Road Trip in Nebraska

With an abundance of natural wonders, American history sites, and eclectic cultural destinations, you'll be pleasantly surprised at all the Cornhusker State has to offer. If you're road tripping across the U.S., put Nebraska on your list of places to visit.

Keep reading for more information about NE rules of the road, major highways, and some of the must-see attractions you can visit while on your road trip.

Nebraska Rules of the Road

Though it may seem odd, traffic laws can differ from state to state, so it's important you're familiar with the rules of the road specific to Nebraska.

For the most comprehensive look at NE traffic laws, take a look at the Nebraska driver's manual. If you're looking for a quick refresher on Nebraska's basic safety laws, check out our guide on the subject.

Out-of-State Drivers

Since you now know all about Nebraska traffic laws and driving customs, let's make sure you have the right driver's license before you get out on the road. Drivers from another U.S. state are required to carry a valid driver's license from your home state.

Major NE Roads

Below you'll find a list of the major Nebraska roads, the cities they run through, and the states they connect to (when applicable):

  • I-80 (west to east).
    • Runs through Kimball, Sidney, Ogallala, Sutherland, Hershey, North Platte, Brady, Gothenburg, Lexington, Kearney, Gibbon, York, Beaver Crossing, Lincoln, and Omaha.
    • Connects to Wyoming and Iowa.
  • US-20 (west to east).
    • Passes through Harrison, Crawford, Rushville, Valentine, Wood Lake, Ainsworth, Bassett, Atkinson, Royal, Plainview, Laurel, and South Sioux City.
  • US-30 (west to east).
    • Runs through Sidney, Chappell, Sutherland, Hershey, Brady, Lexington, Kearney, Gibbon, Wood River, Aurora, Central City, Clarks, Fullerton, Fremont, and Blair.
  • US-83 (north to south).
    • Intersects Valentine, Seneca, Stapleton, North Platte, Wellfleet, McCook, and Danbury.
  • US-183 (north to south).
    • Goes through Springview, Bassett, Taylor, Sargent, Comstock, Broken Bow, Mason City, Amherst, Holdrege, and Alma.
  • US-281 (north to south).
    • Runs through Lynch, O'Neill, Bartlett, Center, Cotesfied, Grand Island, Hastings, Blue Hill, and Red Cloud.
  • US-81 (north to south).
    • Intersects Crofton, Wausa, Norfolk, Battle Creek, Madison, Columbus, Osceola, Benedict, York, Geneva, and Shickley.
  • US-77 (north to south).
    • Passes through South Sioux City, Dakota City, Winnebago, Oakland, North Bend, Lincoln, Pickrell, and Beatrice.
  • US-75 (north to south).
    • Goes through Decatur, Tekamah, Blair, Omaha, Bellevue, Plattsmouth, Nebraska City, Auburn, and Dawson.

Things to Do in Nebraska

Whoever you're with and whatever your road trip goals are, Nebraska's sure to satisfy. All across the state there's a variety of natural, historical, and cultural destinations for you to visit. Take a look at the suggestions below for just a glimpse into the wonderful world of Nebraska.

NE Natural World

Nebraska is still a state very much untouched by urbanization and human development, boasting miles of woodlands, prairies, lush mountains, and rushing waters. Here are just a few of your options when it comes to enjoying the great Nebraskan outdoors:

  • Chadron State Park—Chadron, NE.
    • Nebraska's oldest state park, located amongst the canyons and buttes of the state's Pine Ridge.
  • Fort Robinson State Park—Crawford, NE.
    • Retired fort where the Cheyenne Outbreak occurred and Sioux Chief Crazy Horse died.
  • Smith Falls State Park—Valentine, NE.
    • Located on the Niobrara River and home to Nebraska's tallest waterfall.
    • Canoe, kayak, and inner tube rentals, as well as hiking trails and river fishing.
    • Tent campsites with picnic areas.
  • Valentine National Wildlife Refuge—Valentine, NE.
    • Located in famous NE Sandhills, this refuge is home to a large variety of birds, mammals, and plant life.
    • Hunting and fishing.
    • Scenic hiking and driving trails.
  • Toadstool Geological Park and Campground—Harrison, NE.
    • Unusual natural clay landforms filled with fossils and animal imprints from ancient times.
    • Hiking trails for all levels of experience.
  • Happy Jack Chalk Mines—Scotia, NE.
    • Now retired and renovated, it's the only natural chalk mine in the U.S. accessible to the public.

Free Ebook: Road Trips of America

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NE Historical Sites

Nebraska is home to a potpourri of historical sites, dating all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs. If you're a history lover, be sure to check out some of the following places:

  • Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park—Royal, NE.
    • Also known as “the Pompeii of prehistoric animals," this site contains numerous animal fossils preserved in volcanic ash.
  • Neligh Mill State Historic Site—Neligh, NE.
    • Only mill from its time with all of the original equipment, including elevators, offices, and flumes, still intact.
  • USS Hazard—Omaha, NE.
    • Retired fleet minesweeper and anti-submarine warfare vessel used during World War II.
  • Arbor Lodge State Historic Park—Nebraska City, NE.
    • Luxurious home-turned-lodge of J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day (the tree planter's holiday).
  • Willa Cather's Childhood Home—Red Cloud, NE.
    • Explore the actual house where famous American pioneer author grew up.
  • Nebraska History Museum—Lincoln, NE.
    • Exhibits on famous Nebraskans and pivotal moments in Nebraska state history, with artifacts dating back to when the state was first settled.

Only in Nebraska

Have you come to appreciate the weirder things in life? Are you on the prowl for the oddest Nebraska attractions you can find? If so, be sure to visit a few of the following NE gems:

  • Carhenge—Alliance, NE.
    • Complete replica of Stonehenge made entirely of painted, vintage cars (with practically the same dimensions as the original).
  • World's largest ball of stamps—Boys Town, NE.
    • Just what it sounds like, you won't see a stamp collection like this anywhere else.
  • World's largest porch swing—Hebron, NE.
    • Built by the citizens of Hebron in an effort to claim Nebraska's Fourth of July City title.
  • Museum of the Fur Trade—Chadron, NE.
    • Displays of fur pelts and clothing made from other animal parts, dating back to the very first fur traders.
  • Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream—Hastings, NE.
    • Exhibit in the Hastings city museum with information on Kool-Aid's NE origins.
    • Kool-Aid memorabilia and displays on the history of the drink, from its creation to eventually becoming a household name.
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