|Lincoln is the capital city of Nebraska in the USA. |
Lincoln was founded in 1859 as the village of Lancaster. Renamed and made Nebraska's state capital in 1867, is the now the second-largest city in the state. Lincoln is Nebraska's center of government and higher education and is a regional retail and transportation center. Despite its size, it retains a friendly, "small town" feel.
There are several threads running through Lincoln's cultural composition. The university and state government have attracted many rural Nebraskans to the city over the years, reinforcing its small town feel. Its position as a college town also helps shape the city's political culture, which is somewhat more liberal than most of the rest of the state. The electorate is nearly evenly split between the Republican and Democratic parties. Once a very ethnically homogeneous city, Lincoln has become more diverse over the past 30 years, welcoming immigrants and refugees from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and sub-Saharan Africa.
There is a long-standing friendly rivalry with Omaha, 80 km (50 mi.) to the northeast.
Getting around Lincoln is a mixed-bag proposition. If you are planning on staying near the center of town, you probably won't need a rental. All major necessities except groceries are available in or near downtown.
Driving: Lincoln, despite its size, does not have any cross-town freeways or expressways. The city is laid out in a grid pattern; a handful of diagonal streets exists. Major through streets are generally located once per mile; there are generally 14 streets to the mile. Traffic can be heavy on major streets and in downtown during rush hour and on football Saturdays.
Buses: Lincoln's StarTran service runs on weekdays and Saturdays. Individual fares are $1.25 (have exact change)/seniors $0.60/trips in the downtown zone or on the Star Shuttle are $0.30. Monthly passes are $35; various discounts are available. Passes can be purchased at many businesses around town (primarily grocery stores and banks).
Hiking/Biking Trails: Lincoln's trail system extends throughout the city. A cyclist can travel across the city in an hour or less.
Nebraska State Capitol: 15th and K Streets (main entrance); phone: 402-471-0448. Open to the public year-round, the Nebraska State Capitol building was completed in 1932 and is an excellent example of Art Deco architecture, as well as a radical departure from the traditional design of government buildings. Extensive interior art provides a symbolic representation of the history of Nebraska, its government, and its people. The observation deck on the 14th floor provides views of the entire city. Free guided tours last 30 minutes (summer) or 55 minutes (for school groups).
• Fire Works. In the Haymarket district, wood-fired cooking. Everything I had there was fantastic, I particularly liked the BBQ Brisket sandwich, and they have an open WiFi AP. $13 per person.
• Lazlo's. Another restaurant owned by the same group that own Fireworks (discussed elsewhere), Lazlos has a menu varied between burgers and steaks. A burger is reasonable, usually around $8.00. Most notable from Lazlos is the Lavash, a thin, cracker-crust, pizza-like appetizer proper for 3 to 4 people to share. A choice of toppings goes on top of melted cheese, chicken, bacon, green-peppers, and mushrooms are excellent choices. Lazlos is located directly next to Fireworks in the haymarket. Lazlos is associated with the Empyrean Brewing Company, so they always have excellent micro-brews on tap.
• The Oven. A downtown Lincoln classic. Started in neighboring [Omaha], the Oven serves excellent Indian cuisine in a cozy, candle-lit atmosphere. Sunday night's there is live music. Located in the Haymarket.
• Thai Garden. Tucked away at the base of the National Research building, Thai Garden is one of Lincoln's several Thai restaurants. Most consider the atmosphere to be lacking, and a few don't consider the menu to the best either. Lunch is a particularly good time to stop in and save some money.
• Thai House. Located just north of 27th and Vine, Thai House serves excellent food at more than reasonable prices. The atmosphere is so-so, but the service, food, and prices are terrific.
• Maggie's. A delicious vegetarian/vegan wrap restaurant located in the historic haymarket. Serves lunch only.
• Bisonwitches. Located on 13th and 'P' street, Bisonwitches is an excellent place to go for a great sandwich, a breadbowl soup, and a drink. Very popular among college students, staffed nearly entirely by sorority girls from the nearby campus.
• La Paz. Consistently voted the best Mexican restaurant in town by listeners of KFOR radio. La Paz is located near Westfield Shopping town at 56th and 'O' St. Typically quite busy on the weekends, but some people have obviously found something worth waiting for.
• El Rancho. Authentic and terrific Mexican food, and recently voted among the Top Five restaurants in Lincoln. Located at 27th and O Streets. Everything there is good. Make sure to have the refried black beans, the tacos, pupusas, and horchata.
• Wasabi. Downtown Lincoln's only Japanese restaurant and sushi bar. The food is quite good, though service gets poor marks.
• D'Leon's. There are several locations of this drive-through Mexican restaurant. The quality and price of this authentic Mexican restaurant have made it a favorite of both local Hispanics and drunk undergraduates.
• The Watering Hole. The Watering Hole is a local treasure. Famed to have the "best wings in town" The Hole as it's frequently known, serves up a variety of traditional bar food on top of their very good wings. Those looking for a particularly tasty treat and willing to wait a little longer should order their wings "grilled". They take a little longer, but are well worth the wait. Check the specials board when you arrive as some days their wings are only $0.33 each.
The night life is a busy one. Lincoln has one of the longest main streets in the United States with a portion covered by local drinking establishments. Such highlights include "The Brick Top", "Harry's Wonder Bar" and many others. The scene on a weekend night is intense with many flocking to the area to blow off some steam.
• Ivana Cone. An absolutely excellent local ice-cream shop. Made fresh every day, showing up early is a must to get the more popular flavors before the run out. Directly south of Lazlos and Fireworks and directly east of the old train station, Ivana Cone is an excellent stop after dinner in the Haymarket. Ivonna Cone made me an ice-cream snob.
Most of the bars are located along Lincoln's main drag, 'O' street, which is located only a few blocks from the dormitories, fraternities and sororities of the University of Nebraska. Literally lined with bars, the best place to start for an evening of excitement is definitely the corner of 14th and 'O', which will be packed with college students during the academic year. Thursdays Fridays and Saturdays are the most busy, but there is always at least one bar that's busy -don't be afraid to wander around.
• Brothers. Although painfully corporate, this bar is often busy during the school year and is a good place to see all kinds of people. Beer specials range in prices, and often make drinking here very reasonable.
• Duffy's. Another local bar where you can get regional beers on tap. Good atmosphere overall, with a beer garden and a stage. Some nights, those when they have a band, the bar has a small cover. Particularly fun on St. Patrick's Day, this bar is well worth a visit if you're in town on around this time of year. Duffy's is located downtown on 'O' Street.
• Cliff's. A local legend. Cliff's is a local 'chill-bar' where, on Sundays, their famous kamikaze drinks are deeply-discounted. These drinks are what makes Cliff's particularly fun, strong-yet-delicious, it's probably not a good idea to drink more than three unless you are truly of an iron-will (and maybe a problem drinker). On weekdays Cliff's has dollar domestic draws and is an excellent after work or late afternoon hangout. Cliff's is located downtown, just east of downtown's only theatre. -As an aside, A student in one of my classes managed to drink at least one of every type of kamikaze during a calendar month. He averaged about three kamikazes a day, and now his picture is hanging on the wall.
• Empyrean Brewing Company. Perhaps not a bar so far, but certainly an excellent source of drinks. This local micro-brew is available all over the city and is quite good.
• The Starlite Lounge. Located beneath Buzzard Billy's restaurant, this dark hideaway serves up 1950's style cocktails with an atmosphere to match. Waitresses and bartenders dress the part. A great place to go for a unique drink.
• O'Rourke's. All bars in Lincoln must close at 1 a.m., and this little hole in the wall has the latest last call in town.
• Iguana's'. The typical college bar, though slightly more hip. Monday nights, patrons will be asked to pick which NFL team they think will win the night's game, and will be awarded free shots each time that team scores a touchdown. Attached to the back of Iguana's is a small cocktail bar called Voda which serves specialty martinis.
• The Watering Hole. "Hole" is probably the perfect word for this place, however, Thursday through Sunday they offer a penny-pitcher discount. First pitcher of beer is regular price, second pitcher is, you guess it, a penny.
• The Bricktop. A newer, hipper bar in Lincoln that doubles as a dance club. The most popular night of the week for the Bricktop is Sunday, when they host "80's Night'. Hundreds of people show up--often in costume--to enjoy dancing and drinks. There is often a line. On the weekends they spin various electronic music.
• The Q. A gay bar that is a wonderful place to find drag shows, amateur strip contests, and a good time dancing.
• The Zoo. A blues bar, with live music almost every day. Wednesday is jazz evening.
• The Brass Rail
• Bodega's Alley
• Main Street
• Duggan's Pub
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The primary route into the city is Interstate 80, with Interstate 180 serving as a downtown connector. US Highways 6, 34, 77 and Nebraska Highway 2 also run through Lincoln.
Lincoln Municipal Airport, 7 km (4 mi.) northwest of downtown, offers flights to Denver and Chicago (United) and Minneapolis, Detroit, and Memphis (Northwest). The airport is located just off I-80 Exit 399.
Amtrak serves Lincoln on its daily California Zephyr route between Chicago and the West Coast. The westbound train stops around 12:30 AM; the eastbound train stops around 4 AM. Located in the Haymarket district; 201 N. 7th St. Downtown hotels are within walking distance.
Two bus companies serve Lincoln: Arrow Stage Lines and Burlington Trailways. Lincoln's intercity bus station is located on the northwest corner of 11th St. & Cornhusker Hwy.
• Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, 1200 R St, +1 402 472-2461 - If there was only one thing you could do while visiting Lincoln, a visit to the Sheldon would be it. They have a large permanent collection, as well as traveling exhibits. They cover all periods and styles. They also sponsor various events, such as the "Let's Talk Art" lecture series. While you're there, pay attention to the architecture of this remarkable building. I've heard that when it was built in 1961-1963 it was the most expensive building in the U.S. on a square-foot basis. Backpack's aren't allowed, but there's a rack in front to hang your coat and/or backpack.
• Lincoln's Bars If you're only spending an evening in Lincoln (which is probably long enough) you should check out one of the many bars south of UNL's city campus. See the listing below for details.
• Haymarket Park Haymarket parks hosts the University of Nebraska Baseball Team and a rookie league team known as The Saltdogs. The Saltdog's games rarely sell out, but Nebraska's games have been starting to sell out. The Nebraska games are well recommended and have a great family atmosphere. UNL students get free admission to regular season Nebraska games.
The following locations provide free WiFi Internet Access:
• The Mill Coffee Shop in the Haymarket district.
• Fireworks restaurant in the Haymarket district.
• The Coffee House on 13th and 'P' Street
• Duffy's Bar on 'O' Street
• Brother's Bar on 'O' Street
Although there are no 'internet cafes' in Lincoln, you can often find free wired internet. Check on campus in the Union you can often find open computers for use (technically only for students).
• City of Lincoln & Lancaster County
• Lincoln Journal Star