Born and raised Nebraska girl here. I love my home state and want to encourage everyone to explore it. I’ve rounded up a huge list of things to do in Nebraska – a list for foodies, outdoor adventurers, fans of the weird, and animal lovers. Nebraska has something for everyone!
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Outdoor adventures in Nebraska
Tanking down a river
This is cattle country, so you’re going to find a few things on this list influenced by, well, cows. Like tanking.
Close to Omaha, you can tank down the Elkhorn River with the aptly named outfitter Tank Down The Elkhorn. Experience taking in the Sandhills with outfitters Sandhills River Trips, taking tankers down the Middle Loup and Dismal rivers. Dusty Trails will take folks tanking in North Platte.
See bison up close (if you’re lucky)
Nebraska’s only drive-thru safari, Nebraska Wildlife Safari, includes a section through the Bison Plains. You’ll see a lot of North American animals during the 4-mile drive, actually.
Ride a horse
Several Nebraska state parks offer guided horseback rides, including Buffalo Bill State Historical Park in North Platte; Chadron State Park in Chadron; Eugene T. Mahoney State Park in Ashland; Fort Robinson State Park in Crawford; Indian Cave State Park in Shubert; Niobrara State Park in Niobrara; Platte River State Park in Louisville; and Ponca State Park in Ponca.
Go on an off-road jeep tour
Jeeps…it’s a bumpy ride, but you’ll love it. Try the off-road jeep tour at Fort Robinson State Park. The views can’t beat!
Venture into a cave
Nebraska isn’t known for its caves, but there are a few notable ones. There is the Happy Jack Peak and Chalk Mine in Scotia and Indian Cave State Park near Shubert. And in Lincoln, there’s the hidden gem, Robber’s Cave. A little piece of advice, Indian Cave sounds a lot cooler than it really is. Keep your “Goonies” idea of caves in check.
As soon as you start seeking out trails in Nebraska, you’ll realize the state isn’t all that flat. Find unique terrain to hike in western Nebraska, including Chadron State Park and Toadstool Geological Park. In eastern Nebraska, trails at Indian Cave State Park can be fairly difficult, too. There’s a reason why they call the place “Nebraska’s Ozarks.”
Glamp in Nebraska
Sure, you can camp throughout the state in gorgeous park settings, but few places offer glamping. Glamping (or glam camping) is offered at Slattery Vintage Estates & Tasting Room in Nehawka and Platte River State Park in Louisville. Due to limited glamping tents, reservations at both locations fill up quickly, especially weekend dates.
Zipline & rope courses
Zipline courses and rope courses are a starting to pop up, particularly in eastern Nebraska. The first to open up was Go Ape Zip Line & Treetop Adventure at Mahoney State Park in Ashland. Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue recently opened TreeRush Adventures, which includes seven ziplines, suspended platforms, and ropes courses to navigate.
Pet an alpaca
Visit Alpacas of the Heartland in Fort Calhoun on National Alpaca Farm Day (held in September) and get your chance to pet an alpaca. At Butterfield Alpaca Ranch near Republican City, you can request a tour. And in case you’re wondering, they celebrate National Alpaca Farm Day, too.
See the “Disneyland” of pumpkin patches
A visit to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna is an all-day affair (or at least a half-day). Sprawling, you’ll need a map to find everything and to keep track of all the shows. The great thing is most activities are included with admission. Add-ons include pony rides, chucking apples, and that bucket of chocolate chip cookies you know you’re going to buy.
There are no mountains to climb in Nebraska, so we turn to walls. Try your luck at wall climbing in Ashland at Mahoney State Park (find the walls in the Activity Center) or in Omaha at Approach.
See the Sandhill crane migration
Every year, more than 600,000 Sandhill cranes stop along the Platte River valley during the migration. The prime time to see them is between late February to early April. Kearney is an excellent resource for finding public viewing spots. Also, look into going to Rowe Sanctuary to get an up-close experience.
Bike the Cowboy Trail
This 195-mile rails-to-trail takes cyclists from Norfolk in the east and westward to Valentine.
Go to a waterpark
Want water slides, wave pools or a lazy river? We have that kind of waterpark fun in Nebraska. Island Oasis in Grand Island has all three, as does Fun Plex in Omaha. In Ashland, Mahoney State Park has a wave pool and water slides. In Columbus, Pawnee Plunge Water Park has water slides, a lazy river, and Nebraska’s only FlowRider (simulates surfing with real water).
Yoga outside of a yoga studio
Ready for a change of scenery for your next yoga session? Head to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo to try yoga in the aquarium or go to Bellevue to try yoga at Fontenelle Forest. In the spring/early summer, try a goat yoga session led by Prairie Arts Yoga Studio at Victory Hill Farm in Scottsbluff.
Canoe the Niobrara
Nebraska has the most miles of river than any other state, and my favorite water trail is Niobrara River near Valentine. It’s a scenic, easy route to paddle or tube. On the weekends, it can get a little busy. The thing to do is plan a stop at Smith Falls State Park, which is right along the river.
Visit Big Mac
Big Mac is the popular name for Lake McConaughy located in Ogallala. Featuring more than 100 miles of shoreline, it’s a popular weekend getaway for boaters, windsurfers and beach campers.
See the Kites and Castles
Speaking of Big Mac, each July the annual event Kites and Castles is held at the lake. The competition includes teams and solo builders.
See Nebraska’s iconic landmark
Chimney Rock National Historic Site is quite possibly the state’s most recognizable landmarks. Find Chimney Rock in Morrill County in western Nebraska near the town of Bayard. The land around Chimney Rock hasn’t changed much since pioneers on the the Oregon, California and Mormon trails passed by it (though now there is a visitor’s center). If you want to learn more about the historic trails passing through the state, details are included in my guide to Nebraska’s National Monuments and Parks.
Visit Nebraska’s “Badlands”
Toadstool Geologic Park (the Oglala National Grassland), has fascinating rock formations the look like another planet. It’s like a much smaller version of South Dakota’s Badlands. You can hike it in a short amount of time.
Take an airboat ride
It’s not the Everglades, but you can take an airboat down the Platte River. Bryson’s Airboat Tours is based out of Fremont.
Nebraska State Fair
Whether you’re there for the Midway rides, live music, or the animals, the Nebraska State Fair fairgrounds in Grand Island are a lively place to be for about 10 days each summer. I recommend checking out the Nebraska Games and Parks exhibit, and obviously, getting some sort of food on a stick.
Scotts Bluff National Monument
Nebraska at its finest. That’s the area around Scott Bluff National Monument near Gering. The monument is a landmark many pioneers passed on their journeys along the Oregon, California and Mormon trails. If you’re lucky, you may even find old wagon ruts.
Catch a parade
Some of the most entertaining parades include the Cinco de Mayo parade in South Omaha the first Saturday in May and the AppleJack Festival parade in Nebraska City each September.
Ride in a stagecoach
Head out west for this one. At Fort Robinson State Park, there are inexpensive stagecoach tours.
Watch a rodeo
Bucking broncos or trick ropes sound interesting to you? Catch a rodeo at NEBRASKALand Days in North Platte every June. Or, on a smaller scale, see one of the weekly rodeos held at Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford. Burwell is known as the Outdoor Rodeo Capital of Nebraska, and holds Nebraska’s Big Rodeo each July.
Ride in a covered wagon
Up near Niobrara State Park, you’ll find Kreycik Elk & Buffalo Ranch where guests ride a covered wagon to see the wild animals (and sometimes, you can feed the them).
Cross a suspension bridge
Find a small suspension bridge hidden in the forest at Schramm State Recreation Area in Gretna. The hike to it is just long enough hike to tire out little ones.
Stay overnight in a teepee
Platte River State Park in Louisville offers the unique experience in its Teepee Village. It’s fairly inexpensive, and just a notch above camping in a tent.
Stay in a caboose
While it’s not as cozy as a cabin, the cabooses at Two Rivers State Recreation Area in Waterloo do have water and air conditioning. They sleep up to six people.
Stand under a waterfall
We don’t have many waterfalls, but we have some beauties. Head to Smith Falls State Park to dip your hand (or if you’re brave, your whole body) into the waterfall – it’s the state’s tallest waterfall. It’s cold and pounds your body, so, yeah, perfect for a summer day.
Snake River Falls, the state’s biggest waterfall (by volume) is in the same county, and it’s worth the hike to see. However, you’re not permitted to actually wade near it.
Play in the Treetop Village
Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure in Nebraska City is home to the Treetop Village, a series of tree houses above the forest floor connected by rope bridges. There are slides, a net trampoline, and a lookout tower.
Conquer the inflatable floating obstacle course
In a small(ish) state recreation area called Louisville SRA (in Louisville…go figure), you’ll find the state’s only floating inflatable obstacle course. It’s very popular and limited to the number of people per session. Don’t just drop your kids off to do 90 minutes of slides, jumping and swimming. Do it with them! It’s a killer workout.
Hot air balloon festivals
The Old West Balloon Fest in Scotts Bluff County is a biggie, with about 90 balloons each year now that it incorporates the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship. It’s held in August each year. Like wine with your hot air balloons? In Elkhorn, there’s the annual Nebraska Wine & Balloon Festival (also in August).
Food & drink in Nebraska
Try unique ice cream flavors
I’m absolutely biased, but Omaha has the best ice cream in the state with several locations offering unique, rotating flavors. My picks? Coneflower Creamery and Ted and Wally’s. Coneflower even makes its own waffle cones, so there’s the extra temptation. If you’re lucky, they’ll have sweet corn ice cream. You’ll also find tasty and quirky flavors at Ivanna Cone in the fun Haymarket District in Lincoln.
Eat a bieroc
A bieroc is a beef and sauerkraut-stuffed bun. One of the most famous places to get it in Nebraska is at Sehnert’s Bakery & Bieroc Cafe in McCook. The bakery is a James Beard Foundation 2019 American Classics Award Winner.
Try a Runza sandwich
Runzas are essentially a bieroc, just produced on a much larger scale and sold in a regional fast food chain restaurant. You’ll find locations of this fast food restaurant throughout Nebraska. People who grow up and leave Nebraska often complain about the lack of Runzas elsewhere in the world. It’s sad. And true.
Dine at a quirky restaurant
Nebraska is home to many quirky restaurants. Start with the some of the standouts like Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge in Paxton, home to stuffed wild game on display, and Around the Bend Steakhouse in Ashland, Neb., which is known for its annual Testicle Festival.
Alpine Inn in Omaha is an interesting one, too. Diners watch raccoons through large windows dining on discarded chicken bones. The fried chicken at Alpine Inn, by the way, is some of the best in Omaha, too!
Try the state salad dressing
Dorothy Lynch is the salad dressing of my childhood. My grandparents had it on the dinner table at every Thanksgiving. The orange, sweet dressing originated in Nebraska. You’ll find it on the menu of many restaurants, particularly in more rural parts of the state.
Visit a Nebraska winery
Grab yourself a Nebraska Wine Passport and start visiting one of more than two-dozen wineries in the state. Most wineries are in central and eastern Nebraska. James Arthur Vineyards, is in Raymond and one of the larger wineries to visit. It’s a scenic place to visit. Like music and a view with your wine? Look up the live music schedule at Soaring Wings Vineyard in Springfield.
Remember the wineries I mentioned above? Some have fall festivals, and some venture into “I Love Lucy” territory and have grape stomps. One to try is at Soaring Wings Vineyard in Springfield. You race against other teams to stomp grapes.
I tried it. All I can say is: Beware of the bees.
Visit a brewery
Nebraska has at least 40 craft breweries scattered throughout the state. A few favorites of mine that I’ve tasted include beers from Infusion Brewing Co. in Omaha, Nebraska Brewery Co. in LaVista, and White Elm in Lincoln. Omaha has quite a few, enough to have a great downtown brewery tour!
There are chuckwagon dinners in the summer at two Nebrasksa State Parks. In western Nebraska at Fort Robinson State Park, you can buy tickets to buffalo stew and steak cookouts. At Niobrara State Park, their chuckwagon dinners include cowboy poets and storytellers as entertainment along with their buffalo cookouts.
Compete at the Testicle Festival
I mean, you could just go to Round The Bend Steakhouse and order an appetizer of fried testicles any old day, but where’s the fun in that? Every June, the restaurant in Ashland holds the popular Testicle Festival. During said festival and there is an eating competition to see how many you can eat in a set time limit.
Good luck with that.
Eat some steak
This is Nebraska, after all. The Blind Goose in Llewellyn is said to serve the best ribeye in the Panhandle of the state. Looking for hearty fare? I hear The Drifter Cookshack in Crawford is the place to go for it. Want steak a different way? Try the steak nachos at The Steel Grill in Gering.
As much as you’d think Nebraskans would contribute to the USA being the largest consumer of beer per person in the world, you’d be wrong. I learned among the fun facts about Uruguay, that they are even more beef obsessed than we are.
Why stop at steak? You can find Nebraska restaurants that serve bison, including Sandstone Grill in Burwell.
Get a treat at an old-fashioned soda fountain
Springfield Drug and The Durham Museum are two I’m most familiar with since one’s in Omaha (Durham) and one’s nearby (in Springfield). Both are completely charming! Head to Central Nebraska for the Atksinson soda fountain called R F Goeke Variety or to northeastern Nebraska to Keller’s Pharmacy near Ponca State Park.
Drink in a speak-easy
Why go through a regular doorway to get to a bar when you can enter through a secret passageway behind a bookshelf? Omaha’s speak-easies include The Wicked Rabbit and Segreto. Lincoln has one, as well, called The Other Room.
Be in chocolate heaven
One of the state’s most well-known candy makers is called Bakers Candies, located in Greenwood. Want someplace with a lot of options? Want a variety? There’s The Chocolate Bar in Grand Island. How about artisanal? In Omaha, I’m partial to the works of (chocolate) art at Choclat Abeille and in Lincoln, try Lulubee Chocolates.
Eat where Reubens were invented
The state is pretty adamant that the Reuben sandwich was invented in Omaha. The city even has a Reuben Festival. If you miss the festival, no biggie. You can always go to the neighborhood where it originated (The Blackstone) and order the class at Crescent Moon.
Things to do in Nebraska’s biggest cities (Omaha & Lincoln)
Attend a College World Series game (or at least tailgate for one)
The greatest show on dirt is the NCAA Men’s College World Series, held each June in Omaha at TD Ameritrade Park. It’s a spectacle in the ballpark and in the streets nearby. Here’s the essential guide to College World Series, which is especially good for first-timers.
Trek an indoor rain forest
The largest indoor rain forest in the U.S. is found at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. It’s two levels, so don’t skip walking around the dirt path on the lower level – it’s the best part.
Little tip: There are free-flying bats and they starting being really active at around 4 p.m. and later.
Attend a concert at a stunning concert hall
I always tell friends that if their favorite band or musician has a concert booked for the Holland Performing Arts Center, they MUST go. The state-of-the-art concert hall is acoustically like no other in the state. Plus, it’s just stunning to see.
Find the Typewriter Poet
Omaha’s Old Market is home to many types of buskers, typically the musical kind. But there’s also Britny Cordera Doane, AKA, the Typewriter Poet. I have not had the luck of finding her, yet. If you do, she’ll tap out a poem in about 10 minutes for you.
Make music on the stairs
The stairwell at Omaha Children’s Museum is musical. You’d be surprised how many times the adults are more amused by the stairs than their children.
Nebraska’s largest cities, Omaha and Lincoln, bring in Broadway touring productions each year. Catch them in the Orpheum Theater in Omaha and the Lied Performing Arts Center in Lincoln.
Tip: Within walking distance to Omaha’s Orpheum Theater is the beautiful Magnolia Hotel, located in the historic Aquila Court Building. Pair a stay there with a show for a great overnight getaway.
Visit the state capitol building
The Nebraska state capitol building is located in downtown Lincoln. You can take a guided tour or look around yourself. There are impressive paintings and murals to see, plus you can go to the observation deck on the 14th floor the building.
Attend a game at Memorial Stadium
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Huskers football team has had sold-out games for years and years, each time making the population at Memorial Stadium as large as the state’s third largest city. Being in that sea of red is an experience like no other.
Attend a Husker volleyball game
One of the most impressive sports team in all of Nebraska is the UNL Women’s Volleyball team. They’ve won national championships and continue to dominate NCAA Div. I competitions. Catch a home game at the Devaney Center in Lincoln.
See Santa scuba dive with sharks
This is one of my favorite holiday traditions! Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo has scuba divers swim in the shark tank a few mornings each December. They’re dressed as Santa, elves, and other holiday characters. It can get crowded in the tunnel to see the characters, so I recommend arriving early and securing a spot.
See Nebraska’s largest indoor Christmas tree
Every year, a ginormous REAL tree is placed inside The Durham Museum in downtown Omaha and decorated with ginormous ornaments and lights. It’s on display from Black Friday until early January. For a real treat, attend the tree lighting ceremony held the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Look for Warren Buffett
Omaha’s most famous billionaire, Warren Buffett, has been known to be spotted from time to time, often with celebrity friends. And come to think of it, often he’s spotted with ice cream. Most recently, he was with Bill Murray at Ted and Wally’s ice cream shop, and a few years ago, it was Paul McCartney at eCreamery.
Straddle the Nebraska-Iowa state line
The Bob, the popular name for the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge spanning the Missouri River, has the quintessential photo opp waiting to happen. The state line between Nebraska and Iowa is painted on the bridge. Find it in Omaha. It’s not a long walk to get to it, either, so you need not fear breaking (much) of a sweat to reach it.
Catch a AAA baseball game
No, we don’t have a pro team, but we do have the Minor League Baseball team the Omaha Storm Chasers. The activities and promotions surrounding the game are almost more fun than watching it. If you bring kids along with you, be sure to check out the Family Fun Zone. And be sure to read these Storm Chasers fans’ tips before you go.
See pro soccer
Omaha has a USL soccer team now – the Omaha Union, which plays at Werner Park.
Feed a giraffe
Why not, right? The state’s two largest zoos, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Lincoln Children’s Zoo, offer this add-on experience.
Be a ninja
You’ve seen “American Ninja” and thought, I could do that. Haven’t you? See how you do on a ninja course. In Omaha, you’ll find a tough one at Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park. I tried this course and it made me re-evaluate my sense of strength.
In Lincoln, a miniature ninja course recently opened at the Lincoln Children’s Museum. Obviously, it’s geared toward a younger age set.
See a show at the largest community theater in the U.S.
Omaha Community Playhouse is, indeed, the nation’s largest community theater. With performances on two stages – ranging from musicals to dramas – there’s usually something for every taste each season. The long-running “A Christmas Carol” is presented annually at the theater, and it’s one show you should see at least once there.
Things to do with Nebraska history & culture
Go to an art museum
One thing to love about Nebraska is that there are a lot of art museums that are free. Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha is large and has a lovely collection of Native American and Western Art (though I’m partial to the Impressionist gallery and my kids would tell you the Art Works play area and the fountain outside are the not-miss things). Note: Joslyn Art Museum is closed until 2024 due to renovations.
Other museums include the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney and Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln.
Attend a cultural festival
Pick your mother land: Whether you descended from Irish, Czech, Greek, Swedish, Mexican or just wish you did, there’s a festival for you. Find about a dozen annual festivals that celebrate the heritage of our forefathers on this Nebraska Festivals post.
Observe working archeological dig sites
Visit Ashfalls Fossil Bed State Historical Park and watch paleontologists at work. Another spot you can watch an active dig is called Hudson-Meng Research and Education Center where there’s an excavation of a 10,000-year-old bison bone bed is on-going.
Find fossils of your own
My kids are a bit more hands-on when it comes to dig sites, so simply watching others do the digging just doesn’t cut it for them. I get it. It’s more fun to get your hands dirty. Head to Schramm State Recreation Area in Gretna, where there’s a small fossil dig site. You can’t bring actual digging tools or anything like that, but if you spend just a little time looking closely at the surfaces of rocks, you may luck out and find a fossil to keep.
Visit the Nebraska’s Fourth of July City
Seward is home to one of the biggest Independence Day celebrations in the state. Over a period of a few days, more than 40,000 people attend the festivities. Nebraska celebrates big, so see even more Nebraska Fourth of July events here.
Take a selfie with a woolly mammoth
OK, not a living mammoth, obviously. Find Wooly Mammoths in the Hall of Mammoths at Morrill Hall on campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Officially, I believe the exhibit is called “Paleontology of Nebraska.” This is also the best place in Nebraska to see fossils and impressive natural history displays.
Old time-y photo opps
It’s not done going back in time? Go to Winston to explore the Boardwalk Back in Time, featuring replicas of early storefronts and school. Or head to Ogalalla to see Front Street, which looks like a Old West town from the 1800s.
See living history reenactments
I’m most familiar with Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Fort Calhoun, where actors reenact life in the 1800s on the first weekend of the month six months out of the year. Other places to see living history include Rock Creek Station Historical Park in Fairbury; Fort Kearny State Historical Park in Kearney; Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park in Burwell; and Homestead National Monument of America Education Center in Beatrice, which holds unique events including Homestead Days and Living History Extravaganza.
To see what life was like on a farm, head to York to see re-enactments at Wessels Living History Farm.
Attend a Native American powwow
The Winnebago Homecoming Powwow and Celebration is more than a 150-year tradition in Winnebago. It’s held in July and includes traditional songs, dancing and drumming. I attended the Fort Omaha Intertribal Powwow, held in September at Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha Campus in North Omaha. Various tribes from Nebraska and the region include Ponca, Omaha, Santee Sioux and Winnebago.
These powwows are open to the public.
Trek to Carhenge
Nebraska’s off homage to Stonehenge is the delightfully quirky Carhenge, located in Alliance. Exactly what it sounds like, there are old cars arranged to look like the original.
Peep petrified wood
What started as two brothers’ collection has grown to Petrified Wood Gallery in Ogallala. The collection contains ancient woods and fossils plus Native American artifacts.
Admire classic cars
If you prefer your cars kept in pristine condition, visit one of Nebraska’s museums dedicated to automobiles. There’s Classic Car Collection in Kearney, Museum of American Speed in Lincoln and Chevyland USA in Elm Creek.
Join in the world’s largest chicken dance
Each July, Wayne is home to the Chicken Show. Over the course of a weekend, there is a general festival feel to things, but of course, there are a number of activities inspired by chickens. One you should participate in is the world’s largest chicken dance.
Of course, if you’re not a team player and would rather hog all the glory to yourself, they have competitions all weekend, too. I recommend doing the National Cluck-Off (there’s prize money to be had).
Walk over Interstate 80…safely
The Archway in Kearney spans across Interstate 80, giving you a chance to not only learn about the history of the state, but to walk across the interstate (technically, over the interstate).
See all the trains
North Platte is home to the largest railroad yard in the world, Bailey Yard. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, about 14,000 rail cars are handled on the 17 receiving and 16 departure tracks.
See mini trains
If miniature trains are more of your speed, head to The Durham Museum in Omaha. On the lower level, find a fantastically large O-scale model train set. Also in Omaha, the Model Train Garden at Lauritzen Gardens is a must-see for miniature train lovers. G-scale trains run through a gorgeous setting of naturally-constructed elements. Around the holidays, the trains are moved indoors and runs throughout the poinsettia display.
See a church built from baled straw
The appropriately named Strawbale Church was in Arthur was built in 1928 out of baled straw. Eventually, it was plastered inside and out and still stands today. I think it goes without saying that this thing is one of a kind in the U.S.
Visit to small’s courthouse ever built in U.S.
Guess what? Arthur is also home to the smallest courthouse. Not bad for a town with population a little more than 100 people.
See Boys Town
The National Historic Landmark Boys Town was started by Father Flanagan in 1921 for a few orphaned boys near Omaha. Today, you can visit the campus near Omaha, making stops at the Hall of History, Flanagan’s home and the Visitor’s Center, which happens to have the world’s largest ball of stamps.
Find a sanctuary
The Holy Family Shrine isn’t a church, though this little chapel overlooking Interstate 80 has a sacred feel to it. Visit for a little peace or if you’re a religious person, attend mass. Religious or not, this building is just a marvel to see up close.
See the “floating cars”
If you happen to be in Grand Island, head down Fourth Street to look for G.I. Body Shop. The display of vehicles held high in the air is totally worth the side trip.
Go on a barn quilt tour
It’s the Midwest after all. Head to Dawson County to seek out these unique barn quilts. The scenic drive is off Interstate 80 and Highway 30. Get a map at CozadChamber.com.
See the national monument to Homesteaders
Homesteaders were the folks from around the world who sought the free land provided by the Homestead Act signed in 1862. In Beatrice, you’ll find Homestead National Monument of America. It’s at the site of Daniel Freeman’s property, who was thought to be the first homesteader to request a claim.
Swing on World’s Largest Porch Swing
I’ve been to Hebron to see this swing, and it’s ridiculously large. It seats more than 20 adults! Find it in the city park.
Learn about Nebraska authors
Nebraska is home to several notable authors. Find Willa Cather’s childhood home in Red Cloud. Learn about Mari Sandoz at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center in Chadron (located on the Chadron State College campus).
Watch an Old West shoot-out
The Crystal Palace Revue in Ogallala is a summer-time western theater production with songs and dance…and a nightly shoot-out.
Climb into a cockpit
Not all the planes will be open for you to climb into at Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum in Ashland, but there are enough to satisfy your dream to reenact “Top Gun.” Plus, if you really want to feel like you’re flying, the museum has a flyer simulator ride (for an additional fee).
Visit the Klown Doll Museum
More than 4,700 clown dolls are on display at the Klown Doll Museum in Plainview. It’s not for everyone.
Watch turtles race
Head to the Sandhills of Nebraska for this annual event held in August. The Starving Stallion Saloon hosts the Sandhills Turtle Races in Ericson.
See a sod house
Many pioneers in Nebraska built their homes out of sod, since trees weren’t abundant in this part of the country. You can see one still-standing sod house in Comstock – the Dowse Sod House. Comstock was once considered the Sod House Capital of the World, FYI.
Shopping in Nebraska
Go on a junk hunt
Consider Junk Jaunt the largest neighborhood garage sale ever. For one weekend each September, people travel around more than 500 miles to find hundreds of garage sales along Loup River and Sandhills Journey scenic byways. In recent years, there have been between 300 and 400 vendors, or garage sales to peruse.
“Junk” is loosely used here. You’ll find antiques, collectibles and knick knacks.
Shop at the best roadside shop
It’s a guilty pleasure of mine to stop at Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte. It’s kitschy, sure, but you can find great souvenirs (especially for kids). Plus, you’ve got to see the miniature Buffalo Bill Wild West Show.
It’s a guilty pleasure of mine to stop at Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte. It’s kitschy, sure, but you can find great souvenirs (especially for kids). Plus, you’ve got to see the miniature Buffalo Bill Wild West Show.