Back in the 1920s, Nebraska’s capital had a marketing slogan: “Lincoln — A City Worthy of a Noble Name.” Today, that motto seems to hold up perhaps more than ever, especially in the creative-meets-collegiate downtown in this tidy metropolis of 280,364 residents, which is home to the University of Nebraska and a growing immigrant population (now nearly nine percent of city dwellers). The increasingly buzzy downtown is luring visitors with recently-opened shops and watering holes. And, be sure not to miss the 1932 Art Deco capitol building, with its mosaics by muralist Hildreth Meiere and 14th-floor views of the Great Plains.
Sheldon Museum of Art
This Philip Johnson-designed jewel box of a building was built of travertine marble with gold leaf ceiling details in Italy, then meticulously reconstructed at the University of Nebraska in 1963. Among the museum’s more than 12,000 art holdings: Edward Hopper’s “Room in New York” and Georgia O’Keeffe’s effervescent “New York, Night” which captured her view of Lexington Avenue from her residence in the Shelton Hotel in 1929.
12th and R Streets, University of Nebraska; sheldonartmuseum.org
The Other Room
Tucked in a brick-walled alley in downtown Lincoln’s Haymarket district, this tin-ceiling, speakeasy-inspired bar was a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2015. The bar, housed in an 1890 horse saddlery, uses more than 12 housemade bitters in its cocktails. Try the frothy Po Boy Punch (cognac, pecan bitters, egg white and nutmeg). Bring cash, and silence your phone before you enter; the bar’s strict texting-only policy cements the time-travel vibe.
824 P Street; no website.
Nebraska-made wares are the focus of this three-year-old collective, with clothing, plant and housewares shops under one roof. Finds include Omaha-made Benson Soap Mill, which blends coffee shop castoffs (like previously steeped chai tea) into their body products, and Lincoln’s own Wax Buffalo soy candles. Vintage furniture spotted recently were a Milo Baughman recliner for $400 and a Saporiti chair for $350.
101 N 14th Street #7; stella-collective.com.
Opened downtown in June 2017 with a tiki bar and arcade games in the lobby, this 16-story, 231-room hotel (part of a growing chain of college town hotels) is a paean to Nebraska, up to a corn iteration of Dorothy Draper’s Brazilliance wallpaper (the state ranks third in U.S. corn production). A Small Game Suite has a campus view and interiors that evoke a fantastical throwback basement, with wood paneling, a Smeg fridge and a Donkey Kong arcade machine. Rates start at $179.
141 North 9th Street; graduatehotels.com/lincoln
Kiechel Fine Art
This gallery has been housed for five years in a 1896 former music store with 23,000 square feet of space. Currently for sale: Banksy silk-screen prints on record sleeves, a signed and numbered silk screen work by Andy Warhol — a color serigraph of cantaloupes from 1979, and an etching and drypoint by Rembrandt: “The Angel Departing from the Family of Tobias.” The 1641 print can be yours for $24,000.
1208 O Street; kiechelart.com