Lincoln, Nebraska, the state capital, attracts more than 1 million visitors each year. Tourists flock to the city’s many parks, museums, restaurants, bars, specialty shops, art galleries, booksellers and more.
The State Capitol is the ideal place to begin a tour of Lincoln’s attractions and learn Nebraska’s story. The interior tells Nebraska’s history through carvings, mosaics, paintings, sculpture, inscriptions and inlaid wood. Constructed between 1922 and 1932 at a cost of just under $10 million, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It is home to the only non-partisan one-house state legislature in the United States.
The Nebraska Governor's Residence is located just south of the Capitol. The home was built in 1957 in the Colonial-style. The home of Nebraska’s first family features a doll collection of the state’s first ladies in their inaugural gowns. A silver service from the battleship U.S.S. Nebraska, needlepoint chair cushions, custom woven carpets and elegant reception rooms highlight the home.
Fairview, the home of William Jennings Bryan, is open to visitors. Bryan served two terms in Congress, was U.S. Secretary of State and was the Democratic nominee for president in 1896, 1900 and 1908. His residence has been restored to its early 1900s grandeur. The house that once sat atop a hill and offered a “fair view” of the capital and its adjacent farms has been incorporated into the BryanLGH Medical Center campus.
An unusual museum is the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Museum. Here’s the background: In 1764, Russian Czarina Catherine the Great invited German natives to settle along the Volga River. Many responded because of the promises made to them, but, by 1870, the promises went unfulfilled or were revoked, prompting a migration. The Germans from Russia were attracted to Lincoln and the Great Plains because of the climate and the agricultural societies. By 1914, more than one-third of Lincoln's population was made up of these immigrants and their descendants. This museum is dedicated to preserving their culture and houses the international society offices, archives and displays, including a summer kitchen, all-faiths chapel, store and blacksmith shop. A statue depicting the typical German-Russian immigrant family as they arrived in the Americas is located at the front of the museum.
For fun, consider a visit to Historic Haymarket, a neighborhood of restaurants, shopping and nightspots located among restored turn-of-the-century warehouses. Antique shops, art galleries and the first microbrewery in Nebraska draw visitors. The name comes from the original market square of 1867 where wagons, camping equipment and hay were bought and sold.
The spirit of the 1800s flows in Iron Horse Park, located on the north side of the historic Burlington railroad depot. A three-dimensional brick mural, “Iron Horse Legacy,” shows old locomotive Number 710 pulling the first train into Lincoln on July 4, 1870. The park also includes a restored CB&Q steam engine built in the Havelock shops, an 1890s water tower fountain and reflecting pool, and a railroad-themed children’s play area.
The Lincoln Children's Museum features over 40 exhibits including a three-story apple tree, full-size airplane, kid-size prairie dog tunnels, lunar lander, Nebraska Cornhusker sports center, fire department and tot town.