Check out this complete list of fun things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska. And the best part? Most of these Lincoln attractions are free!
When we visited Lincoln, we loved how much there was to do. Since we’re on a budget, we also loved that many of the activities around town were free to do. Below are what we think are the most fun things to do in Lincoln.
This was definitely one of our favorite places to visit in Lincoln. It sounds kind of quirky, but it ended up being so fascinating and we realized how interesting the world of roller skating is! There are artifacts from the 1800s that show the evolution of roller skates, shiny outfits, and trophies that give visitors a glimpse into the world of competitive skating. Oh, and it’s also one of the best free things to do in Lincoln.
Did you know that from the 1870s to the 1890s, roller skating rinks were the place to be? It was inexpensive, so it was perfect for families. But it was also a popular hang out spot for young adults. It was the place to see and be seen and the place to go on dates. There were drawings showing young men gallantly rushing to help young women to their feet after they had “accidentally” fallen.
Besides learning the history of roller skating, we also saw just how popular skating still is. There are competitive roller derby leagues and other ways to skate competitively. We saw the trophies and medals! Oh, and speaking of medals, make sure to take your photo on their podium holding a medal. It was a fun photo op!
Another one of the fun and free things to do in Lincoln is visit the Nebraska History Museum. Inside, visitors will learn all about the different people and cultures that have called Nebraska home. There are Native American artifacts and photos that tell the stories of early cowboys. There are also temporary exhibits at the museum.
During our visit, there was an exhibit called “Don’t Touch That Dial: Kalamity Kate and the George Churley Puppets.” It was all about a children’s show that ran during the 1950s and 60s that was a big part of the state’s television history.
The Nebraska State Capitol is one of the most beautiful state capitols we’ve ever been to. It can be seen from miles away, as it is 400 feet tall. But what is really impressive are the mosaics inside. It felt cathedral-like! We also really liked going up to the observation area and seeing some views of Lincoln.
We recommend taking one of their free guided tours so that you can really get a sense for how remarkable this building is. The tours are done at the top of every hour, except noon. Before you leave the capitol, make sure to walk over to the Lincoln Monument which is on the west side of the building.
Fun Fact: The Lincoln Monument was made by Daniel Chester French and Henry Bacon, 10 years before they created the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
Just a short drive away from downtown Lincoln is Pioneers Park Nature Center. If you’re traveling to Lincoln with kids, this should definitely be a place you visit. It’s also another one of the free activities in Lincoln you can do.
There are trails where you can walk and explore the prairie and wetlands that are native to Nebraska. You can see birds, bison, elk, white-tailed deer, and other animals. You can also stop in to any of the buildings and learn about the natural history of Nebraska and the central great plains.
The Sunken Gardens in Lincoln are a source of pride for many locals. It has won awards like the “300 Best Gardens to Visit in the U.S. and Canada” by National Geographic Guide to America’s Public Gardens (the only Nebraska garden on the list). It’s also one of the popular wedding venues in Lincoln because of it’s pavilion and waterfall.
Unfortunately, on the day that we visited they were doing a lot of replanting. But we can imagine just how beautiful it is when it’s in full bloom.
Located on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus is the Sheldon Museum of Art. Inside, visitors will find over 12,000 pieces of art in various forms of media. There are landscapes, American Impressionism, Modernism, geometric abstraction, pop, minimalism, and contemporary art. Additionally, there are over 30 sculptures scattered throughout campus.
Speaking of art, we think one of the most fun things to do in Lincoln is search for public art. There are murals in Lincoln, as well as sculptures, fountains, and even walls covered in what look like chocolate candies! To see a list of public art in Lincoln and their locations, click here.
We already recommended Blue Blood Brewing Company in our post about places to eat in Lincoln, but we wanted to mention it again here because of the caves underneath the brewery. Created mostly in the late 1860s, are 5,000 square feet of sandstone cave tunnels known as Robber’s Cave. Supposedly the notorious outlaw Jesse James hid in these caves after a heist in Minnesota.
Blue Blood Brewing offers tours of the caves three days a week. They can last 45 minutes to an hour, depending on group size and questions. If you’re over 21 you get a beer while on the tour (we got a cider). We recommend buying your tickets online ahead of time as they sell out quickly. This was a fun way to learn about some of Lincoln’s history.
This may not be considered “fun” but we wanted to include it in this post because we thought it was an important memorial and an educational experience. Plus, these events should never be forgotten.
The Nebraska Holocaust Memorial is located inside the Wyuka Cemetery, the largest all-faith cemetery in Lincoln. The memorial is dedicated to the memory of those who died during the Holocaust and honors all of the liberators and survivors of the Nazi concentration camps.
If you’re ready to visit Lincoln and are wondering where to stay, we recommend the Graduate Hotel Lincoln. It’s a fun hotel with a unique design that pays homage to the local community.
I don’t think we’ve been to a city that had so many free and fun things to do. So if you’re traveling through the Midwest, we highly recommend a visit to Lincoln, Nebraska!
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**A big thank you to the Lincoln CVB for helping us arrange such a fun itinerary. As always, all opinions are our own.**