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Nebraska offers travelers the perfect place to take a detour from the stresses of everyday life. There are plenty of opportunities to pull off the fast lane for a relaxing stop at one of the state’s many historic hotels, B&Bs and guest ranches. Historic hotels offer small-town charm in picturesque villages and cities across Nebraska. In Chadron, the Olde Main Street Inn features suites plus a wonderful restaurant and saloon on the main floor. The historic Hotel Wilber in southeast Nebraska offers a decidedly Czech flavor. Its 11 rooms, decorated and sponsored by local families, exude old-world charm. Hungry travelers can cozy up to the bar in the basement’s Czech Cellar restaurant for hearty Czech fare, including roast duck accompanied by potato dumplings and kraut. For travelers looking for a soothing spot to rest their heads, Nebraska B&Bs are scattered throughout the state. The Cornerstone Mansion B&B in Omaha offers a quiet respite in an urban setting, while the Plantation House B&B in Elgin—population 657—takes guests back to a simpler time. Adventure mavens can try out glamour camping, a.k.a. “glamping,” at Slattery Vintage Estates near Lincoln. No equipment is required, as the 10- by 14-foot heated tents are furnished with full-size beds and antique furniture.
Prospective cowpokes can pull on their boots, strap on their chaps and head to cattle country, where guest ranches allow travelers a chance to live the cowboy life. At Ponderosa Ranch near Crawford, guests can drive cattle, mend fences and learn how to make chaps. Guests at the 17 Ranch near Lewellen can choose their level of involvement, from learning to ride horses to helping with the spring roundup, calving and branding. Guests can sample wines produced on the ranch’s vineyard at a tasting room in Lewellen. Some accommodations in Nebraska simply can’t be classified, and Dancing Leaf Earth Lodge near Wellfleet is one of those places. Guests there stay in re-creations of the dome-shaped, earthen lodges occupied by the Pawnee and other early residents of the Great Plains. Another one-of-a-kind overnight experience is the St. Benedict Center, where travelers seeking a spiritual escape can find peace on 160 acres of farmland outside of Schuyler. Find more unique accommodations and attractions at VisitNebraska.gov.
Travelers to Nebraska, situated hundreds of miles from any coastline, may be surprised to find endless opportunities for water recreation. With boating, fishing, windsurfing and wakeboarding, Nebraska’s water sports appeal to outdoor adventurers and contemplative fisherman alike.
Boating and fishing
Nebraska’s most popular water feature is Lake McConaughy near the western town of Ogalalla. The 35,700-acre lake is outfitted with 15 boat ramps, 326 pad sites (268 with electrical hookups), modern restrooms, picnic areas and swimming beaches, making it the ultimate sporting lake. Known to locals as Big Mac, it boasts some of the state’s best fishing and has been named by Walleye Insider magazine as among the country’s best for that species.
Travelers angling for a fishing adventure will appreciate Nebraska’s plentiful fish populations, such as that at Lewis and Clark Lake. The state’s second-largest lake is known for hefty walleye and sauger. With its chalk bluffs, blue water, and plenty of hiking and biking trails, the recreation area is popular with campers and includes more than 1,000 campsites. In the Sandhills, a variety of fish, including white bass, wipers and the “king of freshwater fish,” muskellunge, await anglers at Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area (85 miles northwest of Grand Island.) Sailboaters and powerboaters love its clear waters, sandy beaches and numerous campsites. Nearby Gracie Creek Pond is an excellent spot for trout fishing.
Canoeing, Tubing and Tanking
Nebraska is home to diverse streams perfect for canoeing, tubing and a uniquely Nebraskan water sport: tanking. The Niobrara, named one of the top 10 canoeing rivers in the nation by Backpacker magazine, snakes through the north-central region of the state, flowing gently through a deep valley shaded by dense aspen and pine. Occasional patches of white water punctuate the otherwise leisurely ride. Nearby, campers can take in the view of Nebraska’s largest waterfall, the 90-foot plunge of Smith Falls. The Dismal River, in the Sandhills, twists and turns through steep canyons and then slows to a gentle pace as it flows through broad prairie valleys. A popular 55-mile canoe trail begins 60 miles northwest of North Platte and ends at Nebraska National Forest near Halsey. The gently meandering Calamus River, which also provides excellent canoeing, is known for tanking. Livestock tanks are outfitted with comfortable seating and become water vessels perfect for groups of friends and families. As they float down the river, the tanks bob and rotate like a tilt-o-whirl ride to create a fun way to enjoy the view and soak up some sun.
Find more water recreation opportunities and attractions at VisitNebraska.gov.