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Boomer Destinations

boomer-destinations

June 2024

Boomer Destinations: Enjoy exploring our state with the Nebraska Passport

 By Tim Trudell

Summer is here. Time to put the convertible roof down and let the wind blow through what remains of our locks as we speed down the road. In Nebraska, summertime is Passport season; the perfect time to explore unique
destinations around the state.

From Omaha’s El Museo Latino to Chimney Rock, the Nebraska Passport offers an opportunity to visit 70 destinations around the state May 1-Sept. 30. Boutique stores, sweet shops, historical places and
restaurants are among the attractions featured. In recognition of its 15th season of sponsoring the Passport, Nebraska Tourism added 15 bonus stops, each a fan favorite over the years.

The popular program attracted more than 55,000 participants in 2023, with about 47,000 books ordered and another 12,000 people participating through the phone app. More than 1,000 people completed all 70
stops (we achieved that goal in 2022). Participants came from around the country.

Among this year’s stops, the Omaha area has five attractions. But, don’t limit your tour to just the Omaha and Lincoln areas, the Nebraska Passport features plenty of spots creating opportunities for fun
day trips or weekend getaways.

Passports can be ordered from Visit Nebraska or picked up at each destination. Simply have both your passport and additional sheets stamped. Submit your sheets by Oct. 7 to receive prizes such as lottery tickets and a Visit Nebraska calendar. Collect all 70 stamps and you’ll also receive a Passport Champions t-shirt and $45 in lottery tickets.

Here’s a look at a baker’s dozen (since I’m terrible at math, let’s make it a baker’s dozen +1) of attractions waiting for you to stop and collect a stamp as you begin your journey around the state.

OMAHA

El Museo Latino

Explore the history of Latin America and its influence on the Metro through historical art and contemporary pieces. Home to special exhibits, visitors can view the works of Frida Kahlo and a Smithsonian exhibit of historical posters. Local residents participated in an art project highlighting memories of growing up Latino. The museum also hosts cultural events, including dance and speaker sessions.

NOTE: The museum is undergoing renovation. A temporary entrance is located on the east side of the building.

Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters

As European-Americans moved westward in the mid-1800s, the Mormon and Oregon Trails ran through the Omaha area.

Mormons on their way to Salt Lake City, Utah, after being forced to leave an enclave in Nauvoo, Illinois, used Omaha as their winter headquarters. You’ll learn their stories while visiting the Mormon Trail Center at Winter Headquarters. Tours are hosted by people serving a two-year mission.

While in Omaha (Florence, actually), Mormon pioneers settled along the east bank of the Missouri River. They built hundreds of cabins from sod and wood. People stayed here for up to two years while they earned money to replenish supplies for the migration.

Monolithic Brewing

Pushing boundaries, Monolithic Brewing in northwest Omaha seeks to create beers that everyone in your group will love and come back for more. A small-batch brewery, Monolithic Brewing only serves its beer at its taproom.

From ales, lagers, IPAs and stouts to seasonal selections, Monolithic Brewing’s beers offer unique tastes.

While enjoying a beer or maybe a flight, grab an appetizer or burger from its in-house kitchen.

PAPILLION

Werner Park

Home to Nebraska’s Triple-A baseball team, Werner Park is a great spot to watch future Major League Baseball stars. The Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly Omaha Royals) have called the Sarpy County stadium home since 2011, following their move from Rosenblatt Stadium.

With a seating capacity of any 9,000, Werner Park provides an intimate setting to watch great baseball. Fans are close to the field, allowing them to hear the Crack of the bat as it connects with the ball and the thud of a player’s glove as he catches a ball.

Werner Park features a fun family atmosphere, with a carousel highlighting an amusement area. Affordable dining options allow a family to enjoy a day at the ballpark without breaking the bank.

FREMONT

Los Mezcales Ortiz

Named as the best Mexican restaurant in Fremont in 2023, the downtown eatery serves authentic dishes. From ceviche estilo similoa featuring chilled shrimp to tacos, burritos and birria entrees, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled south of the border. Consider an award-winning margarita with your meal.

BANCROFT

John G. Neihardt Center

Having served as Nebraska’s Poet Laureate, John G. Neihardt wrote more than two dozen poems, stories and books during his lifetime. Yet, it was one book that solidified his status as a great storyteller.

Neihardt authored “Black Elk Speaks,” based on interviews with the Lakota chief. Chief Black Elk shared his knowledge of oral history and culture of the Lakota Nation. Black Elk shares the stories of Lakota people before and after reservation life.

The Neihardt Center in Bancroft explores the author’s impact, as well as honoring the story of the Lakota. From the Lakota medicine wheel to the one-room building where Neihardt wrote, your visit will not only shine a light on the author’s history, but also on the Lakota and other Native Americans.

KEARNEY

The Archway

Ever notice the “arch” stretching across Interstate 80 outside Kearney? The Archway showcases westward movement through the Platte River Valley during the 1800s. Unique exhibits take you along the trail as you see people pushing and pulling wagons through mud, as well as the first landfills in the west as people discarded personal items – furniture, clocks, even paintings – to lighten wagon loads.

Fast forward to the 1950s and westward migration involves classic automobiles and motels along  US Highway 30 – aka Lincoln Highway – the country’s oldest transcontinental road. “Roughing it” involved campsites or cabins in rural areas. The modern exhibit includes a malt shop and drive-in theater.

LINCOLN

Robbers Cave

Jesse James is said to have hid out in Robbers Cave from posses hunting him. Legends surround the cave’s history, but the reality is it was primarily used by a local brewery to store beer barrels because of its consistently cool temperatures. It became Party Central during the 1960s with lots of parties held there, including concerts. Today, you can tour the cave and learn its lore. With an uneven surface, you’ll need to be careful navigating it.

NEBRASKA CITY

The Keeping Room

The Keeping Room in downtown Nebraska City is a collection of antiques, accessories and home decor with a side of food and wine. An antique saloon counter anchors the store’s main floor. Named for colonial period rooms, a keeping room was located near the kitchen and offered a warm place for people to gather. The cafe features salads, sandwiches, wraps and delicious desserts.

AURORA

Susan’s Books and Gifts

Continuing the bookstore owner’s parents’ belief that if you pick up a book at noon, it will change your life by midnight, Susan’s Books and Gifts is a book lover’s destination. Thousands of used books, games and gifts await to find new homes. It’s easy to lose yourself in the store, simply by picking up a book, finding a seat and exploring the world through words and images. Odds are you’ll leave Susan’s with more than just a passport stamp.

RED CLOUD

Willa Cather Childhood Home

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author called Red Cloud home for most her life. With a bedroom in the attic, Cather – one of Nebraska’s best-known writers – ferociously read and wrote. After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and beginning her writing career, Cather based characters on people she knew in Red Cloud. After collecting your stamp at the National Willa Cather Center, enjoy a tour of key Cather attractions in town, including both Cather family homes.

FAN FAVORITES

Visit Nebraska added 15 bonus stops, fan favorites over the years.

TEKAMAH

Master’s Hand

What began as a fundraiser for a homeschooled family has grown into one of Nebraska’s most-popular destinations. Master’s Hand grew from a candle-making project to a boutique store, restaurant and
chocolate shop extravaganza. Along the way, Susie Robison has added the “world’s best” cinnamon rolls, an apple orchard and summer sweet corn picking. Easter weekend, Master’s Hand hosts Spring Fling, along with the “largest Easter egg hunt west of the Mississippi River.”

OMAHA

Great Plains Black History Museum

Located in the historic Jewell Building – once home to the celebrated Dreamland Ballroom – the Great Plains Black History Museum provides a look at Omaha’s African American history. From the birthplace of Malcolm X to the impact of Black athletes and civil rights, the museum features an in-depth look at the Jim Crow era, as well as the successes of key Omahans. The Great Plains Black History Museum also hosts special exhibits throughout the year.

KEARNEY

Classic Car Collection

Any car enthusiast would be in high heaven at Kearney’s Classic Car Collection. With about 150 vintage cars – from a Ford Model-T to a DeLorean – this destination will entice you to explore its collection, displayed in unique settings, such as a drive-in, gas station or yesteryear downtown. The collection was donated by Bernie and Janice Taulborg, who didn’t want to break it up. Additional vehicles are on loan to the museum, located
along US Highway 30.

With 70 stops and an additional 15 bonus destinations, you can visit more than 60 communities across the state. Whether you collect one stamp or all 70 (plus the 15 bonus), Boomers will have fun exploring Nebraska or visiting old haunts.

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