You’ve flown over Nebraska without giving much thought to the 37th state 37,000 miles below.
I get it, you were probing around the bottom of your tiny bag of pretzels in search of loose salt as the forgettable movie played on the seat back in front of you.
Maybe you’ve driven I-80 on a cross country road trip or cut across a piece of Nebraska meandering from Grand Tetons to The Badlands.
Nebraska, Honestly It’s Not For Everyone
You might think there’s nothing in Nebraska for you. That might be true, after all, as the flyover state’s new viral slogan goes, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone”.
“We’ve got plenty of space out here”
It was as if the line was rehearsed. Some kind of statewide script. This is the kind of joke without a punchline. More of a humorous quip than a guffaw, really. Several natives made the joke over the several days I’d spent in Nebraska this summer, each putting their own twang on the familiar tune. “We’ve got plenty of space out here,” they’d each say, in some form or fashion. It ain’t a lie.
We’d drive, from Fremont to Columbus to Wayne to Norfolk to Spencer to Valentine, and see nary hide nor hair of another human.
Eerie? A little. Awesome? Absolutely.
There’s a lot here though. Maybe not a lot of people, but a lot of stuff; stuff to do, see, experience, enjoy.
Fremont Nebraska for example has loads to murals — street art that excites and makes you stop, ponder, and smile — and hanging baskets adding pops of color like a Lite-Brite grid through the charming downtown.
Downtown Fremont Nebraska Murals and Hanging Baskets
Columbus Nebraska has color too, with raised flower beds ON TOP of trash cans proving that you can indeed put lipstick on a pig to great effect.
Niobrara State Park View at Sunrise
Niobrara State Park, a sprawling lush green space where the Niobrara river meets the Missouri, on the other side of South Dakota, is the site of one Merriweather Lewis and Clark encampment during their famous trek west. The view from the cabins on site and the main lodge with its picnic tables out back overlooking this majestic scene, is nothing short of breathtaking.
Johnnie Byrd Brewery Wayne Nebraska
Wayne has a burgeoning main drag with thrift shops, shabby chic boutiques, and a brewery pumping out a fine root beer.
Kayaking through Norfolk Nebraska
Norfolk has a stellar lodge with big, rustic, luxurious rooms, and a river flowing through the city center that is perfect for kayaking (with a thrilling rapids water park in the works).
Valentine is a dark sky city, in all but official certification (they are workong on it), offering astronomy-heads the chance to partake in a star party beneath a heavenly canvas.
Ashfall Fossil Beds, Nebraska
Ashfall Fossil Beds are unlike anything you’ve ever seen, an ancient watering hole that was the scene of a rare geological event 10-12 million years ago that has perfectly capturing a moment in time, an ecological snapshot if you will. At this site is a bevy of well-preserved fossilized animals — rhinos, camels, horses, deer, birds and turtles — wholly intact and clearly visible. These fossils are unreal.
River Life Air Boat, Nebraska
There are air boat tours on offer in Nebraska that are so serene you will zen-the-hell-out as you fly by bald eagles perched on dead tree branches a hundred yards above you.
Bald eagle sightings during Nebraska Air Boat ride
There are independent coffee shops, craft breweries, live theater, and the longest rails to trails biking path in the country too.
Longest rails to trails bike route in the country is in Nebraska
There’s hiking, waterfalls, tanking, and more miles of river than any state in the union. Read that again. Rivers, so much water, flowing through Nebraska.
Earth’s second largest animal migration occurs in Nebraska, and the state is the proud innovator of an annual passport program, one of the most wonderful marketing campaigns ever, that encourages locals to be tourists in their own state.
Beneath the water at Smith Falls State Park, Nebraska
There’s room for a lot in Nebraska, including room for you no matter what you love to do on land, on water, or in the sky.
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