Sometimes we don’t have to travel very far to discover an amazing destination. Sometimes that destination is right in our own backyard. For those living in the Midwest, Nebraska is one such place. It’s centrally located with a variety of unexpected attractions that might surprise visitors and natives alike. Whether you have been there before, or still need to explore the state, here are the best things to do in Nebraska to help plan your trip.
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!
Table of Contents
Best Places to Visit in Nebraska
1. Nebraska’s National Monuments
Nebraska has some amazing natural wonders to explore and a Nebraska road trip allows you to visit all of its amazing attractions. Don’t miss Chimney Rock, a 300 foot natural spire that was a major reference point on the journey west for early explorers.
Toadstool Geologic Park in the western Nebraska Badlands is where the geological formations look like giant toadstools and visitors feel like they’ve landed on another planet.
Scotts Bluff National Monument is another landmark which has been important for everyone from Native Americans to modern travelers as a reference point on their adventures west.
The Ashfall Fossil Beds are a unique park with the with fossil skeletons of animals that died at a watering hole following that massive volcanic eruption 12 million years ago. Dinosaur lovers of all ages will love this! These are only a few of the many natural destinations to explore throughout the state.
2. Omaha restaurants don’t disappoint
Omaha may be known for its steak, but it has a fabulous array of vegan, farm to table, and ethnic restaurants. The Old Market is a turn-of-the-century marketplace of brick streets and buildings. It features a variety of quaint restaurants and shops and is a fun place to hang out any day of the week.
If you don’t know where to begin, take a food tour of downtown and sample your way through different restaurants, then come back later for a dinner at your favorite place.
3. Fun in downtown Lincoln any time of day
The Historic Haymarket District in Lincoln has existed since 1867 as the original market square where wagons, camping equipment, and hay were bought and sold. It has been at its present location a few blocks away since 1874.
The area consists of shopping, art galleries, fun nightspots, unique dining experiences, and microbreweries that draw locals and visitors day and night.
Adjacent to the area is The Railyard on Canopy Street, with restaurants & bars, live entertainment, and a public market. Visitors to Lincoln won’t know where to begin with all there is to choose from.
4. Natural wonders in Nebraska
The Sandhills of Nebraska cover 20,000 square miles and is an area of massive sand dunes reaching up to 400 feet high. This is the largest sand dune formation in the Western Hemisphere and is quite a sight to behold.
The dunes rest upon the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest in the world, and water comes above the surface at the base of many dunes. As a result, the Sandhills is a unique region of dry and sandy grassland dunes intermingled with thousands of lakes and wetlands making it perfect for a variety of adventures.
The Niobrara National Scenic River flows over 76 miles through the state, past dramatic bluffs and incredible wildlife. One of the best ways to explore the scenic sandstone cliffs is by canoe, allowing up close views of the river and some of its 230+ waterfalls. Who wouldn’t love to do this?
5. The Omaha Zoo and unique attractions in Nebraska
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo is not your typical zoo. It features the world’s largest aquarium inside a zoo, America’s largest indoor jungle, and the world’s largest indoor desert. With thousands of animals from around the globe, it is the perfect place for any family adventure.
If museums are more your speed, try the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in Ashland where visitors learn about aviation history, see planes and spacecraft from all over the world, and even experience simulator rides.
The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer tells the history of the first settlers of Nebraska.
The Joslyn Museum is the fine arts museum in Omaha, and there are Children’s Museums in both Lincoln and Omaha.
Those looking for some unique attractions in Nebraska will want to head to Museum of the Fur Trade, Carhenge, or the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed. All are sure to appeal to a variety of ages and interests.