Midwest Itinerary: Nebraska and the Great Western Migration
The Itinerary at a Glance
Follow our nation’s great migration westward through Nebraska where you’ll explore early Mormon and pioneer history at every turn. Homestead National Monument of America, Arbor Day Farm, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Chimney Rock National Historic Site and the Museum of the Fur Trade are just some of the many spots you’ll explore as you make your own westward trek from the urban scene of Omaha to rugged Old West buttes of Chadron in northwestern Nebraska.
4 Unique Experience on This Trip
- Fort Atkinson State Historical Park
- Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer
- Museum of Nebraska Art
- Fort Robinson State Park
Duration: 7 Days
This Itinerary is Ideal For: All
First stop is Boys Town in Omaha to tour Father Flanagan House Museum and other sites important to his life. Afterward, depart for Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Fort Calhoun, site of the first council between Lewis and Clark and the Missouri and Otoe tribes. An informative visitor center chronicles this historic meeting, and living history demonstrations of fort life also are available. Relive a pioneer adventure on the Mormon Trail at Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters. Enjoy a guided tour that includes a full-size covered wagon, log cabin, handcart, and interactive electronic and fiber optic exhibits. Stroll through a pioneer cemetery and Winter Quarters Temple. Next stop, Florence Mill, home to Winter Quarters Mill Museum and Art-Loft Gallery. Depart for Durham Museum. Housed in a restored Art Deco train station, this museum showcases the history of Omaha and the Union Pacific Railroad. Browse the historic Old Market’s exceptional boutiques and specialty retail shops before enjoying a delicious homemade meal, authentic music, dancing and singing at Polish Home in Papillion.
Start in Papillion with a historical tour of Fontenelle Bank, Presbyterian Church, an authentic log cabin and the final resting place of Chief Big Elk of the Omaha Tribe. Follow the footsteps of Lewis and Clark’s historic journey at the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Interpretive Trail & Visitor Center in Nebraska City. The 260-acre Arbor Day Farm is a working farm orchard and forest where you can explore the Tree Adventure and Nature Explore Classroom. Next stop is Brownville for a wine tasting at Whiskey Run Creek Winery & Vineyard followed by book shopping at the Lyceum. Enjoy a leisurely dinner cruise down the Missouri River on the Spirit of Brownville before departing for Beatrice.
Step back into time when this land was first settled by pioneers at Homestead National Monument of America. Homestead Heritage Center, hiking trails through virgin prairie grasses, and living history demonstrations await. Next stop is Lincoln, Nebraska’s second largest city and state capitol. Learn about the history and settlement of this state at the University of Nebraska Museum of Natural History and Mueller Planetarium. Enjoy lunch and a walking tour of the Historic Haymarket District where galleries, restaurants, antique stores, eclectic shops, and coffee houses are located in renovated turn-of-the-century buildings. The Sheldon Museum of Art is an excellent modern art gallery featuring 20th century American art. Take a guided tour of the impressive State Capitol building before departing for York and dinner at Chances “R.”
Experience farm life at Wessel’s Living History Farm before heading to Henderson to learn more about the area’s Mennonites at Mennonite Heritage Park. Noted as one of the country’s top 10 living history museums, Grand Island’s Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer transports you back to the early days of the pioneers. Explore Fonner Park and “Raising Nebraska,” a 25,000-sq.-ft. museum connecting consumers with the farmers who raise their food by explaining the steps to go from “farm to fork.” The interactive displays feature a virtual combine harvest experience, a full-sized pivot irrigation system, grain bin video theater, 50-foot-long interactive floor map of Nebraska, interactive dinner table and more.
Hastings Museum is one of the best natural history museums in the state and its Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream exhibit highlights the story of the birth of one of America’s favorite soft drinks. Lifelike murals and replicas, interactive kiosks and the original Kool-Aid Man costume tell the story. In Kearney enjoy a tour of The Archway, a three-story, interactive museum commemorating the nation’s westward expansion. The Classic Car Collection includes more than 140 vintage automobiles from the early 1900s to the 1980s and has been called the “best public car attraction between Chicago and Denver.” Housed in a historic 1911 Renaissance revival post office, the Museum of Nebraska Art features 11 exceptional galleries and more than 5,000 works of art highlighting Nebraska and the Great Plains.
In North Platte enjoy a spectacular 360-degree view of Union Pacific Railroad’s Bailey Yard (world’s largest railroad classification yard) from the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center before touring the home and historic barn of “Buffalo Bill” Cody at Buffalo Bill State Historical Park. Fort Cody Trading Post is one of the state’s largest, and most eclectic, gift shops. Explore the Old West Museum and don’t miss the 20,000-piece, hand-carved animated miniature of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Ogallala truly embraces its colorful Western past at Front Street and Cowboy Museum, a recreation of a 1880s main street. During the summer, don’t miss The Crystal Palace Revue and Shoot Out, Nebraska’s longest-running summer theater. The Most Unlikely Place in Lewellen houses amazing works-of-art created by local artists, including pastels, watercolors, glass etchings and wood sculptures. Final stop is Bayard and Chimney Rock, the most recognized landmark along the Mormon and Oregon Trails. Chimney Rock National Historic Site Visitors Center showcases fascinating stories from pioneers as they trekked westward.
In Gering, explore the history of farm and ranch equipment with vintage horse-drawn and steam-powered engines at the Legacy of the Plains Museum. Nearby Scotts Bluff National Monument was a prominent landmark for American Indians, fur traders, and Oregon and Mormon trail pioneers. At 800 feet above the North Platte River, a drive to the summit gives a tremendous view and the wagon ruts that are still visible at the base. A gift shop and museum in the visitor center show the historical importance of the trail and the area’s colorful history. Next stop is Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford for historic tours, Jeep and stagecoach rides through the Pine Ridge, bison, purebred Texas longhorn herds and much more. View the dramatic Clash of the Mammoths exhibit at the park’s Trailside Museum of Natural History. Our final stop is Chadron and the Museum of the Fur Trade, a one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to preserving the nation’s lucrative fur-trading industry.