The Neon Bar and Grill, located in the Motel Raine in Valentine, Nebraska, makes #3 on our list.  Normally, we would not have expected to put a restaurant on our list, especially one located in a motel, but this trip around Nebraska made us learn to open our minds and expect the unexpected. If you are in Valentine, go to Neon, and you, too, can be blown away by this fantastic restaurant.  (If you are staying in Valentine, you should also stay in the Motel Raine–which is also a fantastic place.)

Before we even get to the amazing food, let me just say that the Neon Bar and Grill is absurdly clean.  After several days driving around western Nebraska worrying about picking up salt and pepper shakers, it was refreshing to go into a restaurant where they had so obviously been washed.  We even took a picture with my phone to remember the occasion!

Neon was, by far, the cleanest restaurant in which we ate during our week-long trip across Nebraska.

Neon was, by far, the cleanest restaurant in which we ate during our week-long trip across Nebraska.

Second, the service was fantastic.  The staff working that night went out of their way to ensure that we had everything we needed before we knew that we needed it.  And they helped us with a friendly, cheerful attitude that let us know that they actually enjoyed their jobs.

Third, and arguably most important, the food was terrific.   They said they specialized in steak, and that is no lie.  It is among the better steaks I’ve had in Nebraska, and you should know that I’m a guy who loves a good steak.  The owner ages the meat himself, and then grills it to perfection. And I mean perfection–both Ann’s and my steaks were done exactly as requested.   This is something that can elude the most competent chefs in some of the best steakhouses I’ve visited in New York, Chicago, and Kansas City.  But Tim (one of the owners of the Motel) nailed it.  He could (and should) be trusted with prime grade beef.  Wow.  The side dishes were also good, and the restaurant had a full bar and a surprisingly good wine selection that would provide options for even a more discriminating palate.

The steaks at Neon were suburb! The ribeye was seasoned and prepared well and and the strip was even better with a side of mushrooms.

The steaks at Neon were suburb! The ribeye was seasoned and prepared well and and the strip was even better with a side of mushrooms.

Finally, the owners of the restaurant and motel, Tim and Dana Colvin, are willing to bend over backwards to make sure you have a good visit. Stay in the hotel.  Enjoy a relaxing dinner in the restaurant, chat with the owners who are two of the friendliest, mosts personable people you’ll ever meet.  If you are interested in golf, talk to Tim when you make your reservation, and he can hook you up with a good price at the Prarie Club, a championship course located just outside Valentine.

Nebraska has given us a number of surprises, and Neon Bar and Grill was one of our favorites.  For this reason, it is #3 on our list of Nebraska’s Nicest Nine.

  • Like everything Ree Drummond does, the Pioneer Woman Boarding House is over the top in a really good way.⁣
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Guests in the appropriately named Emerald Room receive a true luxury experience especially in the bathroom. With a claw foot tub, walk-through shower, two vanities and two toilets, this room is a jewel. ⁣
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Have you stayed at the @pwboardinghouse? #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #thepioneerwoman #reedrummond #pawhuska #mercantile #pwboardinghouse #oklahoma #ranchlife #oklahoma #visitok @visitoklahoma #okie @VisitOsageCounty
  • Strawberry fields forever...⁣
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While traveling, we adore stopping in farmers markets and checking out the fresh produce available for sale. When we saw these strawberries in Tallinn, Estonia, we just had to take a picture.⁣
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The vibrant color of the berries tells us they were ripened naturally on the vine. You just don't get that color trucked in to a supermarket. And that natural ripening means, of course, that these are some of the sweetest strawberries you'll ever taste. Yum! #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #celebritycruises #cruising #seastheday #cruise #sea #beyondborders #humansatsea #cruiseaddict #cruisecritic #tallinn #lifeisbeautiful #cruiseship #cruiselife #estonia #strawberries #farmersmarket #lifeisshort #visitestonia #adventuregirls #tallinngram #berries
  • On our Baltic Sea cruise, we stopped in Stockholm, Sweden. To get there, we had to sail through the Stockholm Archipelago. ⁣
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For days leading up to our arrival in Stockholm, the captain of the ship kept telling us that we should plan to be up early so we could take in the scenery as we passed through the archipelago. After enough repetitions, we resolved to get up early to see what he was so excited about.⁣
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We are so glad we set the alarm. That morning, we sat on our balcony and had breakfast watching some of the most beautiful scenery we'd ever seen pass by our cabins. We had an up-close view of land that we've rarely had from a cruise ship unless it was docked. ⁣
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Sure, we travel to see specific things. Who doesn't? But we really love it when we find something like this that we didn't know existed, but it is so amazing it enriches our lives and makes us want to go back again and again.
  • In the @visitmasoncityiowa airport, is a new restaurant called CAVU American Kitchen & Cocktail Lounge. Offering chef-crafted foods and incredible cocktails, this restaurant has the best airport food we've ever eaten. In fact, we'll call this airport a destination.⁣
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Pictured here is Chef Cassie's fried potato salad. This was her elimination dish from the show, "Master Chef." Apparently, Wolfgang Puck didn't think much of it. After trying it, we don't think much of Wolfgang Puck's taste.⁣
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This dish, which is served warm, is composed of crispy fried potato chunks covered in delicious potato salad dressing. The combination of flavors and textures had us going back for more. #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #midwestliving #midwestlivingmag  #midwestmoment #igersmidwest #midwestisbest #masoncity #clearlake @masoncity
  • In Rochester, Minnesota, in the shadow of the famed Mayo Clinic, is a beautiful pedestrian area called the Peace Plaza. Because of its location, it's often the last area a person walks through as they go to the clinic hoping for help. And, it's the first place people pass as they leave the clinic sometimes with good news, other times to confront their own mortality.⁣
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The designers of the plaza seemed to understand the huge role the space would play in the lives of the people coming through. They designed it as a calming, meditative space filled with tranquility. It's a place you can refocus a little, and take some time to transition from the clinic to the world. And, it's just one more example of the ways that @minnesotas_rochester demonstrates humanity to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each year to the clinic.
  • Are these salt and pepper shakers not the cutest?? Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is a magical place at Christmastime. We stopped by the @pwmercantile this morning and snapped a few new pics. Getting excited for the Holiday Lights Parade tonight!
  • We have four holiday gift guides up on the blog for the traveler, home cook, cruise lover, and road tripper on your shopping list! Just click on the link in our bio to check out our blog. ⁣
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One of our all-time favorite items (it made two of our lists) are these @EagleCreek packing items. This starter set goes with us on every single trip. Last year, Steve packed 16 size XXL shirts in on of them. They are super lightweight, safe space in your suitcase, and help you stay organized as your travel. ⁣
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What are your favorite gift ideas for travelers this year? ⁣
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#postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #giftideas #giftsfortravelers #traveler #travelgifts #giftguide #roadtrippin #packingtips #packingbags #howtopack #packlight #eaglecreek #celebritycruises #travelblogger #packing #packinghack #giftsph #holidayshopping #giftidea #travelgram #packing101
  • Who's ready for some pumpkin pie??⁣
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The thought of digging in to a piece of pumpkin pie (served with a cup of coffee with pumpkin spice creamer) takes us back to a small town festival we love. ⁣
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A few years ago, our town of Crete, Nebraska, began holding the Great Pumpkin Festival during the first weekend of October.⁣
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From spring to fall, local volunteers tend gardens filled with pumpkin vines so that folks who come to the festival can take home a reasonably priced, locally-grown pumpkin. ⁣
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The festival is full of games, food, performances and fun. It's a wholesome day where the town turns out to celebrate another year together in a relaxed, calm atmosphere.⁣
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Does your town have a festival? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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