Think of Northeastern Nebraska as a little bit country, a little bit river. When I think of the northeastern portion of the state, I picture of scenic river vistas, hikes and kayaks. Gorgeous state parks. Beyond the parks of the region, there are important historic sites, fun cultural festivals, and charming towns to explore by day.
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Read on to find out what there is to do in towns throughout the northeast region of Nebraska.
- Plan ahead and reserve a high tea at Our Specialtea, 1630 Washington St., Blair
- The early bird gets the best selection of donuts at Jim & Connie’s Blair Bakery, 132 S. 17th St., Blair
- Shop for a gift (or get yourself something cute) at Urban Farm Boutique, 3121 13th St., Columbus
- Have a beer at the oldest continuously-operated tavern west of the Missouri River, Glur’s Tavern, 2301 11th St., Columbus
- See a turn-of-the-century barber shop and antique cars at Platte County Museum, 2916 16th St., Columbus
- Book a visit to feed and interact with the charming alpacas at the farm of Alpacas of the Heartland, 7016 County Road 39, Fort Calhoun
- Living history weekends are the best time to visit this 200+ year-old fort. They’re held April through October during the first weekend of the month at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, 201 S. Seventh St., Fort Calhoun.
- Round up a large group and stay overnight in the spacious log cabin, Dancing Bear Lodge.
- Relax with friends over a bottle of wine or a glass of beer at Too Far North, 111 N. 14th St., Fort Calhoun.
- Visit the oldest county museum in the state, Washington County Museum, 102 N. 14th St., Fort Calhoun. You’ll learn about Lewis & Clark’s visit to the area, Native Americans of the region, and the mountain men, pioneers, and early homesteaders who passed through.
- Try a flight to beer at Five.0.Five Brewing Co., 349 N Main St., Fremont.
- Order up an espresso drink and baked treat at Milady Coffeehouse, 105 E. Sixth St., Fremont, and plan on relaxing for a spell in one of the cozy chairs.
- Bring your swimsuits and sunscreen for an afternoon at Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area, 3120 State Lakes Road. Pack a picnic or get some food (or beer) at The Tow Line Co. located inside the park.
- Shop for clothes and accessories at the charming boutique, Fia + Belle, 108 E. Sixth St., Fremont.
- Genoa Indian School Interpretive Center, 209 E. Webster Ave., Genoa, tells the story of the only U.S. government boarding school for American Indian youth in Nebraska.
- Enjoy lunch and a specialty drink at Fill My Cup Coffee Shop, 415 Willard Ave., Genoa.
- Celebrate the Irish in September during the town’s Halfway To St. Patrick’s Day celebration, featuring a day full of live music.
- The tranquil Niobrara State Park, 89261 522 Ave., Niobrara, is located on the confluence of the Niobrara and Missouri rivers. Visit in the summer and attend one of the park’s popular buffalo cookouts.
- The Ponca Tribal Museum and Library, 88915 521 Ave., Niobrara, has archival photos as well as headdresses, tools, beadwork, jewelry, musical instruments, and various carvings repatriated from the Smithsonian Museum.
- Neligh Mill State Historic Site, North Street and Wylie Drive, Neligh, is home to the last complete 19th century flour mill in the state. The mill is open to the public seasonally or by appointment.
- Have some of the best pie in Nebraska at City Cafe, 511 Hale Ave., Newman Grove.
- Update a room in your home with a purchase from Magnolias Home Decor & Design, 432 W. Norfolk Ave., Norfolk.
- Have a meal at the restaurant located in the historic Elkhorn Hotel building, District Table and Tap, 226 W. Norfolk Ave., Norfolk.
- Have a tasty dinner at the family-owned Mexican restaurant, Michael’s Cantina, 912 Omaha Ave., Norfolk.
- Catch a show at the Norfolk Arts Center, 305 N. Fifth St., Norfolk. It’s the hub for performing arts and visual arts.
- Plan a day outdoors with the help of North Fork Outfitting, 205 N. Second St., Norfolk. It’s your spot for getting tubes or kayaks for a trip down the North Fork River or Elkhorn River, or for shuttles to bike the Cowboy Trail.
- Shop for yourself or your kids at the cute little shop, Joy Boutique, 123 S. Fourth St., O’Neill.
- Shop for Nebraska-grown plants at Shamrock Nursery, 49368 US-20, O’Neill.
- Find the O’Neill Blarney Stone, but…maybe don’t kiss it. If you want to stay the night, the historic Golden Hotel, 406 E. Douglas, is right by the Blarney Stone.
- Finish the massive sundae, the Piece Pounder at J’s Place, 323 E Main St., Pierce, and get your name added to the Wall of Fame. Please, don’t throw up.
- Stop at this quirky attraction (or is it the stuff of nightmares?), Klown Doll Museum, 306 W. Park Ave., Plainview.
- Enjoy a sundae or malt at the old-fashioned soda fountain inside Keller Pharmacy, 101 W. Third St., Ponca.
- Book a cabin or try glamping at Ponca State Park, 88090 Spur 26 E, Ponca. In the summer, the park has horseback riding, a waterpark, and several excellent hiking trails.
- Stay overnight in a nearby modern tiny house…with a hot tub.
- Visit the active dig site, Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, 86930 517th Ave., Royal, and marvel at incredibly well-preserved fossils inside the Rhino Barn.
South Sioux City
- Brunch is waiting for you at The Koffie Knechtion, 419 Golf Road, South Sioux City.
- Stay in an intriguing Airbnb. There’s a treehouse option and a Hobbit-like option in South Sioux City!
- Master’s Hand, 3599 Co. Road F, Tekamah, has built a name for itself for its diving cinnamon rolls, but be sure to browse the rest of the shop while you’re there.
- Have a dinner made with locally-sourced ingredients at Chatterbox Brews, 203 S. 13th St., Tekamah.
- Verdigre calls itself the Kolache Capital of the World, so when better to visit the town than during Kolache Days in June.
- View the latest exhibit at Blue Cat Gallery & Studio, 114 W. Third St., Wayne.
- Get a caffeine boost at The Table Coffeehouse, 203 Main St., Wayne.
- If you can imagine a flavor, AquaPop, 200 S. Main St., Wayne, has probably made gourmet popcorn using it.
- Enjoy a pint or a flight of beers at Johnnie Byrd Brewing Co., 121 N. Pearl St., Wayne. If the weather’s nice, grab a table in the beer garden.
- Shop for home goods at 1912 Emporium, 207 Main St., Wayne. I’m a huge fan of the owner’s sister store in Omaha, Prairie in Bloom.
Map of Northeastern Nebraska
I’ve created a map to help you visualize where all of these towns are in northeastern Nebraska.