Nebraska, the heartland of America, is a state filled with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. From breathtaking natural wonders to historical landmarks and vibrant cultural experiences, Nebraska offers a wide array of activities for travelers. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or a food lover, this article will guide you through the best things to do in Nebraska.
1. Exploring Nature
Nebraska boasts an abundance of natural beauty, making it a haven for nature lovers. With vast prairies, rolling hills, and picturesque landscapes, there’s no shortage of outdoor wonders to explore.
1.1 National Parks
Bold Ridge State Recreation Area: A Serene Escape Bold Ridge State Recreation Area, nestled along the picturesque Missouri River, is a perfect getaway for outdoor enthusiasts. With its sprawling forests, tranquil lakes, and abundant wildlife, this park offers opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing, and boating.
Vivacious Valley National Park: Nature’s Masterpiece Vivacious Valley National Park is a hidden gem, known for its stunning rock formations and scenic trails. Visitors can embark on hiking adventures, witness mesmerizing sunsets, and even catch a glimpse of the elusive bighorn sheep.
1.2 Wildlife Viewing
Wildlife Safari: Get Up Close and Personal For those seeking encounters with Nebraska’s wildlife, a visit to the Wildlife Safari is a must. This sanctuary provides a safe haven for endangered species like the sandhill crane, bison, and bald eagle. Take a guided tour and witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
2. Historical Landmarks
Nebraska’s rich history is beautifully preserved in its numerous historical landmarks, offering visitors a glimpse into the past.
Pioneering Heritage Museum: Celebrating Nebraska’s Pioneers Step back in time at the Pioneering Heritage Museum, where you can learn about the courageous pioneers who settled in Nebraska. Explore interactive exhibits, view authentic artifacts, and gain insight into the challenges and triumphs of early settlers.
Scotts Bluff National Monument: A Monument to History Scotts Bluff National Monument stands as a testament to the pioneers’ arduous journey along the Oregon Trail. Hike to the summit and marvel at panoramic views of the Platte River Valley, or explore the visitor center to delve deeper into the history of the region.
3. Cultural Experiences
Immerse yourself in Nebraska’s vibrant culture and get a taste of its artistic and cultural offerings.
Old Market District: A Quaint Haven The Old Market District in Omaha is a lively neighborhood filled with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, savor local cuisine, and browse unique shops offering handmade crafts and artworks.
Native American Heritage Museum: Honoring Indigenous Culture The Native American Heritage Museum showcases the rich cultural heritage of Nebraska’s indigenous tribes. From intricate beadwork to traditional dance performances, this museum provides a captivating insight into the history and traditions of Native American communities.
4. Outdoor Activities
Adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of thrilling activities to indulge in across Nebraska’s diverse landscapes.
Sandboarding in the Sandhills: A Unique Experience Experience the exhilaration of sandboarding on the vast sand dunes of the Nebraska Sandhills. Rent a sandboard, slide down the sandy slopes, and feel the adrenaline rush as you conquer the ever-shifting terrain.
Floating the Niobrara River: A Relaxing Escape Float along the scenic Niobrara River and immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Nebraska’s countryside. Enjoy a leisurely canoe or kayak trip, surrounded by lush greenery and the soothing sounds of nature.
5. Culinary Delights
Nebraska’s culinary scene offers a delightful fusion of flavors, showcasing the state’s agricultural abundance and diverse cultural influences.
Farm-to-Table Dining: Freshness on Every Plate Indulge in farm-to-table dining experiences, where local ingredients take center stage. From juicy steaks to farm-fresh produce, Nebraska’s restaurants pride themselves on serving delicious dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
Runza: Nebraska’s Iconic Comfort Food Don’t miss the opportunity to try a Nebraska classic—the Runza. This savory pastry filled with beef, cabbage, and onions has become a beloved comfort food in the state. Sample this tasty treat at one of the many local Runza restaurants.
6. Festivals and Events
Throughout the year, Nebraska hosts a variety of festivals and events that celebrate its culture, heritage, and local traditions.
Nebraska State Fair: A Celebration of Community Join the festivities at the Nebraska State Fair, where you can experience the best the state has to offer. From thrilling rides and live entertainment to agricultural exhibits and mouthwatering fair food, this event promises fun for the whole family.
Kool-Aid Days: Sipping on Nostalgia Pay homage to Nebraska’s culinary heritage at Kool-Aid Days, a festival dedicated to the iconic drink invented in the state. Enjoy Kool-Aid-inspired activities, taste unique flavors, and revel in the nostalgic atmosphere.
7. Shopping Excursions
Shopaholics will find delight in Nebraska’s array of shopping destinations, offering everything from boutique finds to national brands.
Nebraska Crossing Outlets: Retail Therapy at Its Best Explore the Nebraska Crossing Outlets, a premier shopping destination with over 80 brand-name stores. Shop for designer fashion, home decor, and accessories, all at discounted prices.
Historic Haymarket District: Quirky Boutiques and More In Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket District, you’ll discover an eclectic mix of boutiques, art galleries, and specialty shops. Browse unique finds, support local artisans, and immerse yourself in the district’s vibrant atmosphere.
8. Family-friendly Fun
Nebraska is a fantastic destination for families, offering a plethora of activities that cater to all age groups.
Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium: A World of Wonder Visit the renowned Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, consistently ranked among the best in the world. Explore the diverse exhibits, interact with animals, and embark on a thrilling adventure through the zoo’s captivating habitats.
Eugene T. Mahoney State Park: Outdoor Adventures for All Eugene T. Mahoney State Park provides endless opportunities for family fun. From water activities at the aquatic center to horseback riding, hiking, and mini-golf, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
9. Sports and Recreation
Sports enthusiasts will find their paradise in Nebraska, with a range of sports activities and venues to explore.
College Football Frenzy: Catch a Game Nebraska is renowned for its passionate college football culture. Join the sea of red at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln or experience the electric atmosphere of a game day tailgate, immersing yourself in the excitement of Nebraska Cornhuskers football.
Golfing Getaways: Tee Off in Scenic Surroundings With its beautifully manicured golf courses and stunning landscapes, Nebraska offers a haven for golf enthusiasts. Swing your clubs at top-rated courses like Sand Hills Golf Club or Wild Horse Golf Club, enjoying the serene beauty while perfecting your game.
10. Unforgettable Road Trips
Embark on a memorable road trip through Nebraska’s picturesque countryside, uncovering hidden gems along the way.
Highway 2 Adventure: From City Lights to Natural Delights Drive along Highway 2, starting in Omaha and ending in Alliance, for an unforgettable journey. Marvel at the vast prairies, visit charming small towns, and witness the stunning Chimney Rock National Historic Site—an iconic landmark on the Oregon Trail.
The Western Trails: Tracing the Path of Pioneers Follow the Western Trails route, retracing the footsteps of pioneers. From Omaha to Scottsbluff, experience the heritage of the Oregon Trail, marvel at the beauty of Nebraska’s sandhills, and visit historical sites that played a significant role in westward expansion.
11. Hidden Gems
Nebraska is home to hidden gems that offer unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences for adventurous travelers.
Carhenge: Nebraska’s Quirky Landmark Discover Carhenge, an eccentric replica of Stonehenge made entirely from vintage cars. This captivating roadside attraction in Alliance will leave you in awe of human creativity and Nebraska’s whimsical charm.
Toadstool Geologic Park: A Martian Landscape Explore Toadstool Geologic Park, a surreal landscape that resembles something out of a science fiction movie. Marvel at the whimsical rock formations, hike through otherworldly canyons, and witness breathtaking sunsets in this geological wonderland.
Nebraska offers a wealth of experiences for every type of traveler. From exploring its natural wonders to immersing yourself in its rich history, indulging in culinary delights, and engaging in thrilling outdoor activities, there’s no shortage of things to do in Nebraska. So, plan your trip, pack your bags, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the heartland of America.
1. Is Nebraska a safe destination for travelers? Nebraska is generally a safe destination for travelers. As with any travel, it’s always a good idea to take basic safety precautions and stay aware of your surroundings.
2. When is the best time to visit Nebraska? The best time to visit Nebraska is during the spring and fall when the weather is pleasant, and nature is at its most vibrant. However, each season offers its own unique charm, so plan your visit based on your preferences.
3. Can I experience the famous Nebraska Sandhills? Absolutely! The Nebraska Sandhills offer a unique and beautiful landscape to explore. You can go sandboarding, take scenic drives, or simply soak in the tranquility of this natural wonder.
4. Are there any famous events or festivals in Nebraska? Nebraska hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including the Nebraska State Fair, Kool-Aid Days, and the College World Series. Check the event calendars to plan your visit accordingly.
5. What are some must-try dishes in Nebraska? Don’t miss out on trying the iconic Runza, indulging in farm-to-table cuisine, and savoring juicy steaks, which are all staples of Nebraska’s culinary scene.