Almost all of Nebraska’s total land comprises farms and cattle ranches, which is a vital source of its economy.
However, there is so much more to Nebraska than its big old cattle ranches.
This state has a wealthy cowboy tradition and culture and has dozens of vibrant towns with unique attractions and history to tell.
One of these towns is North Platte in Lincoln County, where the legendary William “Buffalo Bill” Cody grew up and lived his adventurous life.
It’s where you’ll find Buffalo Bill’s famous ranch and mansion, but this town has so much to offer.
However, the fun doesn’t just stop there.
The town has a dozen parks, reservoirs, museums, and other attractions that create many fun travel memories.
If you’re planning to visit this town with a population of 35,919, you need to drive three hours west of Lincoln and four hours in the same direction from Omaha.
You can fly there and land at the North Platte-Lee Bird Regional Airport for a more convenient trip.
If you don’t know yet about this small town’s attractions, here are the 15 best things to do in North Platte, NE:
Visit the Famous Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park
William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was one of the most celebrated American personalities back in the 1800s.
Aside from being a decorated soldier of the United States and an accomplished hunter, he became famous for his colorful road show billed as the “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World.”
Today, you can reminisce about Buffalo Bill’s memories through famous attractions.
You’ll spend your whole day roaming around the state park’s Scout Rest Ranch, which covers a whopping 4,000-acre land.
To visit the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park at 2921 Scouts Rest Ranch Rd, North Platte.
Celebrate the North Platte Canteen Festival
The North Platte Canteen Festival celebrates both volunteerism and patriotism.
Roughly a week after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, the United States prepared for war.
Many of the troops being transported to the main staging areas in the country passed through the Union Pacific Depot.
To help in the war efforts, North Platte’s locals worked together to put up a canteen to feed the soldiers.
It eventually became famous for instilling the spirit of volunteerism.
The canteen served more than six million servicemen and women of the United States and had 12,000 volunteers for the entire effort.
Today, the North Platte Canteen Festival is being celebrated every December 18 to remember the spirit of volunteerism.
The festivities are filled with fun activities, food, and camaraderie among locals and armed forces members.
Watch Exotic Birds at the Sandhill Crane Migration & Spring Birding Adventures
North Platte is part of migratory birds’ route, particularly Sandhill Cranes, which spends more than a month along the North Platte River Valley during spring.
These majestic birds tend to stay longer to mate and breed, which is a perfect opportunity for bird-watching activity.
It would be awesome to experience this one-of-a-kind activity with the Sandhill Crane Migration & Spring Birding Adventures who offer bird watching tours.
They will give you the best views of these Sandhill Cranes and other exotic birds that stop by along the North Platte River Valley.
If you’re interested in bird watching activities in North Platte, visit the Sandhill Crane Migration & Spring Birding Adventures at 101 Halligan Dr., North Platte, NE.
Bring Your Kids to the North Platte Area Children’s Museum
For children-oriented activities, visit the North Platte Area Children’s Museum.
Your kids will learn a lot from its interactive museum-guided tours.
You can let your kids enjoy different themed sections of the museum.
They can dress up as characters and play different themed games.
To visit the North Platte Area Children’s Museum, it’s at 314 N Jeffers St, North Platte, NE.
This children’s museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm, but is closed every Sunday and Monday.
Discover the Town’s History at the Union Pacific Bailey Yard and Golden Spike Tower
When you arrive in North Platte, it would be great to head first to the Union Pacific Bailey Yard and Golden Spike Tower to learn about the town’s history.
It’s an excellent place for history buffs as it features the world’s most extensive rail classification and sorting area.
It covers more than 8 miles of railway and is more than a mile wide.
To have a vantage point of the Bailey Yard, you can climb the Golden Spike Tower, where the visitor center is situated.
Plus, this attraction has a spike-shaped museum with a collection of railroad artifacts and memorabilia.
To visit the Union Pacific Bailey Yard and Golden Spike Tower at 1249 N Homestead Rd, North Platte, NE.
This famous historic landmark in North Platte is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
Play the Unique Sport of Disc Golf at Cody Park
Disc golf is an emerging sport wherein you’ll be using a concave plastic disc similar to frisbee, which you need to shoot inside a series of metal baskets deployed along the course.
It’s a pretty fun sport that you need to try at Cody Park, which has a full-sized disc golf course.
If you want to learn disc golf, Cody Park’s course is free to the public, including the discs.
The park also has a beautiful carousel and kids’ rides, all “Buffalo Bill” approved!
To visit Cody Park, it is at 1601 N Jeffers St, North Platte, NE.
Go Hiking with the North Platte Area Sports Commission
The North Platte Area Sports Commission aims to promote the town’s scenic and highly-accessible off-road trails for visitors seeking outdoor activities.
Head to the Visitors Bureau at 101 Halligan Dr to grab an updated map of the trails.
After grabbing the updated map, you can coordinate with the North Platte Area Sports Commission for their guided trail tours.
They can provide you the same updated map of the trail at their office, also located in the Visitors Bureau building.
They can recommend you the best suited outdoor activities you can enjoy on the trails or join their guided tours.
The North Platte Area Sports Commission and the Visitors Bureau offices are open daily from 8 am to 5 pm.
Turn Into a Cowboy at the Dusty Trails Stables and Outfitting
Don’t forget to visit Nebraska’s most prominent outfitter, the Dusty Trails, nestled in the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park and Recreation Area.
It’s where you can experience being a cowboy and ride a horse through Buffalo Bill’s famous ranch.
Plus, the Dusty Trails Stables and Outfitting has numerous exciting outdoor recreation, such as kayaking, canoeing, river tubing, and swimming along the North Platte River.
Or perhaps maximize your experience and enroll in its horse camp wherein you’ll be taught proper horseback riding.
To visit the Dusty Trails Stables and Outfitting, it is at 2617 N Buffalo Bill Ave, North Platte, NE.
Stroll Along with the Alpha Omega Labyrinth
The Alpha Omega Labyrinth is a one-of-a-kind trail in North Platte that takes you on a spiritual journey.
According to those who visited this place, the labyrinth itself helps ease the mind and body discomfort and helps those who want to focus.
The trail was designed specifically for meditation and spiritual healing, so it would be great to visit this place and experience this kind of outdoor activity.
To visit the Alpha Omega Labyrinth at 651 S Sherman Ave, North Platte, NE.
Praise Local Arts at the Prairie Arts Center
The Prairie Arts Center is a highly-recommended place for art lovers.
It’s where most local artists converge to feature their masterpieces and share ideas about their passion.
The Creativity Unlimited Arts Council utilized North Platte’s historic Post Office Building, built way back in 1913 as the new Prairie Arts Center.
This popular arts center in North Platte is at 416 N Jeffers St, North Platte, NE, and it opens from 11 am until 4 pm daily.
Go Hunt Wild Game in North Platte’s Untamed Hunting Grounds
North Platte also offers hunting activities in numerous areas and neighboring areas.
Lincoln County, including North Platte, is blessed with bountiful hunting grounds from various ecosystems.
You can hunt small games like prairie chickens, ducks, geese, and deer most of the time.
North Platte’s hunting grounds include the Birdwood Lake, Box Elder Canyon, Brady Interchange, Cedar valley, Chester Island, East Hershey, and the Sutherland Reservoir State Recreation Area.
Before you start hunting, buy a permit for fishing and hunting first at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at 301 E State Farm Rd.
The permit is your access to these hunting grounds.
So, make sure to buy a permit three before you go hunting.
They also recommend which places you can find your preferred targets.
Eat Delicious Food at the Lincoln Highway Diner
The Lincoln Highway Diner is a local favorite with two locations: one along Rodeo Road and one at the airport.
The Lincoln Highway Diner is a cozy American-style restaurant that you’ll surely enjoy not just for its delicious food but also for its affordable price.
Whenever you’re hungry after a whole day roaming around North Platte, you should head to this restaurant to treat yourself to a heartwarming meal.
This restaurant in North Platte is at 320 W Rodeo Rd Ave.
The Lincoln Highway Diner opens from 6 am to 2 pm daily.
Race at the Cody Go Karts
Another “Buffalo Bill” approved attraction in North Platte is the Cody Go-Karts at 805 Halligan Dr, North Platte, NE.
The place offers two different kinds of race tracks for the entire family.
Their standard race track has a multi-level figure-eight course that can accommodate a tandem or a single go-kart.
Meanwhile, its slick track has a slippery surface that adds challenge and fun for everyone.
Camp at the Scenic Lake Maloney State Recreation Area
If you’re driving a Recreational Vehicle (RV), you can camp conveniently in front of the scenic Lake Maloney State Recreation Area.
The whole place covers more than a thousand acres of land, including the lake, which means you and your family can do a lot of outdoor activities there.
The place is a well-known camping ground for North Platte visitors and activities like fishing and boating.
To visit the Lake Maloney State Recreation Area at 9402 Lakeview Dr, North Platte, NE.
Buy Cool Souvenirs at the Fort Cody Trading Post
Head to the Fort Cody Trading Post, the most popular shop for visitors.
They are widely known for their beautiful Native American handicrafts and jewelry.
Fort Cody Trading Post has been open for visitors in North Platte since 1963, making it an iconic landmark in town.
The shop’s main attraction is its 20,000 hand-carved miniature figures at the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West exhibit.
To visit this exciting gift shop in North Platte, it is at 221 Halligan Dr, and they’re open from 9 in the morning to 5:30 pm.
Enjoy the Fun and Games at the Wild Bill’s Fun Center
The Wild Bill’s Fun Center is an indoor recreation center at 1100 S Jeffers St. that’s been providing excellent entertainment to North Platte’s locals for many years already.
It features various recreational activities like bowling, a laser tag arena, a video game arcade, and a virtual reality game perfect for kids and those kids at heart.
It’s a perfect place for family bonding and get-together with friends.
The Wild Bill’s Fun Center is open daily from 11 am to 10 pm.
Unwind at the Iron Horse Park
This 50-acre park in North Platte is predominantly covered with a pristine lake, making it a popular spot for fishing and boating.
It’s one of the best places to relax while picnicking or perhaps go for a hike on its trails.
The Iron Horse Park is also where many of North Platte’s locals spend some outdoor recreation with their loved ones.
This family-oriented park in North Platte is at 2901 S Jeffers St, North Platte, NE.
North Platte has nothing short of natural beauty, history, and heritage, making it an ideal destination for short excursions or a stopover from cross-country journeys.
Its people are renowned for volunteerism, which is alive until today through their warm hospitality.
Its heritage to the ways of the Old West is visibly seen on its ranches, museums, and historical landmarks.
North Platte is truly a countryside gem that’s worthy of a visit.
So, what’s the first thing you’re going to do in North Platte?
Make sure to drop by at the attractions listed on this post!