Nebraska, often referred to as the “Cornhusker State,” is an often-overlooked gem in the heart of the United States. While this Midwestern state may not be as well-known as some of its neighbors, such as Colorado or Kansas, it offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and historical landmarks. From bustling cities to serene landscapes, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Nebraska.
In this article, we will explore the top ten places to visit in Nebraska, each offering its own distinctive charm and allure.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Nebraska
Below is a list of the top 10 places to visit in Nebraska. Each of these places offer a unique experience for travel lovers:
- Chimney Rock National Historic Site
- DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge
- Niobrara National Scenic River
- Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
- Nebraska State Capitol
Let’s get into the details of each of these places now.
Located on the banks of the Missouri River, Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska and an urban hub that effortlessly combines big-city amenities with a friendly, Midwestern feel. Visitors can explore the historic Old Market district, filled with charming shops, galleries, and restaurants housed in preserved old-brick warehouses. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, one of the city’s crown jewels, offers a world-class wildlife experience, featuring immersive exhibits and a renowned desert dome.
Art aficionados will delight in the Joslyn Art Museum, known for its vast collection of European works spanning centuries. Sports enthusiasts can catch a baseball game at the TD Ameritrade Park, home to the College World Series. With its vibrant cultural scene and dynamic attractions, Omaha is a must-visit destination in Nebraska.
For more information about Omaha, you can visit this link.
Home to the University of Nebraska and the state capital, Lincoln is a bustling city that seamlessly blends rich history and modern amenities. The Nebraska State Capitol, an architectural marvel featuring a unique tower and beautiful mosaics, is a must-visit attraction. The Sunken Gardens, a meticulously landscaped oasis in the heart of the city, offers a peaceful retreat for nature lovers.
For history enthusiasts, the Nebraska History Museum provides a comprehensive look into the state’s past, from Native American artifacts to pioneer heritage exhibits. The Haymarket District, a lively neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants, and art galleries, is the perfect place to experience the city’s vibrant atmosphere. With its vibrant arts and culture scene, educational institutions, and historical landmarks, Lincoln is a top destination in Nebraska.
For more information about Lincoln, you can visit this link.
Located in the western part of Nebraska, Scottsbluff is a charming city nestled at the foothills of the iconic landmark, Scotts Bluff National Monument. The monument, a towering rock formation that served as a prominent landmark for travelers along the Oregon Trail, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding plains. Visitors can hike the trails, explore the visitor center, and learn about the arduous journeys of pioneers who once traversed the area.
Another notable attraction is the Legacy of the Plains Museum, showcasing the agricultural heritage of the region with exhibits on farming equipment, homesteading, and the role of irrigation. With its unique geological formations and rich history, Scottsbluff is a captivating destination for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
For more information about Scottsbluff, you can visit this link.
4. Chimney Rock National Historic Site
One of the most recognizable landmarks in Nebraska, Chimney Rock stands proudly as a testament to the pioneers who traversed the Oregon Trail in the 19th century. This imposing rock formation, rising 325 feet above the prairie, served as a significant milestone for travelers on their quest for better opportunities in the West.
Today, the Chimney Rock National Historic Site offers visitors a chance to explore the interactive visitor center, which provides insights into the history and challenges faced by the pioneers. Additionally, there are hiking trails that allow visitors to get closer to this awe-inspiring natural wonder. For those with an adventurous spirit and an interest in American history, a visit to Chimney Rock is a must-do when in Nebraska.
For more information about Chimney Rock National Historic Site, you can visit this link.
5. DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge
Located on the banks of the Missouri River, the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. The refuge encompasses over 8,000 acres of diverse habitats, including wetlands, woodlands, and grasslands, providing a sanctuary for a wide array of wildlife species. Birdwatchers flock to the refuge to spot migratory birds, including Canada geese, white pelicans, and bald eagles.
Visitors can explore the refuge through various hiking trails, observing the flora and fauna in their natural habitats. The DeSoto Visitor Center offers educational exhibits and programs, giving visitors an in-depth understanding of the preservation efforts and the importance of protecting these natural ecosystems. Whether you’re a bird lover or simply appreciate the beauty of untouched nature, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge offers a captivating experience for all who visit.
For more information about DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, you can visit this link.
6. Niobrara National Scenic River
Flowing through the picturesque sandstone canyons of north-central Nebraska, the Niobrara National Scenic River provides a tranquil escape into the heart of nature. Visitors can embark on a scenic float trip along the river, surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Sandhills region. The river offers excellent opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing, allowing adventurers to immerse themselves in the serenity of the landscape.
Nature enthusiasts can marvel at the diverse wildlife that calls this area home, including deer, beavers, and a variety of bird species. The river’s banks also feature campsites and picnic areas, providing the perfect setting for a peaceful outing. Whether you choose to embark on a river adventure or simply relax on the riverbanks, the Niobrara National Scenic River is a hidden gem in Nebraska worth exploring.
For more information about Niobrara National Scenic River, you can visit this link.
Stretching across a substantial portion of central Nebraska, the Sandhills is a unique and captivating natural region. This expanse of grass-covered sand dunes is one of the largest stabilized dune formations in the world. The Sandhills offer a serene landscape of rolling hills and open skies, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts seeking peace and solitude.
Visitors can witness the beauty of the Sandhills by hiking through the trails, observing the diverse flora and fauna that thrive in this ecosystem. The region also provides ample opportunities for photography, star gazing, and wildlife spotting. The Sandhills truly embody the essence of Nebraska’s natural beauty, offering a serene and untouched wilderness that is unlike any other.
For more information about Sandhills, you can visit this link.
A quirky yet remarkable attraction, Carhenge is a homage to the famous Stonehenge in England, but with a creative twist. Situated in the small town of Alliance, Carhenge consists of vintage cars arranged in a circular formation, replicating the iconic stone monument. The unique amalgamation of art and automotive culture draws visitors from all around the world.
As you explore this unconventional exhibit, you can marvel at the creativity and ingenuity it took to construct this automotive wonder. Additionally, the Carhenge Visitor Center provides interesting insights into the history and significance of this peculiar landmark. A visit to Carhenge offers a memorable and lighthearted experience that truly showcases the diversity of attractions found in Nebraska.
For more information about Carhenge, you can visit this link.
9. Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Regarded as one of the best zoos in the world, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha offers an extraordinary wildlife experience. Spanning over 130 acres, this sprawling zoo is home to over 17,000 animals, representing a wide range of species from all corners of the globe. Visitors can witness the incredible strength of gorillas at the Gorilla Valley, explore the lush rainforest habitats of the Desert Dome, or come face-to-face with marine life at the Scott Aquarium.
The zoo also offers immersive exhibits, such as the Butterfly and Insect Pavilion and the Lied Jungle, allowing visitors to engage with the natural world in a captivating and educational manner. With its dedication to conservation and its world-class exhibits, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a must-visit attraction for animal lovers of all ages.
For more information about Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, you can visit this link.
10. Nebraska State Capitol
Nestled in the heart of Lincoln, the Nebraska State Capitol is an architectural masterpiece that showcases the state’s rich history and civic pride. Designed by renowned architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, the capitol building features a distinctive blend of Art Deco and Neo-Gothic styles. Visitors can explore the interior, highlighted by stunning murals, intricate mosaics, and ornate sculptures that pay homage to Nebraska’s heritage.
The highlight of the visit is a trip to the 14th-floor observation deck, offering panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside. The capitol grounds also feature various monuments and memorials, including the Nebraska Law Enforcement Memorial and the Sower Statue. For a fascinating glimpse into Nebraska’s political and cultural landscape, a visit to the Nebraska State Capitol is a must.
For more information about Nebraska State Capitol, you can visit this link.
Discover Nebraska: Essential Tourism Links
Below are a number of great resources to help you learn more about Nebraska:
Hopefully these links are helpful in your future exploration of the amazing place that is Nebraska.
Nebraska may not always be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a trip, but it offers a remarkable array of experiences for every type of traveler. From the vibrant cities of Omaha and Lincoln to the serene beauty of Scottsbluff and the Sandhills, there is something to captivate and inspire at every turn. Whether you are exploring the region’s rich history, immersing yourself in its natural wonders, or indulging in its quirky attractions, Nebraska promises a memorable and fulfilling journey. So, pack your bags, and discover the hidden treasures that await in the cornfields and prairies of the Cornhusker State.