Nebraska Vacation Guide

“Visit Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone.” That bold (and interesting) proclamation is listed prominently on the Visit Nebraska State Tourism website, and we love it. Though it’s said a bit tongue in cheek, we like that what it really sums up is that Nebraska is unique, a special destination to visit that goes so far beyond the sum of its parts.

With scenic lakes, rivers, and expansive plains stretching out as far as the eye can see, Nebraska is an entirely different kind of beautiful. And some misguided travelers may think it has a reputation for being flat and relatively boring, Nebraska reveals itself to be anything but turn after turn – just like the rest of our incredible Midwestern states. 

Like much of the Midwest, Nebraska is a veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts, and it boasts incredible history and historic attractions, a thriving agritourism industry, plentiful wildlife, and off-the-beaten path adventures that will leave you yearning for more. From the big cities to rural ranches, we have no doubt you’ll fall in love with the Cornhusker State – and all the welcoming Nebraska Bed and Breakfasts you’ll stay at along the way. 

Things To Do In Nebraska

Nebraska may lie within The Great Plains – a region home to vital wild areas and wildlife – but the state is anything but plain. So much of the country skip over this special heartland, a place often dismissed as “flyover country.” However, we know there’s an incredible diversity of things to do in Nebraska.

From thrilling outdoor adventures and unbeatable natural scenery to vibrant cities and immersive cultural experiences, you’ll never run out of things to do in Nebraska. Below, you’ll find a guide to all the best things to do in Nebraska for outdoor enthusiasts, arts & culture aficionados, food lovers, and everything in between. In truth, there really is something here for everyone, and it’s past time you spent some time discovering it all at our Bed and Breakfasts, Inns, and Boutique Hotels in Nebraska.

Outdoor Enthusiasts

With hundreds of miles of trails to explore – some flat, and others surprisingly less so – and broad swaths of open space to enjoy, it’s easy to see how Nebraska has earned a reputation as an excellent place for outdoor enthusiasts. When it comes to the outdoors, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of things to do in Nebraska. 

If you enjoy hiking, don’t miss places like Toadstool Geologic Park in Crawford. Hikers have compared the landscapes here to moonscape. It’s also a great place for scientists to study the earth’s geological and paleontological history. It’s sure to leave a lasting impression on you, too! Head to places like Platte River State Park in Louisville for more terrific hikes and breathtaking views.  

Getting up close and personal with Nebraska’s wildlife is one of the most popular things to do in Nebraska. Get out for some fishing on the cool, clear waters of Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area in Ogallala. In the spring, witness a massive sandhill crane migration – nearly one million of these beautiful birds move through the area each year. For something a little less wild but still very Nebraska, head to one of the many ranches in the state and enjoy some horseback riding across these magnificent plains. 

Like many other Midwestern states, there are plenty of waterfalls to chase in Nebraska, including one of the most famous, Smith Falls on the Niobrara National Scenic River. While you’re in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to paddle along the sandstone cliffs of this spectacular river – it’s one of the most beautiful things to do in Nebraska. 

Finally, enjoy one of the most popular things to do in Nebraska and the Midwest as a whole: Biking. Like so many other states, Nebraska is home to a slew of fantastic rails-to-trails projects, including the Cowboy Trail – the longest rail-to-trail corridor in the country. It spans 192 impressive miles, taking travelers through stunning views of rivers, valleys, prairies, woods, and over 221 bridges.

There’s simply no shortage of fun, adventurous things to do in Nebraska – and plenty of opportunities for romance and relaxation, especially when you stay with one of our member Inns! 

Chimney Rock - One of the best things to do in Nebraska
Seeing American Bison is one of the best things to do in Nebraska
Dismal River - one of the best things to do in Nebraska

Food & Drink

While enjoying all the many outdoor adventures and other things to do in Nebraska, you’ll need some fuel to get you from one place to the next. Many of our member Nebraska Bed and Breakfasts will have your first meal of the day covered, but from there, the state will take your tastebuds on an adventure. 

Trying new foods is one of our favorite things to do when exploring new places. Whether you enjoy a traditional runza or deliciously fresh steak, you’ll find one great meal after another in Nebraska. With farms and ranches everywhere you turn, there are plenty of agritourism opportunities around the state, too. 

You may not have heard about the wine and beer culture in Nebraska (yet), but it’s also worth checking out. Most Nebraska wineries are found in the eastern portion of the state on the border with Iowa – convenient for Midwest road trips!

corn being grown in Nebraska

Arts & Culture

The Great Plains are filled with historic sites and attractions – and it’s no different in Nebraska. Follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark and our country’s earliest pioneers, get to work with modern cowboys at Nebraska ranchers, and travel down one scenic byway after the next in search of Nebraska’s rich history. You’ll be pleasantly surprised! 

Drive the Heritage Highway Scenic Byway, for example, and traverse 283 miles of this history, visiting places like the Homestead National Historical Park or Rock Creek Station State Historical Park to learn more about this portion of the Oregon Trail. Get to know Nebraska’s Native American history by visiting local reservations, Native Art Galleries and Cultural Centers, and even attending local powwows.

Scott Bluff National Monument - one of the top things to do in Nebraska

Best Time to Visit Nebraska

There are four fantastic seasons in which to enjoy all the best things to do in Nebraska. From enjoying the emerging wildlife in the spring to trekking through the snow on cross-country skis or snowshoes in the winter, visiting this incredible state is always worthwhile. If we had to choose one season to visit, though, we’d have to say fall is the best time to visit Nebraska. 

Though Nebraska isn’t traditionally a foliage-forward state in the fall, there’s something about the golden glow of the prairies in the autumn that is mesmerizing. Couple that with milder temperatures, and it’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. A close second to fall in Nebraska in summer, of course, when the weather is ideal for getting out on the river and lakes for a water-based adventure. 

As much as we love fall and summer, it’s hard to argue with Mother Nature in the spring, as the Sandhill Cranes migrate through the area and the gardens begin to bloom in the grand reawakening. In winter, the broad expanses of prairie covered with snow bring a whole new kind of beauty. So, as much as we’ll tell you fall is the best time to visit Nebraska, we’ll also tell you there’s truly never a bad time – especially when one of our Nebraska Bed and Breakfasts is involved! 

winter animals at Chimney rock in Nebraska

Winter in Nebraska

sandhill crane migration each spring in Nebraska

Spring in Nebraska

Paddling the Niobrara National Scenic River in Nebraska

Summer in Nebraska

Fall at Platte River State Park in Nebraska

Fall in Nebraska

Top Destination Cities in Nebraska

With big cities, charming small towns, and plenty of prairies, rivers, and bluffs along the way, there is so much more to Nebraska than meets the eye. Top destinations include Omaha, Lincoln, and Grand Island, but to focus only on those destinations would be missing charming towns like North Platte, home to the largest railyard in the world. Learn more about Nebraska’s Oregon Trail history in Kearney, or head up to the Sandhills Region to visit the stunning Niobrara National Scenic River and charming towns like Valentine.

One thing is for sure: Wherever you go in Nebraska, you’ll find warm, friendly hospitality, plenty of adventure, and endless amounts of culture and history to admire. 

Skyline of Omaha Nebraska at night

Omaha

Omaha is, of course, Nebraska’s biggest city and, thus, the destination for all the urban activities you expect from modern cities. But Omaha is genuinely more than just a big city.

You can also walk in the footsteps of famed explorers Lewis and Clark at the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters and Visitors Center. Take in beautiful views of the city and the Missouri River from the 3,000-foot-long Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which serves as a gateway to more than 150 miles of nature trails!

Finally, wind up your day at the Old Market, a cobblestone street-lined district filled with galleries, shops, breweries, and restaurants – the perfect taste of this incredible city. 

State Capitol Building in Lincoln Nebraska

Lincoln

In southeast Nebraska, you’ll find Lincoln, the charming state capital. Of course, visiting the State Capitol building here is a must, but there are so many more things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska. Don’t miss the Historic Haymarket District, filled with great restaurants, unique shopping, and lively nightlife, all in restored turn-of-the-century warehouses.

Visit some of Lincoln’s top-rated museums, including a visit with Archie, the world’s largest Columbian mammoth at the University of Nebraska State Museum, or take in a performance at the Lied Center for the Performing Arts. And, of course, wash it all down with delicious meals and a pint of locally crafted beer – the city’s craft brewing scene is exceptional! 

sandhill crane migration in Grand Island Nebraska

Grand Island

There is a surprising array of things to do in Grand Island, Nebraska. It’s located in the South Central region of Nebraska. Grand Island has an incredible array of trails and parks to explore, but it’s a city perhaps best known for the annual Sandhill Crane migration that moves through here each spring. 

Each March, over a million Sandhill Cranes converge on the Platte River on their way to their nesting grounds in the north. The best place to witness this spectacle is The Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center, which offers guided tours and public viewing areas. 

For a bit of Nebraska history, don’t miss the Stuhr Museum – a delightful living history museum.

Best Places To Stay In Nebraska

As you can see, Nebraska really is for everyone. There are so many great things to do in Nebraska and plenty of extraordinary places worth visiting. Whether you choose to visit some of Nebraska’s more prominent cities like Omaha or Lincoln or would prefer to center your getaways around smaller communities like Grand Island or Valentine, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better accommodations than a Bed and Breakfast in Nebraska – particularly those that are part of the Midwest Association of Independent Inns. 

Like all of our partner Inns across the Midwest, our member Bed and Breakfasts in Nebraska are anything but ordinary. Unlike depersonalized lodging in the modern era, these boutique hotels and charming Inns are dedicated to excellence in everything they do. From cooking a delicious breakfast in the morning to providing welcoming accommodations and personalized hospitality throughout your stay, you won’t find a better home away from home than a Bed and Breakfast in Nebraska. Our collection of Inns truly offers some of the best places to stay in Nebraska. 

Nebraska 1

Bakers Bed and Breakfast

Nebraska 2

Wunder Roost Bed & Breakfast

Nebraska 3

Temple Lofts