It’s pretty safe to say that a lot of things look better in the rearview mirror. Things that didn’t seem important or fun the first time around suddenly seem momentous when you look back on them years down the road. Indulging in some nostalgia can be a lot of fun, and here are some of the places in Nebraska that let you visit yesteryear…no time machine required.
1. Jenner's Park, Loup City
Today, Jenner's Park is a fun place for families with kids to play and picnic. But in the early 1900s, it was a grand space with a zoo, amusement park rides, games, a theater, and much more. The park closed in 1942, but the beautiful stone entrance and some of the animal cages remain as a reminder of the park's past.
2. Potter Duckpin Bowling, Potter
If you've never enjoyed a game of Duckpin Bowling, you're in for a treat. This gem in Potter is the only duckpin bowling facility west of the Mississippi, and it's full of classic charm.
Potter Duckpin Bowling Alley is next door and upstairs from Potter Sundry, another fantastic nostalgic destination. Sadly, Potter Sundry is temporarily closed as of the time of publication, reportedly until a new operator can be found for the business.
3. Lee's Legendary Marbles and Collectibles, York
Lee's assortment of marbles and other collectibles will take you right back to your childhood (depending on how old you are, of course). If you ever played marbles as a kid, this place will delight you with its retro feel and seemingly endless collection of marbles of all types.
4. Hollywood Candy/Fairmont Antiques, Omaha
This playground of nostalgia is located in Omaha's historic Old Market. On one side of the store is every type of candy you loved as a kid along with an old-fashioned soda fountain/cafe. On the other side is an antique shop/flea market selling just about every type of vintage item you can imagine.
5. Classic Car Collection, Kearney
For the vintage car enthusiast, Kearney's Classic Car Collection features more than 200 historic automobiles. The collection celebrates the role of the automobile in our lives - and it's available to book for private events.
6. National Museum of Roller Skating, Lincoln
Roller skating was a favorite American pastime for decades. Although it's lost popularity recently, this quirky museum keeps the love of roller skating alive.
7. The Soda Fountain and Candy Shop at the Durham Museum, Omaha
The entire Durham Museum is dedicated to the preservation of history, but the soda fountain and candy shop is a special treat. Getting a snack at the old-fashioned counter is like taking a step back in time.
8. The Museum of American Speed, Lincoln
Yes, we've already covered vintage cars - but Lincoln's Museum of American Speed has a special section just for pedal cars. You know, those cute little toy cars that kids could drive around by pedaling their feet. They're darling, and this museum has several of them along with other toy cars from way back when.
9. Spruce Street Station, Ogallala
This former Standard Oil station has been remarkably well preserved, including the old gas pumps out front. Originally built in 1922 and renovated in 2002, the station is now a visitor's center. The attached service bay is a flexible space that can be booked for community events. Stop by here on your next trip to Lake McConaughy for a sweet little dose of nostalgia.
10. Harold Warp's Pioneer Village, Minden
Most of the artifacts here are too old for any modern visitors to remember from their childhood - this is a
pioneer village, after all. But there are plenty of more recent Americana objects that visitors may have seen in their grandparents' homes, including some lovely old kitchen appliances.
11. River House Soda Fountain, Cafe and Antiques, Plattsmouth
This soda fountain in Plattsmouth isn't just for show - they serve up delicious food, old-fashioned ice cream treats, and some of the friendliest service around. And the antiques that share the space help add to the overall nostalgic feel of this unique eatery.
12. Sandhills Drive-In, Alliance
Some readers will fondly remember the glory days of the drive-in theater. Today, there are only two remaining in Nebraska. The Sandhills Drive-In is open Saturday and Sunday evenings, June through August.
13. TK Starlite Drive-In Theatre, Neligh
The TK Starlite is the only other surviving drive-in, and it's all the way on the other side of the state from the Sandhills Drive-In. They are also open summers only; this year, they will likely open for the season on the first or second weekend in May.
Wow, those places really take us back. What are some of your favorite nostalgic places to visit in Nebraska?