If your summer travel plans including crossing the Great Plains, you might be surprised to discover that Nebraska has a lot to offer. Our family recently drove through Nebraska en route to Chicago via I-80 and made the time to visit several museums along the way. Not only were these exhibitions first rate, we learned a lot about Nebraska as well.
Three of these museums are located right off Interstate 80 and are well worth exploring. Your family will be glad you did.
Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center, North Platte
If your family loves trains, the Gold Spike Tower and Visitor Center is a must-see attraction for all ages. Located in North Platte at 1249 N. Homestead Rd, this amazing facility has an 8 story observation center which overlooks the world’s largest rail yard. Your family can watch hundreds of trains entering and leaving the Bailey Yard each day, and even observe the cars as they are pushed over the “hump” for reclassification towards their final destination.
The downstairs has a small museum and gift shop with lots of great souvenirs for train collectors. Visit the Golden Spike Tower website for hours, directions, and more.
Time: Plan a minimum of 60 minutes
Great Platte River Road Archway, Kearney
It’s hard to miss this award winning museum as it spans Interstate 80 at Exit 272 in Kearney. This interactive museum has life size dioramas, stunning audiovisual effects, reinactors, and gorgeous murals that follow the development of the American West. The fun doesn’t stop indoors – outside, kids can explore the fort-like TrailBlaze Maze and a Cultural Trail featuring a sod house and an Native American earth lodge.
The Archway is regarded as one of the leading school kid museums in the US (though adults will love it too!) and has a nice sized gift shop, picnic grounds, and plenty of free parking. Visit Archway.com for summer hours, admission prices, directions, and other visitor information.
Time: Plan for a minimum of 2 hours
Durham Museum, Omaha
Omaha’s art deco Union Station provides the backdrop for the Durham Museum, located in Omaha at 801 S. 10th Street. This amazing museum has an excellent collection of restored rail cars to explore, dozens of recreated 1940s era storefronts which tell the history of Omaha and Nebraska, the station’s original soda fountain (serving ice cream, phosphates, sodas and more), and a first rate gift shop in what used to be the ticket office. Visit Durham Museum.org for hours, admission prices, schedules and more.
Time: Plan for a minimum of 2 hours.