Attractions September 10, 2021
Most People Don’t Know These 19 Hidden Gems In Nebraska Even Exist
We all have our favorite places in Nebraska, and if we’ve been going to those places for a long time we tend to expect that everyone in the state knows about them. But the truth is that Nebraska is BIG, and there are so many awesome things to see and do that a lot of us have never even heard of the best recreational, educational, and entertainment opportunities. You seasoned travelers may know most of these, but hopefully, there are at least a few hidden gems in Nebraska that you haven’t yet discovered. Ready to take a look?
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Edgerton Explorit Center, Aurora
Edgerton Explorit Center, 208 16th St, Aurora, NE 68818, USA
Named for Harold "Doc" Edgerton, a renowned Nebraska inventor, the Explorit Center is all about hands-on scientific learning experiences. Exhibits for kids and adults encourage a love of scientific exploration and discovery. It's a lot like the children's museums located in Omaha and Lincoln, but with a firmer emphasis on science. While you're there, be sure to take some time to explore Aurora, considered one of the
most charming small towns in Nebraska
2. El Museo Latino, Omaha
El Museo Latino, 4701 S 25th St, Omaha, NE 68107, USA
The first Latino art and culture center in the midwest and one of only 11 in the entire country,
El Museo Latino
celebrates everything about the vibrant Latino community here in Nebraska and around the world. The museum features Latino art and history as well as offering educational programs in film, art, and dance along with workshops, demonstrations, slide presentations, and tours.
3. Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area, Near Royal
Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area, Grove Lake Rd, Royal, NE 68773, USA
Grove Lake is one of those small, out-of-the-way campsites that are often overlooked, but it offers some amazing fishing opportunities. Largemouth bass, northern pike, and trout abound here. For those less interested in the catching of fish, Grove Lake Fish Hatchery is located nearby and welcomes visitors. Grove Lake WMA is only a few miles away from Ashfall, so if you're looking for a non-crowded camping spot on your next visit to the archaeological site, this is it. Beautiful year-round,
Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area
is especially stunning during the fall.
4. Happy Jack Chalk Mine, Scotia
Happy Jack Chalk Mine Association, North State Highway 11, Scotia, NE, USA
Beloved by those who are in the know, Happy Jack Chalk Mine is still completely unknown to a lot of Nebraskans. This is Nebraska's only underground attraction; it provides a chance to walk through prehistory and more recent history all at once. The "chalk" is actually layers of ancient algae-like creatures called diatoms. An Army explorer discovered the site - which is actually an ancient lake bed - and locals began mining the chalk for building material and other uses. The mine was abandoned for quite some time, but opened as a renovated, lighted attraction in 1997. Happy Jack is one of only two known underground diatomite mines in the U.S., and the only one open to visitors.Learn more about what makes Happy Jack Chalk Mine such a
hidden gem in Nebraska
5. Historic Brownville
Brownville, NE 68321, USA
Although Brownville's population now hovers around 130, it was at one point the largest town in the Nebraska territory. Today the entire town thrives as one big tourist destination. With seven museums, a riverboat, several historic houses open for tours, lots of B & Bs, an annual town-wide flea market and plenty of other fun things to do, you'll easily fill an entire weekend - at least - enjoying Brownville. Truly, Brownville might just be the
most picturesque small town in Nebraska
6. Hollywood Candy/Fairmont Antiques and Mercantile, Omaha
Hollywood Candy, 1209 Jackson St, Omaha, NE 68102, USA
Stepping into this place is like walking through a time warp. The candy store features walls and aisles packed full of candy, including a ton of varieties that you probably thought weren't made anymore. In the diner you can get an old-fashioned malt or other ice cream treat or a more substantial snack like a hot dog or sloppy joe. The antique mall features the wares of more than 25 antique dealers and the owner's own fantastic antique collection - there is something unique and surprising down every aisle! Here's more on why you should plan a visit to
7. Hot Shops Art Center, Omaha
Hot Shops Art Center, 1301 Nicholas St, Omaha, NE 68102, USA
A lot of people in Omaha don't even know this place exists, but it's well worth a visit. The art center is home to tons of working studios as well as several galleries. Hot Shops hosts events all year, but the semi-annual open house in May and December is probably the best time to see it all. Have you ever visited
Hot Shops Art Center
8. Hudson-Meng Bison Kill, Near Crawford
Hudson-Meng Bison Kill Bed, Harrison, NE 69346, USA
Though not as diverse in its fossils as the Ashfall Fossil Beds, Hudson-Meng is another significant and educational archaeological site that's definitely worth a look. In 1954, local ranchers discovered the site which contains the 10,000-year-old of as many as 600 bison. Excavations and research are still underway at the site, and some researchers have postulated that the bison died of natural causes, though most believe that the bones are from a massive Paleoamerican kill. It's located near Toadstool Geologic Park, and it's the perfect complement to your visit there.Hudson-Meng Bison Kill may keep temporary hours, so be sure to
check out the website
before planning your visit.
9. Kregel Windmill Factory Museum, Nebraska City
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum, 1416 Central Ave, Nebraska City, NE 68410, USA
A little piece of Nebraska's history is preserved in this former windmill factory. From 1879 to the 1940s, the Kregel factory built more than 2000 windmills which would later grace the farms and homes around Nebraska City. All of the factory's equipment is still in place so you can see just how it looked when it was in operation. When it comes to hidden gems in Nebraska, the
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum
10. Licorice International, Lincoln
Licorice International Haymarket, 230 N 7th St, Lincoln, NE 68508, USA
If you just can't get enough licorice, this store in Lincoln will delight you to no end. Featuring millions (okay, that's probably an exaggeration) of kinds of licorice from 14 countries, the store in the historic Haymarket district will keep you busy for hours. Here's more on planning your trip to the lovable
11. OPPD Arboretum, Omaha
OPPD Arboretum, Omaha, NE 68164, USA
This beautiful little nature area is located in the middle of Omaha (at the Blondo Street substation), though many Omahans have no idea it's there. The arboretum is an outdoor education facility meant to teach visitors about responsible landscaping and energy conservation. It also happens to be a great place to take a leisurely stroll among native Nebraskan trees and plants. For more information, you can visit the
12. Panorama Point, Kimball County
Panorama Point, Bushnell, NE 82082, USA
Although most of Nebraska is nearly as flat as people say it is, Panorama Point peaks at 5,429 feet above sea level. It's a low, gentle rise in the far southwestern corner of the panhandle; once at the top you can sign the register and check out the small monument marker. There is an entrance fee because the site is located on the High Point Bison Ranch. Learn more about planning a visit to the iconic
Panorama Point in Nebraska
13. Petrified Wood Gallery, Ogallala
Petrified Wood Gallery, 418 E 1st St, Ogallala, NE 69153, USA
Beginning in the 1950s, the Kenfield brothers began collecting ancient woods, fossils, and Native American artifacts as well as cutting and polishing rocks. Much of their collection came from the Ogallala area. They crafted some truly breathtaking sculptures from petrified wood, often with a Native American or western theme. Today, the entire collection is available to view in the gallery free of charge to the public (though they do accept goodwill donations). Learn more by visiting the official
Petrified Wood Gallery
14. Robidoux Pass, Near Gering
is the name given to one of the two passes used by westward-bound migrants on their way through the Wildcat Hills. In the late 1840s, a French trader named Robidoux set up shop near the pass and sold goods and blacksmith services to travelers. Often outshone by the stunning rock formations nearby, Robidoux Pass is an important part of Nebraska history which has been reconstructed for the benefit of modern visitors.
15. Soldier Creek Wilderness Area, in the Pine Ridge Section of the Nebraska National Forest
Soldier Creek Wilderness, Chadron, NE 69337, USA
This federally-designated Wilderness Area shares a border with the popular Fort Robinson State Park. From the 1870s through WWII, the land was used as a timber reserve and horse pasture by the U.S. Cavalry. After suffering a devastating fire in 1989, the area has rebounded beautifully and provides a place to view a multitude of wildlife including eagles, bobcats, coyotes, elk, deer, and more. Learn more about planning your visit to
Soldier Creek Wilderness Area
16. Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, Denton
Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, 11700 SW 100th St, Denton, NE 68339, USA
Often overshadowed by the Rowe Sanctuary, Spring Creek is an equally scenic and educational area. Tallgrass prairie land is home to a wide variety of wildlife including a diverse assortment of bird species. Have you ever visited the
Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center
17. Standing Bear Lake, Near Bennington
Standing Bear Lake, Omaha, NE 68164, USA
Standing Bear is sometimes passed over for the other awesome lakes in the Omaha area, but this large site has some unique features. Along with its fishing and boating, walking trails, and picnic areas, Standing Bear Lake also features a flying field for remote control airplanes. In the winter, the lake is opened up for ice skating. One of the coolest things about this place is the wind organ sculpture: it's made of a number of pipes sticking out of the ground, each with a hole for filtering the wind. Each pipe makes a different tone, so every time the wind blows the park plays its own music. Learn more about why Standing Bear Lake is one of the
best lakes to visit in Nebraska
18. The Most Unlikely Place, Lewellen
The Most Unlikely Place, 205 Main St, Lewellen, NE 69147, USA
Next time you take a trip to Lake McConaughy or Ash Hollow, stop by the village of Lewellen for a truly unique experience at
The Most Unlikely Place
. This magical little place is a cafe, art gallery, musical performance space, and all-purpose gathering spot where you'll always be treated like a friend.
Willow Creek State Recreation Area, Near Pierce
Willow Creek Recreation Area, 54876 852nd Rd, Pierce, NE 68767, USA
Last but not least on our list of hidden gems in Nebraska is the
Willow Creek State Recreation Area
. This 1600-acre recreation area was built and is maintained by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District. It contains a large reservoir which is perfect for boating, fishing, and swimming. In the winter, the roads and lake surface (if the ice is thick enough) are opened up to snowmobilers.
What do you think, Nebraska? What are some of your favorite hidden gems in Nebraska that people from outside of the state or a different region of Nebraska may not know about? Be sure to share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below — we’d love to hear from you!
hidden gems in Nebraska
September 15, 2021
What are some of the best Nebraska day trips I can take?
Now that you’ve learned just how many hidden gems there are in Nebraska, you might be inspired to get out and start exploring. There are so many day trips that will help you make the most of what Nebraska has to offer, whether that’s a unique restaurant, charming small town, or fascinating outdoor destination. Some of the very best Nebraska day trips you can take include the town of Norfolk in Madison County, Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, the Crane Migration in the sandhills, Happy Jack Chalk Mine, Lake McConaughy, Spring Creek Prairie, Cowboy Trail, Heritage Highway, Fort Robinson, Taylor, and Toadstool Geological Park. Learn more about these
unforgettable Nebraska day trips.
What are some of the most unique attractions in Nebraska?
There are so many hidden gems and little-known wonders in Nebraska, that it can be hard to know where to start! We’ve compiled a list of the
17 Places In Nebraska You Must See Before You Die for this very reason. Some of the destinations on this list include Indian Cave State Park, the Niobrara National Scenic River, Smith Falls State Park, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Ashfall Fossil Beds, the Downtown Omaha skyline, Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Chimney Rock National Historic Site, the Nebraska State Capitol Building, Sunken Gardens in Lincoln, Chadron State Park, Pine Ridge, and the Nebraska Sandhills. How many of these unique attractions have you experienced?