Lincoln, NE capitol building

2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live In America Sponsored by: See homes for sale on Movoto by OJO

liv score
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 48
Demographics 33
Economy 56
Education 70
Health 65
Housing 70
Infrastructure 47

#18. Lincoln, NE

Go Big Red! Lincoln, NE is a proud college town, through and through. Home to the University of Nebraska and its Cornhusker football team, Lincoln has a small-town feel with big-city amenities. The 293,000 residents of Lincoln support each other, whether that’s welcoming refugees from all over the world, shopping the small businesses and picking fresh produce at the Haymarket Farmers Market or providing top-notch health care at Bryan Health. The Nebraska state capital also offers an affordable cost of living, with median home values around $177,000.

Top Colleges/Universities: University of Nebraska, Nebraska Wesleyan University & Southeast Community College

Top Industries & Employers: State government, health care, higher education, transportation

Weekend Plans: Cheer on the Huskers at Memorial Stadium during football season. Otherwise, grab a coffee at The Mill Coffee & Tea, then wander through the Sunken Gardens, a seriously stunning 1.5-acre site with more than 30,000 annuals and perennials (and the comeback story of the century — it used to be a dumpsite!). 

Favorite Place to Feast: Runza, a popular regional fast-food chain founded in Lincoln. Runza serves up Hot Pocket-style, contained “sandwiches” with ground beef, cabbage and onions.

Beloved Beverage: Red beer … or beer mixed with tomato juice.

Outdoorsy Activity: Fishing, biking, walking, running or just enjoying the sunset at Holmes Lake, a 110-acre reservoir that’s also home to the free Hyde Memorial Observatory

Rooftop Bar: Barry’s Bar and Grill, an iconic Lincoln sports bar and popular hangout for Huskers fans on game day.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: Lincoln has more parkland per capita than most other U.S. cities, so your pooch will always have new smells to sniff, new trails to explore and fresh grass to roll around on. All told, Lincoln is home to 6,000 acres of parks and open space, including 132 parks and 134 miles of trails.

Remote Work Perk: You’ll never feel alone when you live in Lincoln, even if all of your coworkers are hundreds of miles away. Whether you’re a single young professional, a mom or dad or a student, Lincoln has plenty of volunteer, social and cultural opportunities to get connected and find your crew.

One More Thing … TV personality and comedian Johnny Carson attended the University of Nebraska, then stuck around Lincoln for a few years to work in radio. Now, there’s a Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at UNL, which supports interdisciplinary learning in fields like experience design, sonic arts, virtual production and immersive & interactive media.

– Sarah Kuta

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