Nebraska holds an interesting dichotomy in which it has some amazing modern spots hidden inside some equally (amazing) historical spaces. Nebraska does not try to distance itself from its agricultural base either, instead, supporting it with agri/ecotourism like the Nebraska Tourism Commission did last year. Even the music to come out of places like Saddle Creek Records in Omaha are both reminiscent of older folk tradition mixed with modern instrumentation. The point is that Nebraska embraces itself and shows the most true side of itself that it can without obscuring the culture that built it.
Midwest Meetings talked with Lisa Burke of the North Platte/Lincoln CVB and she told us of wonderful and historic areas, “For free entertainment, North Platters often head to Cody Park. The beautiful grounds, resident animals, playgrounds, and the Cody Park Railroad Museum combine to provide hours of entertainment,” or take into consideration the new Prairie Arts Center in the historic 1913 Federal building that houses local artists as well as traveling exhibits all free to the public.
If Guinness World Record-class operation are of interest to your group, then take a trip to Union Pacific Railroad’s Bailey Yard. “This massive logistical operation can be experienced by a visit to the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center featuring viewing decks on the 7th and 8th floors.” It’s not everyday that you get to see tons of steel rolling flawlessly through sprawling curls of track that succinctly squeak and groan as they come to nest in the yard.
Not too far from all that is the adventure of Omaha, we had a chance to talk to Deborah Ward of the Omaha CVB and she suggests that you “explore the Joslyn Art Museum – this pink marble masterpiece is filled with more than 11,000 works of art from Monet, Rembrandt, Renoir, and Pollock. And it’s all free.” Not many things can encompass the phrase, “the best things in life are free” better than fine art at the price of pocket lint.
The famous Omaha Steaks are worth making a pilgrimage to. Steaks can’t be done much better than in Omaha and pound for pound these steaks are the best in the Midwest. We’ve been told of this Mecca of Meat, “Omaha, of course is known for steak, so if you’re looking for a marbled slice of decadence, you’ve come to the right place.” If perfectly seared slabs of succulence aren’t exactly your thing (or if you’ve eaten nothing but steak for days) then this next tidbit of trivia from Deborah Ward is for you. “Did you know Omaha is also the home of the Reuben sandwich…(don’t listen to those New Yorkers). It was invented back in the 1920s during a late night poker game at the Blackstone Hotel – and directly across from where that hotel used to stand is the Crescent Moon, it’s a bar and grill that still uses the original Reuben recipe… yum!”
While going through staples of Omaha we cannot ignore the CenturyLink Center which sees musical acts from Black Sabbath to Mumford & Sons and championship sports from NCAA Volleyball to their very own Creighton Bluejays Basketball. There always seems to be something going on, if not in the Arena then in the Convention Center which has an exhibit hall of 194,000 sq. ft. with configurations possible for events that don’t need the vast swath of area. With ballroom spaces and meeting rooms aplenty to go with the other amenities, it does not seem like there’s much else needed except some beds, they’ll have you covered there as well!
39,000 sq. ft. of flexible conference space and many luxury attractions including a health club and spa are attached by sky bridge to the CenturyLink Center by the Hilton Omaha. If you’ve been out on the convention floor all day and just want to melt into something, then take into consideration the salt water whirlpool to melt away the day. For those people still wanting to beat their feet on the Omaha concrete then this hotel is within walking distance to the TD Ameritrade Ballpark and tours from the Omaha MECA which is the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority. On top of the banquet space, the attached arena, and the salt water pool, this whole operation is just minutes away from the Eppley Airfield Airport for those on a strict schedule.
Though the majesty of the natural wonders of the world are mystifying in their own right there are man-made marvels that are equally magnificent. There are only a few nostalgic highway Americana spots left in this country and one of them just happens to be in Alliance, Nebraska. Carhenge is a vehicular reconstruction of the famed Stonehenge, there aren’t many things as patriotic as the American automobile poised in the heartland of the ol’ US of A paying homage to the creator’s father who, for a time, lived in England.
Nebraska is home to a good deal of entertaining spots and historic locations. The Omaha Zoo has the world’s largest indoor desert located under the worlds largest glazed geodesic dome. Johnny Carson’s hometown Norfolk, NE has some wonderful spots for remembering the Tonight Show titan and honoring his broadcast legacy. If you peak through the prairie we’re sure you’ll find the perfect spot to peruse after a long convention.