Believe it or not, there are still some people who think of Nebraska as a “fly-over state” where nothing exciting happens. Those of us who live here and love it can attest to the fact that there is plenty of adventure to be found in these Great Plains. If you’re looking for a uniquely memorable time, these are some of the great adventures that you can only have in Nebraska.
1. Walk in pioneers' steps on the Oregon Trail.
Western Trails Scenic Byway
to see the sights that early pioneers saw on their journey west. Chimney Rock, Courthouse and Jail Rocks, and the Scotts Bluff National Monument are the natural treasures you'll encounter. There are also many historic sites and museums along the way to teach you all about the rich history of the area.
2. Witness the spectacle of the sandhill crane migration.
Head to central Nebraska in the spring to see an absolutely magical sight: tens of thousands of sandhill cranes stopping over in the Platte River Valley to fuel up on their long journey. The sights and sounds are unlike anything else you'll ever experience.
3. Take an epic river journey.
With so many miles of river, Nebraska has endless water adventures to offer. Get out your canoe or kayak and actively navigate the waters, or find an outfitter to set up your leisurely tubing or
4. Hike or bike the Cowboy Trail.
This massive rails-to-trails project crosses the Nebraska Outback from Norfolk to Chadron. You can hop on and off at just about any point on the trail, so it's perfect for an evening stroll or a leisurely bike ride. If you're in it to win it, though, take the time to bike the entire trail and explore Nebraska from a totally unique perspective.
5. Walk on another planet at Toadstool Geologic Park.
The otherworldly landscape at Toadstool Geologic Park near Harrison is one of Nebraska's most unusual, magical places. Spending an afternoon there is almost like leaving your home planet behind for a little while.
6. Be a ranch hand at Rowse's 1 + 1 Ranch.
This working cattle ranch near Burwell is an amazing adventure for anyone who always wanted to be a rancher but found themselves on a different life path instead. Don't expect a cushy vacation in the country at
Rowse's 1 + 1 Ranch
; they will really put you to work...and you'll love it.
7. Lose yourself completely in the Sandhills.
If you're tired of the grind of everyday life, unplugging could be exactly what you need. Take a trip to the Sandhills and camp in the Samuel McKelvie National Forest near Valentinie or the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest near Halsey. You'll find solitude, serenity, and spectacular scenery like nowhere else.
8. Take a walk on the wild side at the Henry Doorly Zoo.
Omaha's zoo has been voted the best zoo in the world many times over, and it's easy to see why. The huge attraction features hundreds of animals from around the world and awesome extras like an underwater tunnel where you can walk beneath swimming sharks.
9. Go underground and back in time at Happy Jack Peak Chalk Mine.
(near Scotia) is one of only two diatomic mines in the United States, and the only one that's open for visitors. The cave is rich in both pre-history and in human-related history, and it's just a very cool place to explore.
10. Live like a homesteader at the
High Plains Homestead.
Stop in for a day at this fun way-retro attraction near Crawford, or stay there for a couple of nights. You'll love the family-friendly feel of the homestead and the real, down-home cooking at the Drifter Cookshack.
11. Reach for the stars at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum.
The history of aerospace is on full display at this awesome museum in Ashland. Look into historic aircraft and even climb into the cockpit of a few machines. If you're brave, the flight simulators are an amazing experience.
12. Feed elk and buffalo from a covered wagon at Kreycik Elk & Buffalo Ranch.
Ride through the pastures of this "exotic animal ranch" near Niobrara on a tractor-pulled covered wagon. Get the thrill of a lifetime when fully-grown elk and buffalo approach the wagon for a treat.
If you’re looking for adventures that people of varying ages and abilities can experience, check out our list of
easy outdoorsy activities here.