This post brought to you by Nebraska Tourism. The content and opinions expressed below are that of The Mommy Bunch.
Ready to plan your next road trip? Want to take the family someplace new and interesting? Have you considered Nebraska? There are so many things to do in Nebraska that many don’t realize!
One of my favorite things to do is find new destinations to experience with my family. I’m not talking about jet-setting all over the world (although that is fun too), I’m talking about places we can drive to, places we can go to experience all our country has to offer. Places like Nebraska.
What Does Nebraska Have To Offer?
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There are lots of things to do in Nebraska, but let me give you a few of the best ones so you can start planning your next great family experience!
Nebraska’s panhandle scenery changes so dramatically from south to north: rolling hills and wide open plains, Wildcat Hills, North Platte River Valley, Sandhills, and Pine Ridge. It’s like driving through four or five different states all in one.
Some of the must-see sites listed below are places that anyone is sure to love.
Take in the view, explore the are on a self-guided tour, and have a relaxing picnic while at Toadstool Geologic Park.
Go on a trail ride with the kids, hunt for big game, enjoy the scenery out your cabin door. Check out Nebraska’s first state park year round!
Stay where blue-coated cavalrymen once bunked. Take a trial ride, a historic tour, go fishing, hiking, or jeep riding. Check out Fort Robinson State Park, which offers so much to do and amazing scenery to do it in!
Ever wanted to see some of the Oregon Trail? Check out Chimney Rock, which boasts the most recognized landmark along this historic trail. You really have to see it in person to appreciate the majesty of it and imagine what relief early settlers must have felt knowing they were on the right path.
Another landmark on the Oregon Trail, Scott’s Bluff is rich with geological and paleontological history. Check out the drive through tunnels, hike a trail, and head to the Visitor’s Center to learn more about this fantastic area.
One of my personal favorites is Carhenge. The kids love unique things like this, I love that it is free. Carhenge is a replica of Stonehenge constructed out of old cars. Constructed in 1987 by the Jim Reinders family in memory of his father.
One of the most unique areas in the world, and spanning almost 20,000 square miles (one-fourth the area of Nebraska), The Sandhills is the largest sand dune formation in the Western Hemisphere.
Following the last ice age, the wind took hold of the loose sand, blowing it into vast dunes reaching up to nearly 400 feet in height and stretching 20 miles across the landscape. Precipitation allowed grassland plants to take root in the shifting sand, eventually stabilizing the dunes and holding them in place.
Throughout the history of the Sandhills, major droughts have occurred several times, resulting in less plant life and more exposure of the sands to the wind. Consequently, different areas have shifted during the past several thousand years. In more recent times, the Sandhills have been carefully managed by cattle ranchers in order to preserve the stability of the dunes so that they do not revert back to a desert-like state.
Another unique aspect of the Nebraska Sandhills is that it is resting on one of the largest aquifers in the world. The Ogallala Aquifer consists of 1 billion acre-feet of groundwater and comes above the surface at the base of many dunes. Thus the Sandhills is a region of dry and sandy grassland dunes with many thousands of lakes and wetlands scattered among them.
Some areas of interest in the Sandhills are outlined below. These are all great things to do in Nebraska.
- Kinkaider Brewery – a farm brewery located in Broken Bow, the gateway to the beautiful sandhills. Sample small batch, hand crafted beer using ingredients right from their farm.
- Calamus Outfitters – enjoy river trips, Jeep tours, birdwatching, and more.
- Rowe’s 1+! Ranch – a real working ranch where you have the opportunity to learn to work cattle, ride, rope, brand, drive the herd, and sort cattle. If you ever wanted to really be a cowboy, this is the place for you!
- Scratchtown Brewing Company – handcrafted local beer that prides itself on simplicity and Nebraska’s Sandhills water. Stop in a try a sample.
- Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area – with nearly 3,000 acres of water, this sparkling reservoir is open year round. A great place for boating!
- Nebraska National Forest – the largest hand-planted forest in the world! A great place for camping, hiking and picnicking.
Holiday Lights and Nightlife in Omaha & Lincoln
Nebraska’s two largest cities are only about 50 miles apart and full of surprises. Take in Omaha’s dining scene, enjoy shopping the Old Market and spend a night out on the town with Omaha’s hopping nightlife crowd. In Lincoln find fine culinary, artistic treasures, live music, a spectacular trail system and the friendly hospitality the state is known for. Lincoln offers big city style with countryside charm.
- Downtown Omaha – Old Market, The Boiler Room, Ice Skating & Holiday Lights Festival at Gene Leahy Mall
- Music & Live Performances – The Waiting Room Lounge & The Slowdown & Holland Performing Arts Center
- Lincoln –
- Railyard & Haymarket (side-by-side entertainment areas in Lincoln, old meets new)
- Trendy Places to eat and drink – LeadBellys, Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill, The Oven, Blue Sushi & Sake Bar, The Other Room (This speakeasy-style bar embraces an air of mystery, complete with a secret address and a speakeasy-style back alley door one must knock upon to enter, unless the light outside is glowing red. That means the room’s at capacity — 25 people. Hint: The bar shares a courtyard with Tavern on the Square, 816 P St.)
Nestled between Omaha and Lincoln, you’ll find what my husband calls the only way to camp — glamping at Slattery Estates! This vineyard is an escape from the stresses of the city, boasting a tasting room, wood-fired pizza, and gourmet camping.
Whether you are visiting Nebraska for the first time or enjoying a return visit, there are plenty of Wide Open Spaces for all to enjoy, extraordinarily nice people, beautiful scenery, and great hospitality. There really is so much to do in Nebraska, you may plan your next visit before you leave from your first!
Ready to plan a trip? Know of more awesome things in Nebraska?
Tell us your best things to do in Nebraska!