By Brian Jewell
Interstate 80 runs through the heart of Nebraska, connecting its eastern and western borders. It also connects some of the state’s best tourism opportunities, from Omaha to North Platte and beyond.
Situated squarely in America’s central plains, Nebraska offers a variety of distinctive opportunities for group travelers. Omaha brings big-city amenities; smaller communities throughout the state have their own history and charm. Groups can easily reach most of Nebraska’s notable destinations on an I-80 trip across the state.
As you travel Nebraska, you’ll find a blend of new developments and classic attractions awaiting your group. Omaha boasts a newly renovated aquarium, and the folks in small Steward have joined forces to create a big Christmas event.
In Hastings, visiting groups can learn about Nebraska’s history and its large populations of cranes. With a little bit of looking, visitors can find an impressive classic car collection inside a retail store in Kearney. And tourism folks in North Platte have created a new tour that gives participants a look at the state’s beef ranching heritage and its up-and-coming wine industry.
Beef and Wine
Nebraska has long been known as a producer of high-quality beef, but the state is also growing in recognition as a great producer of wine. In North Platte, the local convention and visitors bureau created a new tour experience that allows groups to experience both aspects of the area’s agricultural industry.
The new tour begins with an in-depth visit at the University of Nebraska Beef Research Farm. Guests will learn how ranchers produce Nebraska’s signature beef and meet researchers who are working on new techniques in agriculture and beef production.
Next, the tour takes groups to nearby Feather River Vineyards, one of the largest vineyards in Nebraska. Visitors tour the winery and get a chance to taste the wines made there, which are designed to reflect the area’s history and geological heritage. After the tasting, groups can have a meal created by an area chef, who pairs a special beef dish with a Feather River wine.
Cars at Cabela’s
You may know Cabela’s as a leading retailer of outdoor sporting goods; but in 2011 the Cabela’s store in Kearney opened an additional attraction: the Classic Car Collection.
The Classic Car Collection is a display of some 140 vintage automobiles from the 1900s to the 1980s. Billed as the largest car collection between Chicago and Denver, this treasure trove of vehicles was donated for public display by an Omaha resident who collected and restored many of the automobiles himself.
In addition to displaying the cars, this exhibition features numerous video and multimedia components. Each car in the collection was photographed extensively inside and out, and visitors can use iPads to see the detailed photos and view other information on the vehicles as they tour the exhibit. Visitors can also purchase a coffee table book that features the collection, as well as other auto memorabilia, at the on-site gift shop.