Our travels over the past three years have had us traveling and camping in all 50 states. I am working on a photo book of the best of what we’ve seen in each state. Please share what we cannot miss in your state (or states you have visited) so that we have something to look forward to when we can travel again!
If you want to see Nebraska, Stay off of 1-80. I 80 follows the Platte River bottom. Great if you are a Mormon heading to Salt Lake City, or in a wagon train heading to Oregon. But Boring Boring Boring.
I think the best of Nebraska can be seen by taking I-80 only as far as Grand Island, then take HWY 2 to either South Dakota or Wyoming.
Going this way you can see most of what Nebraskans would say are “must See’s”.
Crossing the Missouri into Omaha and entering Nebraska, your first exit will take you to the Henry Doorly Zoo, just off the interstate. It may not be well known but is rated Best Zoo in the Nation (often competing with the SD Zoo for first place).
An hour further west is Lincoln. The Capital is truly spectacular with its interior art, fresco’s, murals, statues, etc. The exterior is often overlooked but contains many relives and writings. The capital was the creation of the same man who designed St. Thomas Church in New York, LA Central Library, and Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago. It stands as a Huge Phallic Symbol blessing the plains with fertility. It is remarkably different than any state capital that I have seen.
As you pull off at Grand Island swing by the Wave Pizza. It is good Pizza, but you can find that anywhere. What they have prominently displayed inside a locked VW bug is the actual “lost shaker of salt!” along with the story of how it ended up in Nebraska.
As you continue up HWY 2 you will get to see the Sandhills of Nebraska… Beautiful with scattered lakes seeping up from high water tables. They are home to countless varieties of Birds. Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons; red winged and yellow headed black birds, egrets, Herons, Long Beaked Curlews.
Your destination is Crawford and you should come in from the south from Ashland (home of Carhenge- you really should at least drive by Carhenge),
Coming in from the south you are driving through corn fields one minute and then all of a sudden you are travelling through a rustic gorge with the awesome Pine Ridge before you. Home to old Ft. Robinson, Soldier Creek, Toadstool State Park, Sow Belly Canyon, and Hudson -Meng Archiological Dig.
To me this is the best of our state, and truth be told I’m not a fan of Nebraska, just a resident. I like nearby Harrison (though not much to look at). Sioux is larger than the State of Delaware and Harrison is it’s seat and largest town (population of about 400). Any guesses on what the second largest town in Sioux County is? There are no other towns in Sioux County!
If you want to see pictures check out some of my reviews of camping in the panhandle.
@Charles_C Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful response. We have seen many of the things you mention - Toadstool Geologic Park was so cool and worth the 12-mile dirt road we had to take to get there. Scottsbluff was also great. We did see Carhenge last summer and then drove home to Iowa via Route 2. But I think our coolest experience in Nebraska was the sandhill crane migration last March. Well worth getting up to see them take off at sunrise. The next time we drive through Lincoln, we will stop at the capitol. And Wave Pizza will definitely be on our list as I love the quirky side of each state! We haven’t been to the zoo but since it is only about two hours from our home, I’m sure a trip there with our granddaughter is in our future! Thanks again for your input!
If you like the quirky, and if you ARE just driving through on I-80 you owe yourself a stop at Ole’s big game steak house in Paxton and I think a must is getting a tin roof sundae and playing duck pin bowling in Potter (on the way to WY). They claim to have invented it, Wikipedia seems to confirm this. Whether true or not, I guarantee it will be the best sundae you have ever had.
The Twin Cities have great museums (minneapolis institute of art, the bell museum). We have under rated food!
North shore- you probably know about this because it is our premium nature! Apparently they are having problems with bad campers. An article made our major Newspaper how someone cut down trees at their campsite to improve their view
Itasca state park- this isn’t the most exciting park because there is only one paved trail (the rest are kind of overgrown- ish) but it just feels like a quintessential Minnesota environment. I wish it were closer to me, I’ve only been there once.
We loved the north shore, the people were great. the scenery spectacular.
@Krista_T I took a group on a food tour in Minneapolis when I was still working - everyone was skeptical but all loved it! I am so saddened to hear of destruction in campsites:-( but yes, the north shore is beautiful. We were there about 10 years ago and I would love to return. I remember hiking around Gooseberry Falls, bicycling, and kayaking. And, of course, the aerial lift bridge in Duluth was great to watch! We camped in Itasca State Park two years ago and we were disappointed in the paved “hiking” trail but the headwaters were fun to explore. Thanks for the input!