8 Unbelievable Weekend Getaways in Nebraska

In Nebraska, you'll find spectacular outdoor adventures found nowhere else in the world, creativity and history at every turn, and a fun sense of humor that will leave a permanent smile in your heart when you next think of the Cornhusker State.

When thinking of a great weekend getaway destination, Nebraska may not pop up first on your list. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find spectacular outdoor adventures found nowhere else in the world, creativity and history at every turn, and a fun sense of humor that will leave a permanent smile in your heart when you next think of Nebraska.

The poet Tricia Moon-Beem writes of Nebraska that it is a place “where the earth has room to breathe and the sky comes down to greet us.”

Take a weekend getaway to Nebraska and take a deep breath where the sky comes down to greet you.

A Weekend in Nebraska City – The Unexpected Birthplace of Arbor Day


The Nebraska prairie is an unexpected setting for the international celebration of trees, but indeed it was here that J. Sterling Morton began planting trees, shrubs and bushes in the 1850s that would eventually become the Arbor Day Farm. The state arboretum here has more than 270 kinds of trees, and more than 2800 plantings overall.

Nebraska City makes a romantic getaway – especially in the spring months, when lilac bushes and other blooming trees invite sneaking a kiss and cuddling behind the blossoms.

However, Nebraska City is equally educational and fun for families. Explore the tree adventure trail, climb in the tree house village and take part in all of the activities offered in outdoor classrooms. Come in the fall for hayrides among the apple orchards and to watch apple cider being processed.

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The heart of the Arbor Day Farm is The Lied Lodge, an eco-friendly conference center with six massive stone fireplaces and an arched ceiling in the lobby that shows off 35-foot tall Douglas Fir trees. It also features a pool, spa and everything you need for a wonderful weekend getaway. Most rooms have electric fireplaces, balconies and some private hot tubs. Take a tour of the biomass heating facility to see how they create and recycle their heat supply. For a great souvenir, pick up a tree sapling for your back yard.

Lied Lodge & Conference Center

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Nebraska City
9.4 Excellent (686 reviews)

A Weekend in Omaha – a Little History and Lot of Culture...Plus Some of the World's Best Steaks


Here’s a fun fact that will probably blow your mind: there are more billionaires per capita in Omaha than any other city in the U.S. You may know the name Warren Buffett. He still lives in Omaha and when he started his company, Berkshire Hathaway, many of the first investors were his friends and neighbors.

All of that money allows for well-funded arts organizations, like the Joslyn Art Museum, the Omaha Symphony Orchestra and Lauritzen Botanical Gardens. The Omaha Community Playhouse, which puts on six shows a year, is not only the nation’s largest community theatre, it’s also where Marlon Brando and Henry Fonda made their first stage appearances.

Of course, Omaha is famous for great steakhouses, but you’ll find every type of ethnic cuisine imaginable here, with heavy emphasis on eastern European. The railroads that built Omaha brought immigrants from every corner of the world. Learn more about that history with a visit to the Durham Western Heritage Museum located inside Union Station.

One of my favorite destinations in Omaha is the Old Market District, where brick streets will lead you to some of the Midwest’s most interesting boutiques, art galleries, bookstores and coffee shops.

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Right smack in the middle of the Old Market is the Hotel Magnolia, one of my favorite hotels in the world. Built in 1923 to look like an Italian Palace, the Hotel Magnolia is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The bar serves some fabulous craft cocktails, so plan accordingly one evening. If you want to explore beyond the Old Market district, the Hotel Magnolia offers a complimentary shuttle service from the airport and around downtown.

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8.6 Excellent (2394 reviews)

A Weekend in Lincoln - a Capitol Idea


As the state capitol and the home of the University of Nebraska, there’s always something going on in Lincoln. Many of those activities will be in Haymarket District, where you can spend a full day exploring brewpubs, antique shops, bookstores and all sorts of interesting stores. Find a fabulous souvenir in the From Nebraska shop or check out the crazy flavors at Licorice International, the country’s largest licorice store.

But here are some fun, off-the-beaten path reasons to visit Lincoln: The National Museum of Roller Skating, the historic UNL Dairy Store for ice cream and the International Quilt Study Center.

When I visit Lincoln, I always make time for a visit to the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden on the UNL campus. It’s a place to feed your soul, especially on Tuesdays in June with free jazz concerts in the garden.

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Smack dab in the middle of everything in Lincoln is the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel. It’s just a 15 minute walk to Memorial Stadium where the Cornhuskers play, so if you’re coming in for a football game, book your rooms here early. This is Marriott at its finest, but what distinguishes the Cornhusker is the collection of bee hives on the roof. The honey is sold in the gift shop and served with your breakfast. Who doesn’t love the honeybees?

The Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker

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A Weekend in Hastings – Kool-Aid, Bigfoot and Other Fun Sights


Hastings is one of those places where you can have a serious conversation about Bigfoot sightings and no one will look at you like you’re crazy. That’s because Hastings is home to the country’s only Bigfoot Museum and Research Center. You can listen to Bigfoot talk, investigate footprints and learn a bit more about Sasquatch while you’re at it.

Another famous character that calls Hastings home is the Kool-Aid Man – that bright red talking pitcher known for breaking through brick walls. Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings in 1927 and has an entire wing devoted to the sugary drink at the Hastings Museum. Plan a weekend getaway to Hastings the first full weekend in August for Kool-Aid Days and enjoy all the flavors and silliness you can imagine.

The Central Nebraska Children’s Museum offers more fun for kids, as do water parks, disc golf courses and the Hastings Planetarium.

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If you’re traveling with kids, you have to have a hotel with a pool, right? The Holiday Inn Express is one of the newest lodging option in the region and has a great big heated indoor pool. With a complimentary breakfast buffet, guest laundry and a fitness center, this modern hotel will top off the perfect weekend getaway in Hastings.

Holiday Inn Express Hastings, An Ihg Hotel

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9.4 Excellent (2114 reviews)

A Weekend in Grand Island – Come for the Sandhill Cranes, Stay for the Hot Dogs and History

If you are a bird watcher, Nebraska’s Sandhill Crane migration may already be on your radar. Each spring, roughly between Valentine’s Day and Tax Day, more than 600,000 sandhill cranes settle in to the cornfields and nearby sandbars of the Platte River in central Nebraska to fatten up for a few months. It’s one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular events that draws visitors from around the world.

If you can’t make it during the crane migration, Grand Island offers a great weekend of history at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie and plenty of local art at the Prairie Winds Art Center downtown.

You can’t say you’ve been to Grand Island without a stop at the Coney Island Café, a local favorite since 1933. In addition to hot dogs, the chili is fabulous – or just order a malt and enjoy the local vibe. Plan your weekend getaway to Grand Island the third weekend in June for the Coney Island hot dog eating contest.

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Watching the cranes start their day is a part of the magic, so that will require an early morning wake-up call at the Candlewood Suites Grand Island. The staff is ready for you with coffee and breakfast starting at 4 a.m. It’s an early, cold morning, but well worth the effort. If you get muddy or messy out in bird blinds, take advantage of the hotel’s laundry facility. While the laundry is spinning, take a dip in the indoor heated pool or burn some energy on the treadmills and elliptical machines in the fitness center.

Candlewood Suites Grand Island, An Ihg Hotel

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A Weekend in Fremont – Exploring Rivers, Antiques and Good Barbeque


An airboat tour is something you might expect to do on a Louisiana swamp, but it’s the unexpected thing about a weekend getaway in Fremont. Pack a lunch for a wild afternoon on the Platte River, or a dinner for a sunset cruise filled with wildlife and fabulous scenery via one of two airboat companies.

Most people come to Fremont for the arts and antiques. A half dozen or more antique shops specializing in books, furniture, toys and the like make for a wonderful day or two of exploring. The community also has two art museums and lovely art galleries. Come for a girls’ weekend getaway and enjoy a luncheon at the Louis May Museum.

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If you’re traveling with friends or serious about antiquing, you might be driving a bigger vehicle, so the plentiful parking at the Fairfield Inn & Suites is one reason this is a great choice for a weekend getaway in Fremont. Another is the heated swimming pool. Gather with some friends around the outdoor firepit and compare notes on your fabulous finds in the antique markets.

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Fremont

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9.0 Excellent (607 reviews)

A Weekend in Beatrice – Get in Touch with America's Roots


If you are a person who loves American history and family genealogy, a weekend getaway to Beatrice will stir your heart strings. From your high school history classes, you may remember the Homestead Act of 1862, which basically gave away more than 270 million acres to anyone willing to work the land for at least five years. Ellis Island in New York Harbor opened to accommodate the nearly 12 million European immigrants who responded to the promise of free land.

It is believed that the very first homestead claim filed was for this acreage in southeast Nebraska, thus the location of the Homestead National Historical Park. Find help researching your family story, listen to oral history recordings and shake your head in awe at the fortitude of these pioneers. The story of Native Americans should not be overlooked.

Walk trails through the tallgrass prairie, explore the cabin where Daniel and Agnes Freeman raised a family and built a life. One in three Americans are descendants of a homesteader, including me.

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The Hotel Capri Inn and Suites is about five miles from the NPS site and a good choice because of the pool and hot tub, plus easy access to downtown. Some of the rooms have in-room hot tubs. Book your room early if coming in late June – that’s when the city hosts Homestead Days, with activities throughout the region celebrating the pioneer spirit.

Capri Inn & Suites - Beatrice

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A Weekend in Alliance – Road trip to Nebraska's Panhandle


What started as a fun family tribute to a deceased loved one in 1987 has now become a delightful reason to put Alliance, in the Nebraska Panhandle, in your GPS.

It’s called Carhenge – basically a mimic of England’s famed Stonehenge, but fashinoed out of old cars and pick-up trucks. Spend an afternoon wandering the pathways of this former wheatfield, learning a little about Stonehenge and the engineering feat that makes it and Carhenge possible. The Summer Solstice at Carhenge is a party to remember.

For more outdoor time, visit the Sallows Arboretum and Conservatory, which will inspire the gardener and weekend farmer in understanding the native plant life of western Nebraska. Military history buffs can learn about the military bases that operated in this region during World War II at the adjacent Sallows Military Museum.

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Decompress from your fun day out in the modern Holiday Inn Express with a spacious indoor swimming pool and fitness center, colorful breakfast nook and fabulous views of the Nebraska landscape from each room. If you’re traveling in August, plan to book early – that’s when the Box Butte County Fair comes to Alliance and hotel rooms fill fast.

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