When in search for hidden gems that most travelers have not experienced, head to the humble state of Nebraska. Here, you can climb aboard a naval ship; take a dip in an old mill pond; find your marbles, so to speak; or send a postcard via Pony Express. As for accommodations, there are an abundance of Nebraska vacation rentals to choose from. Enjoy your getaway by visiting one of these fantastic secret spots tucked away in Nebraska.
1. Nebraska’s Little Grand Canyon, Wauneta
To visit the Grand Canyon, just follow the crowds to get there. If it surprises you that Nebraska claims its own “Little Grand Canyon,” just wait until you see it just outside Wauneta. This dramatic and unexpected feature, once known as Frenchman Creek Valley, awaits to enthrall you with its impressive scenery. As Old Route 6 heads north out of town, look for a turnout and a sign on the hill for the overlook. There you get a stunning view of the beautiful geological feature, Nebraska’s Little Grand Canyon.
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2. Happy Jack Chalk Mine, Scotia
The only underground tour in Nebraska takes you inside the Happy Jack Chalk Mine, the only one in America that is open to the public. Still unknown to many Nebraskans, this tour gives you a chance to stroll through a blend of prehistoric and more recent history. This hidden gem in the countryside features a guided tour that includes some of the tools the miners used. You can take a piece of chalk with you when you leave.
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3. Champion Mill State Historic Park, Champion
This little hidden gem makes a cute treasure hunt–when you find the town, finding the mill is easy. This historic flour and feed mill now serves as a museum at the focus of a park that Chase County runs. Although the mill no longer works, feel free use the pond for fishing or splashing around, and enjoy the green space for picnicking. Tour the mill on weekends from Memorial weekend through Labor Day weekend, but enjoy using the grounds year-round.
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4. Pony Express Station and Museum, Gothenburg
The friendly little town of Gothenburg includes a nice museum that sits across the street from the Pony Express Station. Inside the one-room log structure, the Pony Express Station features hides on the walls, a desk, stove, pictures, and historical documents. The interpreter gives a lot of information about the history of the Pony Express, and give you the opportunity to mail a postcard from the station.
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5. Toadstool Geologic Park, Oglala National Grassland
Pick up the site map at Toadstool Geologic Park entrance for an informative hike on the one-mile trail loop. A few places give you chances to scramble over rocks to see the fossilized remains of saber-tooth tigers, ancient horses, and other animals that lived 50 million years ago. As you peer over the ledges into the past, note the toadstool-shaped hoodoos that give the park its name. The layers of sandstone that built up in the area created the red and green streaks you see in this alien-looking landscape.
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Get a taste of Sweden without traveling overseas when you book your Stromsburg vacation rental. The town traces its roots to a group of settlers who sailed to America in 1856 from Ockelbo, Sweden. As some of the group settled in Illinois, another group traveled on to establish their new town in Nebraska. They founded Stromsburg in 1872, and it continued to grow as other Swedes and settlers from other areas made it their home. Annual Swedish festivals led Governor Frank Morrison to give the city the title of “Swede Capital of Nebraska” in 1966. Check out the stunning architecture and browse the darling shops throughout the town.
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7. Freedom Park, Omaha
Finding ships in a land-locked state qualifies Freedom Park as a hidden gem–that and the fact that people easily pass by the sign without seeing it. At least the park sits along a river, and it features retired naval vessels and other military artifacts. A group of Omaha businessmen bought the 1944 USS Hazard in 1971, and placed her on public display in the park. A fleet minesweeper of the Admirable class, she now serves as a museum. Other displays include the USS Marlin, a naval training submarine used from 1953 to 1973, and several types of military aircraft.
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8. Robidoux Pass, Gering
As easterners headed west, they used two passes on their trek through the Wildcat Hills. In the 1840s, the Robidoux family established a trading post in one of those passes. Travelers stopped there to restock their goods and take advantage of the blacksmith shop. Robidoux Pass figures heavily into Nebraska history, and the state reconstructed the trading post to help share the story. To schedule a tour of the interior of the trading post, contact the Gering Convention & Visitors Bureau. Otherwise, tour the grounds on your own year-round.
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9. Harold Warp’s Pioneer Village, Minden
Pioneer Village features 28 buildings spread across the 20-acre site that Harold Warp founded in 1953 in Minden, his hometown. In chronological order, the village present the story of progress and history of the United States, featuring automobiles, furniture, and artifacts. Warp purchased historic buildings from the town, including the church and a one-room schoolhouse, and moved them to create the village. Born in a sod house, Warp rose to become an industrial millionaire. His rise from rags to riches inspired him to build the village that represents the great American dream.
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10. Lee’s Legendary Marbles, York
Find all the marbles at Lee’s Legendary Marbles, a unique museum devoted to everything related to marbles. There’s lots to see and goodies to add to your own collection. The mind-blowing assortment includes handmade marbles, machine-made marbles, agates, Lutz’s, and onionskins. Among other rare and exotic memorabilia Lee showcases you find marble-related games, toys, and paperweights. Look for paintings, coke collectibles, old coins, jewelry, and tons of other interesting showpieces.
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