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Whether you want to kick back and drink local wines or get your heart pumping at a classic American rodeo, Nebraska has annual events that are the perfect centerpiece for any vacation. These 10 one-of-a-kind events only scratch the surface, so see what's in the area and stick around a while!
By The Nebraska Tourism Commission
January 29, 2019
1. Sandhill Crane Migration, Central Nebraska, mid-February to mid-March
More than 600,000 sandhill cranes land on a stretch of the Platte River as they rest and feed before completing their migration. Visitors can book guided tours, indoor viewing experiences, excursion buses and more.
2. Toast Nebraska Wine Festival, Gretna, May 17-18
A two-day summertime celebration of Nebraska wines with tastings of 150 wines, live music, educational sessions, shopping, food, fire pits and yard games.
3. Testicle Festival, Ashland, June 14-15
On Father’s Day weekend, thousands gather for Rocky Mountain oysters, live music and a Ball-Eating Contest.
4. College World Series, Omaha, June 15-26
Hundreds of thousands flood Omaha for 12 days of America’s greatest pastime, plus music and beer gardens surrounding the stadium.
5. 39th Annual Wayne Chicken Show, Wayne, July 12-14
An odd bird of a festival, but even more fun than the chicken dance. Previous years’ events included an egg toss, rubber chicken chuck, cluck-off and all things chicken!
6. Nebraska’s Big Rodeo, Burwell, July 24-27
Experience true cowboy culture with classic rodeo events such as Saddle Broncs and the wild and wooly action of the Wild Horse Race and Canadian Chuck Wagon Races.
7. Nebraska Star Party, Valentine, July 28 - August 2
Experts and newcomers alike gather in awe under the dark skies of Nebraska’s beautiful Sandhills at one of the nation’s premier stargazing events.
8. Nationals and Old West Balloon Fest, Gering-Scottsbluff-Mitchell, August 13-18
Old West Balloon Fest is Nebraska's premier hot air balloon festival. Experience glow balloons, amazing hot air experiences and much, much more! In 2019, Old West Balloon Fest will be combining its event with the National Hot Air Balloon Championship.
9. Summer Indian Rendezvous, Ogallala, late September
Ogallala citizens come together in tradition to celebrate their colorful past with live entertainment, dancing, contests and a diverse array of local talents.
10. Applejack Festival, Nebraska City, late September
One of USA Today’s Top 10 Fall Harvest Festivals with over six craft fairs, a parade, classic car show, live music and three-day carnival.
The Secret to Maximizing Your Vacation Time This Year
By The Nebraska Tourism Commission
January 30, 2018
“So much to do, so little time.” While the phrase may sound like it perfectly describes our lives, research shows there actually is time.
Americans universally say that vacation days are important to them, yet 54 percent of workers aren’t using their hard-earned vacation time. Project: Time Off research found that workers are taking nearly a full week less of vacation than we did in 2000, resulting in a stockpile of 600 million unused vacation days.
The secret to achieving your travel goals this year, while maintaining your excellent employee status, is planning. Planning is the most important step in making vacation possible and, according to Project: Time Off, a majority (52%) of workers who set aside time each year to plan for travel take all their time off, compared to just 40 percent of non-planners. Planners also tend to take longer vacations: While three-in-four (75%) planners take a week or more at a time, non-planners take significantly fewer days—zero to three—than planners at once (42% to 18%).
The benefits of planning extend beyond days spent away from the office for rest and rejuvenation. Planners report greater happiness than non-planners with their relationships, health and well-being, company, and job. Their bosses are probably happier, too, since they’re in the loop on when you’re going to be out and can prepare accordingly.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to take back your calendar and put vacation at the top of your list of priorities. Planning for vacation can be achieved in three simple steps:
1. Determine how much time off you earn and identify the vacation policies at your workplace.
2. Get to dreaming! How do you want to spend your time off this year?
3. Plan out your days with Project: Time Off’s vacation planning tool and share with your manager, your colleagues, spouse—everyone!
This year, don’t let your vacation days be part of a statistic. Put the fear of missing out behind you and turn your bucket list into a to-do list by starting to plan now.
Need some ideas?
Immerse yourself in Nebraska’s natural beauty.
Enjoy Nebraska’s metro area.
Discover the history of Nebraska’s western culture.
Read more about the importance of planning at ProjectTimeOff.com/Plan
Five Nebraska spots to satisfy your inner astronomer
You came for the daytime show, The Great American Eclipse, now comes see Nebraska’s sky at night. Wide-open spaces and minimal city lights make Nebraska a top destination for seeing the stars. Photo: Merritt Reservoir
1. Merritt Reservoir, Valentine, Nebraska
At Merritt Reservoir in north-central Nebraska is home to the annual Star Party. This 3,000-acre body of water is in the midst of the Sandhills and a prime spot to explore the sky.
2. Double R Guest Ranch, Mullen, Nebraska
The Double R Guest Ranch is also in the Sandhills, miles away from just about anything. Here, rent a cabin and view some of the darkest skies in the state.
3. Bootleg Brewers, Taylor, Nebraska
Another Sandhills oasis, Bootleg Brewery is a spot where you can not only find a great beer, but also a sky full of stars on a clear night.
4. University of Nebraska State Museum of Natural History and Mueller Planetarium, Lincoln, Nebraska
View the stars on the big screen, University of Nebraska State Museum of Natural History and Mueller Planetarium is the home to a 360-degree full dome theater, Archie (The largest Columbian mammoth fossil in the world) and much more.
5. Boswell Observatory, Crete, Nebraska
Boswell Observatory is the oldest extant building on Doane's campus. Built in 1883, the observatory is still functional, and sky-viewing is held regularly through the original, 8-inch equatorial telescope.
Want to learn more about great Nebraska destinations?
Check out No eclipse glasses needed to view these Nebraska marvels
No eclipse glasses needed to view these Nebraska marvels
See them without the obstruction of the sun! Revisit, or visit for the first time, these great spots along Nebraska’s Great American Eclipse stretch of totality. This time around, we promise, Mr. Moon won’t block your view.
Courtesy: Omaha World-Herald
Crane Trust or Rowe Sanctuary; Wood River & Gibbon, Neb.
See one of wildlife’s most extraordinary shows. The largest single migration in North American takes place right on the Platte River as more than half a million sandhill cranes pass through the area on their northward migration. Trips to crane-viewing blinds are available every morning and evening during March and early April at the Crane Trust and Rowe Sanctuary.
Scotts Bluff National Monument; Gering, Neb.
Rich with geological and paleontological history as well as human history, there is much to discover while exploring the 3,000 acres of Scotts Bluff National Monument.
Chimney Rock; Bayard, Neb.
"Towering to the heavens" is how one pioneer described Chimney Rock. Today, an interpretive center overlooking the most recognized landmark along the Oregon Trail pays tribute to those pioneer travelers.
Nebraska State Capitol; Lincoln, Neb.
Seen from miles away, the Capitol's majestic four hundred foot domed tower and low spreading base contain exterior and interior artwork representing the natural, social and political development of the state of Nebraska. Truly an architectural wonder!
Buffalo Bill Cody State Historical Park; North Platte, Neb.
Home to showman Buffalo Bill Cody for nearly 40 years, this land is now a state park. On-site find Cody’s Victorian home, massive barn and acres of open space.
Middle Loup River; Near Mullen, Neb.
Winding through Nebraska’s iconic Sandhills, the Middle Loup River is a fun spot for canoeing and tanking. Get your river adventure equipment at Glidden Canoe Rental.
Homestead National Monument; Beatrice, Neb.
Homestead National Monument of America commemorates the lives and accomplishments of all pioneers and the changes brought on by the Homestead Act. The park includes museum exhibits and videos, historic structures, hiking trails and a designated watchable wildlife site.
For more information on all that Nebraska has to offer, browse VisitNebraska.com.
I immediately noticed a familiar sound turning onto Whooping Crane Drive toward Crane Trust. The chirp of crickets and cicadas, the whispery rustle tall bluestem in the wind. It’s the sound of a living prairie.
I met with Ben Dumas, a recent addition to the Crane Trust team. Ben was hired to run a new initiative that offers VIP excursions through their historic tall grass prairie of Mormon Island and kayaking tours of the Platte River. Guests get the opportunity to experience this rare and complex ecosystem, equally enjoyed by the sandhill cranes and a herd of genetically pure bison.
It’s no secret I like riding bicycles, so when Ben offered to ride Crane Trust’s fat bikes around the prairie, I couldn't say no. Ben and I saddled up on our trusty steeds: a Surly Ice Cream Truck and Surly Moonlander. We headed south so he could show me some of the work they’ve been doing on their blinds to prepare for crane season. They also work on landscape management on the Platte River to maintain it as prime habitat for cranes. During lower flows they till the sandbars to rid them of vegetation, keeping a nice landing pad for cranes to roost. During higher flows the river naturally erodes this vegetation.
Next we headed North. The Trust maintains a set of trails in their prairie for these excursions that take you from the headquarters to the Nature center. Fat bikes are the perfect vehicle for this kind of terrain and ecotourism experience. It leaves very little footprint, is extremely capable off-road and without the noisy, erosive side effects of ATVs. To prove this Ben and I were startled when a doe jumped out of the tall grass just feet from us. Continuing on, we aimlessly rode around and shared our ideas on ecotourism.
I left the Trust that day with greater assurance that fat bikes are a perfect fit for experiencing the prairie. And a great guide like Ben makes the experience even better. It’s amazing how ecotourism continues to evolve as more people grow their interest in the prairie.