What did we like (and dislike) about Nebraska? Read the answers to our All50 Questionnaire to discover what surprised us, what went exactly as planned and other details that might be useful as you plan your own trip (like how much we paid for parking and where we wished we would have spent more time). We answer the same set of questions for each state independently so you'll get two unique perspectives.
When did you visit?
August 19th-22nd, 2017
How long was your time in the state?
About four days
Why did you visit?
To see the Great American Eclipse!
Describe Nebraska in five words.
Andrea: Beautiful, prairie, farmland, friendly, pioneering
Brandon: Relaxed, conservative, cultivation (of natural resources), unique, frugal
What surprised you about Nebraska?
Andrea: How much there was to see and do and how pleasant it was. Everyone was very friendly and there was a lot of natural beauty.
Brandon: When we were researching ahead of time, it seemed like there was a vast difference between the western side and the eastern side of the state in landscape (with mountains and hills in the west and flat prairie in the east) which makes me want to see the western side that we didn't visit
What was exactly what you expected?
Andrea: The prairie land
Brandon: Not much, but probably the history connected to westward expansion
How was the driving, roads, parking, etc.?
Andrea: We rarely, if ever, had to pay for parking and we never really ran into traffic (even during the busy weekend). We drove quite a bit on country roads which were very pretty. They have some pretty intense interstates with many lanes but traffic flowed well.
Brandon: The roads were in good shape and everything was fine.
One a scale of one to five (five being the safest), how safe did you feel throughout your stay?
Andrea: 5. I never felt unsafe, even when camping with 3,000 other people in a wide open area I felt totally secure leaving our door partially unzipped (with the screen zipped) to let the air flow through.
Brandon: 5. I don't remember feeling worried about our safety at all.
What was your favorite attraction?
Andrea: Well, the eclipse was the whole reason we went and it was AMAZING, but outside of that I think I liked the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park the best. We spent way more time there than we thought we would. The mansion is awesome with so much nature-themed details and the orchard, tour, exhibits, cafe, shop were all excellent. The staff as well were great. I highly recommend it. Their state capitol is breathtaking. Absolutely beautiful and fascinating.
Brandon: The iron sculpture parks in Omaha since I don't consider the eclipse to be a Nebraskan attraction. I feel like everything we did see was grand and breathtaking in its own way. There probably wasn't a single thing that we saw that I would be ok with having not seen, which includes the tour of the Joslyn Castle that sucked.
What was your favorite meal?
Andrea: The beef tips with ravioli was pretty good at The Black Crow, and our waiter was great too
Brandon: The meal at Stirnella in Omaha (we had deviled eggs, chicken liver pate, shrimp toast and sweet corn fritters)
Where would you have liked to spend more time?
Andrea: The Homestead National Monument, not only would it have been nice to have participated in more of the eclipse-specific events, but I would have liked to have spent more time exploring the monument itself and all the exhibits and trails that they have
Brandon: Nebraska. :) More specifically, the Homestead National Monument.
What would you do if you could go back that you didn’t do this time?
Andrea: Possibly the Oregon Trail marker if we were ever that far south again, and the Lincoln Zoo which I hear is pretty cool. It was on the list to go to the Quilt Museum but we didn't end up having time so I'd like to see that next time. There's a lot further west that I would like to see eventually like "Car-henge", the fossil beds and the sand hills.
Brandon: Travel west to see more of the geography, and see the Kool Aid place
What was an interesting thing you learned?
Andrea: Around one million trees were planted in Nebraska during the first arbor day (it was practically tree-less before), and their state government is unicameral and works in a building that was built/decorated completely debt-free.
Brandon: The seminar given by one of the NASA guys about searching for exoplanets was really interesting and how he put our solar system in scale with different visual aids
What would you like to learn more about?
Andrea: The pioneers
Brandon: The Homestead Act and the movement west; how people survived and personal stories about the people that ventured west and interacted with the natives and how they had to learn to interact with different cultures.
What kind of wildlife did you see?
Andrea: Praying mantis, deer, butterflies
Brandon: I don't remember seeing any unique wildlife except bison
What kind of nature did you see?
Andrea: Lots of prairie and wildflowers
Brandon: The eclipse, totality, tall grass (if the prairie were still in its full glory the grass would easily be tall enough to hide people on horseback), lots of different types of nature at the Spring Creek Audubon Prairie Center, a lot of wildflowers
What did you like least about the state?
Andrea: The wood ticks; I found one crawling on me at the Homestead National Monument and another one after walking through the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center
Brandon: Our tour guide at the Joslyn Castle in Omaha (check out our post about the Joslyn Castle for more details - coming soon!)
Describe a funny memory from your trip.
Andrea: We couldn't help but laugh as we were sitting in a big open field behind the Homestead National Monument (as far as we could get from any kind of shelter) when it rained on us not once, not twice, but three times as we waited for eclipse totality. Of course we were all smiles (and happy tears) when the clouds parted just enough for us to see totality.
Brandon: While at Joslyn Castle, one of the rooms is designated as the gift shop and someone asked if that was original to the estate and our horrible tour guide said, "Nope, I'm pretty sure it's not original..." and I looked at the guy and said, "I'm surprised she knew that."
Did you fly or drive?
What souvenirs did you bring home?
Andrea: Children's books about the prairie and Nebraska, two walnuts from the black walnut tree at Arbor Lodge, an eclipse-themed candle from the capitol gift shop, a souvenir glass from Arbor Lodge, an acorn from the capitol, scented lotion from Arbor Lodge, a book about the Homestead National Monument, newspapers about the eclipse that we got from the Engine House Cafe, a tote bag from the monument, a seed pod from the Honey Locust tree
Brandon: a commemorative eclipse blanket, a pebble from where our camp site was
One a scale of one to five (five being the most eager) how eager are you to return and why?
Andrea: 4 - with it being only a six- or seven-hour drive from home I could definitely see us going back for a long weekend. There was a lot that we didn't get to see and a lot we would go to again. It's a really easy going and interesting state that marches to its own tune and I'm looking forward to returning and maybe getting a little further west. I was really surprised by how much Nebraska has to offer! And being from the Midwest, I felt right at home there.
Brandon: 4 - I feel like we only scratched the surface of what was available to see on the east side and we didn't even touch the west side of the state