Outlaws, pioneers and adventurers have all sought a piece of Nebraska, so instead of zipping through on your way to somewhere else, take a look around and prepare to be surprised. Sure, there’s a lot of prairie and farmland, but there are also buzzing cities, unique landscapes and quirky sights.
State capital, Lincoln, has a student vibe, a hip and historic downtown, and flourishing arts and music scenes. You can catch big-name artists and sports stars in the shiny Pinnacle Bank Arena, tap your toes to jazz and blues in the Zoo Bar, or wander the sculpture garden of the Philip Johnson-designed Sheldon Museum of Art.
Nebraska’s biggest city, Omaha, reveals its own impressive line-up. Listen to the Omaha Symphony in the near-perfect acoustics of the Holland Performing Arts Center or rock to indie bands at the MAHA Music Festival. Slice through succulent hunks of Nebraskan ribeye in chic eateries or relive your teens (albeit with legal booze this time) through old-school arcade games and craft ales at Beercade.
Track those lawless criminals on the Outlaw Scenic Byway, which passes snaking rivers, grass-covered sand dunes (the Sandhills) and charging waterfalls. Stop off for wagon rides, bison-spotting, paddling and homemade pies.
Hike on giant fungi in Toadstool Geological Park, a classic Badlands landscape, named for its mushroom-shaped rock formations. And no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you: that really is a Stonehenge-inspired sculpture looming on the horizon near Alliance. Only this one is made from vintage cars, spray-painted grey to resemble its English cousin. And it’s called Carhenge.