Posts Tagged With: Be a Tourist in your own Hometown

The Capitol: A Nebraska Masterpiece

Capitol Exterior

Truly the Nebraska Capitol is one of my very favorite places across the whole state.  Why it has taken me a year to feature Nebraska’s most recognizable building on this blog I am not sure.  Maybe this is because writing this post is STILL daunting to me!    How can you narrow down a building that contains so much architectural beauty, cultural significance and Nebraska symbolism.  I think this is why this post has never been written.  Today, in my own feeble way, I will attempt to give you a”quick” tour of this Nebraska Masterpiece.

Nebraska’s Capitol building is filled with murals, mosaics, tapestries and distinguishing architectural details.  Because I am pretty certain that no one will take the time to read 32 pages of one blog post, I am setting those details aside.  Additionally I plan on writing a separate post on my kids’ favorite part of the building: the tippy top.  To ride to the “14th” floor, one must climb into a rather small, older elevator.  By the way, in case you were wondering, despite its appearance to the contrary, you CAN in fact fit a double stroller inside to ride up.  We have done it successfully several times!

Back to the purpose of today’s blog … Just like our national government, our Nebraska state government has three branches.

Capitol Judicial Branch

The Judicial branch.

Capitol Legislative Chambers

The Legislative Branch.

As long as the judges and senators are not work, both of these sections are part of the daily tours that run hourly (except at noon.)  Now we also happen to have an executive area where the governor and his staff are busily at work.  Since they are a bit more involved in the daily aspects of government, this section is usually closed to the public.  As we once had a special family event take place inside the Capitol, I do have a picture of the executive press room.

Capitol Executive Press Room with family

Cropped and from my scrapbook, really you only get a good idea of the official press conference desk.

These are the main sections that exist inside of the capitol.  Of course, the basement is filled with legislative offices and the cafeteria and a gift shop.  Statues of famous Nebraskans line the rotunda, but I think that is another post as well.  Guess you will be hearing about the Nebraska Capitol for a long time to come!

Capitol Walkway

Another favorite area – the outdoor mezzanine.  By walking around the outdoor platform, one can learn the names of all of the Nebraska counties.  One could also learns the basics of the history of government.  The relief carvings above the walkway are not necessarily in chronological order, so I do recommend getting the explanatory pamphlet from inside the capitol.  By the way, I wrote a more detailed article on walking around the Capitol with children for the May/June/July issue of the Lincoln Kids Newspaper.  You can pick up a copy from many area Lincoln places, or you can look online.

The Capitol Website has a wealth of information on all of the history and interesting facts of the building.  NET Public Television has also produced an excellent documentary on the Nebraska Capitol.  Our family was rivoted – okay, I definitely was, but my husband and kids also enjoyed the show!

Nebraska’s Capitol Masterpiece

Would you look at that?  I used the same word to describe the capitol that they did!  If you have never been to the Nebraska Capitol, I HIGHLY recommend you visit.  The Capitol Website also has downloadable building, Abraham Lincoln and civics scavenger hunts.  Completing these will help your older kids be engaged in the experience.  As for your younger kids, have them go on a shape and color hunt as you walk through.  The Capitol is filled with all sorts of possibilities!  In fact, below is a picture of one of the courtyard areas I have yet to explore.  Maybe someday I will figure out how to do that!

Capitol Courtyard

One more important item to note: The Nebraska Capitol Building can be found on both the “Lincoln: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” passport and the Nebraska Passport.  When you go visit, make sure to get a stamp.  The programs run through the end of August and September respectively.




Categories: Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Nebraska History, Nebraska Passport, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday Travel Tips: So Many Nebraska Places, So Little Time

Looking over my folder crammed full of options, I can see …

20 parks on the Nebraska Great Park Pursuit

80 Nebraska Passport Places

32 options in Lincoln: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown

Several Lincoln places are on both lists: The Capitol, Morrill Hall, International Quilt Study Center and the Lincoln Zoo.  That still leaves ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY EIGHT PLACES to go.  This does not include all of the places that did not make one of the passport tours this year.  Or the places from last year.  Or the festivals that one can find in Nebraska (To find these fun events, check out this list by by Family Fun in Omaha compiled with help from The Walking Tourists )  Or the extra 21 places that just were added to our list of “must-go” places (thankfully there are a few locations that duplicate other lists!  More on those soon!) And they say that there is NOTHING to do in Nebraska?  I say there is TOO MUCH to do!

Just noticed this building, a part of the Lincoln skyline, and I am not sure I have ever been inside.  Yet another place to explore!

To avoid being overwhelmed at all the possibilities, following these suggestions will help you.

First, set your goals.  How many places do you want to visit? One or two per month?  One per week?  Several in one day ?  We tend to do the latter now that my kids are older.   At the same time, I am committed to spend at least one day per week at HOME!   We need that to stay balanced.   Another question: is going to the travel program places important to you?  Last year, we traveled to Northwest Nebraska. Since we do not have long distance travel plans yet, I know that we will probably not get as many Nebraska Passport stamps this year. Because we are sticking close to home, we hope to hit 30 of the “Lincoln: Be a Tourist in your own Hometown” places. As we needed a challenge, we are going for the platinum level!

One of the 8 Lincoln passport stops we made today.

Second, pick a theme or a focus. Much to family’s amusement, I am teaching art at our cooperative this fall. While I am creative, my artistic skills might be lacking.  Yet I know that I can improve and grow in this content area. Going to art galleries is a part of that process for me. Today  we saw an original Warhol, and the kids were amazed at the price tag.   This focus has been rather enjoyable !  Need inspiration?  Check out the Nebraska Passport “tours” for suggested themes. Even if you cannot make their specific locations, possibly you have similar places near you.

Third, involve your children in the process.  Ask them where they want to go, but at the same time, give them parameters.   Would you rather go here or there ?  Which place do you want to go first?  Without giving them direction, you could end up on an unexpected three hour tour. Another necessity when traveling with children is to mix learning with play.  Even our children, who have gone to countless places, would not handle going to multiple places without taking play breaks!

An impromptu short game of hide-and-seek.  Can you see the children?  Thankfully they did not hide very often. Not too keen on this particular activity in busy public spaces!  🙂

How do you narrow down your travel options?  How do you pick your travel destinations?  Wherever you decide to go, I hope your family’s journey is an enjoyable one!

Categories: Family Outings, Great Park Pursuit, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Nebraska Passport, Passport Pursuit Programs, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Travel Tips Tuesday: Passports and Pursuits are Back

This is a fun time of year to be a tourist in Nebraska.  All three of the programs that we enjoy participating in as a family are back.  Basically you go to their suggested places and get rubbings or stamps to show that you visited.  Then you are eligible for prizes.  Best yet you get to make memories as you travel around our great state!

Nebraska Great Park Pursuit (Explore 20 of Nebraska’s state parks and recreation areas!)

Back Home


Nebraska Passport (80 options across the state on several tours including “Forks in the Road” and “Stars and Stripes”

Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown (Lincoln): This one just started again YESTERDAY, so the links may not be up quite yet.

Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau

You can pick up the passports at participating locations.  I will be featuring many of these places over the next several months on my blog!  Go out and explore – today is supposed to be a beautiful day!

Categories: Annual Events, Great Park Pursuit, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Nebraska Passport, Passport Pursuit Programs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hockey in Nebraska: Go, Lincoln Stars!

Did you guess where we were?

Lincoln Stars sign

Back in September when one of our sons won a prize from the Lincoln Convention and Visitor’s Bureau “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” program, I knew that a Stars game was going to be on our agenda.  He was very excited to win four tickets.  He decided to take his older brother and his parents along.  🙂

Lincoln Stars Collage 1

We had not taken our kids to any hockey games yet.  Next time, I think I will check out some children’s non-fiction hockey picture books.  I like knowing what is going on, and I have not watched enough games to understand the penalties and strategies.  Although I could always tell when they scored and definitely know that the Stars won!

Two other important things:

1) Wear warm clothes.  After all, the games are played at “The Ice Box.” 🙂

2) Bring ear plugs.  While the music adds so much to the atmosphere, your ears will be ringing by the end.

We enjoyed getting to go out with just our older boys.  They enjoyed their first hockey experience, although one admitted he definitely could have done without the fighting and some of the slightly more obnoxious cheers.  But he definitely liked hockey itself.   I think he will have a greater appreciation for the Olympics hockey games now that he has attended in person.

Lincoln Stars Collage 2

Not into being a spectator and would rather enjoy being active?  The Ice Box has public skating sessions most week-ends.  Eventually a bigger ice venue will be coming to Lincoln.  Until then, the Stars have made their home at their rink located on the former Nebraska State Fair Park.

A big thank you to the Lincoln Stars for providing the tickets and to the Lincoln Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for providing such great tourism incentives. We are excited to participate in the “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” program again this summer!


Categories: Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Passport Pursuit Programs, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And a Winner for the 2nd time in the Lincoln Passport …

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My 2nd son!  We received the call on vacation that Zechariah was a winner for the 2nd time.  Several years ago, he actually happened to win the grand “gold” prize for the kids division.  That included a box at the Salt Dogs as well as him getting to throw out the first pitch at a game.


So to find out what he won this year, Z and I went to a dinner at the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, along with all of the other winners.

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We were both rather excited about the evening and the Fazolis dinner that we would get to enjoy.  Z especially liked the breadsticks and the fact that I let him have a Mountain Dew at suppertime (that RARELY happens).

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A distant shot of the winners – my son is near the left.  I did not take too close of a shot on purpose since I did not stand on top of the table to ask permission to publish the picture or anything.  🙂 

Well, right after dinner, they got right down to handing out the prizes to all the winners.  If you completed 6-10 Passport stamps, you were eligible for a “silver” prize; 11 or more: a silver OR gold prize.  30 or more stamps: the grand prize (A box at a Lincoln Saltdogs game again). (Close to 250 people turned in passports that were eligible to win a prize.  But, only 8 people completed 30+ stamps – possibly represented by only 2-3 families – you had a good chance to win if you went to over 30 places!)

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The Lincoln Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director, Jeff Maul, explained the program and then enjoyed “fist bumping” all of the winners.

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One of the adult gold prizes – a huge basket from Hillis.  Plus I think that winner also got a gas gift card -something we all can appreciate these days!

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My son won hockey tickets, Champions Fun Center game bands and a licorice gift certificate.  Plus, he was sweet and asked if he could bring home a breadstick for his sibling and Dad.  That was the winning moment for me – when he thought of others.  (Although we did deplete what would have been a nice lunch the following day for the Chamber staff – sorry again!)

I was impressed again with the Lincoln “Be a Tourist in your own Hometown” program.  We will definitely continue to participate and hope others will join us.  Maybe next year we will try for the grand prize …  Thanks to Lincoln Convention and Visitor’s Bureau staff and especially a BIG thank you to Tracie Simpson who coordinates this program.  She has done a great job with it!

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P.S. You have less than 2 weeks to complete your Nebraska Passports if you want to be eligible for their prizes.  I am glad that these two passport programs exist, as well as the Nebraska Great Park Pursuit.  They definitely motivated our family to get out and experience more of what Nebraska has to offer.  Even if we do not win any more prizes through either of the other programs, we definitely won with the experiences that we had.  (I should go into PR 🙂  )




Categories: Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Passport Pursuit Programs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Park for Pioneers: Lincoln’s Wildlife Refuge

Does being around people too long make you claustrophobic?  Would you love to see prairie instead of buildings?  Would 668 acres of land only sparsely filled with buildings do?  Long to go for hike?  How about 8 miles of hiking trails?  You will find all of this and more at Lincoln’s Pioneer’s Park.

Pioneer Park Nature Center Buffalo signs

Place at a Glance

Name/Location Pioneer’s Park Nature Center: near Coddington and W. Van Dorn: Lincoln
Website/Facebook Pioneer Park Information; Facebook (includes event updates)
Open hours Monday-Saturday: 8:30-5:00; Sunday Noon-5; closed only 3 holidays
What to Know The park itself is open from sunrise to sundown; only building hours are limited; BUG SPRAY IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; allow at least two hours to explore if you are coming from a distance
Cost Free, although donations are always welcome
Parking Directly in between the two nature center buildings: West part of the park
Group Tours No reservations needed, although you may want to call first if you are hoping for a specific talk to make sure there is adequate staff.
Museum Manners Most exhibits and animals on display are for touching – occasionally certain animals may need space.  Always check when in doubt.  Only real “rule” to follow is no running inside – could scare the animals that live there.
Recommended Ages Child friendly for any age; sturdy strollers recommended for long hikes


The word “pathfinder” is a synonym for “pioneer,” and this Lincoln treasure allows you to do just that.  If you have time to explore, you never know what you will discover.  So, grab your walking shoes and go!

Pioneer Park hobbit hole

A place we stumbled upon that my kids like to call “The Hobbit Hole.”

Both of the two interpretive nature buildings are full of many items and animals to touch.  They have nature books to browse through, puzzles to do, animal skins to feel and even various live reptiles and birds to interact with.  We have been many times and still have never managed to see everything.  (Or even half of what they have available at this park.)  If you live close by, you could make many quick trips to explore.  But if you are driving from a distance, I would allow several hours to even begin to appreciate all that is available.

Pioneer Park island

This island area near one of the center buildings is full of wildlife.  My kids love to cross the bridge and see the deer as well as many other animals that call this park home.

I first really explored Pioneer’s Park when I was in high school.  As a former cross country runner, this location was our main race course.  Having traversed the race path many times, this park provides an unexpected glimpse of the beauty of God’s creation despite its close proximity to such an urban setting.  (Too bad I had to keep moving and was not allowed to stop and appreciate the wonders!)

Indian smoke signals at Pioneer Park

This “Smoke Signals” statue is another favorite destination of my kids.

Want to know more about how Pioneer’s Park came to be?  Visit: Pioneer Park’s History.  This post explain just a bit of what is available – I didn’t even mention the pillars area or the amphitheater or the ponds or the buffalo or …  Guess you will have to head there yourself to find out more!


Categories: Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Passport Pursuit Programs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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