,  from its top-notch university and lively festivals to its parks and museums. Its friendly vibe, manageable size, and many activities make it the perfect heartland getaway.