Hear about a road trip in Nebraska from Omaha to Scott’s Bluff along the Oregon Trail as the Amateur Traveler talks to Olivia Wieseler about her home state.
Olivia says, “I feel Nebraska is very underestimated. It’s very beautiful. People always think it’s flat and boring, and nothing’s there, but what many people don’t realize is there’s actually four different environments. There’s the Rolling Hills from where I’m from along the Missouri River. I’m from Northeastern Nebraska. It’s very hilly, very not flat.”
“And then there’s the flat prairie that everyone knows about. And then there is the Sandhills, which is also very hilly and everything. And then you get out super far to western Nebraska. The panhandle where most people forget about it it’s actually super beautiful, lots of bluffs, rock formations, starts to get drier, more desert-like. So there’s four different things. And if you drive straight across Nebraska in the middle of the state, you’ll hit all four of ’em and it’s beautiful.”
Olivia starts us in the east just as those who traveled on the Oregon Trail would have done. In Omaha, she recommends we see the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium which is one of the best zoos in the USA. There is also a mural project in Omaha.
On the way to Lincoln, she recommends stops at the Holy Family Shrine and at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park which features animals from the plains.
In Lincoln, you should try to get to a “Huskers” game but tickets are very hard to get. Olivia also recommends the Haymarket District downtown and the Sunken Gardens. There are also two unusual museums. One is dedicated to quilts and one to rollerskating. Head out of town to James Arthur Vineyards which is the largest vineyard in Nebraska and to Roca Berry Farm. In the fall, Roca Berry Farm turns into Roca Scary Farm. Under the city of Lincoln, you can tour the Robber’s Cave.
We then head further west to Grand Island where you could pick up the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. Olivia recommends a visit to see the 500,000 Sand Hill Cranes that visit the state every year. South of Grand Island you can take a side trip to the home of Kool-Aid in Hastings. If you time your trip you can be there for Kool-Aid Days.
At Kearney, you can’t miss the Archway Museum which talks about the trails and highways that cross Nebraska. This museum spans Interstate 80.
In North Platte, we leave Highway I80 and head up towards Scott’s Bluff on the old Oregon Trail. Some of the best landmarks that the pioneers would have used are Chimney Rock and Scott’s Bluff. We start to head into a landscape of bluffs, badlands, brush, and rattlesnakes. You can still see wagon wheel tracks at a few places along the route. You should hike Scott’s bluff… or run up it in the Scott’s Bluff marathon.
Western Nebraska includes public lands like Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area, and Ash Hollow State Historical Park, but one of the most unusual sites is Carhenge. Carhenge is a recreation of Stonehenge… made from old cars.
Along the way we eat at steakhouses, learn where the tin roof sundae was invented, and dip our cinnamon rolls into chile.
Pack the car, load up the kids and head out on a road trip through Nebraska.
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Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
South Omaha Mural Project
Holy Family Shrine
Wildlife Safari Park
Screamers Family Restaurant
James Arthur Vineyards
Roca Berry Farm
Nebraska State Capitol
International Quilt Museum
National Museum of Rollerskating
Robber’s Cave Tours
The Sandhills Journey National Scenic Byway
Kool-Aid Days (Hastings)
Kool-Aid Museum (Hastings )
The Archway – Kearney, NE
Fort Kearny State Historical Park
Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge
Ash Hollow State Historical Park
Chimney Rock – Scotts Bluff National Monument
Scotts Bluff National Monument
The Old West Balloon Fest (Gering)
Santa’s Village (Gering)
Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area
Robidoux Trading Post Reconstruction
Marketplace and Company (Mitchell)
Potter Sundry (Potter)
Potter DuckPin Bowling (Potter)
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Legacy of the Plains Museum
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