And yes, I made a list. However, interestingly enough, my son made one, too.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book for this post. This post contains affiliate links.
My 10-year-old son is a big reader, and thankfully, has developed a love of travel. I found him reading this book one afternoon and I got an idea: What does a kid think are the must-do things in Nebraska? I’ll do my best to provide background on why he chose what he chose.
About the book
The title “100 Things To Do In Nebraska Before You Die” is a bit of an understatement. Many sections, like “Explore Nebraska’s top park at Mahoney State Park” includes a list of 10 other great parks to explore as well.
So, even for someone like me, who’s made a job out of exploring my home state of Nebraska, there’s something new to learn about in the book. There are even itineraries in the book, including one for families.
Basically, I’ve got some road trips to plan now.
If you want to pick up your own copy of the book, it’s available at major retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
But back to what my son thinks people ought to do if they visit Nebraska.
Kid's Guide To 10 Things To Do In Nebraska
In 10 years, my son has explored more of Nebraska than I have in my first 30 years. He helped me compile this list based on his experiences and his opinion of what families would enjoy most about the state.
Home to the delicious, Nebraska-favorite meltaway chocolates, Bakers Candies is an off-the-beaten-path stop that's worth the distance. We visited the store in Greenwood, Neb., one summer when it was a stop in the Nebraska Passport Program.
My kids remember the free chocolate pieces they received after collecting their stamp. I remember browsing the aisles of brightly wrapped candies and then settling on getting a bag of milk chocolate meltaways for a souvenir.
The fact that my son put Johnny's Cafe on this list surprises me. We've at this classic Omaha steakhouse a few years ago for lunch, and he never mentioned it again.
Yet, here it is on his list. Perhaps it's the time capsule of a restaurant, with its retro decor and unforgettable entrance? After all, it is one of Omaha's oldest restaurants. Or, maybe it was the dessert he had there?
Listed among the most memorable ice cream shops in Nebraska, Springfield Drug is one of the few old-fashioned soda fountains still in operation in the state. It's located in a small-town pharmacy, and it's a delight.
(Click the link to read more about it and the seven other unique Nebraska ice cream shops )
We enjoyed ice cream treats one hot summer day after an afternoon spent tackling the nearby floating obstacle course at Louisville SRA. The staff was friendly.
What makes the place even more memorable were the statues of "The Simpsons" characters. Talk about a photo op. My son's a fan of the series, so the statues may ourank the ice cream sundae he had.
Arbor Day Farm is a sprawling collection of attractions in Nebraska City, including Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, food and wine tasting options, and my family's favorite destination: Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure.
What do we love so much about the Tree Adventure? Wonderful trails, a large treehouse, an apple orchard, tons of spaces to play, and the most recent addition, the Treetop Village.
I knew why I loved Master's Hand, but I had no idea it left a mark on my son. Maybe it was the free chocolate sample they gave him when we visited to get a stamp on the Nebraska Passport? Anyhow, he recommends them.
Master's Hand is part-shop, part-sweet shop, and part-destination in Tekamah. They also recently began shipping cookie decorating kits to entertain families stuck at home.
The Orpheum Theater has a special place in my heart and my family has countless memories from shows we've attended there. (Disclosure: I used to work for O-Pa, which manages the theater). I've taken my son to so many shows, from "School of Rock" and "Shrek: The Musical" to Taiko drummers.
This ornate theater is truly a gem in Omaha, and whether you go for a Broadway show or to see dance or a concert, you won't forget your first visit there.
Go for the rides and funnel cake, stay for the entertainment and exhibits at the Nebraska State Fair. There's something special about going to the state fair, and for kids, there is a full day of activities waiting there.
Held each August (Maybe in 2020? Who knows?), the state fair is held in Grand Island in central Nebraska. It's usually hot and humid, but there are enough indoor spaces to help cool you off.
Where: 501 E. Fonner Park Road, #200, Grand Island, Neb.
You won't find a state park quite like this one anywhere. Fort Robinson is all about adventure and Nebraska history, one-upping the usual park offerings (there are horse rides, for instance). From jeep rides and stagecoach rides to a rodeo and chuckwagon dinner, Fort Robinson brings the West to life.
My kids were little when we last visited and I only had planned for a half-day at the park, so a return is definitely in order for us.
Of course, the state's largest tourist attraction has to be on this list, especially when it happens to be a zoo. It's not just any old zoo, though. Omaha's zoo usually ranks among the top zoos in the world.
My kids have their favorite exhibits to visit, but it depends on the season. In the summer, find us outdoors in the African Grasslands or running around the Children's Adventure Trails. In the winter, we head indoors to the Lied Indoor Rainforest and the Desert Dome.