It’s easy to think of Nebraska as a “fly-over state” – that’s the only way a lot of people ever get close to the Cornhusker State, after all. But if you slow down and take a while to explore, there are plenty of things to love about this Midwestern gem.
1) Good Ol' Nebraska Friendliness
I have yet to visit any other part of the world where it is considered acceptable – even normal – to start up conversations with random strangers. Whether you’re standing in line at the DMV or just walking down the street, people will talk to you at length. Drive through any small town and every other driver will wave as you go past. Seriously.
2) Husker Football
UNL football game days are basically holy days in Nebraska. People leave work early, kids skip classes, and businesses in Lincoln batten down the hatches for an onslaught of countless exuberant Husker fans.
Chances are that if you live outside of the Midwest you’ve never heard of these ridiculously delicious treats born right here in Nebraska. Runzas are more or less bread stuffed with meat, onions, cabbage, and sometimes cheese. More exotic filling combinations exist, but a true Nebraskan knows that the original beats them all hands-down.
That powdery, sugary, finger-staining drink mix we all grew up on also happens to hail from Nebraska. It’s a staple at the dinner table when kids are present…and a lot of times even when they aren’t. Can you blame us?
5) Arbor Day
Maybe you’ve heard of the tree-centric holiday, but do you know its origins? Newspaperman, former US Secretary of Agriculture, and respected agriculturalist J. Sterling Morton led the state in planting one million trees on April 10, 1872. Arbor Day is so close to Nebraska’s heart that government buildings close in observance of the holiday, businesses give away thousands of free trees, and huge groups of people come together to plant those trees.
6) Completely Nonsensical Weather
You can comment on the weird weather in most Midwestern states, but Nebraska’s weather is truly wild and unpredictable. In any given year you’re just as likely to see snow in May as you are to experience 80 degree weather in November. Tornado season lasts about half of the year, with blizzards taking up the other half. All of this weather stuff might sound negative, but weather watching is a household sport in these parts – we wouldn’t trade it for a humdrum climate in a million years.
7) Meat, Meat, and More Meat
Texas likes to dispute Nebraska’s title as the country’s top beef producing state, but we know who churns out more delicious steaks. Omaha Steaks, a company born nowhere near Texas, is one of the world’s largest beef sellers (and one of the top employers in the state).
8) Speaking of Jobs...
As of March 2015, Nebraska had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate: 2.7%. The meatpacking industry runs strong here, and plenty of manufacturers call Nebraska home. But the bread and butter is in Omaha’s many call centers. Thanks to our neutral accents, natural friendliness, and unparalleled telecommunications infrastructure, a staggering number of Nebraskans bring home paychecks from customer service gigs at national call centers based right here.
9) The Natural Wonders
I dare you to stand on the banks of the Mighty Missouri River flowing between Nebraska and Iowa without uttering a little gasp of wonder. Natural attractions like the largest sand dunes complex in the Western Hemisphere, the unique tall grass prairie ecosystem, Chimney Rock, Scotts Bluff National Monument, and the annual sandhill crane migration make Nebraska a seriously beautiful place to explore.
10) Breathtaking Skylines
Omaha’s downtown skyline is far more metropolitan than most visitors expect, particularly when you’re flying into Eppley Airfield late at night and get to see all of the twinkling lights. But the city doesn’t hold a monopoly on breathtaking skies. Drive into a less populated area, pull over onto a gravel road facing west, and eventually you’ll see a legendary Nebraska sunset complete with a truly gorgeous rainbow of colors.
11) Our World-Class Zoo
Known as one of the best zoos in the world (and known to us as the very best one), Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo is a fixture in every Nebraskan’s life. Kids in Omaha can expect to take school field trips there at least once a year, and for people in the western part of the state, seeing the spectacular sights and exotic animals is worth several hours in the car.
12) A Rich History
The Oregon, California, Mormon, Lewis and Clark, and Pony Express National History trails all run through Nebraska. In some remote locations you can still see the wagon wheel ruts formed by parties of pioneers as they passed through the Cornhusker State on their way to their destinies.
13) A Quirky Personality
There are no people quite like Nebraska people. We have a Stonehenge replica made of cars, we go outside to watch storms instead of hiding in the basement, we stop on the highway to help strangers with broken-down vehicles, and we think nothing of having to drive 10 miles an hour because there’s a slow-moving tractor on the road up ahead.
14) State Pride Like Nowhere Else
Ask most Nebraskans about the best place in the world and you’ll most often hear them say that they’d rather live here than anywhere else. For a lot of Nebraskans, this has been home for many generations. Folks continue to work the family farms and keep up family friendships stretching back many decades. Our blood runs Husker red, and we wouldn’t trade “The Good Life” for anything.
There are so many things to love about Nebraska, whether you live here or you’re just visiting. Got any more to add? Tell us about them in the comments below!