Take Your Pick
Alliance, NE
A Great Roadside Attraction
Carhenge - You guessed it, Carhenge is America's version of Stonehenge, only made with cars instead of boring stones. Jim Reinders built this monument as a memorial to his father who passed away in 1982. Carhenge was completed in 1987 using 38 gray spray-painted vintage cars arranged in a 96 foot diameter circle. The interesting part is the sculpture was designed to appear as ruins, with vehicles having fallen off their pedestals and others buried as if from thousands of years of neglect. This is one of my favorite interpretations of Stonehenge in the nation (and there are a lot of 'em).
Ashland, NE
There's a Goblin Here
Strategic Air and Space Museum - Between Omaha and Lincoln Nebraska is the Strategic Air and Space Museum which stores a large collection of US Air Force aircraft and missiles. There's a SR-71A "Blackbird", an X-85 "Goblin" (I just like the name Goblin, it's fun to say), an F-101B "Voodoo" and a U-2C "Dragonlady". In fact, you could string almost any letter and number combination together and it's probably in this museum. In addition to these permanent exhibits, the museum continuously brings in traveling exhibits.
Beatrice, NE
160 Acres for $18
Homestead National Monument of America - In 1862 Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Homestead Act which turned over 270 million acres of public land to any citizen 21 years of age or older. Each homesteader received a 160 acre parcel of land for a small filing fee of $18. To keep the land, the owner had to live on the land, make improvements, and farm for 5 years. The Homestead National Monument of America is located on one of the first parcels given away, the Daniel Freeman Homestead. There is a visitor center, acres of tallgrass prairie, a frontier cabin and a one room school from the 1800s.
Bridgeport, NE
Oregon Trail
Oregon Trail - The Oregon Trail stretches some 2,200 miles from Missouri to Oregon, going through Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho. This particular marker is just north of Courthouse and Jail Rocks, two distinctive formations often written about as pioneers traveled westward. These large clay and sandstone formations rise over 400 feet from the North Platte Valley and resemble the names they were given. In addition to the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, Mormon Trail, Pony Express Trail and Sidney-Deadwood Trail pass near here.
Chadron, NE
Museum of Fur Trade
Museum of Fur Trade - The Museum of Fur Trade features a collection of fur trade artifacts from the colonial days to present. Exhibits detail the lives of European, American and Native American fur traders and contain the tools of the trade (axes, munitions and textiles). Located on the original site of James Bordeaux's trading post, the grounds include a museum, a reconstruction of the original trading post, living quarters, and a trade room. The museum also contains the largest collection of guns made specifically for Indians.
Chadron, NE
The Badlands of Nebraska
Toadstool Geologic Park - Some of the most interesting natural formations in the state are contained in the Toadstool Geologic Park. Here you will find Badland like layered hills, fossilized animal tracks and bones, and of course toadstool formations. Toadstool formations resemble the mushroom with a slender stem and large head. Although many of the formations have fallen over, nature is making more every day and they can be viewed on the one mile long nature trail. On the way driving to and from the site you can stop in at the Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed. This is an archeological site where over 600 (now extinct) bison mysteriously died 10,000 years ago. A few words of caution, there are 15 miles of unimproved roads to the sites and they are very dangerous when wet. Be careful!!!
Crawford, NE
Where Crazy Horse Surrendered
Fort Robinson State Park - Fort Robinson was an active military post from 1874 to 1948 and today is Nebraska's largest State Park. Originally established as a post-Civil War protective post during the Indian Wars, the fort saw several significant events including the surrender of Crazy Horse in 1877. Through the years Fort Robinson housed the 9th and 10th Cavalries, a K-9 Training Corps, and even WWII Prisoners of War. The fort is remarkably well preserved and looks as if it could still be used as an active military post today. A great way to get acquainted with the park is to catch a horse drawn carriage, then go back to your favorite areas.
Gering, NE
Prairie Schooners by Scotts Bluff
Scotts Bluff National Monument - Millions of years ago the area around Scotts Bluff National Monument was a "high plains". The land stood hundreds of feet higher than the current Great Plains. Then the high plains began to erode. As the wind and rain washed away the land, some areas with a hard cap rock refused to give way, creating immense jutting formations. Visiting Scotts Bluff offers some gorgeous views of Mitchell Pass and the North Platte River valley.
Gothenburg, NE
Waiting on the Pony Express
Pony Express Station - Gothenburg calls itself the Pony Express Capital of the World, and who is this sock monkey to disagree. Located in Ehman Park you will find Machette's Station, a stop along the path of the famous Pony Express. Originally built in 1854 four miles east of Fort McPherson and used as a fur trading post, it was transformed into a Pony Express Station from 1860-1861. It stayed there until 1931, at which time it was moved to its present location by the American Legion. Inside you will find Native American artifacts along with books and souvenirs.
Grand Island, NE
1800s Living History Museum
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer - The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is a living-history museum depicting the life in a late 1800s Nebraska prairie town. The museum encompasses 200 acres with more than 100 building, including a Visitor Center, Art Gallery, Log Cabin Settlement, Farmstead and Railroad Town. Inside the Railroad Town you will find the house where movie great Henry Fonda was born in 1905. As always at living-history museums, it's fun to talk to the many costumed workers on the site. I like to ask when the Pony Express is going to deliver my new computer.
Harrison, NE
Devil's Corkscrew
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument - Around 20 million years ago a severe drought hit this area. The animals that roamed here (all now extinct) circled around one of the last remaining waterholes, where hundreds of thousands of them died. There were gazelle-camels, beardogs, pony-sized rhinoceros, and a dry-land beavers (Palaeocastor) all caught in a losing struggle for their lives. The Agate Fossil Beds National Monument preserves the site with a museum/visitor center and two interpretive trails. On the Daemonelix (Devil's Corkscrew) Trail you can see the fossilized sandstone burrows of the aforementioned Palaeocastor.
Hastings, NE
Fruit Smack?
Kool-Aid Exhibit - Located in the Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream Exhibit details the history of Kool-Aid from its inception to present day. Kool-Aid was invented by Edwin Perkins in the 1920s and was originally called Fruit-Smack. Fruit-Smack was a good selling liquid concentrate, but proved too costly to distribute. So the entrepreneurial Mr. Perkins discovered a way to dehydrate the drink and repackaged it as Kool-Aid. The best time to visit Hastings and the museum is the second weekend in August during Kool-Aid Days. Oh yeah, Kool-Aid.
Kearney, NE
Westward Migration Museum
Great Platte River Road Archway Monument - As you head down I-80 near Kearney you can't help but notice the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument. This enormous structure opened in 2000 and houses a museum dedicated to the pioneers who passed this way. The exhibits display scenes from Nebraska history, with an Ox and Covered Wagon Exhibit, a Model T Exhibit, and a Drive-in Theater Exhibit to name a few. The scenes and displays may represent the past, but the audio visual experience is state of the art. As you pass from room to room the audio guided tour automatically changes to the next display. While touring this monument and museum, you will quickly forget there are hundreds of cars and trucks whizzing by underneath you.
Lincoln, NE
Tower of the Plains
State Capital - The Nebraska State Capitol building was constructed between 1922 and 1932 for around 10 million dollars. There are free public tours at the top of every hour, but you can also take a self-guided tour. The best view from this "Tower of the Plains" is from the 14th floor observation deck. From here you can see the entire city of Lincoln. And because the area is so flat, on a clear day with a strong pair of binoculars you can see so far you can almost make out the back of your own head. Anyway, the 14th floor center chamber also contains murals depicting scenes from Nebraska history with titles including, "The Ideal of Self-Determination" and "The Ideal of Freedom".
Minden, NE
Oh How Far We've Come
Harold Warp's Pioneer Village - Billed as Nebraska's #1 attraction, Harold Warp's Pioneer Village contains over 50,000 items from every field of human endeavor. This place is packed with automobiles, tractors, motorcycles, airplanes and anything you can think of. All arranged in chronological order of development. What doesn't fit on the 100,000 square feet of floor space in over 25 buildings is tacked to the walls or hung from the rafters. Harold Warp designed the museum to show man's progress since 1830. And it is amazing how far we've come. What was my favorite display? The monkey wrench exhibit, of course.
Nebraska City, NE
Great Apple Pie Sold Here
Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure - The Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure is a family oriented outdoor nature park that teaches the love of nature with hands-on exhibits. The Canopy Treehouse lets the little monkeys climb 50 feet in the air to admire the magnificent view of the sprawling tree top canopy. Included in the adventure are the exploratory trail, greenhouse, and woodland pavilion. When you are done at the Tree Adventure, head over to the Apple House for a slice of apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
North Platte, NE
Resting at Scouts Rest Ranch
Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park - Welcome to the ranch of the famous Col. William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill), now the Buffalo Bill Ranch Historical Park. Buffalo Bill was a legend in his own time as a buffalo hunter, Indian Scout, Civil War hero, and spectacular showman. He purchased this 4,000 acre ranch in 1877 during the time of his Wild West Show. He designed the homestead as a place to relax between shows and he aptly named it "Scout's Rest Ranch". Currently the park encompass 25 acres of the original ranch with an 18 room Victorian Mansion where Buffalo Bill lived, and a huge barn filled with authentic Wild West memorabilia and film about Col. Cody, Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull.
Omaha, NE
Waiting for the Train
Durham Western Heritage Museum - The Durham Western Heritage Museum is located in Omaha's old Union Station. This classic art deco structure of the former Union Pacific Railroad is worth the visit by itself. But there's more. The main part of the museum is on the lower floor and houses a full size train with a steam engine, a Pullman Car, lounge and caboose. Exhibits include a photo archive of Omaha's history, temporary exhibits, and model trains. Head back to the first floor and enjoy a malted at the original soda fountain or a piece of rock candy at the old-fashioned candy shop.
Seward, NE
This will be Exciting
World's Largest Time Capsule - Time capsules are like huge Christmas presents, but the anticipation grows for years and even decades. The World's Largest Time Capsule was created by Harold Davisson, containing roughly 5,000 items, and sealed on July 4, 1975. Inside is a brand new 1975 Chevy Vega with zero miles, a brand new Kawasaki motorcycle with zero miles, a blue polyester leisure suit with stitched-on yellow flowers, and thousands of other items from the disco era. Harold wanted his grandchildren to see what his life was like in 1975. This shrine of the times will be opened on July 4, 2025, and everyone will be as excited as Ralphie when he got his official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB gun with a compass in the stock.
Trenton, NE
Honoring the Fallen
Massacre Canyon Monument - On August 5th 1873 a 700 person strong Pawnee buffalo hunting party was peacefully pursuing a herd in this area. They had been warned there were hostile Sioux nearby, but believed it was a trick to keep them from the buffalo. It wasn't a trick. The ferocious Sioux attack left the badly out-numbered Pawnee little choice but to drop all their belongings and retreat. In the end nearly 100 Pawnee were dead. A 35 foot tall granite monument with the faces of a Pawnee Chief on one side and a Sioux Chief on the other marks the final battle between these two great tribes.