Rambling around Lincoln, Nebraska

We are now pacing our movement to attend a big event that we signed up for several months ago, the Grand National Rally in Forest City, Iowa.  It will happen during the last week of July, so we have plenty of time to meander through two more states on our way.  Nebraska, the Cornhusker State, is our 42nd, and we had two planned stops – Lincoln and Omaha.  Being in the midwestern states in July, heat and humidity are obviously the order of the day.  Outdoor activities have been shortened and started very early, and air conditioning has become our friend.

The state capitol in Lincoln

When we learned that Lincoln, named after Abraham Lincoln, is the state capital of Nebraska, we made a visit to the capitol a priority.  Hey, we knew it would be air conditioned!  Besides, we’re beginning to appreciate state capitol buildings after experiencing the beautiful Kansas statehouse in Topeka.

Nebraska State Capitol
The Nebraska State Capitol – aka the Tower of the Plains

Nebraska’s story begins on the themed limestone exterior.  Carved across its four sides is a sculpture gallery of Nebraska’s foundation, history and heritage.

Nebraska State Capitol, South Entrance
The south facade’s bas-relief sculptures honor great documents in history

We were awestruck the moment we stepped in, and wondered if we were really in the capitol. Uncertain where to begin, we looked first at the mosaic ceilings, wall and floor, then the long hallway leading to the rotunda.

Nebraska State Capitol
Vestibule – floor mosaics represent cosmic energy.  The walls depict the pioneer’s arrival in the state
Nebraska State Capitol
Ceiling mosaics show agriculture and native animals

Inside and out, the beautiful architecture and design overflowed with images, symbolism and stories from across Nebraska.  Like other capitol buildings, art and sculpture are used to chronicle important historical events, influential people of the past and the state’s heritage.

Rotunda- Nebraska State Capitol
Rotunda floor – Mother Earth in the center with the surrounding circles representing earth, air, fire and water
Hall of Fame, Nebraska State Capitol
The Hall of Fame features influential and prominent Nebraskans

A guided tour would certainly have enhanced our understanding and appreciation of the many features we may have missed, but the overall design and theme that went into this building was quite amazing.  It took ten years to complete the construction, and when finished in 1932 the $9.8 million cost was all paid.  Quite impressive, considering this was obviously during the Great Depression.

The Parks

With hiking mostly on the back burner during these hot and humid days, we snuck in early morning walks at the Sunken Garden, the Pioneer Nature Trail and other paths around town. After those treks we hibernated inside Betsy and took showers with the AC in full blast mode the rest of the day.

The Sunken Garden is a Depression-era project built on an old neighborhood landfill site in the heart of Lincoln.  About 100 volunteers have supported the maintenance of the gardens since then, and they keep up with the yearly design changes for the annual flowers.  The residents are proud that the garden is listed as one of the “300 Best Gardens to Visit in the U.S.” by the National Geographic Guide to America’s Public Gardens.

The sunken garden, lincoln, nebraska
The Sunken Garden

The city has 125 parks where paths and trails abound, and we choose to check out the Pioneer’s Park Nature Center, one of the largest in the city.

Pioneers Park

On display along the prairie was the Hudson Cabin.  It was built by Thomas Jefferson Hudson in 1863, and was noted as being “the largest and grandest house and the only shingled roof, upon the whole site on Salt Creek” at that time.  In 1964 this cabin was found hidden inside a larger home during a remodeling project.  It was reconstructed and moved back to the Nature Center in 2010.

Hudson Cabin
The Hudson Cabin, “The largest and grandest house in in the area” in 1863

In the much larger expanse of the park we explored woodlands and wetlands, as well as a small area or prairie where colorful native wildflowers and grasses were on display:

Pioneers Park

And this resident American Elk (or Wapiti, Indian word for “white deer”) was taking a rest. Apparently, the last wild elk in Nebraska were killed in the early 1880’s.  This guy, with his velvety matured antlers, is found only on public and private reservations.

Elk – or Wapiti.  This guy is big!

Off we went on another walk across the grass for some more exercise.

What’s that on the back of Steve’s socks?
Hmm, what’s that all about?
Pioneers Nature Park
And a clever way to use planting pots…

Around Lincoln’s historic district

Finally, we did a bit of driving and walking around the city’s historic district.  The Haymarket District was once a place of dwellings and retail stores.  As the town grew in the 1870’s and ‘80’s, it succeeded in attracting railroads to the Salt Creek bottom lands.  Wholesale jobbing and manufacturing businesses began displacing the stores and houses.

Today, several large warehouses remained intact and are part of the National Historic Register after efforts to revive the neighborhood almost failed.  It’s a fun place to walk around now, with many restaurants and cool shops to explore.

Iron Horse Legacy
Iron Horse Legacy – a brick relief sculpture depicting Nebraska landscape, 1871-1872

Several restaurants, condos, hotels, pubs, coffee shops and bars are now housed after rehabilitation of the warehouses.  They serve the sports fans before and after events at nearby Pinnacle Arena and Memorial Stadium (home of the Nebraska Cornhusker’s football team), just a short walk away.

Pinnacle Arena, Lincoln, NE
Pinnacle Arena
Memorial Stadium
Memorial Stadium

Even though we tried to avoid the hottest parts of the day, we managed to adjust our time so we could get a taste of Lincoln and the surrounding areas.  But this heat and humidity is brutal!





  1. Hahahaha 😆 When I saw the first photo of Steve, I was thinking, “Hey, I thought he got rid of all those white socks” and then the second photo had Al and me laughing. Too funny!!!
    That capital building is gorgeous and I like the way you captured the hall of fame. On the 25th we start heading east and I’m already dreading the heat and humidity 🙂

  2. What a worthwhile stop! Gorgeous buildings and gardens to spend your day in, perfect!

    We’re pushing 90 this week in SD and now WY…but the humidity is probably not as bad as what you’re experiencing.

  3. Love this post, you continue to find interesting things in seemingly “less than” interesting places…. You wear those socks in style Steve, no matter what anyone says….

  4. Good one Steve 😉 Just curious the love for those crews minus a low ankle? Might say you’re pretty creative. 🙂 Drove thru Yankton…loved the terraced hills….but we hit mayfly season…all the time curious why rvs covered in dirt only to find out why. Ranger said close your mouth on the bike trails….

  5. Steve, that was way too cool! We got such a laugh out that:) I agree with Sue, you wear them with style:)

    What a beautiful capital building! The mosaics are wonderful and the relief carvings on the front are great.

    Gorgeous garden! I can see why it takes 100 volunteers to maintain it.

    Thanks for tour of Lincoln!

    • Steve loves his knee high socks… ha ha ha . These capitol buildings were on our route and we enjoyed touring them. Each has their own unique style of telling their state history. I can imagine how gorgeous it would be a few weeks from now, they were still planting the annuals when i got there.

  6. Wonderful tour. The capital is wonderful. Added to my Pinterest. Gorgeous gardens!
    You two are doing a great job of laying out a visit for us to the Midwest. Looking forward to the Omaha visit.

  7. We love touring capitol buildings and the midwest seems to have some of the most beautiful architecture. Really lovely gardens but I would certainly like to be touring them during cooler weather. Love the sock message Steve! Enjoy your rally.

  8. Lovely ramble, Mona Liza. Love the flower pot man. Is it Bill or Ben? (Maybe you didn’t get that kids’ series on TV when you were young. 🙂 ) The Elk is magnificent, and I loved the sock message.

  9. Always wondered why Winnebago has their rally in July in Iowa. We’ve never gone so we are looking forward to learning all about it. The statehouse is amazing. Looks like a cathedral. I can hardly believe they found that cabin, oops grand home, inside another house. Now that’s really something. We were in Nebraska in the fall at Scott’s Bluff National Monument and Fort Robinson State Park. I can really recommend them both highly. Not sure in the heat though. We’d be miserable if we weren’t up on the mountain top.

  10. I don’t feel quite so alone in the misery of hot temps as we are stuck here in Tucson for medical tests…misery does love company ya know! I am loving your pictures of the capital buildings MonaLisa…and would have enjoyed the stroll around the Sunken Gardens!

  11. Those mosaics in the capitol building are gorgeous! Your photos are wonderful, ML. The gardens are very beautiful, too. We were thinking to skip traveling in the midwest, but now we’re interested, thanks to you. But I think we’ll try to avoid mid-summer. 🙂

  12. I love the state building photos; that is a really beautiful building. Who knew! I would love to follow your tour through Lincoln, and Topeka. Next time we are out…

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