Earlier this summer, Steve and I took off on a 6-day journey to find out for ourselves if our home state lives up to its new slogan, “Nebraska Nice.”

We wrote about some of the nicest things we saw — calling them  our 2014 “Nebraska’s Nicest Nine.”  The list was compiled from the places we traveled this summer 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.

Our 2014 Nebraska’s Nicest Nine:

#9 – Cody Park –  This unique park in North Platte was filled with a wide variety of animals (including white peacocks), a carousel, ice cream shop, and lots of smiling faces.

#8- Wildflowers and prairie grasses We were stunned (and so were our sinuses) by the incredible displays of purple and gold wildflowers and the prairie grasses throughout the state.

#7 – Chimney Rock and Scottsbluff Monument No list of Nebraska’s best would be complete without these two historic landmarks. They never disappoint.

postcardjar.com#6 – A kiss on the butte – Long and empty roads, rolling Sandhills, and an absence of cell phone coverage brought on the romance, and yes, a kiss on the butte.

#5 – Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park  Sadly, one of the least known attractions in Nebraska. This place is amazing and unlike any other fossil bed site in the world.

#4 – Circle C in Cody Students in this small town (that refuses to die) built a a straw-bale building and now run a supermarket – the first here in more than a decade.

#3 – Neon Bar and Grill – Perfectly seasoned and grilled steaks and excellent service earned this restaraunt a place in our Top 9. The fact that it was (by far) the cleanest restaurant in which we ate on our trip, moved it all the way up to #3.

#2 – Toadstool Geologic Park – There’s nothing like Toadstool anywhere else in Nebraska (or likely the world). It is located 19 miles from Crawford in the far northwest part of the state — but feels like you’re on the moon.

#1 – Innkeeper Jeanne Goetzinger –  We saw a lot of great attractions on our trip. But honestly, nothing compared to the people we met along the way. We found that it is people like Jeanne, that make Nebraska especially “nice.”

 

2014 Nebraska’s Nicest Honorable Mention:

Concert at Wild West Rodeo Arena in North Platte; Photo by Ann Teget for postcardjar.comFront Street in Ogallala; Golden Spike Tower and visitor center in North Platte; Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron; Higgins Memorial in Columbus; Lake McConaughy; Motel Raine in Valentine; North Platte Hampton Inn; Ole’s Big Game Bar and Grill in Paxton; The Sand Bar and Grill in Norfolk; Smith Falls; Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge near Valentine.

Not so nice? You be the judge. Carhenge. We spent about 15 minutes at this Stonehenge replica made of old cars near Alliance. On our way back to the car, I asked Steve what he thought. He said, “It was everything I imagined and less. Much less.” Personally, I thought it was pretty cool.

What do you think? What are the nicest things you’ve seen in Nebraska or your home state? Let us know in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you.

  • Just over two years ago, we stopped in Pawhuska to have lunch at Ree Drummond's @PWMercantile. From the person opening the door for us to the folks tending the line giving us water, we felt welcome from the moment we set foot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.⁣
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But it turns out it wasn't just @thepioneerwoman and her husband, Ladd, who went above and beyond to welcome visitors. No, it turns out what they did was just par for the course in this town that's home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we've met in all our travels. ⁣
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So we bought a house there. We got it in part, so we could be a part of the community we've come to love. But we also got it so we could help welcome folks to town and let them know how glad we are they came to visit. Come and see Pawhuska. And when you do, stay awhile.
  • Fried dill pickles are a little different in North Dakota than they are in most other places we've been. Instead of just dipping some dill chips in batter, dropping them in the fryer, and then serving them in a basket with ranch, the folks there take their time and make a dish to remember.⁣
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They start with a dill pickle spear, wrap that in Havarti cheese, then put a wonton wrapper around it all. Then, they fry it, and slice it open just so before serving them alongside a spicy aioli dipping sauce. We had these at a complimentary meal at Outlaws Bar and Grill in @visitwilliston, North Dakota.⁣
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Let's be honest, these pickles are just one of many reasons we look forward to our return to @northdakotalegendary next year.
  • Have you ever had the chance to watch a cruise ship come into or leave port? These massive ships, often 1,000 feet or more long, can maneuver themselves by the dock so gently that you don't even realize you've stopped (or started) moving.⁣
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In Bermuda, we had the chance to watch the Norwegian Escape depart. We watched as she pushed away from the dock, then spun 180 degrees on a point before heading out to sea.⁣
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We've seen ships do this dozens of times. In fact, we've been on ships and have been part of this type of maneuvering dozens of times. And yet, given the sheer size of the vessels, it never ceases to impress.
  • You know you want to. Do it. Just book the ticket and go. At the end of your life, you likely won't remember most of the stuff you bought in 2019, but you will always remember the journey you took and the experiences you had. So enrich your life and go. We've never regretted spending money for a trip.
  • This just might be the sweetest, best pecan roll we've ever had. At the @PWMercantile, they bake these delicious treats daily. Covered in a luscious caramel and finely chopped pecans, these rolls are the stuff dreams are made of. Have you had one?
  • Smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we found the International Rose Test Garden. Set on 4.5 acres of land, the garden offers visitors a chance to see 10,000 rose bushes from about 650 different varieties. ⁣
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We spent more than an hour walking the carefully tended paths, snapping photos, and just enjoying the beautiful flowers. Our visit here made us glad that we literally scheduled time on this trip to stop and smell the roses.
  • Set in a renovated middle school in Grinnell, Iowa, Hotel Grinnell is one of our favorite boutique hotels. The owner thoughtfully designed the space and included touches from school including “Hall Pass” key card sleeves, and a bar cleverly named, “The Periodic Table.” We wrote a story on this hotel, you can read all about it on our blog. Link in bio. @hotelgrinnell #hosted @traveliowa
  • Everyone has a happy place, a spot where the world melts away and a sense of relaxation and calm settles in. For Steve, this place is on board a cruise ship, out on open water. He can spend hours sitting and watching the water, the ship's wake, and looking out for other ships. He loves soaking up the sun and fresh ocean air while cruising along on the sea. ⁣
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What's your happy place? ⁣
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