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Heritage Highway

Harlan County Lake is one of Nebraska’s largest reservoirs and offers great opportunities for hunting, fishing, camping, and boating on 31,000 acres of water and land.

Learn all about Willa Cather, Nebraska native and author of O Pioneers and My Antonia, at the Red Cloud Opera House.

Hebron is home to a unique attraction, the World’s Largest Porch Swing. It makes for a great photo opportunity.

Near Fairbury, explore Rock Creek Station State Historical Park, one of the best places to see Oregon Trail wagon ruts. Part of the station’s historical significance includes being the place where Wild Bill Hickok gained notoriety for killing his first victims.

While you’re in Fairbury, spend some time browsing works of art created by Nebraska artists at the New Earth Clay Pottery and Art Gallery.

Learn about the turning point that settled the Wild West at Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice. The Homestead Heritage Center uses state-of-the-art, interactive displays and exhibits to bring America’s homesteading story and the importance of the Homestead Act of 1862 to life.

Explore how the Nemaha Valley was settled at the Nemaha Valley Museum in Auburn.

In Brownville, spend a relaxing afternoon cruising down the Missouri River on the Spirit of Brownville Riverboat, take in a play or concert at the Brownville Village Theatre and Brownville Concert Hall, shop in the quaint downtown area, or sip wine at sunset on the deck of Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard & Winery.

Spend a relaxing overnight stay on the banks of the Missouri River at the River Inn Resort, a floating inn and boutique.


Lewis & Clark Scenic Byway

The Durham Museum in Omaha highlights this fair city’s dramatic transformation from cow town to boomtown.

If viewing wildlife is more to your liking, this trip has more than enough stops to keep you busy.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo is one of the country’s best and boasts an indoor jungle, a state-of-the-art aquarium, the world’s largest desert dome, and much, much more.

Among the finest of this area’s historical attractions is Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Fort Calhoun north of Omaha. Here, visitors are treated to living history presentations that breathe life into Nebraska’s rich heritage.

Stop by the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge near Blair to view wildlife in its natural habitat and marvel at the remarkably preserved cargo that was pulled out of the Bertrand—a steamboat that sank in 1865.

Explore the art, culture, and history of Nebraska’s Winnebago Tribe at the Winnebago Cultural Center and Museum, Woodland Trails Art Center, AllNative.com art center, and the Honoring-the-Clans Sculpture Garden and Cultural Plaza. You can also view a majestic bison herd up close.


Western Trails Historic & Scenic Byway

Front Street in Ogallala will ignite the imaginations of little ones. Stop by the Old West town replica for shootouts and dancing featuring cowboys and showgirls. Also within Front Street is the Petrified Wood Gallery. This natural history gallery specializes in ancient woods, fossils, and American Indian artifacts. 

 

Ogallala is home to Big Mac, or Lake McConaughy—the largest inland lake in the region. It’s a water lover’s paradise and offers white-sand beaches, excellent fishing, and relaxing boat lounges.

 

At Ash Hollow State Historical Park near Lewellen, prehistoric Nebraska comes to life through the many fossils displayed on-site. 

 

If bird and wildlife watching interest you, plan a scenic drive to Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a half hour north of Oshkosh. The refuge has the third-most-documented number of bird species in the country. Go for the peak songbird migration in mid-May, and catch the peak fall season in September. 

 

Courthouse and Jail Rocks near Bridgeport are two of the first rock formations pioneers came across on their way west. 

 

Near Bayard, visit the Chimney Rock National Historic Site and Visitors Center, one of the most recognized landmarks in pioneer history. 

 

You can even enjoy an authentic wagon ride with the Oregon Trail Wagon Train.

 

See wagon ruts and take in a breathtaking view of the North Platte River Valley at Scotts Bluff National Monument near Gering. 

 

Treat your family to a wild time at the Riverside Zoo in Scottsbluff. This impressive facility features more than 200 animals representing more than 75 animal species from around the world. 

 

Enjoy pine-covered canyons and rugged rock buttes at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center south of Gering. Nestled within the Wildcat Hills, the nature center is located in one of the most beautiful regions of Nebraska. An abundance of native wildlife can be enjoyed from the information center’s deck or along the more than three miles of hiking trails throughout the park.

 

Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

Visit Grand Island and experience pioneer life at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, one of the top ten living history museums in the country. Walk through an 1890s railroad town, push a handcart on the Mormon Trail, learn about Great Plains American Indians at the Pawnee Earth Lodge, and explore the birth cottage of Oscar-winning actor Henry Fonda.

 

Gaze into the faces of the people who settled this land by visiting the Custer County Historical Museum in Broken Bow. Here you’ll find many original photographs by famed Sandhills photographer Solomon Butcher.

 

Creativity is queen at Sandhills Pottery in Dunning, an excellent place to stop and learn how pottery is made from the wheel to the final piece. The studio offers a wonderful gift shop for finding the perfect souvenir. Near Halsey, the 90,000-acre Nebraska National Forest provides beautiful trails and picnic facilities for your family outing. And be sure to pick up an attractive piece of locally made artwork at the Thedford Art Gallery in Thedford.

 

Head to the Double R Ranch near Mullen for a true ranching experience that’ll take you back to the days of the Old West. The Verde Valley Guest Ranch near Hyannis is a working cattle ranch where you can spend the day as a cowboy. Are you ready to relive the frontier days of the Old West? You can at Dobby’s Frontier Town in Alliance. This re-creation of a turn-of-the-century Western town boasts a homesteader’s cabin, mercantile, bootlegger’s cabin, post office, jail, baled straw house, and much, much more. Be sure to stop at one of the most fascinating stops in Nebraska, Carhenge near Alliance. This unique attraction is an exact replica of Stonehenge—but built entirely out of cars!

 

Outlaw Trail Scenic Byway

This path cuts through north-central Nebraska from Valentine, giving you the perfect view of the subtle beauty of the Sandhills. Within this unique ecosystem, experience charming towns and natural wonders, including waterfalls along the Niobrara National Scenic River, the world’s largest hand-planted forest, dramatic sandhills, winding rivers, and the serene beauty of Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area southwest of Valentine. 

 

Welcome to cowboy country! Enjoy life on the range at the Sandhills Spirit of the West near Nenzel west of Valentine. Embark on a rustic wagon ride and learn about the area’s history, settlement, and ranching lifestyle from true cowboys and ranchers. Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge near Valentine offers canoeing and tubing opportunities, as well as a chance to view bison, deer, elk, and prairie dogs. At the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge south of Valentine, discover more than 240 species of birds. Another great stop is Smith Falls State Park, where glistening water cascades 70 feet from the cliff top to empty into the Niobrara National Scenic River.

 

Try your hand at canoeing, tubing, or kayaking down the Niobrara National Scenic River with Dryland Aquatics near Sparks. Impressive waterfalls and springs cascade down steep canyon walls, making a camera definitely worth bringing. Enjoy a refreshing break in Springview at the Turtle Butte Lodge and Café, where a variety of dishes are prepared using local ingredients, including buffalo and beef.

 

Check out native Nebraska bison as you ride in a covered wagon at the Kreycik Riverview Elk Ranch near Niobrara. Afterwards, experience the rich history and culture of the Ponca Tribe at the Ponca Earthlodge and Ponca Tribal Museum.

 

The spacious front porch and downstairs speakeasy tavern in the Historic Argo Hotel in Crofton are ideal relaxing places. The hotel is said to be haunted—an added benefit. Two miles east of Wynot, St. James Marketplace is home to a wonderful farmers’ market, craft fair, and tearoom. While away the afternoon near Ponca exploring Ponca State Park’s many miles of recreational trails, wildlife watching opportunities, scenic tri-state Missouri River overlook, and Missouri National Recreational River Resource and Education Center.

 

Loup Rivers Scenic Byway

Danish is just one of the many ethnic groups that settled Nebraska, and nowhere in the state is the Danish influence more evident than in Dannebrog. If you’re in town in early June, have a great time at Grundlovsfest, Dannebrog’s Danish celebration.

 

The Happy Jack Peak and Chalk Mine in Scotia is the only publicly accessible chalk room and pillar mine in North America. Enjoy a Victorian tea at the Valley County Museum, where you can also learn about Ord native Evelyn Sharp, who at age 18 was the youngest female commercial pilot in the country. Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park near Elyria has the most original buildings still standing of any historical fort in Nebraska. Originally built to protect pioneers from the hostile Teton Sioux Tribe, the fort became a fortress for the friendly Pawnee Tribe and pioneers. 

 

After experiencing Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in Burwell, enjoy a leisurely float down the Calamus River with Calamus Outfitters northwest of Burwell. Once back on dry land, feast on a pitchfork steak supper or cream-can social. Take home a touch of Nebraska with locally handcrafted gifts from the Double L Gift Shop in Brewster. Ask about feeding the goats after you finish shopping. Creativity is queen at Sandhills Pottery in Dunning, an excellent place to stop and learn how pottery is made from the wheel to the final piece. The studio offers a wonderful gift shop for finding the perfect souvenir. 

 

Lincoln Highway Scenic & Historic Byway

Stop by the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge near Blair to view wildlife in its natural habitat and marvel at the remarkably preserved cargo that was pulled out of the Bertrand—a steamboat that sank in 1865. When passing through Fremont, treat yourself to a fast-paced ride down the Platte River on an airboat courtesy of Bryson’s Airboat Tours. You’re sure to enjoy the wildlife, scenery, and exciting fun. You can’t go wrong with anything you order at Columbus’s Dusters and the Gottberg Brew Pub, where the food is delicious and the ambiance is outstanding. Try the chicken Kiev.

 

Plan a stop at Grand Island’s Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, one of the top ten living history museums in the country. Make sure you visit Rowe Sanctuary and Iain Nicolson Audubon Center near Gibbon. This 1,250-acre wildlife sanctuary is located on the banks of the Platte River, where more than a half million sandhill cranes pass through the area on their northward migration in early spring. The Nicolson Audubon Center offers stunning views of the Platte River, interpretive displays, a gift shop, and trails. At the Great Platte River Road Archway near Kearney, learn about everything from American Indian and pioneer history to modern fiber-optic networks.

 

For kids both big and small who love cars and planes, the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington displays an impressive collection of military equipment and machinery. The Gallagher Canyon State Recreation Area near Cozad is a great place to get in touch with the great outdoors and spend a night under the stars. Take a journey into the history of the Great Plains at the Sod House Museum in Gothenburg. Among other things, you’ll learn how pioneers survived and thrived without trees.

 

If you’re interested in Old West history, you’ll love North Platte. Stop by the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park to tour the great entertainer’s home and grounds. If you’re in town the third week of June, be sure to take in NEBRASKAland Days when the whole town gets into the Buffalo Bill spirit.

 

Bite into a mouthwatering steak at Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge in Paxton, which is well-known for its impressive collection of mounted animals, quality food, and exceptional hospitality. Front Street in Ogallala will ignite the imaginations of little ones. Stop by the Old West town replica for shootouts and dancing featuring cowboys and showgirls. Also within Front Street is the Petrified Wood Gallery. This natural history gallery specializes in ancient woods, fossils, and American Indian artifacts. Ogallala is home to Big Mac, or Lake McConaughy—the largest inland lake in the region. It’s a water lover’s paradise and offers white-sand beaches, excellent fishing, and relaxing boat lounges. 

 

Bargain hunters and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy shopping at Cabela’s in Sidney. The store’s centerpiece is a giant manmade mountain featuring dozens of animals climbing to its peak. While in town, spend time getting better acquainted with your green thumb at Ricky & Lucy’s Country Greenhouse. The Potter Sundry is an old-fashioned soda fountain famous for its tin roof sundaes. The town also has an active downtown, including a former hardware store that has been renovated into a flea market called A Collective Gathering. Chestnut Street Memory Station is a renovated gas station specializing in antiques, collectibles, and jukeboxes.

 

What covers more than 20,000 square feet, has a 47-ton garage door and a 120-foot-long access hallway, and once accommodated a 67-foot-long, 278,000-pound missile? Kimball’s only underground house of course! Built in a renovated former Atlas E Missile site, this home and the owner’s story will amaze you.

 

Bridges to Buttes Byway

Grab a quick snack while in Harrison, also known as “Nebraska’s Top Town.” At 4,878 feet above sea level, the town enjoys the highest elevation of any Nebraska community and is surrounded by some of the most scenic countryside in the state. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, 24 miles south of Harrison on NE-29, is a fossil lover’s dream come true. This 3,000-square-foot national monument houses fossilized mammals from 19 million years ago.

 

At Toadstool Geologic Park north of Crawford, you’ll see some of the most dramatic rock formations on the planet. Within the wind- and rain-eroded clay lie many fossilized mammals. Also north of Crawford is Hudson-Meng Research and Education Center, where you’ll find the bones of more than 600 primitive bison killed more than 10,000 years ago. 

 

Chadron State Park south of Chadron is Nebraska’s first state park and an outdoor recreation lover’s paradise. Nestled among towering pine trees and rugged buttes, the park is packed with fun-filled activities such as paddleboating, black powder demonstrations, hiking, biking, and sightseeing. Located near Chadron, the Museum of the Fur Trade displays artifacts from the lucrative fur-trading industry that was a thriving business in northwest Nebraska in the early 1800s.

 

Explore hiking and biking trails, historical tours, hunting, and wildlife viewing while surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Pine Ridge region at Flying Heart Ranch near Hay Springs. The complete story of Camp Sheridan and the Spotted Tail Agency as well as exhibits highlighting life on the rugged frontier can be found in Rushville at the Sheridan County Historical Museum.

 

Historical author Mari Sandoz wrote about her life in Nebraska’s impressive Sandhills region. Stop by the Mari Sandoz Room in Gordon to learn about this fascinating woman and her impact on Nebraska’s literary scene. Leisurely browse through the Sheridan Gallery, enjoying local works of art that portray the Nebraska Sandhills and surrounding area, American Indian art, prints, antiques, and other gift items. Nebraska’s cowboy way of life is alive and well at the Tri-State Old Time Cowboys Memorial Museum.

 

Enjoy the scenic beauty of the northern Sandhills as you make your way to the Arthur Bowring Sandhills Ranch State Historical Park near Merriman. The visitor center, outbuildings, and ranch house document the history of ranching in the Sandhills and chronicle the lives of Eve Bowring (the first Nebraska woman to serve in the U.S. Senate) and her husband Arthur.

 

Welcome to cowboy country! Enjoy life on the range at the Sandhills Spirit of the West near Nenzel west of Valentine. Embark on a rustic wagon ride and learn about the area’s history, settlement, and ranching lifestyle from true cowboys and ranchers. 

 

This path cuts through north-central Nebraska from Valentine, giving you the perfect view of the subtle beauty of the Sandhills. Within this unique ecosystem, experience charming towns and natural wonders, including waterfalls along the Niobrara National Scenic River, the world’s largest hand-planted forest, dramatic sandhills, winding rivers, and the serene beauty of Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area southwest of Valentine.

 

Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge near Valentine offers canoeing and tubing opportunities, as well as a chance to view bison, deer, elk, and prairie dogs. At the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge south of Valentine, discover more than 240 species of birds. Another great stop is Smith Falls State Park, where glistening water cascades 70 feet into the river below.

 

385 – Gold Rush Byway

Chadron State Park south of Chadron is Nebraska’s first state park and an outdoor recreation lover’s paradise. Nestled among towering pine trees and rugged buttes, the park is packed with fun-filled activities such as paddleboating, black powder demonstrations, hiking, biking, and sightseeing. Located near Chadron, the Museum of the Fur Trade displays artifacts from the lucrative fur-trading industry that was a thriving business in northwest Nebraska in the early 1800s. Sweet Sage Spice and Gourmet Shoppe in Hemingford is an old-fashioned variety store with a full line of antiques, collectibles, candles, and art from local artists. 

 

Are you ready to relive the frontier days of the Old West? You can at Dobby’s Frontier Town in Alliance. This re-creation of a turn-of-the-century Western town boasts a homesteader’s cabin, mercantile, bootlegger’s cabin, post office, jail, baled straw house, and much, much more. Be sure to stop at one of the most fascinating stops in Nebraska, Carhenge near Alliance. This unique attraction is an exact replica of Stonehenge—but built entirely out of cars! 

 

Courthouse and Jail Rocks near Bridgeport are two of the first rock formations pioneers came across on their way west. Bargain hunters and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy shopping at Cabela’s in Sidney. The store’s centerpiece is a giant manmade mountain featuring dozens of animals climbing to its peak. While in town, spend time getting better acquainted with your green thumb at Ricky & Lucy’s Country Greenhouse.

 

 

from http://www.visitnebraska.com