Located in the Midwestern part of the United States and also in the Great Plains region, Nebraska is the 16th largest state in terms of physical size but ranks 37th in terms of its population, making it one of the top 10 most sparsely populated states. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
2.The Largest City in Nebraska - Omaha
3.The Second Largest City in Nebraska - Lincoln
4.The Third Largest City in Nebraska - Bellevue
5.The Fourth Largest City in Nebraska - Grand Island
6.The Fifth Largest City in Nebraska - Kearney
5 of the Largest Cities in Nebraska
- Overview, Photo: Timothy/stock.adobe.com
- The Largest City in Nebraska - Omaha, Photo: pabrady63/stock.adobe.com
- The Second Largest City in Nebraska - Lincoln, Photo: Christopher Boswell/stock.adobe.com
- The Third Largest City in Nebraska - Bellevue, Photo: palidachan/stock.adobe.com
- The Fourth Largest City in Nebraska - Grand Island, Photo: James Reininger/stock.adobe.com
- The Fifth Largest City in Nebraska - Kearney, Photo: spiritofamerica/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Scruggelgreen/stock.adobe.com
More Ideas: Durham Museum
Located in Omaha, Nebraska, the Durham Museum is a social history museum dedicated to preserving the science, industry, and culture of the American Great Plains area through a variety of hands-on exhibits.
The museum is housed inside the historic Union Station building, making it notable both for its collections and its historic architecture. The 124,000-square-foot station was opened on January 15, 1931, after the commission of the Union Pacific Railroad as part of the Pacific Railway Act. At its peak, it served more than 10,000 passengers a day, but the advent of national interstate highway networks in the 1950s and 1960s caused a significant drop in the traffic of commercial railroads like the Union Pacific. As a result, the consolidation of remaining railroad lines into the government-funded National Railroad Passenger Corporation, now known as Amtrak, led to the demise of Union Station in 1971.
Original talk of demolishing the building was overturned by public support for preserving it as a landmark by housing a museum inside it. The Union Pacific Corporation donated the station to the city of Omaha in 1973, and after more volunteer-run community lobbying, it became the permanent home of the Western Heritage Museum two years later. After donations by Charles and Margre Durham allowed major renovations to be completed on the facility in the 1990s, the museum was renamed in their honor. Today, it is a partner institution of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, and the Library of Congress.
Permanent Collections and Exhibits
The museum’s permanent collection is home to a vast array of historical objects and archival media that showcases the history of the greater Omaha area and the Great Plains and West regions. Areas of collection include the Adah and Leon Miller Foundation Library, which houses thousands of books about the railroad and cultural history of the region, an Archival Materials Collection housing documentation related to important historical events in the region, a Photo Archive with more than one million photographs, and a Historic Objects Collection featuring rare historic lifestyle memorabilia. The Byron Reed Collection, donated by real estate agent Byron Reed, contains more than 10,000 objects compiled in the late 19th century. Highlights of the collection, such as a treasures cabinet that holds Reed’s specimen of the 1804 Dollar, are featured in a gallery at the museum.
Permanent exhibits on Omaha’s history and culture are housed throughout the Union Station building, including several rooms of the station building which serve as exhibits in themselves, such as the Suzanne and Walter Scott Great Hall, the former waiting room of the railway station. The 160-by-72-foot hall has been restored to its original Art Deco style, featuring a plaster ceiling with gold and silver detail, a patterned terrazzo floor, six 13-foot chandeliers, and 10 cathedral-style plate glass windows. Bronze statues by Omaha sculptor John Lajba simulate passengers socializing in the hall while waiting on trains. Nearby, the Mutual of Omaha Theater shows short films on the history and development of the area dating back to the mid-1800s to give visitors an introduction before exploring the museum’s galleries.
True to the museum’s location, railroad history is a focus of several exhibits, including the Concourse Gallery, which details the history of passenger travel in Omaha from the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad through the heyday of the Union Pacific. Visitors young and old alike can enjoy the Model Trains interactive exhibit, featuring an O-scale layout of Union Pacific’s main line in the 1950s. At the Trish and Dick Davidson Gallery, several climb-aboard train cars are docked at Track #1, including a Union Pacific 1202 Pullman car, a Southern Pacific 2986 Lounge Car, and a Pullman Cornhusker Club Observation Car. Other historic exhibits in the gallery include an Omaha and Council Bluffs Railway and Bridge Company Streetcar, a Bekins Moving & Storage 1922 Mack flatbed truck, and replica facades of the Kimmel Orchard and Buffett Grocery Store.
Several exhibits illustrate the lives and culture of historic Nebraskans. The Baright Home and Family Gallery showcases walkthrough reproductions of historic Omaha homes, from the rawhide teepees of the area’s Native Americans to a full-scale turn-of-the-century worker’s cottage. The Bishop Clarkson Community Gallery focuses on the early history of the Omaha community, detailing the stories of Omaha’s first immigrant families and displaying memorabilia from local institutions such as the Bishop Clarkson Hospital, St. Cecilia’s Cathedral, and The Brandeis Building.
The area’s industry and ingenuity is showcased in the Trans-Mississippi Exposition Gallery, chronicling the 1899 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, which lasted five months and drew more than 2.6 million international visitors. The Omaha at Work Gallery celebrates modern Nebraskan entrepreneurs and businesspeople of note, and the Lives of Tradition Series highlights Plains ranchers and farmers, showing the traditions of their trades and how they have adapted to new technologies throughout the years.
Ongoing Programs and Education
In addition to guided school tours, the Durham Museum’s digital learning initiative brings Omaha’s history directly to classrooms with themed virtual field trips, including Virtual Vault trips through the museum’s permanent collections. The Adah and Leon Miller Foundation Library is open to students and researchers by appointment, providing further opportunity to explore the permanent collection. For adult visitors, the River City History Tours program offers a variety of themed driving experiences throughout the city aboard Ollie the Trolley, including brewery tours and trips to view the city’s historic mansions.
801 S 10th St, Omaha, NE 68108, Phone: 402-444-5071
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More Ideas: Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Located in Omaha, Nebraska, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is one of the largest and most acclaimed wildlife facilities in the world. Nationally renowned for its commitment to research and conservation, it has been ranked as the top international zoo by major publications.
Henry Doorly Zoo’s origins date back to 1984, when the City of Omaha established the facility as the public Riverview Park Zoo. Throughout the early 20th century, the zoo’s animal population and attendance grew steadily, meriting the creation of the Omaha Zoological Society in 1952 to help with the city’s management. In 1963, the zoo was renamed to its current name in honor of a $750,000 donation by Margaret Hitchcock Doorly, widow of the late Henry Doorly, the chairman of the World Publishing Company. As part of the renovations that followed Doorly’s donation, the Omaha Zoological Society was reorganized as a nonprofit organization, which now operates and maintains the Zoo for the city. As of 1986, its mission is to establish and promote recreational and educational activities and programs to raise awareness of the natural world for Omaha citizens, as well as overseeing conservation and research programs to protect wild animals, plants, and ecosystems.
The zoo is Nebraska’s top paid attraction, host to more than 25 million visitors since its 1963 revamping.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
More than 130 acres of permanent exhibits are on display at the zoo, including seven acres of indoor exhibits. Many of the zoo’s exhibits are the largest of their kind in the world.
The Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Pavilion serves as an entrance and introduction point for visitors, recently remodeled into an Exploration Station mimicking a safari trailhead. Exhibits detail the history of the zoo, and a stage area presents daily demonstrations with handlers, allowing visitors to meet the zoo’s animals in an up-close and personal setting.
Opened in 1992, the Lied Jungle is the largest indoor rainforest exhibit in America. Occupying one and a half acres, the jungle building stretches eight stories high and features 61,000 square feet of exhibit space. It is split into three main areas, with animals divided by geographic region. In the Asian rainforest, visitors can walk a swaying suspension bridge to a nocturnal cave featuring animals such as Malayan tapir, smallclawed otters, silvery leaf monkeys, and ebony langurs. The African section allows visitors to observe spotted-neck otters and pygmy hippos from above at the jungle’s canopy or eye-to-eye in an underwater viewing cave. The highlight of the South American forest is a 50-foot waterfall, which visitors can walk behind to observe spider, capuchin, and black howler monkeys. The rainforest building is also home to the zoo’s education center and the Durham TreeTops Restaurant, providing impressive views of the exhibit with its 90-foot floor-to-ceiling windows.
The Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium contains 1.2 million gallons of water, with a variety of tanks featuring aquatic life from around the world. The popular 70-foot Shark Reef tunnel takes visitors 17 feet below the water to experience life on the ocean floor, as sand tiger sharks, zebra sharks and sting rays swim overhead. Other exhibits include a tidepool touch tank, a jellyfish exhibit, and tanks dedicated to aquatic habitats around the world, including cold Pacific waters, tropical beaches, and the waters of the Amazon rainforest.
The Desert Dome habitat is housed inside the world’s largest glazed geodesic dome, measuring 137 feet high and 230 feet in diameter. At 42,000 square feet, the exhibit is one of the largest desert habitat recreations in the world, housing animal and plant life from south Africa’s Namib Desert, Australia’s Red Center, and the southwest United States’ Sonoran Desert. Underneath the dome, Kingdoms of the Night is the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit, featuring wet and dry cave, canyon, forest, and swamp areas. Of note is the swamp’s alligator exhibit, which features one of only 15 albino alligators on display in the world.
The zoo’s former Owen Gorilla House was revamped in 2004, expanding the facility into the Hubbard Gorilla Valley, a three-acre free-roaming site for species such as Mantled guerezas, Western lowland gorillas, and Wolf's mona monkeys. Nearby, the Hubbard Orangutan Forest features large outdoor and indoor habitats for orangutans and gibbons, with man-made Banyan trees and a 20-foot waterfall, and the 300-foot Expedition Madagascar building houses a variety of lemur species, along with giant jumping rats, fruit bats, and other animals and plants native to the area.
Two new exhibits are part of the zoo’s current ongoing renovation project. The 28-acre African Grasslands is the largest project in the zoo’s history, with exhibits dedicated to African lions, Sable antelope, giraffes, elephants, Bongos, pygmy goats, pelicans, and cheetahs, along with a safari tent camp for overnight tour opportunities. The Alaskan Adventure water playground features over 75 bronze sculptures by Nebraska artist Matthew Placzek, providing education on aquatic species such as the humpback whale and orca.
Other exhibits and pavilions include the Simmons Aviary, the Berniece Grewcock Butterfly and Insect Pavilion, Durham’s Bear Canyon, the Owen Sea Lion Pavilion, and a Cat Complex. Additionally, the Lozier IMAX Theater offers showings of nature films, and several rides, including the Omaha’s Zoo Railroad and the Skyfari ski-lift ride, transport visitors around the park’s grounds.
Ongoing Programs and Education
The zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research is dedicated to world-class scientific investigation, focusing on the areas of molecular genetics, reproductive physiology, plant micro propagation and conservation medicine. Of note are the museum’s gorilla reproductive research programs, which contain the largest gorilla sperm bank in the world and have produced the world’s only successful in vitro fertilization specimen. The zoo is also committed to sustainability, with several facilities powered or partially powered by solar energy and other reusable fuel sources.
3701 S. 10th Street, Omaha, NE 68107, Phone: 402-733-8401
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More Ideas: Lauritzen Gardens
Located in Omaha, Nebraska, Lauritzen Gardens is Omaha’s official arboretum and botanical garden center. As an arboretum and living museum, the botanical center features all-seasons plant displays and provides an urban garden oasis for the Omaha community.
The vision for Lauritzen Gardens dates back to 1980, an idea of former Omaha World-Herald Garden Parade columnist Helena Street. Official planning began two years later, with a committee selecting a site for the gardens on a bluff just west of the Missouri River. Construction on the facility’s first garden, the rose garden, began in 1995, with new garden areas added every subsequent year. Today, the site encompasses a 100-acre area near downtown Omaha, with many gardens visible from Interstate 80, and attracts more than 220,000 annual visitors. The gardens are privately funded and managed by a public-private partnership with the City of Omaha.
Gardens and Facilities
Dozens of gardens adorn the botanical center, with new gardens being added continuously.
Upon entrance, the Arrival and Parking Gardens feature colorful displays of annuals and perennials, along with the Tony and Mary Seina Family Gazebo, a fountain tribute to founder Helena Street, and several bronze statues. The gardens lead to the Visitor and Education Center, a 32,000-square-foot facility that is home to an educational center and the ConAgra Cafe, along with a horticultural library, gift shop, and floral display hall.
The Founder’s Garden was the first garden established at the center, constructed in 1993 as a collaboration with the Shady Choice Hosta Society. More than 50 varieties of hosta frame the gazebo and quiet reflection space, along with a vibrant spring garden and 150 other varieties of shade ferns and perennials. Other quiet reflection areas include the hillside Garden of Memories, featuring a 40-foot reflecting pool and several memorial tributes, and the Garden in the Glen, with a 300-foot stream winding through a shaded space filled with Japanese maple, astilbe, bleeding hearts, and a 30-year collection of locally-bred hostas.
The center’s four-acre Arboretum incorporates plants native to Nebraska’s oak hickory and maple linden forests, marsh and flood plain river margins, farmstead windbreak regions, prairies, and savannahs, and also serves as a natural sanctuary for the area’s migrating birds. Two sculptures, End of Day and Sunflowers, Snowbirds, and Lizards, decorate the arboretum’s planted grounds, which are still in the process of maturing.
Opened in 2014, the Marjorie K. Daugherty Conservatory is a 17,500-square-foot facility inspired by historical conservatory gardens. Situated at the entrance to a century-old bur oak forest, the conservatory features a 10-foot waterwall, a large Victoria water lily pond, and a gallery space for floral displays and special events. Outside the building, a ?-mile-long Woodland Trail takes visitors on a tour of the area’s natural flora.
Dedicated in 1997, the Robert H. Storz Family Rose Garden is a formally-designed garden featuring more than 2,000 plants. In addition to grandiflora, floribunda, hybrid tea, climbing, and shrub rose species, the garden also features an armillary sphere sundial centerpiece, designed by Nebraska artist Milt Heinrich. Just north of the rose garden, the hillside Model Railroad Garden uses structural elements such as leaves, twigs, bark, pinecones, and cinnamon sticks to create natural landscapes for an array of model train tracks. Created by Applied Imagination landscape designer Paul Busse, the garden’s seven model train lines wind past miniature replicas of Omaha landmarks, including St. Cecilia Cathedral and the old Union Station building.
The Victorian Garden blends English and Victorian techniques in a variety of formal and casual planting structures. Parts of the garden’s walls and structures are made from remnants salvaged from historic buildings in the city. Nearby, the English Perennial Border displays more than 300 colorful plant species and cultivars arranged in traditional English style, and a 3,000-square-foot Peony Garden is host to a variety of Chinese and Japanese peony trees.
The Song of the Lark Meadow, named after a short story by Nebraska author Willa Cather, is home to black-eyed Susans, dwarf red plains coreopsis, red corn poppy, yarrow, and blanket flowers. During the March to May blooming season, thousands of spring flowering bulbs and trees, including magnolias, dogwoods, crocuses, and grape hyacinth, line the nearby Spring Flowering Walk. A nine-bed Herb Garden is a collaboration with the Omaha Herb Society, home to an assortment of medicinal, culinary, and dyeing herbs, including more than a dozen variants of thyme. The Conservation Discovery Garden is committed to irrigation and conservation techniques that improve the health of the region’s streams, utilizing plants in its array that filter stormwater runoff.
The large lawn area of the Festival Garden is host to many of the botanical center’s annual garden festivals and outdoor events, featuring a small pond with geese fountains and displays of azaleas, mums, redbuds, poppy mallow, and Japanese anemone. Many educational opportunities throughout the year, including guided school tours and youth gardening classes, are hosted at the Children’s Garden.
100 Bancroft St, Omaha, NE 68108, Phone: 402-346-4002
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