Lincoln was founded in 1859 as the village of Lancaster. Renamed and made Nebraska's state capital in 1867, it's the second-largest city in the state. As such, it's the state's center of government and higher education and is a regional transportation center. Even with a population of 240,000, it retains a friendly, "small town" feel.
There are several threads running through Lincoln's cultural composition. The university and state government have attracted many rural Nebraskans to the city over the years, reinforcing its small town feel. Its position as a college town also helps shape the city's political culture, which is somewhat more liberal than most of the rest of the state. Once a very ethnically homogeneous city, it has become more diverse since the 1980s, welcoming immigrants and refugees from various parts of the globe.
There is a long-standing friendly rivalry with Omaha, 57 mi (92 km) to the northeast.
Indoor work sites are smoke-free in Lincoln, so you'll be able to enjoy smoke-free restaurants and bars.
The primary route into the city is I-80, with I-180 serving as a downtown connector. US Highways 6, 34, 77 and Nebraska Hwy 2 also run through Lincoln.
- 1 Lincoln Municipal Airport (LNK IATA) (just off I-80 Exit 399, 4 mi (7 km) northwest of downtown). Offers (United) flights to Denver and Chicago and (Delta) flights Minneapolis, Detroit.
It is often cheaper to fly into Eppley Airfield Airport (OMA IATA) in Omaha, and hop onto a shuttle from there to Lincoln where it makes stops at some of the major hotels. For shuttle information see #By shuttle.
Amtrak serves Lincoln on its daily California Zephyr route between Chicago and the West Coast. Westbound train stops around midnight; eastbound train stops around 3:30AM. Trains no longer arrive at the historical railway station in Haymarket district, instead they now call at the much less grandiose 2 Lincoln Amtrak station on 277 Pinnacle Arena Drive. Downtown is within walking distance, just a few blocks to the east.
Two bus companies serve Lincoln: Arrow Stage Lines and Burlington Trailways. Lincoln's intercity bus station is southeast of 11th St and Cornhusker Hwy.
- , ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Formerly Eppley Express. Provides limited shuttle service between Lincoln and several Nebraska cities including Omaha, Kearney, Grand Island, Hastings and York. Service is limited to specific days and times depending upon your destination. Reservations available on-line.
- , ☏ . Provides limited shuttle service between Omaha and Lincoln including their respective airports.
Getting around Lincoln is a mixed-bag proposition. If you are planning on staying near the center of town, you probably won't need a rental. All major necessities except groceries are available in or near downtown.
Lincoln does not have any crosstown freeways or expressways. The city is laid out in a grid pattern; a handful of diagonal streets exist. Major through streets are generally located once per mile; there are generally 14 streets to the mile. Traffic can be heavy on major streets and in downtown during rush hour and on football Saturdays.
StarTran service runs on weekdays and Saturdays (but only until 6:30PM). Individual fares are $1.75 (have exact change)/seniors $0.85/trips in the downtown zone or on the Star Shuttle are $0.25. Monthly passes are $45; various discounts are available. Passes can be purchased at many businesses around town (primarily grocery stores and banks).
Lincoln's trail system extends throughout the city. A cyclist can travel across the city in an hour or less. Bike rentals at Monkeywrench Cycles, downtown (1225 P St) For a map of bike trails visit .
- 1 Nebraska State Capitol, 1445 K St, ☏ . The state legislature of Nebraska is unique in that it is the only one in in the US that is unicameral and nonpartisan. Open to the public year-round, the building was completed in 1932 and is an excellent example of Art Deco architecture, as well as a radical departure from the traditional design of government buildings. Extensive interior art provides a symbolic representation of the history of Nebraska, its government, and its people. The observation deck on the 14th floor provides views of the entire city. Guided tours last 30 min (summer) or 55 min (for school groups). Free.
- 2 Fairview, 4900 Sumner St. Home of U.S. Congressman and three-time presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan, from 1902-1922.
- 3 Sheldon Museum of Art, 1200 R St, ☏ . Large permanent collection as well as traveling exhibits. Collection is primarily American modernist, but the Sheldon's exhibitions and acquisitions are of contemporary art. When it was built during 1961-1963, it was rumored to be the most expensive building in the U.S. on a square-foot basis. Free, are lectures.
- 4 Sunken Gardens, 27th and Capitol Pkwy. Pride and joy of citizens since its completion in 1931. Feature a waterfall, several fish ponds and terraces of flora and fauna. Listed in the "300 Best Gardens to Visit in the U.S. and Canada" in the National Geographic Guide to Public Gardens.
- 5 Lincoln Children's Zoo, 1222 S 27th St (Get off 1-80 on 27th Street and go South to three blocks south of Capitol Parkway). The idea for the zoo began in 1959 with Arnott Folsom, who wanted to create a place for children to interact with nature. The zoo was opened in 1965, and today is home to over 350 animals, more than 40 of which are endangered. Nearly 200,000 people attend the zoo each year, making it the third most attended arts and science attraction in Nebraska.
- 6 University of Nebraska State Museum, ☏ .
- 7 International Quilt Study Center & Museum, ☏ . The largest public collection of quilts in the world.
- 8 Great Plains Art Museum, 1155 Q St (UNL's City Campus, Hewit Place building), ☏ .
Lied Center for Performing Arts (pronounced "Leed"), The Haymarket Theatre, or the UNL schools of Music, Theatre, and Film have performances year-round. During the summer, see the Flatwater Shakespeare Company at Wyuka cemetery, musicals at the Pinewood Bowl, classical performances at the Meadowlark Music Festival, or professional theater at Nebraska Repertory Theatre.
The Sheldon is the largest gallery in town, but to get a look at the work of local artists, be sure to check out the downtown art galleries. By far the most fun time to do this is the evening of the first Friday of every month, when the galleries put up new work. New art is usually accompanied by food, drinks, and sometimes live music.
Music groups that perform all year long include the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra and the Nebraska Jazz orchestra. Some of the best classical music performances can be heard at the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery.
- Jazz in June (outdoors behind Sheldon Art Gallery). Free.
- Nexus Live Music Festival, 8th and 0 Sts (in front of Box Awesome downtown). Electronic music, art and dance event.
Try Pioneers Park or Wilderness Park for hiking. Most of these are linked together via the bike trails. Some parks are managed by the University, like Nine Mile Prairie, or Spring Creek Prairie, but these are located a short drive outside of town.
- 1 Pioneers Park. Has hiking trails, and some nature centers which are great for kids.
- 2 Haymarket Park. Hosts the Nebraska Cornhuskers (University of Nebraska) baseball team and an independent minor league team known as the Saltdogs. Tickets are typically no problem to obtain. University games are family-friendly. UNL students get free admission to regular season university games.
- 3 Memorial Stadium (The Sea of Red), 600 Stadium Dr. The town practically shuts down on game days, and the stadium (which seats over 90,000) becomes the 3rd largest "city" in the entire state.
- 4 Pinnacle Bank Arena (PBA, The Vault), 400 Pinnacle Arena Dr, ☏ . Also part of the Haymarket District, this is the city's main venue for indoor sports and major concerts. Most notably, it's home to Cornhuskers men's and women's basketball.
- Lazlo's Brewery Tour (Haymarket district downtown). Before 7PM. Empyrean Brewing Company brewery tour. Free.
Lincoln offers a wide variety of shopping experiences.
- A Novel Idea Bookstore, 118 North 14th St. Lincoln's treasured store for rare and out-of-print books. Featuring the lovable company of Padric & Eddy - the store's feline staff - who will escort browsers through the bookshelves.
- 1 Gateway Mall, 6100 O Street (exit Hwy 34 at North 64th), ☏ . Find Dillard's, Sears, Younkers and JCPenney department stores plus more than 10 restaurants and 100 stores in Gateway Mall.
Sandwiches, soups and pizzaEdit
- Bread and Cup, 8th and S Sts (Haymarket). Motto is 'simple food' and foods made from scratch and very fresh.
- Buzzard Billy's (2 locations, 1 in Haymarket). Cajun style food. Thursday is "Crappy Beer Night" with $1.50 pints or $1.25 cans and discounted appetizers. Try the chicken quesadilla.
- Cafe Italia, S St. Authentic Italian pannini sandwiches. No longer open on Friday nights for dinner. Great atmosphere.
- Fireworks, 84th and Old Cheney. Wood-fired cooking. BBQ brisket sandwich and they have an open WiFi AP. $10-15.
- Grateful Bread Freakbeat Vegetarian. Try the soup. They also have gourmet macaroni and cheese and sandwiches. $5-7.
- Lazlo's. Menu varies between burgers and steaks. Lavosh, a thin, cracker-crust, pizza-like appetizer proper for 3-4 people. A choice of toppings goes on top of melted cheese, chicken, bacon, green peppers, and mushrooms are excellent choices. Associated with the Empyrean Brewing Company so they always have excellent microbrews. $8.
- M&N Sandwich Shop, 27th and Randolph Sts (near South). A self-proclaimed "Beef Eater's Delight," M&N serves fantastic Chicago style roast beef sandwiches. Their Italian beef & pastrami was voted Lincoln's best sandwich by the Lincoln Journal Star ten consecutive years.
- Maggie's. Vegetarian/vegan wrap restaurant. Try the vegan muffins.
- Valentino's, Various locations. Voted Lincoln Best pizza for over 20 years. A known Nebraska pizzeria and buffet for over 50 years.
- The Watering Hole (The Hole). Famed to have the "best wings in town", serves up a variety of traditional bar food on top of their wings. Those willing to wait a little longer should order their wings grilled. Check the specials board as some days wings are $0.33.
- Yia Yia's Pizza, 1423 O St. Buy a pizza or order by the slice with some of the most original toppings you'll find in the state. Atmosphere, hip music, and a truly enormous bottled beer selection. 2 pool tables are also available in the back.
- D'Leon's, 13th & South (City-wide). D'Leon's has grown from 1 Lincoln location to 6 (West 22nd & West O, 27th & Orchard, 48th & Y, 13th & South, 27th & F, 14th & Pine Lake) in the past 5 years entirely from word of mouth, which should give you an idea of how good their food is. Authentic Mexican, faily cheap, fairly fast. Try the beef tacos, Chile Relleno burrito (vegetarian), Green chile burrito, Carnitas burrito, and of course the Lincoln burrito (breakfast burrito).
- El Potrero (Haymarket). Casual. Big meals for good deals, and an endless supply of chips and dip.
- El Rancho, 27th and O Sts. Authentic Mexican food. Make sure to have the refried black beans, tacos, pupusas, and horchata.
- La Mexicana, 17th and P Sts (downtown). Authentic Mexican food served in the back of a Mexican grocery store.
- La Paz, 56th and O Sts (near Westfield Gateway Mall). Consistently voted the best Mexican restaurant in town by listeners of KFOR radio. Typically quite busy on the weekends.
- OSO Burrito, Centennial Mall and O St. M-Sa ?-10PM. Made in a way to allow you to taste all the ingredients together. Vegetarian options as well. They have mini burritos for a smaller appetite. $5.
- Taqueria El Rey, 27th and O Sts. Variety of Mexican food. Try the "tacos al pastor" (seasoned pork). $1.50.
- Blue Orchid (downtown). Thai food with a few nontraditional creations. Atmosphere and cocktails. $10-$15.
- Dish, 11th and O Sts (downtown). lunch/dinner. Eclectic, creative food (South American, Pan-Asian, Med influences) and wine list. Chef/Owner run. There's some serious craftsmanship in the back of the house.
- Ivanna Cone (S of Lazlos and E of old train station in the Haymarket). Made fresh daily, showing up early is a must to get the more popular flavors before the run out.
- The Oven (Haymarket). A downtown classic started in neighboring Omaha, serves Indian cuisine in a cozy, candle-lit atmosphere. Sunday nights has live music. The Oven has a second location in east Lincoln at the northeast corner of 70th and Pioneers.
- Pho Nguyenn, N 27th. Try the Vietnamese Noodle Soup.
- Taj Mahal, 56th and Old Cheney. Small space known for the food. Great place to take a date.
- Thai House, N of 27th and Vine. More known for the food than anything else.
Largely due to the university, there is much night life to be found (bars now can close at 2AM). O Street is just a few blocks away from popular student housing and is also one of the longest main streets in the U.S. with a portion covered by local drinking establishments, most in the downtown areas between 12th and 16th Sts. The local music scene is also expansive with live bands playing at many bars in the downtown area.
- Indigo Bridge, 701 P Street in the Creamery Building. Serves Cultiva Coffee and has a bookstore.
- The Bar, 17th and P Sts. A popular college bar. Known for a nice outdoor area and a late last call.
- Barrymore's, alley between 13th and 14th Sts. A little bit off the beaten path, offers a more sophisticated place for a drink. Great atmosphere, directly behind the stage of the Rococo theatre, a bit of a speakeasy with the old theatrical fly system still abound. Serves a variety of martinis and has a nice decor with incredibly high ceilings.
- Cliff's (downtown, east of The Watering Hole). A 'chill-bar' legend. Sundays have fun kamikaze drinks discounted, strong-yet-delicious, and it's not a good idea to drink more than 3 unless you are truly of an iron-will.
- Duffy's, 14th and O Sts (downtown). Regional beers on tap. Has a beer garden and a stage. Fish bowls are great to share with friends. Their stage has been graced by acts from Nirvana to 311. Popular on St. Patrick's Day. Free amateur comedy workshop on Monday nights.
- Iguana's. College bar where on Monday nights one can pick an NFL team they think will win, and awarded free shots each time that team scores. Attached to the back is a small cocktail bar, Voda, which serves specialty martinis.
- Jake's, SW corner 14th & O. Jake's features the best tap in Lincoln as well as the largest selection of fine whiskey/scotch/bourbon. Specializing in fine beers and liquors, Jake's has a handsome selection of 18 draught local/regional, micro, and import brews that you cannot find anywhere else in town on tap. Also a smoke shop and a cigar bar, you can buy tobacco, cigars, and offsale beer/liquor, and smoke cigars inside the bar.
- Main Street. Big frat and Sorority crowd. Drink specials every night.
- The Q. Gay bar with drag shows, amateur strip contests, and dancing.
- The Zoo. Live blues almost every day, jazz on Wednesdays.
- 1867, 101 North 14th Street #6, ☏ . 1PM–2AM. Local bar and event venue that has dozens of local breweries on tap. Board games and video games are available. Also a patio area with backyard games.
- The Brass Rail. Voted one of the best college bars by Playboy a while back, this bar is usually full of football players and sorority girls. Great place to go if you are dressed up and want to go dancing.
- The Bricktop (Now Closed). Doubles as a dance club. Sundays are most popular as it's "80s Night'. Hundreds of people show up in '80s garb. There is often a line. On the weekends they spin various electronic music.
- The Downtown, O St. Place to go to dance to urban music.
- Sur Tango (P St near 13th St). Salsa and Latin music on Th, Sa and Hip Hop other days.
- Pla Mor Ballroom (6600 West O St). Popular among college students for country dancing on Sunday nights.
- The Q - a popular dance club for 18+. This is a gay bar, so be prepared for some fabulous Drag Queens and lots of Lady Gaga! Every Thursday night they host Amateur strip night, a night when straight students from UNL come to the Q in droves for a good show and good dancing.
- The Alley (off of O St). Serves beer in mason jars. Good bands too.
- Bodega's Alley, O St. Considered a hippie bar. Good music and laid back atmosphere.
- Duggan's Pub (off of O St). Bar to sit down and listen to local music.
- O'Rourke's. Hole in the wall has the latest last call in town.
- The Starlite Lounge (beneath Buzzard Billy's). Dark hideaway, 1950s theme. A great place to go for a unique drink.
The following locations provide free WiFi Internet Access:
- Scooters Coffee House on 84th and Van Dorn
- The Mill Coffee Shop in the Haymarket district.
- Lazlo's Brewery & Grill restaurant in the Haymarket district.
- The Coffee House on 13th and P St
- Duffy's Bar on O St
- Brother's Bar on O St
- Cliff's Lounge 1323 O St
- Cici's Pizza on North 27th St
- The Bricktop at 1427 O St
- Bagels 'n' Joe at S. 48th and Old Cheney
- FireWorks Restaurant at S. 86th Dr and Old Cheney
- Lincoln City Libraries, all locations
- Foundation Garden, behind the Foundation Center, 215 Centennial Mall South, in downtown Lincoln
- Indigo Bridge Bookstore, located in the Creamery Building in the Haymarket on 7th and P Street, Suite 102
- There are computer areas in Love Library on the University of Nebraska city campus and in CYT Library on East Campus which have limited public computers. A variety of software -- including Microsoft productivity software -- is available on those labs.
- Lincoln City Libraries--all locations have access with a guest pass. Show driver's license to get guest day pass.
- Although there are no 'internet cafes' in Lincoln, you can often find free wired internet. Check on campus in the Union you can often find open computers for use (technically only for students).
- University of Nebraska at Lincoln
- Southeast Community College
- Nebraska Wesleyan University
- Union College
- Kaplan University
- College of Hair Design