Experience the heart of America by enjoying a summer getaway in Nebraska. With the Great Plains spread across much of the state, the rural pride of Nebraskans comes out at fairs, horse races, and agricultural events held throughout many small communities. In big cities such as Omaha and Lincoln, attractions like zoos and museums beckon families to come spend a fun day exploring. Book a stay at one of many incredible Nebraska vacation rentals today. To get you started on planning your summer adventure in Nebraska, here are the top places to visit.

1. Lincoln

Lincoln

There is no shortage of things to do in Lincoln. The capital of Nebraska, it is one of the state’s largest cities. Among the family-friendly destinations here are the Lincoln Children’s Zoo and the Lincoln Children’s Museum. The zoo is home to more than 400 animals, including endangered species such as the snow leopard and red panda.

Tours of the capitol building are available on a regular basis. Be sure to make it up to the 14th floor observation deck for spectacular views of the city. If you want to get a bit of shopping in afterwards, SouthPointe Pavilions features several stores and restaurants.

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2. Omaha

Omaha
Source: Flickr / Mark Evans

Omaha is Nebraska’s largest city. Look for vacation rentals here if you want plenty to do without having to leave the city limits. Lions, elephants, and orangutans are ready to greet your entire family at the Henry Doorly Zoo. Among the many interesting constructed “landscapes” at the zoo is the red sand dunes at the Desert Dome.

Outdoor attractions are what make Omaha such a great summer stop. The Victorian and children’s gardens at Lauritzen Gardens and Kenefick Park are a delight to the senses. The Heartland of America Park wows visitors with its 250-foot fountain. The Old Market features galleries, gift shops, and jewelry stores, making it a great place to pick up souvenirs to remember your Omaha vacation.

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3. Lexington

Lexington
Source: Flickr / Greg Goebel

If you want a vacation rental away from the big city, then take a look at the small town of Lexington. Outdoor enthusiasts have plenty to keep them busy here. The town’s trail system is a favorite with hikers and bikers. The Family Aquatic Center is an especially suitable summer destination. A splash pad, water slide, and Olympic-sized pools ensure that there is something for both novice and experienced swimmers alike.

An interesting stop in Lexington is the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles. Military vehicles on display here range from ambulances to tanks to helicopters.

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4. Seward

Seward
Source: Flickr / Dick Clark

If your summer getaway includes the 4th of July, then “America’s Small Town 4th of July City” is the place to be. The holiday includes a spectacular fireworks display, live music, and other family-friendly activities. Even during the rest of the summer there is plenty to do. Centennial Park is the place to go for a game of soccer or baseball with family and friends. The Seward County Fairgrounds includes livestock centers, a harvest hall, and periodic festivals. To learn about the history of the region, stop by the Seward County Historical Museum.

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5. Columbus

Columbus
Source: Flickr / Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet

Experience a true Great Plains vibe by booking a vacation rental in the small town of Columbus. The Agricultural Park has a lot going on during the summer, including fairs, picnics, and horse races. Historic points of interest in the city include the Andrew Jackson Higgins memorial, featuring life-sized statues and a replica of the famous “Higgins Boat” once used by the military. The town also features a replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Parks in Columbus offer scenic trails for walking and biking. For food and drink, grab a juicy burger at Fair Park Grille, tender steak at Husker Steak House, or a drink at the historic Glur’s Tavern, which can boast Buffalo Bill as a once frequent visitor.

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6. Norfolk

Norfolk
Source: Flickr / Ken Ratcliff

Norfolk is the starting point for the Cowboy Trail, which runs several hundred miles along the historic Chicago and Northwestern rail route. Walkers, runners, bikers, and horseback riders alike can strike out on the trail and go as far as they like. Also stop by to see the Ashfall Fossil Beds at nearby Ashfall Fossil Beds State Park to watch paleontologists unearth the numerous fossils that fill the ground here. Nature trails and picnic areas also exist on site.

To add a splash to the trip, visit Memorial Aquaventure Waterpark. A water slide, pools of different depths, and a water walk await your visit.

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7. Fremont

Fremont
Source: Flickr / Visit Grand Island

Fremont is a place of fun on the water, and so is a great option for your next vacation rental. Get out on the water with your own kayak, or join Bryson‘s Airboat Tour for a guided tour on the Platte River. Splash Station Water Park is great place to take kids for an afternoon of swimming and splashing, while Huey‘s Smokehouse BBQ offers tasty pulled pork, brisket, and chicken wings to satisfy your appetite after your day of water fun. Also check out Fremont’s downtown, which is on the National Register of Historic Places list.

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8. Grand Island

Grand Island
Source: Flickr / Visit Grand Island

Grand Island’s Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is a fun, worthwhile day trip for the entire family. A Pawnee earth lodge, antique farm machinery building, and log cabin settlement take you back to an earlier, simpler time. Grab a souvenir from the gift shop, and be sure to check out the museum’s calendar for special events during the summer. The town is also home to curious attractions such as Fred’s Flying Circus, where sculptures of cartoon characters and flying cars make for an entertaining trip.

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9. Valentine

Valentine
Source: Flickr / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

Scenic parks await you during your summer stay in Valentine. Nearby Smith Falls State Park is home to the impressive 70-foot Smith Falls, and the park’s trails offer hikers the chance to experience the beautiful landscape and wildlife. Another great place for wildlife watching is Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, home to bison and elk. If you are looking to get out on the water, then check out Brewers Canoers and Tubers and reserve a tube, canoe, or kayak.

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10. Gering

Gering
Source: Flickr / NPCA Photos

Gering sits in the far western part of the state. One of the biggest attractions here is the nearby Scotts Bluff National Monument. An 800-foot historic rock formation in the park has a long history, as it guided pioneers on the Oregon Trail and other historic routes. Another interesting historic site is Robidoux Pass and Robidoux Trading Post, a 19th-century post that still includes the remains of a blacksmith shop as well as graves of pioneers.

Live entertainment is available in the summer at the impressive Five Rocks Amphitheater, which holds 3,000 seats. The “Movies at the Rocks” film series lets you experience great movies under the open summer sky.

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