Traveling in Nebraska
My first visit to Nebraska was actually part of a cross country drive. I was only 19 years old and was heading from California to my new Marine Corps station back on the east coast. Of course this doesn’t count as a visit, especially since I never even left the highway! My only interaction with the state was with a police officer who issued me a ticket; which didn’t make me happy. More than a decade later, I returned and found my experience the second time around to be more enjoyable. Even on the flight to Nebraska, I had several locals give me advice on where to go and was invited to tailgate with someone during the opening college football game. I still have much left to see and do in Nebraska, but on this trip I was able to visit the state’s largest city of Omaha and the capital of Lincoln. On my second return I’d like to visit the west which is the best place in the state to find wildlife and even reach the state high point; nearly a mile above sea level.
Omaha is a mid-sized city in the heart of the United States, with a population near half a million. In the 1800’s, President Lincoln choose Omaha as the end of the first transcontinental railroad, and Omaha remains the headquarters of Union Pacific. Since then the city has seen a healthy economic growth. Some other points of interest are the Old Market, botanical gardens, the birthplace of Malcom X, and the Mormon’s Winter Quarters camp.
Lincoln is a college town famous for their football team the Cornhuskers. Many locals follow their team religiously, so the best time to really see Lincoln’s spirit is during the fall. Aside from football, Lincoln is a great place to explore by foot, and check out various restaurants and local breweries. Lincoln’s capital building is a unique design and the tallest building in the city. Another highlight is the beautiful Sunken Gardens, which are even listed as one of the top city gardens by National Geographic.
The Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari Park is known for its self drive safaris, hiking trails and exhibits. The highlight of the experience is driving your own car and passing by North America’s largest animals such as elk, bison, deer, and more. The park’s foot trails total about four miles, and allow you encounters with some gentler wildlife and lots of flora. Other exhibits are more like a zoo, and allow you to see the less friendly animals such as bears and wolves.