Lincoln has always been considered one of the best-kept secrets in the Midwest. Currently in the midst of the
largest period of growth in its history, Lincoln is building on its Top 10 standing for quality of life, safety and
environmental measures to present a city that’s affordable, accessible and most of all—thriving.
If you ask locals why they love Lincoln, you’ll probably hear that it’s “a great place to raise a family!” It’s a common sentiment for many reasons, not the least of which is the overabundance of family-friendly activities. Year round, there are of great options for making happy family memories in Lincoln. Whether you’re an outdoors enthusiast, a history buff, a music lover or just looking for an interesting and exciting place for the kids to burn off some energy, Lincoln has something for you.
Want to get ouside? Lincoln’s parks and trails system is first-rate, featuring over 6,000 acres of parks and natural land—125 parks and 131 miles of trails. The Sunken Gardens is a particularly beautifully designed little gem featuring thousands of colorful flowers and plants, two koi fish ponds water lilies and stunning art work. On the other end of the spectrum is Pioneers Park, a 668-acre nature preserve where, in addition to visiting the nature centers, miles of beautiful trails, sledding ramps and playground, you can actually see the buffalo roam (a herd of bison lives there year round!). Wilderness Park features 1,400 acres of nature for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Less rustic is Union Plaza, an urban park featuring trails, unique climbing structures and artwork leading up to Trago Park Sprayground.
During the spring and summer Nebraska Game & Parks organizes Family Fishing Nights throughout the Lincoln-area. Whether you are an avid fisherman or a beginner, it is a great way to spend time with the family. Rods and reels, as well as bait and fishing instruction, are available for free.
The Lincoln Children’s Zoo and Lincoln Children’s Museum are each nationally-recognized leaders in their fields, and are definitely local favorites. From April-October, the zoo features hands-on, up-close interaction with over 350 animals ranging from penguins to gibbons to goats and llamas. In 2019, the Zoo will open with four new amazing areas—a world-class giraffe feeding experience, an up-close tiger encounter, an indoor adventure where children can climb with monkeys, and a plaza with a playful stream. Of course, no visit to the zoo is complete without a ride on the zoo train!
For year-round indoor fun, build, dance, play, climb, create, sing, and laugh at the Lincoln Children’s Museum. Here you can be whatever and go wherever your imagination takes you! The Lincoln Children’s Museum offers three floors and 23,300 square feet of hands-on exhibits and imaginative programs that allow children and adults to discover the adventure of learning through play together.
Speaking of indoor fun, Morrill Hall is Lincoln’s very own natural history museum. This three-story facility on the University of Nebraska campus focuses on local natural history, including Archie, a 5,000 pound bronze mammoth sculpture. Home to one of the world’s two largest collections of mammoth fossils, Morrill Hall features interactive exhibits including a children’s room where kids can become archaeologists and dig for fossils.
The Nebraska State Capitol is also a great place for families to explore. Named one of the Seven Modern Architectural Wonders of the World by the American Institute of Architects, the highlight of any visit is a ride up to the 14th floor observation deck. You truly can see for miles and miles!
Lincoln is a particularly wonderful place for families in the fall. A visit to a local pumpkin patch is a unique experience. Roca Berry Farm is the largest local pumpkin patch, located just minutes south of Lincoln. Pumpkin picking, hay rack rides, haunted houses, a petting zoo, giant slides, a life-sized Candyland, tricycle races and train rides are just some of the activities—and that’s not even mentioning the apple cider donuts, caramel apples and other fall-inspired treats. On the other side of town, JK’s Pumpkin Patch is another family favorite with a corn maze, jump pad, combine slide, caramel apples kettle corn, and much more.
A robust outdoor music scene during the summer months gets families outside and dancing! Jazz in June brings nationally recognized artists to the lawn of the Sheldon Art Museum every Tuesday evening in June, the Lincoln Municipal Band brings its summer concert series to Antelope Park on Sunday evenings and beautiful Stransky Park is home to a Thursday evening concert series.
No matter the time of year, there is always something for families to do in Lincoln!