Top Things to Do in Lincoln | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Lincoln

Home to the University of Nebraska, the state's second-largest city scores with beautiful blooms in the Sunken Gardens of Lincoln, lively entertainment and the Art Deco-style Capitol. Check out our list of what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Lincoln.


Haymarket District Dozens of restaurants mingle with boutiques, bookstores and coffeehouses, making this a hopping place to hang out downtown, especially on Husker football game days.

Homestead National Monument of America Learn how the Homestead Act of 1862 inspired settlers to pursue the American Dream. In Beatrice, 40 miles south. Free.

International Quilt Study Center and Museum Explore a rainbow of historical and contemporary quilts on the East Campus.

Licorice International Free samples help customers find a favorite among 160 types of licorice from 13 countries.

Lincoln Children’s Zoo Four new areas—including a giraffe-feeding experience and up-close tiger encounter—debut this year at the 54-year-old zoo, home to more than 350 creatures.

Memorial Stadium Find a football game ticket online to see the Huskers (games have been officially sold out since 1962). Or take a self-guided tour on nongame days to see where the magic happens.

Memorial Stadium

Memorial Stadium

Mueller Planetarium See a supervolcano erupt in a 360-degree virtual environment in the Fulldome Experience at the planetarium, part of the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall.

Pinnacle Bank Arena The $179 million arena seats more than 15,000 for Cornhusker basketball games and concerts.

Pinnacle Bank Arena

Pinnacle Bank Arena

Sheldon Museum of Art Inspired by ancient Greek temples, this midcentury modern building designed by Philip Johnson holds 12,000 pieces spanning Mary Cassatt to Andy Warhol.

State Capitol Tours of the 1932 building highlight ornate mosaics and murals celebrating Nebraska’s rich pioneer and Native American history.

State Capitol

Sunken Gardens of Lincoln More than 30,000 annuals bloom in the themed display; past designs have included peacocks and Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

Sunken Gardens of Lincoln

Sunken Gardens of Lincoln


Blue Orchid Thai Restaurant Try crowd-pleasers such as pad Thai and yellow curry in a former post office and courthouse. Blue Orchid Thai Restaurant on Facebook

Buzzard Billy’s Fried alligator? Absolutely. Or try other Creole and Southern eats like red beans and rice. Warm evenings call for patio seats.

Cultiva Coffee Excellent coffee roasted in-house complements crepes, sandwiches and johnnycakes (cornmeal pancakes).

High Society Cheesecake Fire-roasted corn chowder, meaty sandwiches and a dozen flavors of cheesecake should put this lunch-only shop high on your list.

High Society Cheesecake

Honest Abe's Burgers and Freedom The burger menu changes frequently, but you can always count on creative toppings plus a side of Parmesan truffle fries.

Hub Cafe Locally sourced ingredients such as sausage, cheese and fruit flavor breakfast and brunch specials. Patio seats overlook urban trails and a creek.

JTK Cuisine Low lighting, attentive staff and sumptuous dishes like beet linguini with grilled chicken create a date-night destination in Haymarket’s former train depot.

Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill Beer-cheese soup pairs with house-crafted beer at this anchor in the Haymarket district.

Le Quartier Buttery croissants, macarons and scones star at this French- style bakery and cafe.

The Oven A bowl of mulligatawny soup (piquantly spiced lentil soup) sets the stage for Indian cuisine, such as tender tandoori chicken.

Parthenon Greek Grill and Taverna Columns line the sidewalk in front of the Parthenon, where two sons of Greek immigrants cook braised lamb shank and Mediterranean-style shrimp.

Screamers Dining and Cabaret A staff of up-and-coming local talent serves classic cuisine and a vocal performance at this restaurant and musician incubator mash-up.

The Single Barrel Equal parts whiskey bar and locally owned restaurant (plus a mechanical bull) combine for a memorable meal. Specialties include meats smoked on-site.


Chains The downtown Courtyard (, Hilton Garden Inn ( and Embassy Suites ( all deliver a solid business-class experience, close to the Haymarket and Railyard entertainment districts. 

Graduate Lincoln Corn-print curtains, emerald green sofas and cowboy-theme pillows reflect the playful Nebraska touches you’ll find at this new 231-room hotel in the Haymarket district.

Graduate Lincoln

Graduate Lincoln. Photo courtesy of hotel.

For information: Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau

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