One of the simplest pleasures of life is hitting the road to explore your country and appreciate its beauty. And if there’s one state you haven’t cruised through and you should include in your upcoming road trip escapade, it’s Nebraska. So don’t wait any more, check out our sampling of best Nebraska road trip destinations.
Nebraska is full of attractive sweeping plains, rolling hills, and wide-open adventurous roads making up much of its landscape giving you a peaceful drive. It’s a Mid-Western state lying in the Great Plains and a unique geography.
We’ve done all the legwork for you so you don’t have to worry about the best destinations to visit on your Nebraska road trip. Here are some of the top destinations you shouldn’t miss out on your road trip escapade in the Mid-Western State.
If you want a quick look into the top Nebraska road trip destinations, check out the slides below:
- The Henry Doorly Zoo: Wildlife At Its Best
- Strategic Air and Space Museum: Unique Nebraska
- Carhenge: Quirky Nebraska
- Chimney Rock National Historic Site
- Monowi Town: The Small Town Charm
- Haymarket District, Lincoln: Restored Historic Buildings
- Scotts Bluff National Monument
- Johnson Museum of the Odd: Another Lincoln Attraction
- Wrapping Up Top Nebraska Road Trip Spots
The Henry Doorly Zoo: Wildlife At Its Best
This zoo is one of the largest in the country, located on Omaha’s eastern edge and closer to the Missouri River banks. The zoo is quite massive such that The Lied Jungle located in the zoo is the world’s largest rainforest.
The jungle is home to lots of wildlife including monkeys, macaws, pygmy hippos, and a dozen more species of animals native to this region. The vegetation here is massive, and the trees stand tall as high as an eight-story building while free-roaming wildlife traverse the forest floor and treetops.
As you trek through the forest, you’ll come across native animals and plants that represent ecosystem diversity in South American, Asian, and African forests.
The 130 acres of Henry Doorly Zoo is full of stunning exhibits as well as garden space full of animals and plants from all corners of the planet. There’s also an insect and butterfly garden, aquarium, Orangutan Forest, and the biggest nocturnal animal displays in the zoo. If you feel like watching a movie, an IMAX Theatre is also available. The zoo is massive! Get ready to spend two days or more just exploring it.
Strategic Air and Space Museum: Unique Nebraska
If you’re an aviation technology enthusiast or are raising one in the family, you’re definitely going to love this trip. Strategic Air and Space Museum located in Ashland has an impressively large collection on display.
The museum was first opened in 1959 to operate as Strategic Air Command and continued to grow through the years until it was relocated to a modern facility in 1998. Just a couple of years back, the museum was renamed to its current name, Strategic Air and Space Museum.
It’s one of the largest, spanning an area of more than 300,000 square feet with a huge collection of various types of spacecraft, airplanes, and technological exhibits that undergo change frequently. The site also has a planetarium featuring seasonal astronomy motion rides and shows that stimulate a feeling of riding in a helicopter.
You can combine this trip with a cruise to view Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari.
Carhenge: Quirky Nebraska
You’ve probably heard of Stonehenge, it’s about time you visited Carhenge; a replica of Stonehenge prehistoric monument found in Wiltshire, England. Built primarily using old cars, Carhenge is a quirky landmark that’s brought a name to industrial America. Therefore, it features in top Amazing and Quirky Destinations to Visit in the USA list.
Built by Jim Reinders in the 1980s in memory of his father, it is one of the top attraction destinations in Nebraska. Just like the prehistoric Stonehenge monument, the actual meaning of the Carhenge monument is open to people’s interpretation.
In the course of time, many more sculptures have also been built near Carhenge, so be sure there’s a lot to view here. Don’t forget to bring your camera along to capture those great memories.
If cruising on an RV, parking isn’t allowed at Carhenge, luckily, you’ll find lots of cozy places in Alliance to spend the night. Just off the way, J&C RV Park offers excellent parking space for RV’s and is equipped with a handful of amenities.
Chimney Rock National Historic Site
The Chimney Rock formation is one of the oldest, dating back to 25 million years back. It rises about 480 feet above the countryside vicinity. During the early 19th century, this dramatic rock spire used to serve as a notable landmark for the early pioneers on their way to the west.
Today, the landscape still maintains its somewhat pristine appearance, just like when the wagon trains cruised the place during the era of Great Western Migration. The appearance is magnificent and stimulates a feeling of what the pioneers felt on arrival at this place.
At the Visitor Center, you’ll be provided with insightful information on geology of formation of the Chimney Rock and the Overland Trail history.
Monowi Town: The Small Town Charm
We often love to include a couple of off-the-wall sites on our top destinations list, luckily Nebraska has got plenty of such. This small town of Monowi is a must-visit on your Nebraska road trip escapade.
The town is very small, in fact, it’s extremely small as it is home to only one resident. Yes, that’s right! During the 1930s, the town had a population of 150 but soon migrated to other places for a fresh start. In 2,000 Elsie and Rudy were the only ones left in the town. And in 2004, Elsie became the only resident left after the death of Rudy. If you’d like to meet Elsie who is now in her 80s, make a stop at Monowi Tavern, the only business in town for a drink.
Elsie also serves as the mayor, town clerk, and a librarian in Monowi. You’ll get to visit her library established in honor of Rudy Eiler, her late husband.
Just a couple of minutes away from Monowi, there’s Niobrara State Park with a stunning campground. The park lies on the banks of Niobrara River, and presents spectacular views of woodlands and valleys surrounding the place. You’ll get to indulge in a wide range of outdoor fun activities including fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and more.
Haymarket District, Lincoln: Restored Historic Buildings
Haymarket has a serene atmosphere, restored historic buildings, and great restaurants, all combining to make it a fun-filled place for visits at any period of the year. You’ll get to wander around the inlaid brick buildings of the wonderful streets and see great views from the eclectic shop windows.
And to stimulate your taste buds with rich tasty snacks and coffee, head to the beautiful cafes and restaurants on the streets. Some of the sightseeing attractions in Haymarket include the restored town clock and water tower.
While Haymarket District always has something going on, it gets particularly busy during the days when sports teams of the local university have scheduled games. For a place to spend the night, Lincoln has several cozy motels and inns with favorable pricing for visitors. Some of these include the Holiday Inn Lincoln South West, Red Roof Inn and Suites, and Econo Lodge.
Scotts Bluff National Monument
This notable beautiful natural structure is visible from far as well as wide across the prairies of Nebraska. It once served as an important landmark to the Native Americans who used to inhabit the region, and then later on by travelers cruising through in the mid-19th century.
Today, the monument is one of the best attraction sites in Nebraska. On weekends, there are rangers dressed in period costumes roaming around different spots of the park giving insights and narrating stories about the past to visitors.
Scotts Bluff National Monument rests on 3,000 acres of land, and was first established in 1919. Over the years, the area has undergone lots of improvement. There’s a beautiful winding road that runs up to the monument’s higher elevations and includes three tunnels.
Hiking the trails in the monument will lead you to great scenic views that surround the countryside. Among the most popular options is boarding the summit shuttle heading to the peak, then hiking your way down. Scotts Bluff National Monument charges no fees for entries.
Johnson Museum of the Odd: Another Lincoln Attraction
Just like the name implies, you’ll come across virtually anything here, from collections of strange doll heads, to goofy underground comic books. Operated from a private home owned by Charlie Johnson, you’ll need to do early reservations for a visit to the museum. The vast display of oddities here is as a result of a lifetime collection of the odd exhibits.
Johnson Museum of the Odd is located in the district of Lincoln, you’ll therefore have plenty of other things to view. During warmer summer months, you can choose to visit Sunken Garden to view the beautiful flower-themed displays in one of the top gardens in the country. If you are looking for an indoor adventure, visit one of the many museums in the city, such as University of Nebraska State Museum and Nebraska History Museum. You can also grab a tasty craft beer in one of the breweries such as Boiler Brewing Company. For a place to stay, head to Camp A Way for the premier campground located in Lincoln’s downtown.
Wrapping Up Top Nebraska Road Trip Spots
Nebraska offers an adventure like no other. Most of the land is on the plains, but the fun is one of its kind. Visiting these top road trip destinations in the Great Plains State will give you long-lasting memories for a lifetime. Just don’t forget to carry a camera to capture the scenic views! If you have a limited budget and want to look for some free things to do in Nebraska, feel free to check out our dedicated sampling.
Now that you know about the top Nebraska road trip destinations, you should also find out where to stay. If you are looking for some great and affordable accommodation options, our website Rental Trader is an excellent place to explore a wide variety of vacation rentals to choose the most affordable one for you.