Nebraska Bucket List ~ Northeast Region

Today we hit on the final region of the Nebraska Bucket List series. This will be my final post of 2020 as I will then take some time off for the holidays! Starting Jan 4th, I’ll be back with the bucket list posts, with our current state of South Dakota, followed closely by North Dakota. Be on the look out then!

Macy

  • Blackbird Scenic Overlook: View a modern model of an earth lodge and enjoy the views of the Missouri River.

Niobrara

  • Niobrara State Park: Located on the river bluffs of the confluence of the Niobrara and Missouri Rivers.

Ponca

  • Ponca State Park: Offers picturesque views of the Missouri River.

Royal

  • Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park: Site of historic fossil bed and ancient watering hole.

All attractions found on visitnebraska.com

Nebraska Bucket List ~ Metro Region

Today’s bucket list encompasses the largest city in the state, Omaha, and its surrounding area.

Bellevue

  • Fontenelle Forest: Beautiful area to hike and explore nature.

Gretna

  • Holy Family Shrine: A unique glass walled church.

Omaha

  • Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge: This bridge spans the Missouri River and allows you to straddle the boarder of Nebraska and Iowa. It connects Council Bluffs, IA to Omaha, NE.
  • Boystown: Visit the historic location where Father Flannagan established a village to care for young boys and girls in need of help.
  • Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens: These simple gardens mark the site of the first home of former President Ford.
  • Great Plains Black History Museum: Tells history through the lens of the African American.
  • Heartland of America Park: While currently closed for construction, this beautiful park is located right downtown by the river.
  • Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium: One of the nation’s top zoos to visit!
  • Heron Haven Nature Center: Explore the beautiful wetland sanctuary.
  • Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters and Visitor Center: Located near the pedestrian bridge, this is your go to center for learning about the Lewis and Clark trail.

Venice

  • Two Rivers State Recreation Area: Great spot for camping and contains 10 restored cabooses that can be rental to sleep in!

All attractions found in on visitnebraska.com

Nebraska Bucket List ~ Southeast Region

Today we move to the Southeast corner of Nebraska, which contains the state capitol of Lincoln. There is a fair amount of things that sound interesting to me in this region!

Ashland

  • Eugene T. Mahony State Park: Great place to hike just outside the Omaha metro area.

Beatrice

  • Homestead National Monument: National Park site that commemorates the Homestead Act.

Brownville

  • Meriwether Lewis Dredge and Missouri River History Museum: One of a few left of it’s kind of a an example built to improve flooding conditions along the river.

Lincoln

  • Nebraska State Capitol: One of the top three tallest capitol buildings in the United States.
  • Pioneer Park Nature Center: Contains 8 miles of trains through woodland, prairies, and wetlands.

Louisville

  • Platte River State Park: Forested park located between Lincoln and Omaha. This park is located near the river and has some unique water features.

Nebraska City

  • Arbor Lodge State Historical Park: Former estate of the founder of Arbor Day.
  • Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitor Center: Contains exhibits on the plants, animals, and other scientific discoveries made during the expedition.

Schubert

  • Indian Cave State Park: Provides exceptional hiking and also camping.

All attractions found on visitnebraska.com

Nebraska Bucket List ~ South Central Region

Moving further east into the state, today we focus on the South Central region of Nebraska.

Hastings

  • Hastings Museum: The largest municipal museum between Chicago and Denver, this museum has three levels of fun exhibits, including a special Kool Aid exhibit since Hastings was the birth place of that favorite drink!
  • Nebraska Bigfoot Crossroads of America: Museum dedicated to the man, the myth, the legend: Bigfoot.

Gothenburg

  • Pony Express Station: Compact cabin formerly used as a station for the Pony Express.

Grand Island

  • Raising Nebraska: An interactive center that helps visitors understand the food and agriculture Nebraska provides!

Kearney

  • The Archway: Spans over I-80 and tells the history of Nebraska and the Platte River Valley.
  • Fort Kearney State Park: Former United States Army Outpost located along the Oregon Trail.

All attractions found on visitnebraska.com

Nebraska Bucket List ~Southwest Region

We’ve got another short and sweet list today as we move into the Southwest region of the state!

McCook

  • Museum of the High Plains: Lots of fun exhibits here: from the WWII air base, to the POW camp, to the inventor of Kool Aid, there’s a little something for everyone!
  • Senator George Norris State Historic Park: Home of the politician who championed the 1930 New Deal.

North Platte

  • Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park and State Recreation Area: Home to the famed showman scout, Buffalo Bill Cody.
  • Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center: Tower with observation areas of the railyard below!

All attractions found on visitnebraska.com

Nebraska Bucket List ~ Sandhills Region

Today we have a slightly smaller list as we look into the Sandhills region, located in the north central part of the state.

Burwell

  • Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park: Preserves a 19th century U.S. Army cavalry outpost.

Valentine

  • Niobrara National Scenic River: The visitor center for this scenic river is located in Valentine but there are many areas of the river that can be explored!
  • Smith Falls State Park: Home to Nebraska’s highest waterfall!
  • Snake River Falls: Wide waterfall that plunges into a canyon.
  • Valentine National Wildlife Refuge: Great place to view common sandhill wildlife.

All attractions found at visitnebraska.com

Nebraska Bucket List ~ Northwest Region

Today we move into my southern neighbor state, Nebraska. We had big plans to see most of Nebraska this past year, but of course 2020 had other plans! However that did make my research time a little shorter since I’d already done a lot of research prior to this year!

Today we focus on that “panhandle” region. Nebraska is a state that is often discounted and considered a flyover state, but the western portion in particular has a lot to offer, especially when it comes to state parks and sites run by the National Park Service. This makes it an area we really want to see in particular as we love our outdoor and historic sites.

Alliance

  • Carhenge: Carhenge is a quirky replica of England’s Stonehenge, but of course with cars.

Chadron

  • Chadron State Park: This park is a great place for camping and allows you to hike 6 miles of trails in an area that mimics some of the geology of the Black Hills area.

Crawford

  • Fort Robinson State Park: Fort Robinson was the site of a former U.S. Army fort and also the site of the Cheyenne Outbreak that saw the death of famed Crazy Horse.
  • Toadstool Geologic Park: Known for its famed geologic features that resemble toadstools, this badlands area is sure to be in interesting place to visit.

Gering

  • Legacy of the Plains Museum: Located along the Oregon Trail, this museum contains many artifacts from the pioneers and farming in the area.
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument: Preserves remnants of the Oregon Trail and was a landmark along the trail.
  • Robidoux Pass and Trading Post: Reconstructed trading post that also includes a maker for a blacksmith shop and pioneer graves along the trail.

Harrison

  • Agate Fossil Beds National Monument: Huge destination for paleontologists and great way to learn about the prehistoric history of the area.

Kimball

  • Panorama Point and the Three State Marker: Nebraska’s highest point. View Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Lewellen

  • Ash Hollow State Historical Park: A major stopover on the Oregon and California trails. You can now explore Ash Hollow Cave and Windlass Hill.

Scottsbluff

  • Chimney Rock National Historic Site: Another famed landmark along the Oregon Trail.
  • Lake Minatare Lighthouse: Mock lighthouse located along Lake Minatare.

All attractions found on visitnebraska.com

Our First AirBnB Experience!

Ever since moving to South Dakota, we have had the opportunity to vacation in the Black Hills following our time at Pastors Conference. This year, that extra vacation time didn’t happen, because conference didn’t happen! We still wanted to do something special, so we boarded the dogs for a few days and decided to try our first ever AirBnb! I found an adorable remodeled “barn” in Watertown, SD and off we went!

The booking process was so simple and our host made great contact with us ahead of time so we knew just where to go and how to access our accommodations. I don’t know why I’d been so nervous to try the whole system out as it really was a breeze!

This particular AirBnB had a living space with woodstove right to the left of the entrance and a nice cozy swinging bed/couch in the middle that faced a TV.

There was also a bedroom off to the side that could sleep another 3 people and also contained a washer and dryer in case you were there for an extended amount of time.

There was a bathroom across from that bedroom as well. It was huge and well stocked with towels, assorted over the counter meds and anything else you could possibly need!

The kitchen was amazing! We were gearing up for a possible winter storm during our visit, so we stocked up on a few take out meals to reheat from our favorite restaurants in the area (Buffalo Wild Wings and Firehouse Subs) and also bought some other groceries for a few other meals. Just like the bathroom, the kitchen was completely stocked with anything we needed! We were easily able to use dishes and cook the pizza we bought in their fancy new oven! We also had plenty of storage in their nice fridge! Plus the huge island space was perfect for the multiple board games we brought along for entertainment fun.

We had a blast all weekend despite the weather being questionable (although we didn’t get as much snow as they expected.) We watched a lot of Netflix (they had it on the TV), played some board games, and enjoyed the woodstove as the temperatures dropped!

If you would love to experience the AirBnB for yourself, check it out here! It was the best first AirBnB experience we could have asked for and we can’t wait to find more fun unique lodging in the future!

Wyoming Bucket List ~ Parks to Parks Region

Today we embark on the final Wyoming Bucket List region: Parks to Parks. From here we will head into Nebraska! I will take a short hiatus from the blog Dec 23-Jan 3 to celebrate the holiday, but will jump right back in with my own state of South Dakota on Jan 4th! But enough about that! On to our final Wyoming region!

Alcova

  • Independence Rock State Historic Site: Part of pioneering history, over 5000 names are carved into this rock.
  • Mormon Handcart Historic Sites: Several sites commemorate the Mormons who traveled to the area by handcart.

Casper

  • Fort Caspar Museum and Historic Site: Old military post in Wyoming.
  • National Historic Trails Interpretive Center: Tells the history of several historic trails that converged in this area.

Cheyenne

  • Cheyenne Depot Museum: Railroad museum located inside the old depot.
  • Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum: Museum that celebrates the Old West and the sport of rodeo.
  • Wyoming State Capitol: Of course this a must for us as we have hopes to visit each state capitol building one day.
  • Wyoming State Museum: Learn all about the history of Wyoming.

Douglas

  • Camp Douglas Officers’ Club State Historic Site: This was the site of an Italian and German POW camp during WWII. All other POW camps in the state were satellites of this location.
  • Fort Fetterman State Historic Site: Wooden fort constructed by the US army in Dakota Territory.
  • Ayres Natural Bridge: One of Wyoming’s first tourist attractions, this is just one of three natural bridges in the US that has water running beneath it.

Fort Laramie

  • Fort Laramie National Historic Site: Significant trading post during the 19th century.

Guernsey

  • Oregon Trail Ruts: View deep wagon ruts from the Oregon Trail.
  • Register Cliff: Sandstone cliff navigational landmark along the trail where many emigrants chiseled their names.

Thermopolis

  • Legend Rock Petroglyph Historic Site: View hundreds of petroglyphs on rock.
  • Hot Springs State Park: Explore the various hot springs that flow in the area.
  • Wyoming Dinosaur Center: One of few dinosaur centers to be within driving distance of excavation sites!

All attractions can be found in the 2020 Wyoming Travel Guide.

Nicolett Tower ~ Sisseton, South Dakota

Living out in rural South Dakota, there’s not always a ton of options for quick side trip outings as we aren’t near what many would consider “tourist” areas. However, this fall, we were able to sneak in a little side trip about an hour north of us to visit Nicolett Tower in the Sisseton Hills area and take in some of the fall colors.

The tower has a small parking lot and does have an interpretive center, but that building was closed during our visit due to Covid-19.

As you can see from the photo, the tower has three main viewing decks, each at a higher level. It’s a relatively short climb to the top, but the views are pretty great, especially if you come when the fall colors are appearing like we did!

While this certainly isn’t an attraction that I would suggest making a detour for, it provided us with some fun entertainment after being holed up in our house most of the year, let us take in some of the fall colors, and gave us a nice change of scenery from the flat farmland near us! It’s worth a stop if you are passing through the area!

We obviously haven’t been active on it lately as our travels have been few and far between, but don’t forget you can still follow us at sitesandbitejournal on Instagram and of course as always sign up for e-mail updates from the blog. I have one more close by trip to share and will be going to town on Bucket List posts as well!