Some quick trivia about all things Lincoln, to get us situated: Lincoln, Nebraska, is not the home of Abraham Lincoln, though it is named after our 16th president. Even though Illinois is the “Land of Lincoln,” Abraham Lincoln was actually born in Kentucky. Lincoln Logs were first conceived in Japan.
Lincoln is the home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, one of the most successful programs in college football. And even though the former president never called Lincoln home, he’s certainly present around town. Here's what to do and where two go while you're in town.
One of the best burgers in town isn’t shy about its reputation: the signature burger is called “Greatest Burger Ever,” and it comes topped with bacon, grilled onions, American cheese and “awesome sauce.”
If you want a more adventurous burger, try LeadBelly. The Raspberry Beret comes with jerked ginger peanut butter, jalapeno raspberry jam and candied bacon. With all the bars in Lincoln, you’re liable to overindulge -- so try the Hangover Helper, which comes with Bloody Mary ketchup and a fried egg on top.
About those bars … Duffy’s consistently ranks as one of the best college bars in the nation and features live karaoke, live music, comedy and the Fishbowl. What’s that, you ask? Well, a massive cocktail served in a fish bowl. Get a king-sized Alabama Slammer, Mai Tai or their signature Shark Water, which is the most intimidating name for a jumbo cocktail possible.
The next best thing to a ticket on game day. There are events for every Nebraska game, plus live music, whiskey, line dancing, and local meat from around the state.
One of the oldest venues in town, the ballroom features live big band and country/western music, drinks and dancing. If you don’t know how to dance, no worries -- they offer dance classes too.
This 50-year-old Lincoln institution houses 350 animals, from African Spurred Tortoise to White-Handed Gibbon. Visitors can hop on the Iron Horse Railroad, the full-size locomotive train tour of the animal kingdom and aviary. It may be a children’s zoo, but when you come face-to-face with a Humboldt Penguin or a Fennec Fox, you’re young at heart.
Just a quick ride from the zoo is Zoo Bar, a live music venue rocking out since 1973. With a distinct blues music flavor, Zoo Bar also hosts an annual outdoor music festival each summer featuring blues, country, rockabilly and more.
This Cajun joint has a few other locations in the Midwest, but the Lincoln location is probably the only place in town to get gator. Yes, actual alligator meat in the form of fried “gator fingers,” gator sautéed with mushrooms and Cajun cream sauce or the Electric Alligator cocktail (note: contains no gator meat). Head downstairs to the Starlite Lounge for a retro, 1950s drinking experience.
If the zoo is too safe for you, try hiking through Pioneer’s Park. The tallgrass prairie is a wildlife sanctuary, featuring woodlands, wetlands and water. You can share hiking trails with bison, elk and whitetail deer, if you’re looking for an authentic “home on the range” experience.
The museum houses a huge amount of fossilized vertebrates, including a world-class collection of elephant bones that explains why the museum is usually called Elephant Hall. If you prefer lasers to bones, check out the Mueller Planetarium for a trippy laser show.