The beaten path in Nebraska is the Oregon Trail, which parallels the Platte River and I-80 throughout much of the state. And although the interstate highway offers plenty of rest stops, a string of lakes, and even some fine roadside sculptures, you really need to get off this beaten path to really see what Nebraska has to offer.
The state's landscape ranges from rolling hills in the east, to the 20,000 square miles of sandhills in the north-central area, to the high plains and rugged buttes of the west and the moonlike landscape of Toadstool Geological Park in the northwest near Crawford.
Among the state's highlights are its state parks, open year-round, where you can be as lazy or as busy as you want to. The parks offer a variety of experiences: hunting, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, camping, canoeing, hiking, and cross-country skiing. In the summer, some parks also feature historical re-enactments and the chance to eat buffalo stew. The state also sports 3,000 lakes for boating, fishing, skiing, and sailing. Major lakes include the 35,700-acre Lake McConaughy north of Ogallala, Merritt Reservoir southwest of Valentine, and Lewis and Clark Lake north of Crofton.
Nebraska is not all landscape and lakes, however. Omaha, the state's largest city, has its own professional opera company, symphony, ballet company, and several live theaters--including the Omaha Playhouse, which spawned Hollywood movie stars Henry Fonda and Dorothy McGuire. The city also features Boys Town, Henry Doorly Zoo, Joslyn Art Museum, and Western Heritage Museum. In adjacent Bellevue is the Strategic Air Command Museum.
Visitors will see the focal point of Lincoln long before reaching the city--the State Capitol towers over the plains and is considered a modern architectural wonder. Also visit the Nebraska State Museum in Morrill Hall, the Museum of Nebraska History, and Kennard House.
Other major attractions in the state are J. Sterling Morton's home in Nebraska City, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, Willa Cather's home in Red Cloud, Buffalo Bill's Scout's Rest Ranch in North Platte, Front Street at Ogallala, and two natural formations that served as landmarks for pioneers on the Oregon Trail, Chimney Rock near Bayard and Scotts Bluff National Monument at Gering.