When the temperatures are frigid and the snow is piled up, you might think you’re set up for days of cabin fever. However, there are great places in and around Lincoln that offer indoor and outdoor winter activities. Check out these nearby attractions to get out of the house.
- Ice Skating at the Railyard
- Sledding at Local Parks
- Tour the State Capitol
- Cross Country Skiing
- Enjoy nature at the Lauritzen Gardens
- Expand your mind at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum
- Go wild at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
- Drive around and see the lights in Omaha
- Eat, drink, and laugh at Omaha Funny Bone
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Ice Skating at the Railyard
The Railyard Ice Rink is a seasonal outdoor ice skating rink that has become a special wintertime tradition. Come with your family and friends to skate and enjoy a hot beverage or a bite to eat from any of the Public Market or Railyard businesses.
Admission is free for all ages. Every skater must check in at the ice rinkskate hut to sign a waiver of liability and receive a wristband before entering the rink. Parents/legal guardians must sign for children under 18.
Open seven days a week through mid-February, The Railyard Ice Rink offers 4,200 square feet of ice. One of the largest in Nebraska, it’s open to people of all ages with free admission. Bring your own skates, or rent a pair from the rink. If you don’t feel like getting on the ice, bring lawn chairs and blankets to watch around the rink, or venture into the Public Market for hot cocoa and delicious food.
Sledding at Local Parks
Sledding can be fun at any age. Gather some friends and hit the hills for downhill adventures this winter. There are several public parks in Lincoln that sled enthusiasts call their favorite. Holmes Lake Park offers some of the best hills for sledding. If you don’t have a sled of your own, head to Mahoney State Park. Toboggan rentals are available with your choice of several sledding hills.
You may have to hunt a little bit, but there are plenty of hills near East High School and Seacrest Field that are perfect for sledding! While the hills aren’t particularly steep, they are still a ton of fun and will get you warmed up for a full day of sledding steeper hills around Lincoln.
Southeast High School
Between the parking lot on the west side of 40th street and the football field, you’ll find Southeast High School’s premier hill that is perfect for sledding. Because this hill isn’t as well known as some of the others on this list, you’ll have it mostly to yourself!
Mahoney State Park
Mahoney State Park turns into a wonderland during the winter months, so you’ll see it pop up a couple of times on this list. Sledding at the park is especially fun and while you have to pay a small fee to get inside, there are several hills for you to have the time of your life on. Plus, they offer sled and toboggan rentals so all you have to bring is warm clothing and yourself!
Arnold Heights Park
Located on the west side of the Lincoln Airport, you can watch planes take off and land while you sled down Turner Hill, one of the tallest hills in Lincoln! For younger children, the southeast side of the hill boasts a fairly gentle slope down to the schoolyard below.
The “Choo Choo Hill” at Pioneers Park is one of the most popular hills in Lincoln — and for good reason. It offers actual toboggan ramps, which give you incredible speed even before you hit the surface of the hill. And if the gates are unlocked, Pioneers Park’s amphitheater is a prime location for ice sledding!
Holmes Lake Park
Holmes Lake Park is one of the best spots in Lincoln to sled. The slop on the west side of the lake is simply amazing for sledding. In snowy conditions, children and adults of all ages can slide down at full speed!
Tour the State Capitol
Spend the afternoon learning about the state when you take a free guided tour of the State Capitol. While expanding your education on the state’s rich history, appreciate the intricate mosaics and carvings throughout the building’s stunning architecture.
The Nebraska State Capitol is the seat of government for the U.S. State of Nebraska and is located in downtown Lincoln. It was designed by New York architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in 1920 and was constructed of Indiana limestone from 1922 to 1932. The capitol houses the primary executive and judicial offices of Nebraska and is home to the Nebraska Legislature—the only state unicameral legislature in the United States.
The structure is anchored by a three-story, 437-foot (133 m) square base. This square base houses offices most frequently visited by the public. The second floor (main floor) is home to the office of the Governor of Nebraska, the Nebraska Supreme Court, the Nebraska Court of Appeals, and the Nebraska Legislature.
From the center of the base, a tower rises 362 feet (110 m), crowned by a gold-tiled dome. The finial—The Sower and its pedestal—add an additional 32 feet (9.8 m) to the building’s height. Common measurements list the capitol at 400 feet (120 m), making it the second-tallest U.S. statehouse, surpassed only by the 450-foot (140 m) Louisiana State Capitol.
Goodhue originally envisioned much of the tower to house the collections of the Nebraska State Library, and he planned for each of the 17-foot (5.2 m) tower floors to include glass-floored stacks for book storage. As early as November 1920, however, Goodhue indicated that the tower could serve any purpose, including office space. By September 1925, the Capitol Commission decided that the tower should be built for office space. Tower floors continue to house various offices today.
In total, there are 15 stories in the capitol (three mezzanines also exist within the tower between the 3rd and 4th floors). Memorial Chamber on the 14th floor—the highest publicly accessible level—has four observation decks that offer views of Lincoln from 245 feet (75 m) above the ground.
Lincoln Municipal Code places height restrictions on structures within the designated Capitol Environs District. This code helps to maintain the capitol’s title as the tallest building in Lincoln. The capitol held the title of tallest building in Nebraska until 1969 with the completion of the 478-foot (146 m) Woodmen Tower in downtown Omaha. With the completion of Omaha’s 634-foot (193 m) First National Bank Tower in 2002, the capitol became the third-tallest building in Nebraska.
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Cross Country Skiing
Experience the winter wonderland of Nebraska forests when you hit the Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail with a pair of skis. Formerly the historic Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, the Cowboy Trail offers over 300 miles of Nebraska’s most beautiful winter scenery.
Enjoy nature at the Lauritzen Gardens
The Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha is a wonderful place to visit, even during the winter months. They keep the schedule booked year-round with exciting events so you can enjoy a fun day out with tropical temperatures and plants anytime. The Lauritzen Gardens features a 10,000 square-foot “tropical house” with vibrant flowers, waterfalls and a pond, as well as a 5,300-square-foot “temperate house,” which is an architectural feat. Additionally, visit their large indoor gallery for varying floral displays and special events, such as a holiday poinsettia show.
What is a botanical garden?
The first botanical garden was developed in 1545 in Padua, Italy, as a “living herbal” (or encyclopedia) of medicinal plants. More recently, the western world has used botanical gardens for purposes ranging from medicine and colonial expansion to plant relationship studies, experimental gardens and genetic protection.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines botanical garden as:
A place where a wide variety of plants are cultivated for scientific, educational and ornamental purposes, often including a library, a herbarium and greenhouses; an arboretum.
As a young institution, Lauritzen Gardens is currently an educational display garden with its scientific mission yet to be defined. Gained from a visit to Lauritzen Gardens today are tranquility, appreciation of nature’s beauty and wonder, inspiration for visitors’ own gardens and the pleasure of watching the seasons change and garden spaces evolve through time. In the future, conservation, preservation and the environment will be increasingly emphasized, and research will be introduced as the institution matures.
Botanical gardens teach that nature provides:
-clean air and water
-A botanical garden is not a:
Expand your mind at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum
The SAC Aerospace Museum in Ashland is home to over 300,000 square feet of exhibits that will inspire and entertain you all the way through the cold months. Get up close to iconic Cold War aircrafts or check out the collection of space artifacts brought back by Nebraska’s own astronaut, Clayton Anderson. If you’re feeling more adventurous, take a ride in the flight simulator or catch an eye-popping show at the planetarium. The SAC Aerospace Museum also hosts many special events and camps through the winter.
Hours & General Admission
28210 West Park Highway
Ashland, NE 68003
Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., 7 Days a Week
Open 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve
Closed: New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas
Senior Citizens: $11.00
Active/Retired/Veteran Military: $11.00 (with valid military ID)
Children: $6.00 (Ages 4 – 12) / Free for Children Aged 3 & Under
Prices subject to tax.
The Museum is handicap accessible. Limited electric scooters are available to rent for $8.00 or provide push wheelchairs for free.
Parking is free for guests.
Go wild at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
This Omaha zoo isn’t just for the summer months. Thanks to its numerous indoor exhibits, such as a world-class aquarium, indoor rainforest, desert dome, and butterfly house, there is plenty to do and see in the winter months too. Short on time? You can also catch a show at the Lozier IMAX theater located here as well.
Explore the natural rainforest environment as you walk through America’s largest indoor rainforest, the Lied Jungle. Inside this exhibit you will hear waterfalls crashing, see gibbons swinging and feel the tropical environment surround you.
Monkeys, tapirs, macaws and pygmy hippos are just a few of the animals you will see in the Lied Jungle. This exhibit showcases rainforests from South America, Asia and Africa.
Built in the rediscovered Riverview Park public swimming pool, Owen Sea Lion Pavilion is home to California sea lions who are on display year round. Catch the sea lions lounging in the sunlight, swimming or participating in training with the keepers. A new Pacific Northwest-inspired habitat for the sea lions, Owen Sea Lion Shores, is scheduled to open fall 2020.
Garden of the Senses is a sensory garden for everyone! Let your senses go wild as you walk through the beautiful garden filled with over 250 different species of herbs, perennials and trees, along with blankets of roses and flowers. Sit back and hear the chirping of birds, listen to the fountains, splash in the water or take advantage of the great photo opportunities next to unique bronze sculptures.
The Berniece Grewcock Butterfly and Insect Pavilion is a total immersion exhibit located next door to the Scott Aquarium. Viewed from the sky, the exhibit resembles a winged insect. The butterfly conservatory features waterfalls, an Amazon water lily pool, exquisite butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. The insect pavilion is home to ants, spiders, scorpions, walking sticks, mantids, centipedes, roaches, beetles and a host of other amazing creatures.
Drive around and see the lights in Omaha
Visiting downtown Omaha during the winter is a must-do. The city comes to life with more than one million twinkling lights, family activities such as ice skating, and much more. We recommend a stroll through the Old Market and Old Market Passageway where you’ll find dozens of boutique shops, art galleries, and diverse options for a warm meal.
Eat, drink, and laugh at Omaha Funny Bone
A premier comedy club in Nebraska, the Omaha Funny Bone is the place to be for a night out that’s full of laughter and a delicious meal. The Funny Bone has made a name for itself by bringing in top talent as well as up-and-coming comedians from across the country.