Nebraska is often overlooked as a place to visit, but it has friendly people, interesting natural sights, and friendly cities.
The most people live in Lincoln, which is the state capital, and Omaha. Each of these places is worth a visit because they have both old historic areas and lively cultural scenes to enjoy.
Those who take the time to look around Nebraska will also find some unique Tourist Attractions in Nebraska, like Chimney Rock and the beautiful scenery of the Sandhills.
Don’t just drive by it on Interstate 80; stop for a while and check out our list of the best things to see and do in Nebraska.
- 15. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
- 14. Old Market in Omaha
- 13. Strategic Air and Space Museum, Ashland
- 12. Chimney Rock National Historic Site
- 11. Haymarket District in Lincoln
- 10. Scotts Bluff National Monument
- 09. Golden Spike Tower in North Platte
- 08. Indian Cave State Park
- 07. Carhenge
- 06. A Scenic Driving Tour of the Sandhills
- 05. Ride the Cowboy Trail
- 04. The Archway
- 03. Sandhill Crane Migration
- 02. Joslyn
- 01. Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park
15. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Even though zoos aren’t usually the most exciting thing to see or do in a state, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha is an exception. This unique 160-acre building has the largest indoor desert, indoor jungle, and nocturnal exhibit in the world.
The displays at the aquarium are interesting, and you can touch stingrays as they swim by. Take a ride on a camel if you want to do something really different.
The Lozier IMAX 3D theatre is a great place to watch a movie after a long day of walking. The movies shown there change all the time. At Glacier Bay Landing, an area that looks like an Alaskan seaport, you can eat and let your kids play on the lighthouse.
Address: 3701 S 10th Street, Omaha, Nebraska
14. Old Market in Omaha
The Old Market is a great place to shop, eat, and get a glimpse of what Omaha was like when it was first starting out.
The area feels old and charming because it has streets with cobblestones and buildings from the early part of the 19th century that have been fixed up.
In these interesting buildings, you can find a wide range of shops, from galleries to coffee shops to high-end restaurants.
The Durham Museum and the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge are both close to the Old Market and can be reached on foot.
13. Strategic Air and Space Museum, Ashland
This museum in Ashland, which is halfway between Omaha and Lincoln, has a lot to show for people who like aeroplanes and aviation technology.
The museum first opened in 1959 as the Strategic Air Command. Over the years, it grew, and in 1998 it moved to its current location, which is a more modern building. The name was changed to the Strategic Air and Space Museum after a few years.
The museum is 300,000 square feet big and has many different types of planes, spacecraft, and special exhibits that change often.
The B-17G “Flying Fortress,” the B-25N “Mitchell,” and the MIG-21F “Fishbed-C” are some of the most interesting planes. ICBMs are parked outside the main building (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles). These missiles were made to carry nuclear bombs, but luckily they were never used.
Also on-site is a planetarium with astronomy shows that change with the seasons and motion rides that, for an extra fee, make you feel like you’re in a helicopter or on a roller coaster.
You can come here and then go to the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari at the same time.
Address: 28210 West Park Highway, Ashland, Nebraska
12. Chimney Rock National Historic Site
The Chimney Rock formation is 25 to 24 million years old and stands 480 feet above the surrounding land. In the early to middle 1800s, this dramatic rock spire was a well-known landmark for pioneers heading west.
During the Great Western Migration, when people moved west, waggon trains went through this area. Visitors can get a sense of how the pioneers must have felt when they first got here.
There is a visitor centre on the site that tells people about the formation’s geology and the history of the Overland Trail.
Location: Chimney Rock Road, 1.5 miles off of Highway 92
11. Haymarket District in Lincoln
The Haymarket area is fun to visit any time of year because of its lively atmosphere, great restaurants, and restored historical buildings.
People can walk around the streets made of interlocking bricks and look in the windows of unique shops.
They can also stop at one of the many cafés and restaurants for coffee and snacks. The rebuilt water tower and the town clock are two places to see in this area.
Even though there is always something going on in the Haymarket District, it can get especially busy when the sports teams from the nearby universities have games.
10. Scotts Bluff National Monument
On the Nebraska prairies, this large natural structure can be seen from a long way away. Native Americans who lived in the area used it as a landmark.
In the middle of the 19th century, it was used by pioneers going west on the California, Oregon, and Mormon Trails as well as other travelers.
On the weekends, park rangers dress up in clothes from different times and walk around the park telling stories and giving information about the past.
This 3000 acre national monument was set up in 1919, and many changes have been made to the area since then. Three tunnels are on a road that winds up to the higher elevations.
Hiking trails lead to great spots where you can see the countryside around you. Taking the summit shuttle to the top and then hiking down is a popular choice.
The entrance fee to Scotts Bluff National Monument is $0.
09. Golden Spike Tower in North Platte
The Golden Spike Tower gives you a bird’s-eye view of the Bailey Yard, which is the largest railroad yard in the world. Every day, this yard is visited by more than 150 trains and 10,000 rail cars.
The tower is eight stories tall and is made of glass all the way around. When people look out from the viewing area, they can see the whole Platte river valley beyond the Bailey Yard.
At the base of the tower is the visitor centre, which shows off all kinds of Union Pacific items. Near the edge of North Platte is the Golden Spike Tower.
Address: 1249 North Homestead Road, North Platte
08. Indian Cave State Park
At this state park, the walls of the cave have petroglyphs of nature scenes and animals that are both beautiful and interesting.
The park’s beautiful location on the banks of the Missouri River makes it a popular place for camping and hiking.
There are 22 miles of different and interesting hiking trails that go all around the park. Some of the highlights, like a ridge and the Lincoln Bend Wetlands, can be seen from these trails. Indian Cave State Park is a short drive southeast of Brownville.
In the park, there are two campgrounds called Hackberry Hollow and Ash Grove. Together, they have 134 RV sites with water and electricity (most are 30 amp, but 22 are 50 amp). You can book sites online.
Carhenge is one of the more unusual places to visit in Nebraska. It looks like the more famous Stonehenge, but it was built with cars.
Thirty-nine cars, set up in different ways, stick out of the prairie grasslands and look so much like the real Stonehenge that the same thing happens here as it does in England on the summer solstice.
Carhenge is the main attraction, but there are also a number of other interesting things to see on the site. In one spot, a metal fish comes out of the ground.
Carhenge is a place to visit for free. The Pit Stop is a gift shop where you can buy all kinds of unique items to take home with you.
Location: 3 miles north of Alliance, on Highway 87
06. A Scenic Driving Tour of the Sandhills
The Sandhills area in Nebraska is a nature lover’s dream. It takes up a quarter of the state and is made up of dunes, some of which are 300 feet tall, grasslands, and small lakes.
People often say that the Sandhills are one of the most beautiful places to drive through in the United States.
Highway 2 winds through the landscape and takes people on a 272-mile trip past many interesting natural and man-made sights, such as the strange Carhenge. Most people begin their trip in Grand Island and end it in Alliance.
Valentine National Wildlife Preserve is a great place to go if you like being outside, especially if you like birds.
This beautiful refuge is in the Sandhills area. Thousands of waterfowl live in the shallow lakes that are spread out across the area.
05. Ride the Cowboy Trail
The Cowboy Trail is for you if you’ve always wanted to be a lone cowboy travelling across the Great Plains. This 195-mile trail goes through the northern part of the state along an old Chicago & Northwestern railroad line.
The trail isn’t often used, so you’ll probably have the path and the sky to yourself. There are small towns along the way where you can get food and a place to stay for the night.
The trail is open to people who want to walk, ride horses, or ride mountain bikes. To make sure you have the wind at your back, it’s best to go from west to east. Check the website to see how the trail is before you head out.
04. The Archway
As you drive along I-80 near Kearny, you’ll soon see something that goes across the road. This one-of-a-kind building is called “The Archway,” and it is a museum for travellers who have been here before you.
You can interact with displays about Native Americans, fur trappers, pioneers, railroaders, and many other people who lived in the area.
In addition to the exhibits in the Archway, there is a replica of a sod house, a TrailBlaze Maze that is fun for kids, and a nice lake with picnic tables.
There is also a Nebraska Tourism office on site to help people plan trips all over the state.
Location: Exit 275, I-80, Kearney, Nebraska
03. Sandhill Crane Migration
On the plains of Nebraska, you can see one of the most amazing bird migrations in the world. Every March and the first week or so of April, tens of thousands of sandhill cranes stop in the cornfields to rest and eat the leftover corn kernels. The area east and west of Kearney is the best place to see this show.
Keep a close eye out as you drive along Interstate 80 for tall, skinny birds standing in farmers’ fields or flying around above looking for places to land. There are so many birds that it won’t be hard to find them.
It’s worth going out of your way to stop in Kearney and get a map of the best places to see the sights.
The town and surrounding area have done a good job of giving visitors lookout points and highway pull-offs.
Go to the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary, which is about 20 minutes from Kearney, for a more in-depth experience.
The Joslyn Art Museum has a collection of fine art that you can look at. It is one of the most famous museums in the state and is in Omaha. It has art from ancient times to the present day.
One of the largest collections of art in Nebraska is at the Joslyn Art Museum. It opened in 1931 and is now a popular place for tourists to visit in Nebraska. Every year, more than 100,000 people go there.
In the museum, there are both permanent and temporary displays that people can look at. It has pieces by American artists, European masters, and modern and contemporary artists from the last 100 years. Some of the most famous artists you’ll see in the galleries are Chihuly, Renoir, and Matisse.
The Joslyn Art Museum is different from others because it has a lot of Western and Native American art. You can see a lot of art that shows the area and learn about its history at the same time.
Check out the outdoor sculpture garden while you are there.
Address: 2200 Dodge St, Omaha, NE 68102
01. Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park
Buffalo Bill has made a name for himself in the Wild West through his work. The Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park now keeps his history alive. In his old house, where the park is now, people can learn all about him.
The Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park tells the story of his life, from when he was a child to when he became famous.
Visitors can go on a self-guided tour of his home to learn about his life and see artefacts that have been kept.
Who would have thought that a boy who grew up in this old house would become one of the best-known showmen in the West?
On its 25 acres, the park also has a barn house and a log cabin, among other buildings. There are hiking trails close by, and you can camp on the property. Now, the main house is a National Historic Landmark.
Address: 2921 Scouts Rest Ranch Rd, North Platte, NE 69101
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