Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Lincoln, NE

  • Published 2022/11/26

The city of Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska and the seat of Lancaster County.

Before it became a full-fledged city, Lincoln was called the village of Lancaster back in 1859.

Despite being only the second largest city in Nebraska, Lincoln was picked as the capital of the state because many people felt that Omaha was too remote due to its location.

Lincoln is the state’s capital and is home to many tourist destinations, including historical attractions and areas that showcase the city’s diverse culture.

It’s also where you can find schools, such as the University of Nebraska, which is why many people consider it a “college town.”

Lincoln is also known to be a destination that has more parkland than many other cities, making it a great place to visit for outdoor enthusiasts.

Whether you’re into history, art, or the great outdoors, you’ll find something fun to do in this city without spending a dime!

Here are the 15 free things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska:

Walk around a Haven Filled with Captivating Flowers at the Sunken Gardens

Trail lined with flowers at the Sunken Gardens

Jenn1030 /

Step into an enchanting paradise filled with beautiful, blooming flowers, and lush greenery at the Sunken Gardens on D Street.

The Sunken Gardens is a popular destination because of all the stunning flowering plants and foliage you can find here.

This natural haven features a Healing Garden filled with white blossoms that will calm and relax you as well as a Perennial Garden where you can find incredibly beautiful hydrangeas and other sun-loving flowers.

Aside from this, the Sunken Gardens also has two ponds where you can observe koi fish and see beautiful water lilies.

Vibrant flowers at the Sunken Gardens

Hutsady /

With this facility’s beauty, you’d be surprised to know that this place used to be a neighborhood dumpsite.

Take a stroll and appreciate the serenity of observing all the stunning plants at the Sunken Gardens!

You can also walk the paved pathway, leading you to other beautiful locations on the premises.

Water lilies at the Sunken Gardens

bmr3n3 /

Remember Those Who Perished at the Nebraska State Holocaust Memorial

Pay homage to those who died during the Holocaust at the Nebraska State Holocaust Memorial.

Nestled within Wyuka Cemetery on O Street, the Nebraska Holocaust Memorial is dedicated to those who were murdered in a mass persecution known to be one of the most horrific events in modern history.

At the memorial, you can find a Wall of Remembrance where you can view images of people who died during the Holocaust, from infants and couples to whole families and groups.

Other plaques around the memorial will tell you more about all the tragic events that occurred during the Holocaust.

It’s important to make sure that the horrible ordeals in history stay in the past, so this place is a must-see to learn more about these tragic occurrences so that they can be avoided in the future.

Immerse Yourself in the Beauty of Nature at Pioneers Park Nature Center

The waters of Pioneers Park Nature Center

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Deepen your appreciation for the environment as you explore the trails and spot wildlife at Pioneers Park Nature Center!

Located on South Coddington, Pioneers Park Nature Center is a facility that serves as a wildlife sanctuary and an education center for those who want to learn more about caring for the environment.

Here, you can check out exhibits of unique animals, observe majestic avian creatures at the bird garden, and even enjoy the fragrance at the herb garden.

You can also explore the outdoor areas and follow the trails that go through the prairie.

Bison grazing at Pioneers Park Nature Center

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See all the local wildlife and the stunning views of the beautiful landscape at this center!

You can bring your kids here and spend quality time with them in the fun, natural play areas.

If you want a fun-filled yet educational day, this is the perfect place to go.

Enjoy the Fragrance and the Charm of the Blooming Flowers at Hamann Rose Garden

Take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city by immersing yourself in the beauty of Hamann Rose Garden.

Created during the 1940s, Hamann Rose Garden on 27th Street was once known to be the test garden where specialists observed if roses would thrive under the climate in the area.

When roses were named the Nation’s Flower in 1996, the state honored this by providing roses with a beautiful home within Lincoln.

You’ll see all the stunning roses in this garden while learning more about the plant.

With more than 123 types of roses, this garden is the perfect place for all rose enthusiasts!

You can also check out their Peony and Hydrangea collection when you roam around the garden.

Public artworks, sculptures, and a fountain within the park provide excellent photo opportunities.

Feast Your Eyes on Remarkable Artworks at the Sheldon Museum of Art

Exterior of the Sheldon Museum of Art

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

See stunning works of art by exceptional artists at the Sheldon Museum of Art.

This museum inside the University of Nebraska has been catering to the creative needs of faculty, staff, and students for over 50 years.

It has been serving as a space where people can engage and interact with art and one another.

Roam around this museum and check out different artworks, including paintings, photographs, and sculptures.

Ground of the Sheldon Museum of Art

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are also mixed media pieces here which will capture your attention.

Many artworks reflect issues on the environment and infrastructure, which will inspire you to reflect.

Marvel at all the gorgeous artworks at the Sheldon Museum of Art.

Interior of the Sheldon Museum of Art

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Have a Photoshoot Session at Hazel Abel Park

Enjoy a photoshoot session at the picturesque Hazel Abel Park!

This park on E Street is not only beautiful but also has a rich history.

It was built as a dedication to Hazel Abel by her loving daughter, Alice Abel, who donated the park’s site.

Hazel Abel is widely known as the first-ever woman elected from Nebraska to serve in the nation’s senate.

When she passed away in 1966, Alice made it her goal to honor the life and work of her mother, and thus the development of this park began.

Today, this gorgeous park is popular among individuals who want to take photos of nature.

Explore Hazel Abel Park and check out the decorative water features, flower gardens, and public art sculptures reminiscent of another era.

Pose by the sculptures near the beautiful flowers and take stunning photos!

You can even bring your kids because there’s a playground where they can run around.

Dive into the Political History of the State at the Nebraska State Capitol

Exterior of the Nebraska State Capitol

Randy Runtsch /

Nebraska State Capitol is one of the architectural wonders in the city.

It was built in 1932 and is described by many architects as a majestic architectural feat.

With its massive 400-foot tower, you can see this building on K Street from miles away.

Apart from being a must-see destination for architecture buffs, the Nebraska State Capitol also offers free tours where you can learn more about the state’s history.

Great hall of the Nebraska State Capitol

Nagel Photography /

Discover how Nebraska came to be from the knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff members who will guide you through the different areas inside the Capitol for free.

You can also head to the 14th floor and see unparalleled city views from the observation deck.

Discover the state’s history when you head to this striking Capitol building!

A chamber in the Nebraska State Capitol

Nagel Photography /

Pay Homage to the Brave Heroes of the Nation at the Veterans Memorial Garden

Remember the sacrifices numerous veterans have made for the nation when you visit the Veterans Memorial Garden.

Located on Veterans Memorial Drive, this garden is the perfect place to commemorate the lives of the brave heroes who served the country.

Here, you can explore and check out the memorials of service members who served in different departments, including those who worked in the Marine Corps and Special Forces.

You can also find memorials dedicated to those who fought in the wars, like Vietnam and the two World Wars.

There is even a memorial for the unsung K-9 heroes, who must also be remembered for how they helped the veterans in their own little way.

Take the time to appreciate the life and works of veterans by stopping by the Veterans Memorial Garden!

Take a Serene and Relaxing Stroll at Holmes Lake Park

The waters of Holmes Lake Park

Payton Spicer /

Unwind after a long day or week by taking a stroll around Holmes Lake Park.

This 269-acre park features a 110-acre lake, offering serene views.

You can also find ballfields, a golf course, and play areas within the park where you can play and bond with your kids.

If you get tired from walking around or playing with your kids, you can sit by the covered pavilion area and wait for the sun to set over the lake.

This lakeside park’s stunning views will help you relax and loosen up!

Bring your loved ones so you can spend quality time with them at Holmes Lake Park.

Gaze at Stars at the Hyde Observatory

Gaze up in wonder at the stars in the sky when you visit the Hyde Observatory.

If you want to learn more about astronomy and see stars up close, this is the place for you!

The Hyde Observatory is located on 70th Street and offers its visitors a chance to observe the heavenly bodies.

Here, you can pick among the three modern telescopes installed on the observation deck, depending on which star you want to focus on.

If you want to see the moon or nearby planets, use the high-power C14 telescope.

Meanwhile, if you want a clear view of the starry night, you can opt for the f/10 NexStar GPS-XLT Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.

Make sure to stop by this observatory on a Saturday night since it is the only day within the week that they are open to visitors!

See the Stunning Architecture of St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Exterior of St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Hanyou23, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Be amazed by the incredibly remarkable architecture of St. Mary’s Catholic Church!

Standing tall on K Street right across the Nebraska State Capitol is the beautiful St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

This church may not be at the top of your list regarding tourist attractions, but it’s a sight to behold if you find yourself near the area!

You’ll surely be in awe when you stand right in front of its majestic facade, which features a soaring steeple and a shorter, yet still elegant, tower.

Stained glass window in St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Nagel Photography /

Its white walls and dark roofing make it stand out beautifully in the neighborhood.

Step inside and look at all the gorgeous stained-glass windows adorning the interior.

These exquisite windows depict different stories from the Bible, including those about the life of Mary.

You can also find the grand organ of the church at its rear balcony, which is also a stunning sight because of the stained-glass window featuring angels using musical instruments.

Discover the History of Rolling Sports at the National Museum of Roller Skating

Skate through history as you check out the cool memorabilia and iconic photographs on display at the National Museum of Roller Skating.

Nestled along South Street, this museum showcases the history of roller skating through its interesting exhibits.

The museum was first opened to the public in 1982 and continues to offer its visitors an opportunity to truly understand roller skating as a sport.

Roam around the museum and check out its massive collection of artifacts related to the sport.

The roller skating objects you can find here date back to the early days of skating in the 19th century.

You can also find archives that contain details about iconic people and significant events in the history of roller skating.

Whether you enjoy roller skating yourself or love learning about history, the National Museum of Roller Skating is a must-visit!

Spend Quality Time with Your Kids at Antelope Park

A garden at Antelope Park

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Bond with your loved ones and spend a day having fun under the sun at Antelope Park.

At 27th Street, this park features a range of amenities that visitors of all ages can enjoy.

There are numerous gardens, a golf course, a baseball field, and even several trails that you can explore.

This park also features the biggest play area in the city!

Bring your kids to this park and enjoy spending quality time with them as you slide down the tube slides or run around at the playground.

If you get tired, you can rest by the picnic areas and grab a quick bite before playing again.

There are also public art pieces around Antelope Park where you can take pictures.

Appreciate Artworks at the Great Plains Art Museum

Lay your eyes on stunning artworks that reflect significant aspects of the Great Plains’ history and culture at the Great Plains Art Museum.

Located inside the University of Nebraska, the Great Plains Art Museum showcases works of art related to the studies done by those from the Center for Great Plains.

Here, you can check out art and literature that originate from the Great Plains region and deepen your appreciation for these works.

Explore the museum and see beautiful drawings, majestic bronze sculptures, and historic photographs.

There are also vintage books you can check out when roaming around the museum.

While all of the tours in this museum are free, guided tours may need to be requested ahead of time, so make sure to check out their website for instructions.

Explore the Governor’s Mansion

Exterior of the Governor’s Mansion

Paul Brady Photography /

Head to the Governor’s Mansion and discover its fascinating history!

First opened in 1958, this property on H Street serves as the official residence of the governor of Nebraska.

This home features 27 rooms, five bedrooms, four fireplaces, 12 bathrooms, and a spacious garage.

Explore this mansion’s 15,340 square feet of space and get a glimpse of how governors live!

Facade of the Governor’s Mansion

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here, you’ll be able to roam around and even learn about the lives of the past governors who once lived in the mansion.

The tour guides here are all friendly and happy to answer all your questions about the mansion.

Since the mansion is an operational building, schedule your tour ahead of time.

Final Thoughts

You can do many things in Lincoln, Nebraska, without breaking the bank.

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly activity or a place to dive into the area’s history, there’s an option for you.

Try these 15 free things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska, to make the most of your visit to the city!

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