A postcard from North Platte, NE

A postcard from North Platte, NE

If you’ve been thinking about visiting North Platte, Nebraska, this is the weekend. Seriously, just get in the car and go! Yes, it’s that time of year to put on your cowboy boots, find your hat, and mosey on down to the Wild West Arena where you can wrangle up all kinds of fun at NEBRASKAland Days!

The folks at the convention and visitors bureau there are oh, so nice and we were delighted they sent us a postcard!

North Platte

Nebraska land Days North Platte

Steve and I stopped a local shop to buy real cowboy hats before Nebraskaland Days.

Two years ago, Steve and I stopped in North Platte for a couple days while on a road trip through the great state of Nebraska. We arrived by early evening and had a great, home cooked steak dinner at the Canteen Grille before settling in across the street at the North Platte Hampton Inn (one of the very best Hamptons we’ve stayed at — and we’ve stayed at a lot of them).

 

The next day we ventured over the Cody Park [read more about that here] and spent several hours learning about the workings of the railroad and it’s history in North Platte at Bailey Yards and the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor’s Center. The rail yard was amazing and we sat watching rail cars go over the “hump” and especially enjoyed hearing the stories of those who were part of the North Platte Canteen during World War II.

Golden Spike Tower

The best part of our trip was seeing everything there is to do at NEBRAKSAland Days. We visited exhibits, saw Rodeo Queens, and Steve even tried his hand at the quick draw (chaps and all). That night, we wandered over to the Wild West Arena for a great country music concert. This year, Dierks Bentley will close out the week with a concert on June 25, 2016.

Before the concert there, we couldn’t resist stopping for a big plate of fresh cut and fried potatoes. Seemed like the perfect dinner fare for a couple cowboy wannabes.

Nebraska land Days North Platte, NE

We didn’t have enough time to try everything that NEBRAKSAland Days has to offer. But will we return again someday. If you’re interested in checking out NEBRASKAland Days this year June 15-25, visit the website at www.nebraskalanddays.com. And get your tastebuds ready — fried potatoes are waiting!

Nebraska’s Nicest Nine Recap

Nebraska’s Nicest Nine Recap

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.

Nebraska’s Nicest Nine 2014

Nebraska’s Nicest Nine 2014

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.