I have to admit, I wasn’t thrilled with Nebraska’s new tourism slogan, “Nebraska Nice” when it was introduced a few weeks ago.  I felt it lacked a certain something and didn’t capture all it could.  “Nice?”  Really?  I felt the tourism board could have said “Nebraska Swell” or “Nebraska Nifty,” or some other milquetoast word like that and captured the same idea.  But then we traveled the state.

At this point, I’m pretty sure you’re wondering why anyone would tour Nebraska.  Ann has had some health challenges recently, so we wanted to stay close to home should she need to get back quickly.  But we also wanted to take some time, get out of town, and relax.  A slow tour of our home state fit the bill perfectly.  We never did more than about three or four hours in the car in a day.  This slow pace over six days allowed us to do a variety of things, from touring the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte to wading in the water under Smith Falls; from attending a country music concert (Billy Currington!) in a rodeo arena to spending a night in the hotel General Nelson Miles used as his headquarters when he investigated the incident at Wounded Knee.  Throughout our trip one thing became clear: Nebraska has some exceptionally nice people, places and things; perhaps the slogan is more on-point than I first realized.

We decided to highlight some of Nebraska’s Nicest from our 2014 trip–nine things, to be exact.  We’re calling them “Nebraska’s Nicest Nine.”  Over the coming days and weeks, we’ll share those things, beginning with number nine, and working our way up to number one.   The list was compiled from the places we traveled this week on our 1,260-mile journey that took us west to North Platte, then off I-80 around Lake McConaughy to Alliance, then to Scottsbluff/Gering, up to Chadron, across Highway 20 to Valentine, and Norfolk, then down through Columbus to home.  These nine are the nicest sites, attractions, and people we found on this particular trip off the beaten path–a place definitely worth going.

 

  • We had such an incredible time on our first visit to North Dakota. We spent time in Williston, Watford City, Medora, Dickinson, and Bismarck and can't wait to come back to explore more of the state. ⁣
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There are so many unexpected things to do in North Dakota. We especially enjoyed the Medora Musical, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and the North Dakota Heritage Center and Museum. #hosted
  • This house-made carrot cake at the Williston Brewing Company in @visitwilliston, @NorthDakotaLegedary tastes even better than it looks! Who wants a bite of this moist cake, three layers high with fresh strawberries and caramel sauce? Um, we do.
  • One of the quirkiest stops we've ever come across is Carhenge, near Alliance, Nebraska. Over a couple of weeks, a family decided to recreate the world-famous Stonehenge out of junked cars. Using farm implements, they constructed a replica that even has a heel stone...errr...car. In so doing, they created a must-see roadside attraction for anyone traveling across the United States.
  • Ann stands next to one of the huge rocks at Toadstool Geologic Park in Nebraska. The unique geology of this park happened because a hard rocky layer sat atop a soft under layer. As the soft layer erodes, huge rocks are left standing in unique positions.
  • You gotta start somewhere...⁣
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In all journeys in life, you must start somewhere. Here we were at Mile Marker 0 in Key West about 70 pounds (between the two of us) ago. Our journey isn't over, but we're on our way to a healthier lifestyle. @noom
  • These cucumber-salmon bites were a perfect taste treat for a bridal shower Ann hosted recently. She started with a slice of cucumber, then a bit of salmon topped with a dollop of cream cheese and dill.
  • ...Why don't you come with me, little girl, on a Magic Carpet ride...⁣
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One of the most unique features of the new @celebritycruise Edge is the Magic Carpet, a platform that moves up and down the side of the ship and serves different purposes at each stop. There is something truly special about sitting directly over the sea and looking back at the ship while you sip a delicious cocktail.
  • This prosciutto pizza served overlooking the Amalfi Coast is the stuff dreams are made of. The homemade crust, hand tossed before being baked to thin perfection in a wood oven. The sauce and cheese were so fresh it brought tears to our eyes. And the prosciutto was sliced thin enough to be translucent. This is what pizza is supposed to be.

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