16 Best Places in Nebraska

16 Best Places in Nebraska
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The US state of Nebraska is located in the Midwest of the USA. A famous slogan says about Nebraska: “Where the West begins”. Translated, “Nebraska” means “shallow water.” The word comes from the Oto or Omaha language. This Indian tribe derived the name from the Platte River, which flows through Nebraska. The capital of Nebraska is Lincoln. Once part of the “Great American Desert,” Nebraska was once characterized by vast prairie plains. It was just 100 years ago that huge herds of buffalo roamed the land now known as Nebraska.

Today, Nebraska is one of the most important U.S. states for agriculture. It is not for nothing that Nebraska today has the nickname “Cornhusker State”, which means “corn husker state”. Since March 1, 1867, Nebraska has been the 37th state to join the United States of America. Its total area is 200,520 km². The state motto is “Equality before the law”.

16. Bellvue

Bellevue, Nebraska

Bellevue is the third largest city in Nebraska and also the oldest city in the state. It is located in northeast Nebraska, just on the border with the state of Iowa. In 1822, a fur trading post was established on this site by the “Missouri Fur Company”. The first settlers who lived at this post named the place after the beautiful view they had over the Missouri River (French: “belle vue”). Beginning in 1850, the town experienced a real building boom. A hotel, a bank, a Presbyterian church and private residences were built. Then, as of February 23, 1855, Bellevue became a home rule city.

But when Omaha became the capital of Nebraska, the boom in Bellevue was over. Omaha was only 12 miles south of Bellevue and people were now moving to Omaha. However, with the establishment of Bellvue College in the 1880s and the Army’s commissioning of Fort Crook in 1896, Bellevue’s existence was at least assured.

15. Carhenge

Carhenge, Nebraska USA
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For Carhenge, of course, the famous Stonehenge served as a model. Carhenge is a work of art by Jim Reinders near the city of Alliance. Instead of stones as in Stonehenge, Carhenge consists of 38 US old-timers placed in a circle. The circle is 29 meters in diameter, and the cars have been spray-painted gray. Some cars are upright and anchored to the ground.

Some of the cars are welded to cars horizontally above them. This is how the artist recreated the famous Stonehenge from the cars. Three of the cars are buried, one represents a tombstone with the inscription “Here lie three bones of foreign cars. They served our purpose while Detroit slept. Now Detroit is awake and America’s great!” In 1987 Carhenge was dedicated, and since 2006 there has been a visitor center.

14. Chadron

Chadron, Nebraska

Chadron is located in northwestern Nebraska. The town received its name in 1841 from Louis B. Chartran, a Frenchman who ran a fur trading post here. The actual founding of the town is in 1884, when the trading post was connected to the train service. Even then, about 500 inhabitants lived in the village. Of great importance to Chadron was Fannie O’Linn, a “homesteader” who tried to predict where the railroad lines to Wyoming on one side and South Dakota on the other, would diverge.

This was her way of assuring the town’s future. She was right in her predictions and quickly the town’s population grew. Today, Chadron offers the “Museum of the Fur Trade”, one of the most important museums on the history of the fur trade in all of North America. In addition, Chadron National Park offers many opportunities to enjoy the beautiful nature, go hiking, mountain biking or renting paddle boats.

13. Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock Landmark in Nebraska after Sunset
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Chimney Rock has been posted as a “National Historic Site” since 1956. It is a rock in a prominent shape, about 25km southeast of the town of Bayard. Chimney Rock is what is known as a witness rock, left over from the erosion of a cliff. It was preserved because it was protected by harder limestone. Chimney Rock is 99 meters high. It contains a peak of about 37 meters.

In the years between 1840 and 1869 (when the first transcontinental railroad was established), the path of settlers on their way west via the California Trial, the Oregon Trail or the Mormon Trail passed by this rock. It served as an important landmark for the settlers on their way. If they passed Chimney Rock, they knew they had crossed the prairie and that the arduous crossing of the Rocky Mountains lay ahead.
A visitor center with a museum tells the story of the settlers and Indians. Chimney Rock can be climbed, the trail is short and easy.

12. Cowboy Trail

Cowboy Trail in Nebraska
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The Cowboy Trail in northern Nebraska is an abandoned rail trail between Chicago and Norfolk. It was once part of the North Western Railway network. Today it is used for hiking, biking and horseback riding. At 517 km, the Cowboy Trail is the longest converted former railroad in the United States.

29 towns are located along the Cowboy Trail, which crosses 221 bridges along the way. All bridges have been converted to be used for recreational purposes. The Cowboy Trail passes by many different landscapes, including the Niobrara River valleys, the Sandhills or Long Pine Creek.

11. Gretna

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Gretna is a small town in eastern Nebraska that has “City” status. Gretna is famous for the “Holy Family Shrine”. This is a chapel that has large glass panes on all four sides, so that on the one hand the believer or the visitor has a wonderful view of the surroundings from the inside. On the other hand, one can also see into the chapel from all sides. In the surroundings of the chapel there are different paths that represent the Passion of Christ.

10. Kearney

Great Platte River Road Archway Nebraska
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Kearney in Buffalo County is named for Fort Kearney, an outpost established by the Army here on the Oregon Trail in the mid-19th century. Located on the Platte River, the town initially owed its growth to the railroad. Visitors can expect to see the Museum of Nebraska Art, which displays the official state art collection. Two microbreweries are located in the center of town. The Central Nebraska Veterans Memorial honors all veterans who served and fought for the U.S. and/or died.

The “Classic Car Collection” exhibit shows its visitors over 200 automobiles from the early years to the modern era. About two miles outside of Kearney is a bridge that spans Interstate 80. Known as the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, this structure also has a museum that displays pioneer-era exhibits.

Kearney owns to that an arena that can accommodate about 5000 visitors almost. In addition to the local hockey league team “Tri-City Storm”, which plays its home games here, the arena also often hosts “heavyweights” of show business. Bob Dylan and Christina Aquilera have already performed here.

9. La Vista

KrosStrain Brewery

La Vista, located in eastern Nebraska, has a population of just under 16500. The city offers several parks to its residents and visitors. La Vista is known for several breweries and distilleries. At the KrosStrain Brewery, for example, rooms can be booked for private or business events.

8. Lincoln

Nebraska State Capitol
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After Omaha, Lincoln is the second largest city in Nebraska. At the same time, Lincoln is also the capital of this state. As you can guess, the city was named after Abraham Lincoln. However, it was founded under the name of Lancaster in 1856. Before settlers reached this area, Indian tribes (Pawnee and Lakota) lived here.

Lancaster was then the capital of Nebraska from 1867 and was renamed Lincoln on April 1, 1869. The local university also dates from that year. A year later, the city was connected to the railroad. Located at a transportation hub, Lincoln benefited greatly from the growth of rail, road, and later air transportation in the 1920s and 1930s.

One of Lincoln’s top sights is the Nebraska State Capitol. It was built in 1922-1932 in the Art Deco style and has a gilded dome. The tower of the Capitol is 122 meters high. From the observation deck on the 14th floor, visitors have a good view of all of Lincoln. The “Sunken Gardens” in Lincoln’s historic district display over 10000 plants and flowers.

The city has a number of museums worth visiting. In the “University of Nebraska State Museum” the largest exhibition of mammal fossils in the world is worth seeing. The “Museum of American Speed” is also worth a visit. It offers a lot of interesting information about the early development of cars, engines and racing cars.

Lincoln has a botanical garden and also a zoo (Folsom Children’s Zoo). Lincoln Memorial Stadium is a football stadium with seating for over 90000 visitors. The Lincoln “Governors’s Mansion” is also open for visitors.

7. Omaha

City Skyline in Downtown Omaha, Nebraska
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The largest city in Nebraska is Omaha. It is located in the far west of the state and is nicknamed the “Gateway to the West”. Omaha is located on the Missouri River. The river has a great importance for the city. It also gets its name from its location on the river. The Omaha Indian tribe of the same name named the town after them. Omaha means something like “upstream.”

Omaha was incorporated on July 4, 1854. The Omaha Indians who resided here had previously sold much of their land to the state. Since the city was in the direct path of the gold seekers who headed west to make their fortunes during the California Gold Rush of 1848-1854, many of the gold miners had to pass through the town. Omaha was the capital of Nebraska until 1867, when it was replaced by Lincoln.

While the city was initially connected to the rest of the U.S. only by steamboats running between Omaha and St. Louis, it was finally connected to the rail network of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Omaha was now the eastern terminus of this Railroad. Three years later, Omaha was also connected to the eastern American railroad network by the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge. From now on, the city’s population grew rapidly.

Omaha has several museums to offer. At the Durham Western Museum, for example, visitors can learn exciting facts about the history of the Union Pacific Railroad. Omaha’s railroad station was one of the most distinguished in the entire U.S. at the time, and much of that can be seen in this museum today.

The Henry Doorley Zoo is also great. It features a 6,000-square-foot tropical rainforest that is home to animals from three continents.
The “Cat Complex” is also worth seeing. Over 80 felines make it the largest “area” for predators in North America. A penguin colony, a replica desert…there is much to discover in this zoo. Of course, there is also a memorial to Omaha-born civil rights activist Malcolm X.

6. Papillion

Papillion, Nebraska
Papillion, Nebraska

Also in eastern Nebraska is Papillion (meaning “butterfly”). It immediately borders the state of Iowa and to the north immediately joins Omaha. The city was founded in 1870 by French settlers. Its name comes from its location on the river “Papillion”. The settlers named it after the abundance of butterflies on its banks. A special feature of Papillion are the more than 150 colorful benches in the shape of butterflies, which are distributed throughout the city.

5. Sandhill Crane Migration

Sandhill Crane Migration
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This sight is not a place in itself. It is the crane migration that takes place every year in Nebraska around March. About a million cranes come to the Platte River Valley to rest and recharge their batteries before continuing their flight. The chirping of the thousands of birds at sunrise or their return to the river at sunset is impressive.

Crane watching takes place in several areas. You can even book groups and have a local guide explain the action. One of the best views of the cranes is from Fort Kerany State Recreation Area. The Platte River offers two public viewing platforms.

4. Seward

Seward, Nebraska
Seward, Nebraska

Seward is especially known for its big Fourth of July celebration of the Independence Day of the United States of America. The town was built in 1868. As of 1873, Seward was connected to a railroad. Independence Day celebrations have been held in Seward almost continuously every year since 1868. About 40000 visitors come to the city during these celebrations. Seward also has several museums, a gallery and a brewery.

3. Scotts Bluff National Monument

Covered wagon, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska
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The protected area, which has the status of a “National Monument” is located on the south bank of the North Platte River. The main part of the monument is a bluff, which in the 19th century was an important marker for the settlers and pioneers who were on their way west and had to cross the Rocky Mountains.

The area has been protected since 1919 and developed since the 1930s. This trail marker got its name from trapper Hiram Scott, who is said to have died here on this spot in 1828. The monument is a cliff made of sandstone. It is divided into several witness mounds by erosion.

Former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson granted Scott Bluff “National Monument” status in 1919. He did so to commemorate the settlers and pioneers who passed through here on their way west. A road has led to the summit since the 1930s. A shuttle bus takes visitors there and they can take a loop hike. A hiking trail also leads up to the summit. A visitor center and a small exhibition tell the story of the pioneers.

2. Wayne

Wayne, Nebraska
Wayne, Nebraska

When the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad was extended to this point in 1881, the town of Wayne was founded here. Today, a planetarium and the Ashfall Fossil Beds await visitors to Wayne. Here, visitors can explore rare fossils that represent a kind of ecological “snapshot” due to unusual local conditions. The Wayne County Museum is located in an 1890s building. It features pieces from the Victorian colonial era.

1. York

York, Nebraska water tower painted like hot air balloon
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York’s incorporation dates to October 18, 1869, taking its name, of course, from the English city of York. When it was chosen as the seat of county government, the population immediately increased as both settlers and businesses moved here. In 1870, York was finally connected to the railroad network. York’s public library dates back to 1901 and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it a United States monument worthy of preservation.

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