Nebraska, often referred to as the “Cornhusker State,” is a hidden gem in the heart of the United States. While it may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a vacation, this Midwestern state offers a surprising array of attractions and natural beauty. From vibrant cities to breathtaking landscapes, Nebraska has something to offer every type of traveler. In this article, we will explore some of the best places to go in Nebraska, ensuring that you make the most of your visit to this underrated state.
The Old Market District, Omaha
Our journey begins in Omaha, the largest city in Nebraska. One of the must-visit destinations in Omaha is the Old Market District. This historic neighborhood, located in downtown Omaha, is a vibrant hub of art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment venues. As you stroll through the cobblestone streets, you’ll be captivated by the charming architecture and the lively atmosphere.
The Old Market District is also home to the Durham Museum, housed in a beautifully restored Art Deco train station. This museum offers a fascinating glimpse into Nebraska’s history through its exhibits on pioneer life, Native American culture, and the development of the railroad. Don’t miss the chance to ride the historic Union Pacific Railroad passenger cars, which provide an immersive experience into the past.
Chimney Rock National Historic Site
Moving westward, we come across one of Nebraska’s most iconic landmarks – Chimney Rock. Situated in western Nebraska’s panhandle region, this towering rock formation served as a prominent landmark for pioneers traveling along the Oregon Trail in the 19th century. Today, Chimney Rock National Historic Site preserves this important piece of history and offers visitors a chance to learn about the hardships faced by early settlers.
As you explore the site, you can take a guided tour or hike one of the nearby trails to get a closer look at this natural wonder. The panoramic views from the top of Chimney Rock are truly awe-inspiring, providing a glimpse into the vastness of the Nebraska prairie.
Scotts Bluff National Monument
Continuing our journey through Nebraska’s western region, we arrive at Scotts Bluff National Monument. This impressive geological formation rises abruptly from the surrounding plains, offering breathtaking vistas and a glimpse into the state’s geological history. The monument is named after Hiram Scott, a fur trader who died near the bluffs in the early 19th century.
Visitors can explore the monument through a network of hiking trails that wind through the rugged terrain. The Summit Road, a scenic drive that leads to the top of Scotts Bluff, offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Be sure to visit the visitor center, where you can learn about the history of the area and its significance to Native American tribes and pioneers.
Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Our final stop takes us back to Omaha, where we find one of the best zoos in the world – the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. Spanning over 130 acres, this zoo is home to a diverse range of animal species and offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with wildlife from around the globe.
The zoo’s most famous attraction is the Desert Dome, the world’s largest indoor desert. Step inside and find yourself surrounded by the sights and sounds of arid landscapes, complete with cacti, sand dunes, and even a nocturnal exhibit. The Lied Jungle, another highlight of the zoo, transports visitors to a lush rainforest environment filled with exotic plants and animals.
In addition to its impressive animal exhibits, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium also features an IMAX theater, a butterfly pavilion, and a children’s adventure trail. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a fun day out with the family, this zoo is a must-visit destination in Nebraska.
Nebraska may not be on everyone’s travel radar, but it certainly deserves a spot on your bucket list. From the vibrant streets of Omaha’s Old Market District to the awe-inspiring landscapes of Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff, this state offers a diverse range of attractions for every type of traveler. Don’t forget to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, where you can embark on a wild adventure without leaving the city limits. So, pack your bags and discover the hidden treasures of Nebraska – you won’t be disappointed.