Nebraska Nature January 24, 2017
Shhh… These 15 Hidden Places Are Nebraska’s Best Kept Secrets
Overall, Nebraska is pretty good at keeping secrets. There are still tons of people who have no idea that ours is a state full of impressive natural beauty and enviable attractions. Even for those of us who have lived here forever, there’s always more to explore and discover…like these 15 places.
1. Kregel Windmill Factory Museum, Nebraska City
This fun museum is all about that most ubiquitous of rural Nebraska sights: the windmill.
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum
is filled with the machinery and tools that were used to manufacture windmills at the beginning of the 20th century.
2. Florence Mill, Omaha
Just down the street from the Mormon Winter Quarters is the historic
, built under the supervision of Brigham Young in 1846. The original mill has been rebuilt and added onto several times over the years, but it contains the only remaining structural components of the original Winter Quarters settlement. Today it's an art gallery and a meeting space - there's even a farmers market on the grounds in the summer.
3. Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art, David City
This fairly new museum is the nation's only museum displaying exclusively agrarian art.
has received much praise from the art community for its thoughtful, complex, and well-organized exhibits. This is a must-visit for anyone who sees the agricultural life as rich with artistic opportunities.
4. Happy Jack Peak and Chalk Mine, Scotia
Those of you who know and love Happy Jack will be shocked to learn that there are so many Nebraskans who have no idea it exists. This diatomite mine - and the big hill and gorgeous surroundings outside - should be a required destination for all Nebraskans. Read up on its history and plan your own visit
on the attraction's website
5. The Speakeasy, Sacramento (Holdrege)
Being located in the middle of nowhere, in a town that doesn't actually exist anymore, doesn't hurt the Speakeasy's business at all. If anything, it seems like people are drawn to this mysterious oasis of gourmet food in south-central Nebraska. The formally trained chef brings a creative element to the food that is hard to find in rural areas.
Read more about the Speakeasy here.
6. Alpha Omega Labyrinth, North Platte
There are, perhaps surprisingly, quite a few labyrinths in Nebraska. This one, however, was constructed as an Eagle Scout project in 2007. We think that makes it pretty unique. The
Alpha Omega Labyrinth
is located just outside of the First United Methodist Church in North Platte, and the public is welcome to come walk the path and seek enlightenment.
7. Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 30 miles north of Oshkosh
We recently published
an entire article just about this refuge
, but it definitely deserves to be highlighted again. The peace that you'll feel out in the still air on the western edge of the Sandhills is indescribable. This place is truly magical.
8. Old Poor Farm Animal Sanctuary, Dodge County
This farm has a long and fascinating history - you can
read all about it here
. Today it houses animals that would otherwise have nowhere to go. It's open seasonally for historical tours.
9. Heron Haven, Omaha
It comes as a surprise to many that there's such a relaxing, serene natural place within Omaha city limits. The spring-fed wetland sanctuary offers education on conservation and natural history, and of course it's the perfect place for birders.
10. Terry's Steakhouse, Virginia
Yes, Nebraska, there is a Virginia - it's near Beatrice in Gage County. In the extremely tiny town with fewer than 60 residents is a steakhouse that's definitely worth the drive.
is a true gem with more than its share of devoted fans.
11. Johnson Lake State Recreation Area, near Elwood
The large lake at this recreation area is surrounded by a relatively small amount of land, leaving the focus firmly on the water. You can camp, swim, fish, and generally just enjoy the outdoors at
, and it's less crowded than some of Nebraska's other recreation areas.
12. Museum of Shadows, Plattsmouth
Are you afraid of the things that go bump in the night? This is where they live. This unique museum is the only one of its kind in the Midwest, and it's sure to delight ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts. The
Museum of Shadows
isn't just for Halloween; its exhibits are open to entertain and enlighten all year round.
13. Rock Creek Station Historical Park, Fairbury
This is one of several places in Nebraska where you can actually see and touch the ruts worn into the ground by wagons on their westward journey on the Oregon Trail. Visit
Rock Creek Station
in the summer and you'll see living history reenactments that will really bring the past to life.
14. The Most Unlikely Place, Lewellen
This place definitely lives up to its name; you wouldn't expect to find healthy food, an organic farm, and a thriving art community out here in western Nebraska, but
The Most Unlikely Place
delivers them all.
15. The underground missile silo house, near Kimball
Driving past this property may not alert you to the wonder that exists below the surface. An abandoned Cold War-era missile silo has been converted into a large subterranean home with all - ok,
- of the amenities you'd find above ground. Find
more information about this unique home here
Show of hands: is there anyone who already knew about every one of this hidden treasures? How many of them are you planning to visit now?