7 Best Things To Do In Lincoln Nebraska
Wide range of museums and long-standing government buildings
Published: February 8, 2023
Lincoln is the capital city of Nebraska. It’s one of the most important areas in Nebraska and has at least one location for visitors of every age to enjoy. Lincoln has a rich history that it shows off through a wide range of museums and long-standing government buildings. It also offers beautiful natural spaces to rest in and exciting districts to walk through. Even children will enjoy its zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, and museums.
National Museum of Roller Skating
Antonio Pirrello invented jetpack skates in 1956. They were worn like a backpack with a handheld clutch and reached speeds of 40 miles per hour. They were even featured on TV shows and magazines like Popular Science but never went on the market.
This design marvel is only one of the items on display at the National Museum of Roller Skating. It features highlights of inline skating, artistic skating, roller hockey, speed skating, and roller derby.
Its most popular items include power skates, elevator skates, and a historic pair from 1814.
Nebraska State Capital
The official Nebraska State Capitol was built after three attempts that cost $10 million and took ten years to complete after construction began in 1922. All that effort resulted in a beautiful building with astounding architecture.
The exterior is fashioned from limestone and is covered in unique, memorable designs. Its carvings depict over 3,000 years of democracy. It’s beautiful rotunda floor mosaic, known as Earth as the Life-giver, was designed as a celebration of the natural elements.
Birds and insects represent air, fish and sea animals represent water, land animals represent earth, and desert elements represent fire. It even includes four species of dinosaurs and two extinct birds.
New York artist, Hildreth Meière, the Capitol building’s architect and a professor at the University of Nebraska worked together to create the mosaic. Erwin Hinckley Barbour, director of the University of Nebraska State Museum, provided sketches of extinct animals and plants for them to work from.
The mosaic floor is only one of Meière’s artistic contributions to the capitol building. She also created murals on the ceilings and floors of the vestibule, foyer, Senate Chamber, and entrance doors to the House of Representatives.
The final unique feature of the building is the 19-foot bronze figure of The Sower that sits at the very top.
Pioneers Park Pillars
30 columns were originally built as part of Washington DC’s Treasury Department building in 1908. In 1916, 4 of them were moved to Pioneer’s Park outside of Lincoln to honor politician, William Jennings Bryan.
The other 26 were blown up to clear a site near the National Academy of Sciences building.
The pillars are made of sandstone and show their age with pockmarks and blackening, but that only makes them seem more ancient and important.
This 5,600-foot-long network of caves used to serve as Lincoln’s first brewery before being shut down and destroyed in 1885.
It was sealed for decades, but a dedicated Lincoln resident recently purchased and reopened it. Visitors can now come for tours, parties, and other gatherings. Its sandstone walls are full of mysterious names, initials, dates, and symbols.
It’s open year-round. It maintains its brewery history by offering drinks for visitors to purchase.
The University of Nebraska State Museum
This small on-campus museum is also known as Morrill Hall. It displays dinosaurs, minerals, Native American artifacts, and more. It also dedicates an entire level to Nebraska wildlife to preserve the natural history of the area.
Elephant Hall at the front of the museum has several prehistoric elephants on display, including the world’s largest articulated mammoth. The museum is open every day except Friday.
Admission is affordable, and it often offers free admission days throughout the year.
International Quilt Museum
Another unique museum can be found on the University of Nebraska campus. Even the outside resembles a quilt, with its glass windows, brick exterior, and glass-walled reception hall. It has the world’s largest quilt collection with over 3,000 items from over 30 countries, including China, India, Japan, and Central Asia.
The museum adds to its already extensive offerings by exhibiting quilts from other collections, such as when they showed off the private collection of Ken Burns in 2018.
One of their most famous pieces is the Reconciliation Quilt, created by Lucinda Ward Honstain in 1867 in Brooklyn, New York. The piece chronicled her life after the Civil War and held the record for the highest-selling quilt at auction in 1991.
If there’s a piece you love, you’ll want to see it quickly because preservation efforts mean they’re only put on display one year out of every 10. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, but you’ll need to check its hours and admission prices before you arrive as they can fluctuate.
Johnson Museum of the Odd
This is the place to go if you want a museum experience you’ll never forget.
It contains the variety of objects that Nebraska citizen Charlie Johnson has spent his lifetime gathering. He displays his many strange collections in his home. They include doll heads, plastic jack-o-lanterns, Betamax videocassettes, religious memorabilia, toy tops, miniature animals, and so much more.
If seeing this wall-to-wall collection of oddities sounds like one of the best things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska, be sure to get an appointment first. Charlie doesn’t allow just anyone into his home to see his collections.