Visiting Brownville Nebraska With Kids

Seeking a quick escape from the city, I planned a day visiting Brownville, Nebraska, and nearby Indian Cave State Park. This small town is about 80 miles south of Omaha; an easy drive on Interstate 80 with a short drive west on Highway 136. If you want to plan a quick getaway for your family, here are some tips on things to do in Brownville.

Updated Jan. 13, 2017

Brownville has cultivated a reputation for the arts - performing and visual - as well as a haven for book lovers.
Brownville has cultivated a reputation for the arts – performing and visual – as well as a haven for book lovers.

Why go to Brownville with kids?

My last visit to the enchanting town was pre-kids, so Mr. Wonderful and I enjoyed a leisurely visit to Whiskey Run Creek Winery and casually browsed the used bookstores (they don’t get the designation International Book Town for nothing). I had only pleasant memories, so I figured, what the heck, let’s try it with kids.

My plans included visiting a few of the historic sites, checking out the quaint shops and returning to those used bookstores (and, hopefully, find the Antiquarium this time). I made a list of where I wanted to go:

Captain Meriwether Lewis Dredge Museum in Brownville Riverside Park

Governor Furnas House Museum, 230 S. Sixth St.

Brownville Depot & Railroad History Museum

Alas, traveling with kids, any itinerary quickly changes. And if you time that visit to follow a holiday, you can expect somethings to not be open. Holy Fourth of July hangover, Brownville.

Here’s how the Brownville visit went:

We arrived late morning to a patriotically-decorated Main Street with most shops still closed. We peeked inside the windows of Dr. Spurgin’s Dental Office Museum, 222 Main St., to see some old time dental instruments.

Dr. Spurgin’s Dental Office Museum.
Dr. Spurgin’s Dental Office Museum.

Then we crossed the street to the 1854 Didier Log Cabin in Boettner Park. It was locked so we just poked around for a little bit.

In the center of town on Main Street, you'll find this old cabin.
In the center of town, you’ll find this old cabin dating back to 1854.

Then we found a trail. I called it a secret path and that enticed the kids to follow it.

Definitely seek out this foot path, just west of Main Street. It’s a nice shaded walk.

There are a few bridges along the trail. I don't know about your kids, but mine still find bridges to be amazing.
There are a few bridges along the trail. I don’t know about your kids, but mine still find bridges to be amazing.

It felt more southern than Nebraska.

Mr. Wonderful and the kids near another bridge in Brownville.
Mr. Wonderful and the kids near another bridge in Brownville.

You’ll get a good sense of how artsy this community is, and how proud they are of their heritage. Lots of neat old buildings to look at.

I loved the red bridge near the village theater.
I loved the red bridge near the village theater.

We took a brief pit stop at  Brownville Village Theatre, for a bathroom break. If you time your visit right in the summer, catch one of the productions. The town is quite proud of the repertoire theatre company, which gives talented college students a chance to work in all aspects of theatre productions each summer.

Brownville Village Theatre
Brownville Village Theatre

Moving onward along the path, we saw some chickens, wild flowers and statues, all of great interest to the kids. It’s the little things that still excite my kids, and I love that about them.

This statue of a former governor was a favorite of the kids. I have no idea why.
This statue of a former governor was a favorite of the kids. I have no idea why.

Updated: Antiquarium is now permanently closed.

As we took a road back toward town, I saw a sign for Antiquarium. Woot! Book worms of Omaha will remember this used bookstore that once reigned in the Old Market before moving to Brownville.

What a place they’ve set up! The outside isn’t much to look at, but step inside and be transported.

Book lover's heaven, Antiquarium.
Book lover’s heaven, Antiquarium. It is, sadly, now permanently closed.

It was designed to look like the library at Trinity College Dublin. Having been to both, I see a vague resemblance.

Chess tables, unique chairs and artwork add to the atmosphere at Antiquarium.
Chess tables, unique chairs and artwork add to the atmosphere at Antiquarium. It is now permanently closed.

We browsed and found a small children’s section. Farley picked out a cute poetry book about food, I found several first editions of classic books.

Back on our walk, we headed toward the riverfront for the Captain Meriwether Lewis Dredge Museum. Around this time, Mooch’s internal clock went off and the nap time crankiness kicked in. The mud we would’ve had to cross to get to the museum was too much for me, and my limit was nearly reached with Mooch, so we turned back to town.

We had passed the little Brownville Depot & Railroad History Museum during that walk, but we were a few minutes early for its opening and Mooch was really tired and I nixed waiting.

I was feeling like Mom of the Year, so to add to it, I suggested ice cream.

All is better with ice cream. Rivertown Ice Cream Shoppe, 121 Main St., hit the spot. The clerks were friendly and filled us in on what to do at Indian Cave State Park and when to go.

The ice cream shop's neighbors included a used book store, art gallery and an "oddities" store.
Rivertown Ice Cream shoppe’s neighbors included a used book store, art gallery and an “oddities” store.

We began our walk back to the car, stopping in one more used bookstore.

If you visit Brownville

Brownville

The town has a very helpful site on where eat, stay and play.

Recommended dining with kids

For a meal, try Lyceum Cafe & Bookstore, 228 Main St.

For a treat, try Rivertown Ice Cream Shoppe, 121 Main St.

Back toward I-80 in Rock Port, Missouri, you’ll have a few more dining options. We had dinner Black Iron Grill Steakhouse & Saloon. There is a kids menu. Kids will like the peanuts that come before the meal – they can just toss the shells on the floor.

Brownville dining and shopping tip

Thinking of buying any used books, maybe artwork or antiques in Brownville? Bring along cash.
Thinking of buying any used books, maybe artwork or antiques in Brownville? Bring along cash.

Bring cash! Regrettably, we didn’t carry cash on us and couldn’t make bookstore purchases because of it. An ATM was not to be found. Lucky for me, that ice cream shop took debit and credit cards.

Come back tomorrow to read about our Indian Cave State Park adventures!

You may like:

Ultimate Nebraska Adventure This Summer

Insider’s Family Guide: Lincoln

My Nebraska Bucket List

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Nebraska’s Wildlife Safari With Kids

Think Nebraska’s wildlife is boring?

Think again.

The Nebraska wildlife safari is home to two dozen Sandhilll Cranes. You'll find them, swans and ducks in the area of the park the mimics the Platte River region.
The Nebraska wildlife safari is home to two dozen Sandhilll Cranes. You’ll find them, swans and ducks in the area of the park the mimics the Platte River region.

 

We recently visited Simmons Wildlife Safari in Ashland, Neb., (about 20 minutes west of Omaha).

Wildlife Safari logo

It was my dad’s first trip to the attraction, so we were excited for him to enjoy it with the kids.

Some of the gang
Some of the gang

What to expect

Grab that map they hand at the admission gate. Not because you’ll get lost – the kids love it.

He never stops to ask for directions.
He never stops to ask for directions.

You’ll be driving at a maximum speed of 7 mph, so hang on, partner! You want to go slower, really, to catch all the wildlife. You’ll notice each area is separated by gates akin to the ones you remember from “Jurassic Park.” Scare the kids and put a water glass on your dashboard and recreate the T-Rex scene.

You’ll see deer, elk and an assortment of birds at the start. It’s pretty tranquil.

Animal collageWM

Then you’ll drive around some wetlands, featuring photogenic waterfowl.

American White Pelicans hanging out in the 10-acre Wetlands.
American White Pelicans hanging out in the 10-acre Wetlands.

You can get out of your car at this point. A lot of people just drive on by, so expect minimal crowds.

Your next stop is shortly after that. Definitely get out, because there’s the Hands-On Corral (AKA petting zoo) your kids will like.

There are plenty of goats hoping to be fed and brushed at the Nebraska Wildlife Safari.
There are plenty of goats hoping to be fed and brushed at the Nebraska Wildlife Safari.

Near there is a little play area with picnic tables, as well as an old Rosenblatte tower you can climb for a nice view.

A bald eagle at the Nebraska Wildlife Safari.
A bald eagle at the Nebraska Wildlife Safari.

Venture over to the bald eagles and then double back to walk an inclined trail to see owls, bears, wolves and further afield, toads.

This is either Cinnabon or Licorice, two sister bears at the Nebraska WIldlife Safari.
This is either Cinnabon or Licorice, two sister bears at the Nebraska WIldlife Safari.

We accidentally timed our visit to coincide with feeding time and the 1:30 p.m. enrichment talk.

It was a fortunate accident! I think Mr. Wonderful and I were more enthralled by the feedings than the kids, but whatever.

One of the keepers explains the wolves' feeding schedule and preferred foods.
One of the keepers explains the wolves’ feeding schedule and preferred foods.

Back in the car, you’ll get to drive past some pretty birds on your way to the big attraction: American bison.

We asked them to pose.
We asked them to pose.

These free-roaming creatures get near your car, making for some impressive photos.

Reason #1 you want to keep your speed in check at the Wildlife Safari in Nebraska.
Reason #1 you want to keep your speed in check at the Wildlife Safari in Nebraska.

Be sure to stop back at the visitor center. There are more animals to see inside and outside, as well as a small playground and a group of sculptures kids seem to like climbing on.

Timing a picnic

There are a couple picnic tables near the petting zoo that aren’t very shaded. More tables are located near the visitor center.

If you didn’t bring food, you can purchase snack bar items, ice cream and other goodies at the visitor center.

Tip

It pays to time your visit! Feeding time is prime animal viewing time. On Saturdays and Sundays it’s at 1:30 p.m., and includes interesting talks with the keepers. While were were there, the keeper said the 3 p.m. feeding time is the best since that’s when she gives the bears and wolves the most food. I can’t find that time listed anywhere online, so I can’t confirm that it is the exact time to catch a second feeding.

It’s really the best chance to see these beautiful creatures up close. In past visits, the wolves and bears have been far from the fences.

 

If you go

 

Eagle statue at wildlife safariLee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari

Where: Take Exit 426 off Interstate 80, 16406 N. 292 St., Ashland, Neb.

Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October.

Cost: Even though you’re driving in a single vehicle, you have to pay admission for each person. $6.50, adults 12 and older; $5.50 military adult $4.50 children, 3-11; $3.50 military child; $5.50 seniors, 65 and older; FREE children 2 and under; $40 household season membership

 

2014 Events

Lookout at Nebraska Wildlife Safari

Going Buggy

They creep and crawl, dangle and fly…come discover what else bugs can do on Saturday, Aug. 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fly over to Wolf Canyon to check out bug displays, learn about their important role in nature and participate in buggy crafts. Before leaving the area, be sure to explore the area and see what type of creepy crawlies you can find on your own. Event activities are free to Wildlife Safari Park members or with paid Park admission.

Sounds of Fall

Become an animal detective for a day. Learn to identify animals by their sounds, tracks and evidence they leave behind at Wildlife Safari Park during the Sounds of Fall event on Saturday, Sept. 6, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enjoy touching and feeling animal artifacts, participating in crafts and enjoying other special activities at Wolf Canyon. Event activities are free to Wildlife Safari Park members or with paid Park admission.

Haunted Safari

Go on a haunted hike, take a spooky ride, enjoy a hot dog supper, roast marshmallows and play ghostly games for candies in the great outdoors from 6 to 9 p.m. at Wildlife Safari Park on Friday, Oct. 10, and Saturday, Oct. 11. Event does not include general Park admission during the operating hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Extras

The Wildlife Safari Park offers family classes throughout the summer. Check their website for updates.

 

You may be interested in posts about attractions near the safari:

Strategic Air & Space Museum With Kids

Mahoney State Park For Families

Mahoney State Park In The Winter

 

Insider’s Family Guide: Lincoln

Insider’s Family Guide is a guest blogger series that runs occasionally on Oh My! Omaha. See previous Insider Family Guides to St. Louis, Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs. Today’s post on Lincoln, Nebraska, is written by Gretchen, the blogger behind Odyssey Through Nebraska. I think you’ll be surprised at all the Lincoln has to offer, especially if you haven’t visited in a while. Enjoy!

I like to keep my options open. Because of this, I am a big fan of buffets.  Not that I eat enough to make the price worth it, but because I get excited about all of the choices. My husband is the opposite.  He prefers cut-and-dried, ordering off the menu. In fact, I often order for him for that very reason. (No, Waitress, I am really not that bossy!)

When I was asked to write a “Local’s Guide to Lincoln” post for Oh My! Omaha, I was honored. Struggling to narrow down my favorites was a bit hard, but maybe for a girl who does like possibilities, this makes sense.  Therefore, I made a decision. By including links to a bunch of places, these varied options are for those of you who like to write your own adventures.  For those of you who like to be guided along, I will include lengthier information about my “favorite” places to go around Nebraska’s Capital City.

What To Do

If I were bringing the children along, stops at the Lincoln Children’s Museum and at the Lincoln Zoo would be high on my list. If just my girl were along, I would stop by the Nebraska Governor’s Residence, so that she could see all of the inaugural ball gowns and the First Lady dolls. My three sons always enjoy a visit to the UNL Tractor Test & Power Museum.

Among the places in Lincoln to visit with kids is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Tractor Test Museum. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.
Among the places in Lincoln to visit with kids is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Tractor Test Museum. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Catching a Saltdogs baseball game, a Lincoln Stars hockey match or any Huskers sporting event is always fun for our family.  We particularly love taking a scheduled tour of Memorial Stadium. Our football facilities are amazing to see!

For those art aficionados, I would recommend The Sheldon Museum of Art and also Kiechel Fine Art Gallery because seeing an original Andy Warhol in person is just cool. Another one of our favorite creative places to visit is the International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

To pick only ONE place to take guests in Lincoln, the choice is an obvious one for me. Viewable across the city, the Nebraska Capitol is my favorite Lincoln location to visit. Featuring exquisite architecture, detailed mosaics, storied tapestries and so many spaces to explore, the Capitol is a feast for the eyes.

The state capitol building is the a must-visit. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.
The state Capitol building is the a must-visit. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

By taking a tour, you will learn the significance of all of the components that were brought together to tell Nebraska’s story. Wandering through the Hall of Fame gives you a glimpse into the lives of some of the men and women that have made our state what it is today.  

While you can walk around on your own, you will miss the insider perspective and will also not get to see quite as much as the judicial chambers are typically locked up and the legislative chamber can only been seen through the glass panels.

The Nebraska State Capitol. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.
The Nebraska State Capitol. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

What do my four children love the most about the Capitol? Riding the elevator to the very top and looking out across Lincoln. On days where the weather cooperates, the exterior balcony doors are propped open for you to go out and take a peak. Picking out buildings and locations across the Lincoln skyline is a fun challenge.

Where To Eat

For being a smaller city, Lincoln has many, many delicious and unique locations to dine.  Being known for Nebraska beef, Misty’s Steakhouse and Brewery and Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill provide great options.  We also have several original renowned ethnic eateries: The Oven (Indian cuisine), The Blue Orchid (Thai cuisine), and The Normandy (casual French cuisine). These are all places that I would go on date nights.

Getting pizza from Valentinos or from Isles Pizza and Pub in Havelock are also great food options.  If I were to eat out with my family across Lincoln for one day, these are the locations that I would pick. Maybe we will have to have a stay-cation soon!

Breakfast:

The Doughnut Hole in Lincoln’s new Railyard District. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.
The Doughnut Hole in Lincoln’s new Railyard District. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Wanting to start your day with a sugar rush of deliciousness?  Look no further than The Doughnut Hole (350 Canopy Street) in Lincoln’s new Railyard District.  Their selections change daily and even seasonally, with a few standard options such as vanilla-bean glaze and their popular maple-bacon are always available. Featuring Stumptown Coffee, starting your day here provides a great beginning.

The Green Gateau at 330 S. 10th. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.
The Green Gateau at 330 S. 10th. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Having been to many a bridal shower here, we often picked brunch as our time. My favorite is definitely the French toast!

Lunch: The Burger Wars

Enjoying a great burger for lunch always sounds like a winning option to me.  We have two favorite places to grab a burger, and they happen to be on opposite sides of Lincoln.  We tend to frequent the northeast one more often since it is closer to home, but when we are eating out in southwest Lincoln, we do enjoy the other place as well.

My husband and I enjoy date nights at Honest Abe's, but we cannot tell the kids our destination, or they would BEG to tag along!  Both of the framed pictures describe my husband! Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.
My husband and I enjoy date nights at Honest Abe’s, but we cannot tell the kids our destination, or they would BEG to tag along!  Both of the framed pictures describe my husband! Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Honest Abe’s Burgers & Freedom is located at 854 N. 70th St. (and now at 128 N. 14th St. and 2662 Cornhusker Highway). The actual restaurant space is rather small, so if you want to dine in, I suggest not arriving at 6 p.m. Thankfully, you can get burgers to go any time. While they do have a few standards that always remain on the menu, they are also known for having a rotating menu.

I really like the 1809 featuring a 6 oz. patty, smoked gouda, applewood bacon, pickled apples and smoky honey mayo. While I could order that any visit and be perfectly happy, often their featured “temporary” burgers sound so intriguing that I go that direction  as well since they are around for a limited time. Paying the extra $1 for the Parmesan Truffle fries is a great idea!

Getting their menu updates are possible if you sign up for their Honest Abe’s Facebook page. One important detail to note: they are CLOSED on Sundays.

HF Crave at 2801 Pine Lake Road. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.
HF Crave at 2801 Pine Lake Road. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

HF Crave can found at 2801 Pine Lake Road in the SouthPointe shopping complex area. This is a farm-to-table restaurant in the purest sense. JR & Marcy Hollenbeck and family raise the beef that is served in their restaurant. They have “Build It How You Crave It” where you pick the type of bun, type of meat and your desired toppings.

A whole line of signature burgers is also available where they pick the toppings for you. I really like the PB & B featuring peanut butter and bacon especially with their sweet potato fries!  Yum!

Dinner: A Nebraska Original

Parker's Smokehouse 64th and O. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.
Parker’s Smokehouse 64th and O. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Located at 64th and O, near Gateway Mall, Parker’s Smokehouse now has expanded to have locations in both Ashland and Nebraska City. This is often our family’s pick for birthday celebrations. As far as menu options, their tagline, “Barbecue with Soul” says it all. Featuring their slowly-smoked meats such as Georgia pulled-pork, Texas beef brisket and St. Louis-style BBQ spare ribs, the barbecue options are amazing.

Deciding from the options may be challenging as they are all delicious and determining which of their four sauces to top your chosen meat with may also cause you some thought. On the weekends, they make the choices even harder when they add smoked prime rib to the menu. Not into barbecue? Having signature salads and sandwiches are also always options. Whatever you choose, you will leave satisfied.

Food at Parker's Smokehouse. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.
Food at Parker’s Smokehouse. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Did I give you enough options to provide you with a great day in Lincoln? I hope so. The people here are friendly, and often Lincoln has been called a “small town” city. We hope you come to visit us soon! If you want to learn about additional Lincoln adventures, I often feature my hometown, as well as other Nebraska places on my blog, Odyssey Through Nebraska.

 – Gretchen Garrison has been married to her best friend for 14+ years.  Together they are raising their four children, and she is attempting to homeschool them.  (All four will be in school officially this year!)  By blogging at www.odysseythroughnebraska.com, she is inspired to take her kids places rather than just planning to go there “someday.”  

Posts you may like:

My Nebraska Bucket List

Adventures At Morrill Hall

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Exploring Platte River State Park In The Off-Season

On a recent cool, gray spring day, I took the kids to Platte River State Park in search of a waterfall.

Platte collageWM

I needed some fresh air and a change of scenery, and the kids needed some place to run and explore.

Farley poking around a fallen tree trunk.
Farley poking around a fallen tree trunk.

I can’t recall the last time I’d been to this park, if I ever had. I know now, we’ll be back.

We parked in the first lot by the park entrance, the sign “waterfall” in view. Off we went, following an easy, flat trail of dirt and bridges.

The start of the easy hike to the waterfall at Platte River State Park. I see my daughter has my patient look.
The start of the easy hike to the waterfall at Platte River State Park. I see my daughter has my patient look.

The hike to the little waterfall was not long and can be walked by the smallest of kids. Or ran as is usually the case.

Spring’s not quite here in Nebraska, but even with the gray surroundings, the park’s setting is remarkable this time of year.

Regardless of the season, I have a feeling this park is pretty year-round. It's pretty peaceful, at least.
Regardless of the season, I have a feeling this park is pretty year-round. It’s pretty peaceful, at least.

It’s peaceful and you feel very much like you have the park to yourself.  My kids and I enjoyed being silly on the trail.

You can hear the waterfall before you see it. The anticipation of exactly how big it will be grows.

Found the waterfall!
Found the waterfall!

OK, I’ll admit it’s no Smith Falls. The kids wanted to keep walking so we didn’t spend much time by it.

If you keep on the trail heading toward the river, you’ll encounter a steep climb. I let the kids lead and, naturally, they headed for the hill. It’s manageable for most abilities.

Going up, up, up on our loop hike at the Platte River State Park.
Going up, up, up on our loop hike at the Platte River State Park.

Once at the top, there’s a clearing with some campsites and picnic tables. You can complete a loop back to the trail to your parked car in under an hour easily.

I think we’ll be back once things are greener and warmer. The park has paddleboats I’d like to take the kids on, and certainly more trails to explore.

Platte River State Park meets the kids' approval.
Platte River State Park meets the kids’ approval.

Your turn: Have you been to Platte River State Park? Where do you recommend us exploring next?

My Nebraska Bucket List

Good ol’ Nebraska. It’s my home state, I’m pretty protective of it. Fly over it if you must, but you’re missing out. There’s a lot to do Nebraska. I’ve gathered all the things I still need to explore in the state to create this ultimate Nebraska Bucket List.

UPDATED: This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated in November 2019. To help keep this post current, please let me know if anything needs additional updates! This post may contain affiliate links.

Nebraska Bucket List - The most iconic things to see and do in Nebraska

1. See Nebraska’s Ultimate Landmark. Chimney Rock is Nebraska’ ultimate icon, our claim-to-fame in pioneer history. It’s probably time I see it in real life.

Chimney Rock, one of Nebraska's most recognizable landmarks. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Related post: 101 Things To Do In Nebraska

2. Go Western. I’d like to do the whole Fort Robinson experience thing.

A trail ride near Fort Robinson State Park in Nebraska
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Ride the Fort Robinson Express stagecoach, maybe go on a horseback trail ride, see the buffalo and longhorn cattle herds and take part in a campfire singalong.

UPDATE: We visited! Here’s my review of the state park including one thing I didn’t know about: Off-road jeep tours!

The Fort Robinson Express. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

3. Stay at a ranch, maybe do some ranch things. I’m not sure what that would be – probably ride a horse and herd cattle. I should watch “City Slickers” again to refresh my memory.

Here are a few guest ranches that I could see myself channeling my inner cowgirl: Ponderosa Ranch and Rowse’s 1 Plus 1 Ranch. And by channel, I mean, I do about 10 minutes of hard work and then relax the rest of my stay.

4. See a Native American pow wow. Long ago, I was an exchange student in Spain and my host family thought it was all pow wows in Nebraska. Not so much. But, I feel like I owe it to my host sister and her obsession with Native Americans and go to one of these finally.

Fort Robinson holds the Inter Tribal Pow Wow every year. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Fort Robinson is known for a big one, the Intertribal Gathering and Pow Wow, in June. There’s one in north Omaha held each September, the Fort Omaha Intertribal Powow, on the same grounds here Ponca Chief Standing Bear was once imprisoned.

5. Walk along strange land. Ever since I saw a picture of Toadstool Geologic Park (the Oglala National Grassland), I’ve been fascinated by the strange rock formations.

People say they look like toadstool mushrooms or the lunar surface.

Toadstool rock formations in western Nebraska should be on everybody's Nebraska bucket list.
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

UPDATE: We did it! You can see a picture of our visit in this Western Nebraska/South Dakota road trip recap post.

6. Watch paleontologists at work at Ashfalls Fossil Bed State Historical Park.

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Ashfalls is a working dig site in Nebraska.

Things to do in Nebraska - Visit Ashfalls Fossil Beds in Nebraska. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

7. See Nebraska’s archaeological hidden gem. Toadstool isn’t too far from the Hudson-Meng Research and Education Center where there’s an excavation of a 10,000-year-old bison bone bed going on.

8. Take an airboat tour. I’ve seen airboats glide along the Platte River and it just looks fun.

I’ve seen that river countless time from a car and the lookout tower at Mahoney State Park, so I want to see it from a different view now.

Sunset on the Platte River. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

9. See the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island. I haven’t been to the state fair since I was child – back when it was in Lincoln. I don’t even remember it. It’s probably time I go back.

And I suppose I ought to bring the kids.

The Nebraska State Fair in 2011. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

10. See the Scottsbluffs National Monument. This part of Nebraska is iconic, but not exactly easy to get to from Omaha, so I’ve never made the trip.

Scotts Bluffs National Monument. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

The Nebraska Tourism Commision released a list of 10 of the state’s top attractions and events and this was one of two I haven’t been to (see #1 on this list for the other). So I must go there. I’m a completist.

11. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Omaha style. South Omaha has a large celebration every year, and every year I think I ought to check it out (former exchange student sense of duty).

Cinco de Mayo festivities in South Omaha. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

12. Enjoy a dinner paired with the right wine at the Boiler Room in Omaha’s Old Market. While this isn’t the new darling on the Omaha dining scene anymore, it’s one of those restaurants that I’ve been meaning to check out and never do. I’ve heard the wine list is divine.

13. See one of the College World Series championship games in its new home, TD Ameritrade Park. I’ve been to many CWS games at Rosenblatt Stadium, never one of the championship ones, though.

The College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

For more ideas on where to go in Nebraska, consider a quirky book like Nebraska Off the Beaten Path®: A Guide To Unique Places or Nebraska Curiosities: Quirkly Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff .

Your turn: What’s on your Nebraska bucket list? And what’s missing from this list?

Plan a trip to Nebraska using the ultimate Nebraska bucket list! From outdoor adventures like horseback rides in Western Nebraska to airboat river tours, this post suggests a lot of things to make a Nebraska vacation memorable. #Nebraska #USA #Guide #Midwest #Outdoors

More things to do in Nebraska

So now you know the bucket list of things I want to do and see in my home state, Nebraska. I’ve already seen and done a lot in the state, so here are some of my top picks for you to consider for your own Nebraska Bucket List:

10 Unique Places To Stay In Nebraska

25+ Nebraska Festivals & Events Worth The Road Trip

10 Unforgettable Things To Do In Nebraska This Summer

Guide To Nebraska State Park Cabins

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3 Places To See Changing Leaves Near Omaha

If you’re a hiker, you likely have a favorite nearby spot to see the changing leaves. If you’re not, I’ve got you covered.

Maybe you don’t want to take a hike; maybe you’ve been on Pinterest too much lately and you’ve found a bunch of leaf projects to do with your kid. Maybe you just want to take pictures of your cute kid.

Cute kid with fall foilage.
Cute kid with fall foilage.

Whatever your reason, here are a few suggestions for all thing leafy in the Omaha area:

Fontenelle Forest

For a less rugged hike, you can’t beat the boardwalk at Fontenelle (though you can hit trails there, too). I’m pretty sure, though, that leaf collecting is discouraged there, so look but no touchy. There’s a lot to see and do at Fontenelle in addition to immersing yourself in nature. There’s a fun play area that kids adore, and there’s the temporary exhibit Green Evolution you’ll want to see before it leaves.

Wrong season, but you get the idea that Fontenelle Forest has a lot of leaves, right? Side note, if you get a guided hike there, Kate is an entertaining guide (that's her head poking out up front giving us a "Quit dawdling" glare).
Wrong season, but you get the idea that Fontenelle Forest has a lot of leaves, right? Side note, if you get a guided hike there, Kate is an entertaining guide (that’s her head poking out up front giving us a “Enough lollygagging” glare).

Cost: $8 per person; children 2 and younger are admitted free.

Hitchcock Nature Center

It’s no secret my family loves afternoons at Hitchcock. This time of year is great to go since you’re not sweating profusely as soon as you get out of the car. Stop by the visitors center to check out a kids backpack full of fun “tools” to the hike and then grab a map and hit the trails (some are more strenuous than others so pick the right path for your family’s ability… unless you like hauling a 28-pound toddler up a steep incline).

Cost: Park admission per car is $2; annual permit is $10; backpacks are free to check out.

Hummel Park

Was summer camp ’87 the last time you ventured to Hummel Park in northeast Omaha? It’s time to come back. Time your visit right and you might catch a fun activity on a Saturday afternoon.

Cost: Free