This is truly the summer of road trips. A few weeks ago, I shared some Iowa road trips and one reader asked if I had a similar round-up of Nebraska road trips. Well, to be honest, no, I hadn’t written one…until now. Here are a few of my favorite destinations in Nebraska, as well as suggestions from other Nebraska bloggers. Happy travels!
Nebraska Road Trips
Ashfall Fossil Beds
Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park is a fascinating Natural Landmark located right here in Nebraska!
See complete skeletons of barrel-bodied rhinos, three-toed horses, llama-like camels, and saber-tooth deer that were entombed in volcanic ash 12 million years ago. These skeletons are preserved for an amazing viewing and discovery experience!
The historical park is located in northeast Nebraska, near Royal.
Brownville is a charming small town that celebrates the arts in a big way. Seriously, they have more than their fair share of galleries and bookstores, as well as a winery and well-known summer theater.
The town has a lovely trail through it, as well. Add to your day trip by visiting Indian Cave State Park, located not too far from Brownville.
Fort Robinson State Park
There's so much to do at Fort Robinson, one day will not be enough. The state park, one of Nebraska's most popular, offers typical park activities like horseback riding and natural history, as well as some more unique experiences like off-road jeep rides and horse-drawn stagecoach rides.
If you've ever dreamed of seeing a rodeo or attending a chuckwagon dinner, this is the park to go to.
Homestead National Monument
Nebraska doesn't have many national parks, but one that tells the story of our state and the U.S.: Homestead National Monument in Beatrice.
Featuring educational centers, trails, and a Junior Rangers program, you can spend an afternoon here. Read on to learn more about experiencing hands-on history of the 1862 Homestead Act at this monument.
Hudson-Meng Bison Kill Site
The name of this place alone is enough to catch your attention, right? The Hudson-Meng Bison Kill site is one of the most important paleo-archeological discoveries in North America.
Located in the Oglala National Grassland in northwestern Nebraska, the archeological site is also home to an active education and research center.
Take the 6-mile round trip hike from Hudson Meng to Toadstool Geological Park to see out-of-this-world land formations you'd never expect in Nebraska.
Indian Cave State Park
A gorgeous state park near the Missouri River, Indian Cave attracts campers and hikers from around the state. The name derives from the historic cave there, which isn't a cave you enter, that features prehistoric Native American petroglyphs.
This park has a small living history area and is known for its Halloween celebrations each year.
One of our favorite destinations in the state of Nebraska, Lincoln is full of fun things to do. A family-friendly city, don't skip taking the kids to Morrill Hall to learn about natural history, Lincoln Children's Museum, and the Lincoln Children's Zoo.
For food, head for downtown Lincoln and find something inviting in the Hay Market or go to our favorite, Honest Abe's.
Mahoney State Park
You can spend an entire weekend at Mahoney State Park and never leave. There's horseback riding, a huge aquatic center with water slides, and putt putt golf, among other outdoorsy options. Reserve a cabin and have a blast.
But if you did so, you'd miss nearby attractions in Ashland. Consider planning a visit to nearby Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum or the drive-thru Wildlife Safari.
While most people think of Nebraska City as a fall destination to pick apples or meander pumpkin patches, it's also a fun place to visit in the summer.
The Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure is a must-visit for active families. It features trails, the TreeTop Village, and a nature playscape. Take a tour of the acreage and sample some of the rare, heritage apples.
For another orchard experience, go to Kimmel Orchard. While there, don't forget to order fresh apple cider donuts!
Niobrara River, tucked in the beautiful Sandhills of northcentral Nebraska, is a prime spot for canoeing and tubing. Most float trips plan to stop at Smith Falls, a tall waterfall that's absolutely freezing to dip your head into (and welcoming on a hot, summer day).
We stay the weekend for a trip like this, reserving a motel room in nearby Valentine. There are also options to camp along the river with outfitters.
North Platte has two historic sides to explore on a modern-day visit: Buffalo Bill and the railroad. Plan on learning a bit about both when you visit this western Nebraska city.
Home to several museums (including a children's museum) and Bailey Yard, is the largest switchyard in the world, there is plenty for the history buffs and train buffs to enjoy. But if you want just a fun time, plan a stop Cody Go Karts Fun Park.
You'll cover a lot of miles exploring the Panhandle region of Nebraska - it's the entire far northwestern part of the state.
Much of the state's most unique landscapes can be found in the panhandle, including Toadstool Geological Park and Scottsbluff National Monument. The area is also rich with history, from museums exploring pioneers, the fur trade, and Native American artifacts.
The region is also home to one of the state's quirkiest attractions: Carhenge, located near Alliance.
Platte River State Park
Its waterfall and scenic trails are a big draw, but Platte River State Park's popularity may be due to its proximity to Omaha and other state parks. Plan on a full weekend at the park, fishing, horseback riding, and letting the kids cool off at the sprayground.
Extend the fun by visiting the nearby Louisville State Recreation Area, which has a large inflatable obstacle course.
Plattsmouth is home to one of the state's most charming Main Streets, where you'll find shops, restaurants, and a small museum.
It's easy to pair a stop here with a longer visit to Nebraska City.
How far is this road trip from Omaha?
Nebraska is a lot bigger than you’d think, or at least, it feels really large when driving across it. Almost everything on this list is better enjoyed with, at least, an overnight planned. A whole weekend is even better. Be sure to check out this post about Nebraska road trip stops to help break up any of the longer drives!
Plattsmouth – 20 miles from Omaha (day trip)
Mahoney State Park – 30 miles from Omaha (day trip, but overnight is better)
Platte River State Park – 30 miles from Omaha
Nebraska City – 45 miles from Omaha (there’s so much, plan for an overnight)
Lincoln – 60 miles from Omaha (there’s so much, plan for an overnight)
Brownville – 75 miles from Omaha (day trip)
Homestead National Monument – 100 miles from Omaha
Ashfall Fossil Beds – 175 miles from Omaha
North Platte – 280 miles from Omaha
Pandhandle – 450 miles from Omaha
Fort Robinson State Park – 460 miles from Omaha
Hudson-Meng Bison Kill Site – 480 miles from Omaha
Of course, there are many more places to visit, from off-the-beaten path gems in Nebraska to quirky places to stay in Nebraska. For a larger list of inspiration, read 101 Things To Do In Nebraska.
If you’re more inclined to plan a trip around food (you’re my people), here are lists for planning a Nebraska Donut Road Trip or a Nebraska Ice Cream Road Trip.
Planning a road trip to Omaha?
When writing this blog post, I wondered if I should include Omaha on the list. Certainly, I have a lot of readers outside of Omaha. But, alas, I don’t have just one blog post about a trip to Omaha. Instead, I’ll share several links to help you plan a trip to the city:
Downtown Omaha Hotels & Restaurants
40+ Expert Tips For Visiting Omaha’s Zoo
Thursday 18th of June 2020
Thank you so much for including my adventures as a part of this great post! I appreciate it!