Best Free Midwest Attractions: Nebraska
Visit for free in Omaha
Boys Town, Omaha Immortalized in a classic 1938 film, Boys Town is still a refuge for troubled youth. Tour the garden, chapels, Hall of History and Father Flanagan House museum (left).
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha Artists in residence showcase work in a converted Old Market warehouse.
- Photo: Courtesy of Omaha CVB
An instant icon
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, Omaha A 3,000-foot-long lighted span (one of the world's longest for pedestrians) links Omaha and Council Bluffs, soaring 52 feet above the Missouri River. Twin towers and a cable design marked it as an instant icon when it opened in 2008.
Pioneers across the prairie
Homestead National Monument of America, Beatrice Get an in-depth look at the 1862 Homestead Act that granted more than 270 million acres (about 10 percent of the United States) to pioneers. Check out interactive exhibits and videos at the heritage center, then see a homesteader’s cabin surrounded by restored prairie. nps.gov
Wildlife near Valentine
Valentine National Wildlife Refuge (pictured) Grasslands surround sand-bottom lakes at this designated National Natural Landmark 20 miles south of Valentine. Don't miss the prairie chickens' famed springtime mating dance. fws.gov
Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, Valentine Six major plant communities converge on 19,000 acres, perfect for hundreds of bird species, bison, elk and 48 other mammal species. Drive the 3 1/2-mile auto tour; maps available at the visitors center. The refuge is about 5 miles east of Valentine. fws.gov
Free attractions in Lincoln
Nebraska State Capitol (pictured) Completed in 1932, the ornately decorated Capitol in Lincoln was the first to depart from duplicating the U.S. Capitol. A 15-story office tower anchors the building. capitol.nebraska.gov
Sheldon Museum of Art Inspired by ancient Greek temples, this midcentury modern building designed by Philip Johnson holds 12,000 pieces spanning Mary Cassatt to Andy Warhol. sheldonartmuseum.org
- Courtesy of D. Curran and Nebraska's Department of Development
More free attractions in Nebraska
Carhenge, Alliance (pictured) A ghostly assemblage of gray metal— 39 automobiles mimicking the rocks of Stonehenge—rises in Alliance, 57 miles northeast of Scottsbluff. carhenge.com
Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney Nearly 6,000 artworks in MONA’s collection in Kearney focus on the state’s heritage through paintings, photos, quilts and sculptures. mona.unk.edu
Frank House, Kearney Volunteers lead tours of the 1889 mansion at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. A 10-foot-tall Tiffany window brightens the red sandstone building. www.unk.edu
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument Learn the history of the area’s Native Americans and about past and present wildlife (47 miles north of Scottsbluff). nps.gov