When someone who isn’t from Nebraska comes to visit you, you probably want to show them all of the great things our state has to offer. But what happens after you’ve already done the big things: the zoo, Scotts Bluff, Chimney Rock…and everything else on
our definitive bucket list for everyone in Nebraska? These underrated attractions will show your visitors another side of Nebraska – one that’s fascinating, a little quirky, and full of so much fun that they won’t want to leave.
1. Winnetoon Boardwalk Back in Time, Winnetoon
VIDEO You may have visited and loved places like Harold Warp's Pioneer Village and Dobby's Frontier Town. Winnetoon's Boardwalk Back in Time is similar, but it's got a functioning post office from the 1890s and a very sweet, homespun vibe.
2. Petrified Wood Gallery, Ogallala
Wherever your guests are from, chances are they haven't seen anything quite like this place. Part of the collection comes from Howard and Harvey Kenfield, brothers who collected petrified wood and other interesting objects for more than 50 years. The gallery also contains carvings, arrowheads, fossils, and various art made of petrified wood.
3. Oconto Sculpture Garden, Oconto
This charming sculpture garden is a delightful surprise on Highway 40. Local sculptor Charles Horn gathers scrap metal for his sculptures, inventing creatures like gators, grizzlies, elephants, and giant insects, among others. Oconto is also known as "Home of the Windmills," many of which are still standing. You won't find a whole lot else in this tiny village, but the sculptures are worth a detour if you're in the area.
4. Potter Duckpin Bowling, Potter
On the second story above A Collective Gathering in Potter, you'll find this fun little bowling alley. The pins and balls are smaller than in standard bowling, making for a rather adorable game.
5. Edgerton Explorit Center, Aurora
VIDEO The Harold E. Edgerton Educational Center is named after the Fremont native who is widely credited with inventing the strobe light. It's full of fun scientific displays and experiments for kids and adults alike. There's no way not to have fun here, really.
6. Happy Jack Chalk Mine, Scotia
There are only two underground diatomic mines known to exist in the United States, and this is the only one open to visitors. There are more than 6000 feet of honeycombed caverns to explore, and every inch is just packed with history, both pre-historic and human.
7. Champion Mill, Champion
This historic flour and feed mill was the last water-powered mill to operate in Nebraska. It's now a museum and the grounds around it are a state historical park. The mill pond is absolutely beautiful and the setting is so serene that you'll find yourselves wanting to stay all afternoon.
8. Infusion Brewing Company tour, Omaha
There are actually plenty of breweries that offer tours, but Infusion makes it onto the list because they make my personal favorite beer, Infusion Vanilla Bean Blonde. Tours are given at the Benson and West Omaha facilities. Your out-of-state visitors will be impressed that you know where to find some of the best beer made and sold right here in Nebraska. Check out
for tour times and other information.
9. Lincoln County Historical Museum, North Platte
Like a few other attractions in Nebraska, the Lincoln County Historical Museum has several older preserved and reconstructed buildings that are significant to the state's history. The museum's Western Heritage Village features interesting structures like an old gas station and the one-cell jail from Maxwell, shown above. (That one cell was the entire jail.)
10. Snake River Falls, near Valentine
Smith Falls seems to get all of the love because it's the tallest in Nebraska and the short hike to see it is quite pleasant in and of itself. But Snake River Falls is wider, wilder, and more dramatic. It's open year-round, and you can either hike right down to the falls or view the spectacle from above.
11. University of Nebraska State Historical Museum, Lincoln
Also known as Morrill Hall or Elephant Hall, this is Nebraska's largest natural history museum. It was one of my very favorite places when I was a kid, and it's still interesting now that I'm grown up. There's a little something here for everyone to enjoy between the permanent and temporary exhibits.
12. Historic tours of author Willa Cather's hometown, Red Cloud
Whether your out-of-town visitors are fans of Cather's work or just enjoy the rich history of the prairie, a tour through Red Cloud is a great way to spend a day. There are several tours with varying numbers of stops so you can choose the experience that suits you best.
These destinations are great for the tourist who thinks they’ve already seen everything that Nebraska has to offer. Check out
10 more Nebraska attractions that we think are way underrated.