Nothing much to see in Nebraska… Except for the world’s largest railroad yard, one of most scenic routes in the nation, a place where cattle (1.9 million) outnumber the people and… fossils of a hog-like creature also known as a hell-pig which went extinct about 16 million years ago.
No, we were not serious, you have so many attractions and great places to visit in Nebraska!
Don’t overlook this city, or make it a quick stop, because there are plenty wonderful things waiting for you here! Hop on the bike and start exploring!
Many of the attractions can be visited on foot or are only a short drive from the main city center area. One of the best places to start a tour, spend an afternoon, or enjoy a meal in the evening is the old historic district. Tastefully restored buildings in this central area now house restaurants, shops, and galleries. Cruise down the river in a riverboat, explore the Joslyn Art Museum which houses works of art from around the world, stroll through the Old Market area, visit the zoo and aquarium, view unique exhibits at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and learn about Omaha’s history at the Durham Museum.
Nearby is the waterfront, with lovely parkland and the impressive Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Omaha’s zoo boasts not only the worlds largest indoor desert but also North America’s largest indoor rainforest. Over 7 acres of indoor exhibits, thousands of animals and underground caves covering a total of 130 acres! Plus the zoo is open all year making it great for rainy days too.
Lincoln, the capital city of Nebraska, is a college town with an outdoorsy, hip vibe. Visitors of all ages and interests will be able to find something to do.
Just 200 years ago, this eastern fringe of what’s now considered the American Midwest was still a land of swaying buffalo grass, roaring buffalo herds and Pawnee Indian settlements, engulfed by the territories of the Great Sioux.
Now, Lincoln is home to a wealth of museums and cultural attractions, but it is also a university city with an active and vibrant atmosphere.
Start with the Historic Haymarket District, a wonderful place to stroll around, grab a bite to eat, or just people watch. Then, you must see the Nebraska's State Capitol, designed by architect Bertram Goodhue. The interior is adorned with beautiful artwork, including many mosaic murals, and can be toured daily on the hour except at noon.
Most certainly you have your bike with you, so take a ride to the most notable building which is the Lincoln station. Once a railway depot, today it houses the visitor center and a restaurant.
3. Grand Island
Theatre, fine art galleries, concerts, and the historic Grand Theatre in downtown offer plenty of culture for your wonderful weekends in Grand Island.
As for a full outdoor recreation, you have here 325 acres of parkland and open space as well as community facilities and also athletic fields, the hike/bike trails, playgrounds, lakes public facilities, and swimming pools.
Try them on! Give it a ride!
4. Scotts Bluff National Monument
Towering 800 feet above the North Platte River, Scotts Bluff has served as a landmark for peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails to modern travelers.
Rich with geological and paleontological history as well as human history, there is much to discover while exploring the 3,000 acres of Scotts Bluff National Monument. Though one could spend an entire day enjoying the beauty of Scotts Bluff National Monument, plan a stay for a minimum of two hours to fully enjoy the park.
Browsing the exhibits in the museum, watching the 12-minute video on the Oregon Trail, driving to the top of the bluff and hiking the trails are the most popular activities at Scotts Bluff.
5. CourtHouse and Jail Rocks
These unusual rock formations were two of the first "road signs" met by westward travelers.
Located near present-day Bridgeport, the Courthouse and Jail Rocks are the erosional remnants of an ancient plateau that bisected the North Platte River. The rocks sit at over 4,050 feet above sea level and rise more than 240 feet above nearby Pumpkin Creek. Like Chimney Rock, these rock structures have long been recognized by pioneers as prominent landmarks on the transcontinental journey west.
Jail Rock may well be the most difficult summit to reach on publicly-accessible lands in Nebraska. It is not the steepest or highest summit in the state, but its limited supply of climber-friendly characteristics would make it very unattainable to all the most skillful climbers in the country. Curious enough to take your change?
6. Chimney Rock National Historic Site
This is one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks for pioneer travelers on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails, a symbol of the great western migration.
Located approximately four miles south of present-day Bayard, at the south edge of the North Platte River Valley, Chimney Rock is a natural geologic formation, a remnant of the erosion of the bluffs at the edge of the North Platte Valley.
The Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center houses museum exhibits, a hands-on opportunity to "pack your wagon," and a video presentation that tells the story of the great migration West. A large inventory of books on western and trail history is available for purchase at the Chimney Rock Visitor Center. And don’t forget to take some great pictures here!
The admission fee is $3.00. Just up the road from Chimney Rock about 10 mile is a great place to grab an all natural longhorn beef burger for lunch. And don’t miss one of their famous homemade waffle cones and ice cream for dessert.
7. Golden Spike Tower in North Platte
A panoramic view of Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard will greet rail fans from the two observation decks of the Golden Spike Tower.
The eighth story fully enclosed viewing platform offers a 360 degree view of Bailey Yard and the Platte River valley. The seventh floor platform is open-air. The Visitor Center includes Union Pacific Railroad and Nebraska memorabilia and educational displays as well as a gift shop with a large selection of souvenirs.
The Guinness Book of World Records certifies Bailey Yard as the world’s largest railroad yard, with a mind-boggling array of more than 315 miles of tracks, accommodating more than 150 trains a day.
The Nebraska Sandhills are one of a kind! This 272-mile stretch of Nebraska Highway 2 through the impressive Sandhills from Grand Island to the railroad community of Alliance has been named one of the ten most scenic routes in the nation.
Dramatic sandhills, remote countryside, expansive farmland, marshes and wetlands, winding rivers, and the largest hand-planted forest in the nation.
The Nebraska Sandhills represent the largest remaining grassland ecosystem in the USA that is still fully intact for both flora and fauna. Cattle (1.9 million) outnumber Nebraskans (1.8 million).
Did you knew that 1 in every 5 steaks and hamburgers sold in the US come from Nebraska? Now you know!
Rising like monoliths from ancient times on the western edge of the Sandhills of Nebraska stands a formation of vehicles from days gone by.
Carhenge, which replicates Stonehenge, consists of the circle of cars, 3 standing trilithons within the circle, the heel stone, slaughter stone, and 2 station stones and includes a “Car Art Preserve” with sculptures made from cars and parts of cars.
Located just north of Alliance, Nebraska, Carhenge is formed from vintage American automobiles, painted gray to replicate Stonehenge. Built by Jim Reinders as a memorial to his father, it was dedicated at the June 1987 summer solstice.
Is it a socio-economic statement? Is it art? A car lover’s passion? Is it a photographer’s delight? Is it quirky? Go see it and tell us too!
Don't forget your water bottle and put a comfy gel seat cover on your saddle. There will be some rocks out-there.
10. Toadstool Geological State Park
In the "moonscape" of the Badlands there's plenty to see and do! The rock formations are the highlight of the Toadstool Geologic Park.
There's an interpretive trail through the lunar-looking landscape, which gives you a good chance to look at the park's namesake toadstools. If you've been to this part of Nebraska, then you'll know that it's pretty famous for its fossils.
While you might not see dinosaur bones, you can find the remains of some even more interesting creatures, like Entelodonts (a hog-like creature also known as a hell-pig which went extinct about 16 million years ago) and Hyaenodons (a strange, carniverous mammal creature).
You can even see the tracks of long-gone creatures embedded in the sandstone! If you're really into learning about the strange, extinct animals that inhabited the US before we came along, the park is one stop along a route known as the "Fossil Freeway", which starts down near Gering, Nebraska and heads North towards Hot Springs, South Dakota.
You can also get a taste of some slightly more recent history by visiting the park's replica sod house.