Nebraska is the land of wide open spaces, fossil beds, sand dunes, and vibrant university towns. With an abundance of natural and cultural attractions across the state, it’s fitting that Nebraska has an eclectic array of accommodations to match. From a floating boutique hotel on the Missouri River to an opulent historic urban hotel to a Western trading post in the Sandhills, travelers have several unique choices. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Merritt Trading Post Resort
4.Ramada by Wyndham Midtown Grand Island
5.Lied Lodge & Conference Center
6.Magnolia Hotel Omaha
7.Delta Hotels South Sioux City Riverfront
8.Embassy Suites Lincoln Hotel
9.River Inn Resort
10.The Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel
10 Best Resorts in Nebraska
- Merritt Trading Post Resort, Photo: Courtesy of Leszek - Fotolia.com
- Hilton Omaha, Photo: Hilton Omaha
- Hotel Deco, Photo: Hotel Deco
- Ramada by Wyndham Midtown Grand Island, Photo: Ramada by Wyndham Midtown Grand Island
- Lied Lodge & Conference Center, Photo: Lied Lodge & Conference Center
- Magnolia Hotel Omaha, Photo: Magnolia Hotel Omaha
- Delta Hotels South Sioux City Riverfront, Photo: Delta Hotels South Sioux City Riverfront
- Embassy Suites Lincoln Hotel, Photo: Embassy Suites Lincoln Hotel
- River Inn Resort, Photo: River Inn Resort
- The Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel, Photo: The Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Kadmy - Fotolia.com
More Ideas: G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture
Located in Kearney, Nebraska within the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus, the G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture is a living history museum preserving the former home of George and Phoebe Frank, the parents of Nebraska architect George William Frank, Jr. The Frank House was originally designed as a residence for George and Phoebe Frank, who resided within the house until 1900.
George Washington Frank, the son of a doctor from Warsaw, New York, served as a United States Congressman during the American Civil War and is credited as being an instrumental part of passing legislation to end slavery in the United States. He married Kearney schoolteacher Phoebe McNair in 1854 and had four children, including son George William, Jr., who became a renowned Nebraska area architect. In 1886, Frank completed completed construction on the Kearney Canal, which transformed the Kearney area from a desolate prairie area into an industrial town. The Frank House was designed the same year by George William, Jr., as a gift to his parents and was one of the first American homes west of the Missouri River to be wired for electricity upon its construction.
Following the nationwide Panic of 1893 and the Frank family’s ensuing financial crisis, the home was occupied by several temporary owners before being acquired by local medical workers Ole and Georgiana Grothan. The Grothans operated the home as the Grothan Elmwood Sanitarium for the next several years, and following their divorce in 1911, sold the property to the state of Nebraska for use as part of the Nebraska State Tuberculosis Hospital. The property was used as the hospital’s staff living quarters until 1971, when it was acquired by the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Following the acquisition, the home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Permanent Exhibits and Programming
Today, the Frank House is operated as the G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture, open to the public as a living history museum for tours. As a historic home museum, the Frank Museum strives to preserve the social and cultural history of the Great Plains region through preserving the stories of the individuals and organizations associated with the homestead. Constructed according to the Richardson Romanesque Shingle style of architecture, the three-story home is made from red sandstone imported from Wyoming. Seven of the home’s original 10 fireplaces have been preserved, along with tiling work imported from the Netherlands and an original stained-glass window.
Museum collections are displayed throughout the restored home and include a variety of pieces donated to the University over the past four decades, including original home furnishings owned by the Frank family. Notable items include an urn produced in 1774 in the French city of Sèvres, originally showcased in the home’s library and said to be George Frank’s favorite possession, as well as an Italian blown-glass chandelier from the 1920s, an oak secretary cabinet presented to the Franks as a wedding gift, and a doctor’s cabinet formerly used by the Nebraska State Tuberculosis Hospital. A photo archive also displays photographs from the property’s use as a family home, sanitarium, and hospital. Relevant collection donations are accepted on a continuing basis and may be donated by contacting the museum directly via phone or email.
The home is open for private docent-led tours Tuesdays through Sundays during the summer months, with limited touring availability during the off-season months. Tours last approximately one hour and include exploration of either the first two or all three floors of the home, at visitors’ discretion. Appropriate walking attire is recommended for visitors touring the third floor, as access stairways are narrow and steep. Admission for all tours is free, though donations to the museum are recommended. Group tours for school groups and organizations may be arranged by contacting the museum directly via phone or email.
Periodic special exhibits are showcased at the museum, including exhibits of cultural artifacts such as historic quilts. A Frank Talks series is held on Saturday afternoons, offering educational lectures on aspects of Nebraska history along with complimentary home tours and refreshments. A Parlor Performance Series also offers special music and drama performances on select Sundays.
The Frank Museum may be rented for private special events, including weddings, receptions, and business conferences by contacting the University of Nebraska at Kearney directly via phone or email. Reservation requests must be submitted at least three weeks prior to event date. Walk-in volunteer training is also offered during afternoon hours throughout the regular operating season, for volunteers interested in assisting with tours, gardening, and maintenance.
2010 University Drive, Kearney, NE 68849, Phone: 308-865-8284
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More Ideas: Homestead National Monument
The Homestead National Monument area, located in Beatrice, Nebraska, allows travelers to step back into the past to see how some of the original residents of the area would have lives. With a variety of outdoor, historical, and cultural activities as well as local dining and shopping, Homestead is fun for families of all sizes and ages.
The Homestead National Monument celebrates the Homesteading Act of 1862, an act that let qualified people claim 160 acres of land as long as they promised to stay for at least five years and improved the property while living there. The site sits on some of the originally claimed lands and is included on a list of Historic Places in the United States. The area encompasses over 200 acres and is currently managed by the National Park Service.
In accordance with the history located at the Homestead National Monument, the majority of the permanent attractions located here are outdoor. There is also a Heritage and Education Center on the grounds.
Guests visiting the area will enjoy the many hiking trails that wind through the area. There are just over two miles of trails in total, leading hikers through different ecosystems like the bur oak woodland and a small portion of the tallgrass prairie (Homestead and the surrounding area contains over 100 acres of it). This peaceful hike will help visitors see what the original settlers of the area would have seen.
Quilt Discovery Experience- Throughout the area, guests should stop by the Quilt Discovery Experience areas to see a variety of specially made quilts that were designed to represent specific, important periods in local history
Lincoln’s Platform- This area is located at the entrance to The Heritage Center that displays information
Other quilts and patterns are displayed as exhibits:
- Nebraska State Block
- Friendship Star
- Double Wedding Ring
- Sunbonnet Sue Basket
- Log Cabin
- Dresden Plate- on the barbed wire fence
- School House- at the Freeman School
- Eight-Pointed Star- in the parking lot
- Nebraska Pinwheel- at the Dempster windmill
- Nine Patch- on the fence by the Palmer-Epard cabin
- Churn Dash- outside of the Palmer-Epard cabin
All of the patterns used here were those used by pioneer women back in the days of homesteading. The trail guides guests through the history of quilting as well.
For visitors who want to tour the grounds without a physical guide, there are cell phone (audio) tours. The tours, given by a park ranger, will take guests around the area and offer a two-minute snippet of important information about a selection of sites (the Palmer-Epard cabin, tallgrass prairie area, and the Freeman School). Look for the signs, noting each audio tour site, and call the number listed. There is no structured order the tour must be taken in, allowing guests the flexibility of learning only about what they are specifically interested in.
Another fun way to see all that the Homestead National Monument has to offer is by downloading and taking part in EarthCaching. This program helps educate guests about the geology of the area. The EarthCaching program is similar to GeoCaching, only there are no physical markers to have to check or open. Walk around the grounds and try to find the exact latitude and longitude of many of the historical markers.
There are many educational opportunities hosted at the Homestead.
One of the most popular programs is the “Detect the Superheroes” event. This event is designed for the youngest guests, with the mission (if they choose to accept it) of finding the prairie’s “heroes.” Hosted multiple weekends, children and their families will be provided with a brief introduction to that day’s mission, participate in some hands on interactive craft time, and have a park ranger introduce them to some discovery areas. Past heroes’ events have focused on birds, water animals, and mystery creatures. Keep an eye on the website for additional dates, times, and information.
The website also manages a thorough calendar with the events that occur throughout the rest of the year. There are events going on every month, mostly aimed at guests with small children. The majority of the events hosted at the Homestead are offered totally free of charge, but any costs will be listed on the event entry.
Dining and Shopping
The nearby town of Beatrice offers travelers a variety of dining and shopping experiences. Guests can eat and shop their way down the main street, which also allows them to see a larger picture of the towns that have sprung up around the original homesteading area. It also stimulates the local economy.
Homestead National Monument, 8523 West State Highway 4, Beatrice, NE 68310, Phone: 402-223-3514
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More Ideas: Great Platte River Road Archway
Located along Interstate Highway 80 near Kearney, NE, the Great Platte River Road Archway, also referred to as the Kearney Arch, is a monument and museum honoring Nebraska’s role in the westward expansion of the United States of America. Following purchase expansions to United States territory in the mid 19th century, Nebraska’s Platte Valley became a major transportation thoroughfare for westward migrants.
Pioneer settlers, gold rush seekers, and religious missionaries traveled the area’s overland trails by the thousands between 1840 and 1860, with the Fort Kearny Army outpost established in 1848 to oversee protection of travelers. The fort became the eastern junction of the Great Platte River Road, which traversed 800 miles throughout Nebraska and Wyoming and became known as the “grand corridor of America’s westward expansion.” Though the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 resulted in a decline of traditional travel along the route, the Great Platte River Road is credited as the basis for the modern day Lincoln Highway and Interstate Highway 80.
The Great Platte River Road Archway was the vision of Nebraska Governor Frank B. Morrison, who wished to create a monument to honor the route’s historic role in America’s westward expansion. $60 million in funding was issued in the form of bonds in 1997, and after three years of construction, the Archway was opened to the public in July of 2000. More than 223,000 people visited the monument within its first year of opening, including President Bill Clinton. As a result of declining visitorship throughout the 2010s, the monument filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013, which transferred management of the Archway to the City of Kearney. Later that year, a second interchange entrance to the monument was opened along Interstate 80, as the lack of easy access from the interstate’s eastbound lanes had been attributed as a major cause of its low visitorship. In 2014, following major renovations and additions to the facility, the Archway reopened to the public.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
Today, the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument stretches 308 feet across Interstate 80 near the city of Kearney, Nebraska, weighing more than 1,500 tons. Designed at a cost of $59.7 million, the monument was constructed in full at a nearby site and raised incrementally over the highway in its completed form using hydraulic jacks and a horizontal jacking beam, a process that took over eight days. The 79,000-square-foot monument is suspended 30 feet over Interstate 80, reaching a height of 116 feet at its highest end points. It is designed to evoke a covered bridge, with its exterior mimicking the yellow, orange, and red hues of a Nebraska sunset.
An entry escalator into the Archway’s public museum facility is the second-longest escalator in the state of Nebraska, framed by a 25x31’ golden picture frame entrance. The facility’s north tower wings weigh seven tons apiece, constructed over the course of more than 3,350 hours. Sandstone slate flooring throughout the facility was imported from Colorado, with spruce logs used in the building’s design sourced from Montana and Canada. More than 15,600 pieces of Southern yellow pine were also imported for use in the facility’s food court floor. The Chuckwagon Concessions food court offers American fare, and the Platte River Traders gift shop features handmade products by Nebraska artisans.
Inside the Archway museum, a self-guided audio tour takes visitors through 170 years of American history, focusing on 19th and 20th century travel throughout the Nebraska and Great Plains areas. Exhibits begin by chronicling the passenger trails of the 1840s, including the Great Platte River Road, the Oregon Trail, and the Mormon Trail. Murals and mannequins depict the riders of the Pony Express, the railroading competition between the Union Pacific and Central Pacific lines, the use of the telegraph in relaying military and civic information throughout the Old American West, and the development of modern transcontinental transportation systems, from the Lincoln Highway through the construction of Interstate 80. A 1950s-style drive-in movie theater also plays a short orientation film, and a Roadside Cafe mimics mid-20th century diners.
Ongoing Programs and Education
Docent-led group tours are offered for small groups and organizations, including curriculum-incorporated field trips for elementary and secondary school students. A homeschool membership program also offers educational experiences for homeschool students throughout the year. Public special events include a Pro Talks Lunch Box lecture and meeting series, a Soda Fountain Sundae music performance series, a Tri-City Food Fight contest, and an annual Christmas tree lighting event, featuring carolers, an hors d’oeuvres buffet, and a silent auction.
3060 E 1st St, Kearney, NE 68847, Phone: 308-237-1000
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