15 Best Things to Do in Nebraska City, NE

Nebraska City, NE
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Nebraska City is a city bordering the state lines of Iowa and Nebraska by the Missouri River.

It is also a whimsical destination in the Cornhusker State.

Nebraska City is the county seat of Otoe and the home of Arbor Day, the yearly celebration dedicated to planting and nurturing trees.

Nebraska City is also home to numerous orchards planting fresh fruit and vegetables, history museums celebrating the city and state’s legacies, and many outdoor areas for recreation.

You’ll find yourself visiting many places and having many unique experiences around this small but eventful town.

Ready to go?

Here are the best things to do in Nebraska City.

See the Evolution of the Industrial Revolution at the Kregel Windmill Factory Museum

Front view of Kregel Windmill Factory Museum's exterior
Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Kregel Windmill Factory Museum remains the only intact museum of its kind in the entire United States.

The small museum showcases the tools and technology that started the windmill manufacturing industry, dating back to the early 20th century.

Visitors can see different artifacts of the old method of windmill production, from the cranks and cranes and various types of metal works used back in the day.

Side view of Kregel Windmill Factory Museum's exterior
Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum also houses documents, records, and artifacts from the first windmill factories as early as 1902.

There are also photographs of the era and every day preserved items like pens, gears, books, and the like.

A quick trip to the Kregel Windmill Factory Museum leads you to Nebraska City’s deep historical roots.

Sample Fresh Apple Products at Arbor Day Farm

You can find this farm in an over 260-acre expanse of beautiful nature on the Northwest end of Nebraska City.

Arbor Day Farm is a must-see destination in Nebraska City.

The farm grows over 14 varieties of apples on their orchards.

Likewise, they maintain a vineyard of wine grapes and pumpkin patches.

There are ample food and drink options available in the area.

Join a wine tasting flight showcasing the best of Arbor Day Farm’s wines made in-house.

Try their crown jewel blend Honeycrisp, or the other unique blends such as Apple Raspberry and Apple Pie.

Arbor Day Farm is also near other attractions, such as the Arbor Lodge Mansion and Tree Adventure.

See the Historic Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Mansion

Next to Arbor Day Farm is the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and mansion.

The mansion was the original home of J. Sterling Morton and his family, whose claim to fame is founding Arbor Day.

On the first-ever Arbor Day celebration, they planted over 1 million trees in the state.

The mansion features 52 rooms containing personal artifacts of the family.

The surrounding park spans over 72 acres, containing many different sites such as a greenhouse, Italian terraced garden, log cabin, and walking trails.

You can see around 200 varieties and lilacs at the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Mansion.

Get an Adrenaline Rush at Tree Adventure

Located in the heart of Arbor Day Farm, Tree Adventure features year-round fun and excitement amid lush greenery and nature.

Visit the Treetop Village course, a fun experience up in the trees.

Walk through the wooden bridges to explore the 11 treehouses over three acres.

Treetop Village also features the WonderNet, where you can jump up and play while floating a few feet in the air.

Go on the 50-foot slide and feel the rush as you come back down on the ground.

Apart from the Treetop Village, you can also take on the South Table Creek Trail, encompassing scenic vistas and rustic timber bridges.

They also have the Nature Classroom for little kids, a fun little corner where they can learn more about tree planting and the importance of nature preservation.

Bring your family to Tree Adventure!

Dig into Yummy Italian Food at Calabria Italian Restaurant

Located at the southern tip of downtown is Calabria Italian Restaurant, a local favorite serving delicious Italian fare.

Come by for dinner and try their delectable dishes, all made fresh in-house.

Start your meal with some appetizers like calamari, mozzarella sticks, or some sliced Italian sausage.

Pick from their wide selection of Calabria pizza flavors, from cheese to meat lovers and pure veggie.

They also have a wide selection of homemade pasta and baked varieties.

Dig into their classic lasagna or signature spaghetti and meatballs.

Get the Steve’s and Nick’s specials for your mains, such as chicken, mushrooms, and spinach sauteed in garlic over pasta.

You can also get shrimp, broccoli, fresh tomatoes, creamy Alfredo, and white wine sauce over tortellini.

Drop by for great food and keep returning for the beautiful service at Calabria Italian Restaurant.

Honor the Heroes at the Civil War Veterans Museum

Exterior of Civil War Veteran Museum
Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Historically, Nebraska was a territory of the United States during the Civil War and had enormous significance in the events of that period.

The Civil War Veteran Museum downtown honors the veterans who fought in the war and have impacted the community significantly for generations to come.

It is the only dedicated civil war museum in the entire state.

The museum contains memorabilia dating back to the way of life during the war.

Stained-glass displays also pay tribute to the veterans, meticulously preserved throughout the years.

The Civil War Museum is a great place if you’re interested in learning more about the war, its veterans, and how it has impacted the lives of modern-day Nebraskans.

See the Local Wildlife at River Country Nature Center

Inside a small building in downtown Nebraska City is the River Country Nature Center, showcasing exhibits dedicated to the state’s biodiversity.

The center features over 500 wildlife specimens in different interactive exhibits.

It also contains an extensive library, a natural sciences classroom, and a children’s archaeology exhibit.

Visitors can see the different galleries containing different displays of wildlife representing the life work of Joe Voges, the man behind the center.

The main gallery of exhibits has four parts: Eastern Deciduous, Riparian, Grasslands, and Sandhills.

The River Country Nature Center is a beautiful place for kids and adults to learn more about the wildlife in the state.

Visit the Nebraska City Museum of Firefighting

The Nebraska City Volunteer Fire Department is the oldest in the state, first established as a bucket brigade in 1856.

The museum aims to honor that long-running operation, a space to house documents and artifacts that preserve the history of the department.

Visitors can see the different exhibits on display, from old documents and photographs from the fire department’s olden days.

You can also see supplies and firefighters' uniforms.

The Button coal fire steam engine is the main showpiece in the entire museum, dating back to 1884.

Visiting the Nebraska City Museum of Firefighting not only honors its history but also teaches visitors a lesson on fire safety and prevention.

Revisit History at the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Visitor Center

Overlooking the Missouri River is the Lewis & Clark Visitor Center, a place honoring the discoveries of the two explorers.

The center is a three-story building occupying over 12,000 square feet of space.

It showcases an interactive center featuring flora and fauna and the scientific discoveries Lewis and Clark recorded.

The center contains over 178 plants and 122 animal displays and information.

It also features stories on the different discoveries of the two men dating back to 1804, when the Expedition began.

It’s the only museum of its kind focused on the work and discoveries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Fuel up your history knowledge and visit the MRB Lewis & Clark Visitor Center.

Explore a Victorian-era Home at the Wildwood Historic Center

Exterior of Wildwood Historic Center
Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you want to experience the Victorian age in modern-day Nebraska?

Visit the Wildwood Historical Center and take yourself back in time.

Built in 1869, the house reflects the lifestyle of the Ware family, starting with Jasper and Ellen.

It gets its name from the house's location, literally “amidst the wildwood.”

The center’s knowledgeable docents in Renaissance attire conduct the tour of the ten-room house.

You can enter every room while the docents tell stories about how the Ware family lived daily in the 1800s.

The outside of the house is equally as exciting.

It features the Victorian Garden, with rustic statues complementing the house’s classic exterior.

You’ll feel like a Victorian-era fellow when you step inside the Wildwood Historic Center.

Stay in a 130-year-old Home at Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast

Located in the northern part of the city is the Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast, a unique accommodation experience in Nebraska City.

Housed in an old Victorian farmhouse dating back to 1878, you’ll feel like you’re living in the old ages.

The house features five rooms: four in the main house and one in their historic horse barn.

The rooms feature modern amenities but keep that simple, old-school look and charm.

Feel relaxed as you sit and read a book on the porch or chat with your family and friends as you soak in the fresh air in the outdoor garden.

They also have numerous dining options freshly made and prepared with local, seasonal ingredients.

Enjoy a wonderful stay at the Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast during your time in Nebraska City.

Admire the Works at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts

The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts is a renowned establishment best known for its residency program that supports established and emerging artists of different mediums.

Established in 2001, the center is inside a prairie-style downtown complex.

Visitors can visit the on-site gallery, which houses work from Nebraskan artists, and the Kimmel Permanent Collection.

It’s a beautiful place to visit and see the breadth of talent of local visual and multi-media artists.

The center also hosts events you can attend, such as seminars and art workshops.

Bring out your inner artist and visit the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts today!

Hike the Steamboat Trace Trail

In the city's outskirts, parallel to the Missouri river, is the Steamboat Trace Trail, a 22-mile-long abandoned railroad corridor.

It showcases the lush diversity of plants and wildlife in Nebraska City, as you can spot various animals like deers, raccoons, and squirrels.

On the plant front, you’ll pass by numerous species of shrubs, plants, and flowers along the way.

Hike the rough trail and get a fantastic greenery view as you approach the blue waters of the surrounding river.

The Steamboat Trace Trail is a challenging but great spot for visitors who want to explore more of the great outdoors in the city.

Bask in the River Views at the Riverview Marina Recreation Area

With a location adjacent to the Missouri River, the Riverview Marina Recreation Area is a great place to spend a day outdoors in the city.

The park spans over 470 acres, a popular destination for locals and visitors.

It features multiple campsites, picnic tables, and public grills you can use for a lovely family-friendly picnic and day out in the wild.

You can enjoy modern shower facilities on deck, so you don’t need to worry about keeping clean while outside.

The Riverview Marina Recreation Area sits next to the river, opening up opportunities for fishing.

Don’t forget to bring your supplies and hook your following catch.

Enjoy a Rustic Meal at the Keeping Room

Exterior of The Keeping Room
Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Keeping Room is a café and boutique that gives off a rustic charm.

The building itself is a wonder to behold, dating back to 1870.

The Keeping Room features Nebraskan favorites with a modern twist.

They use only the freshest local and seasonal ingredients, which their source from local farmers.

They also make all the bread and desserts in-house.

On the other side of the cafe is a boutique showcasing kitschy finds from homeware, antiques, décor, and fashion items.

The Keeping Room is a place to go if you’re looking for a unique all-in-one experience when you visit Nebraska City.

Grab a great meal and score fantastic finds all in one charming store.

Final Thoughts

Nebraska City is a destination gem filled with history and old-world charm.

This city has a lot to offer, from delicious locally-sourced food to numerous centers showcasing the city’s beginnings to places that highlight the Nebraskan’s creativity.

You’ll marvel at the variety of things and experiences you’ll see when you come to the city.

So what are you waiting for?

Book your trip today and try the many things to do in Nebraska City!