An engaging Midwestern city, Lincoln, Nebraska, offers visitors much in the way of history and culture. The state’s second-largest city, home of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is no more than a day’s trip by car from Denver, Minneapolis, St. Louis or Chicago—making a visit to “Star City” an appealing destination for visitors from the Midwest and beyond.
Among attractions in Lincoln is the Nebraska State Capitol, a dome-capped skyscraper topped by “The Sower,” a statue of a farmer sowing grain, which commemorates the state’s agricultural roots. Decorative artwork, including intricate tiling and murals, is visible throughout the early 20th-century building. Head for the observation level to catch broad views over the downtown skyline. Other highlights at the Capitol include an outdoor bronze sculpture of President Abraham Lincoln, created by the artist who would later produce the famed Lincoln Memorial.
Though largely a business district, downtown Lincoln is home to a number of retail shops and restaurants. The taverns, lounges and nightclubs along the O Street nightlife district bustle with evening visitors.
Venture into interesting local neighborhoods for more things to do in Lincoln. West of downtown, the fashionable Haymarket neighborhood is a renovated hub of performing arts venues, boutique shops and places to drink and dine. The streets are lined with converted brick buildings, many of them former factories and warehouses enjoying second lives as designer lofts or condos, or sporting new wine shops or bookstores. A seasonal, open-air farmers’ market adds to the community feel of the neighborhood.
Just north of downtown lies the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, spanning two campuses. The UNL’s East Campus neighborhood stars public attractions that include the Maxwell Arboretum and the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, known for the world’s largest public display of quilts. The campus is surrounded by a quaint historic area, dubbed “Professor Row" after its scholarly residents.
The nearby University Place neighborhood draws students and visitors to its assortment of laid-back cafes, boutiques and galleries, set in a Main Street atmosphere. Stroll the sedate Nebraska Wesleyan University campus or the residential district in University Place, which showcases a diverse collection of vintage structures, including Bungalows and Prairie Box homes.
University of Nebraska generates the biggest sports thrills in the city. The UNL’s prominent athletic program, composed of 21 teams, garners a sizable number of National Championships each year. Memorial Stadium, located at the University’s City Campus, is where the Cornhuskers football team, members of the Big Ten Conference, have played to win since 1923.
Over 6,000 acres of public parks add to the number of things to do in Lincoln. Among the largest is Antelope Park, which features Sunken Gardens, a colorful display of flora that features hydrangeas and creative, themed displays. The park’s attractions include the Lincoln Children's Zoo, where visitors can spot ring-tailed lemurs and reindeer, and the Veteran’s Memorial Garden, a quiet space that honors veterans throughout Nebraska’s history with over 20 military monuments.