Family activities and fall color star in the hometown of Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton. The best time to visit is during the fall apple harvest and specifically, if you don't mind crowds, during the annual Applejack Festival in September.

It's (mostly) all about the trees in Nebraska City, also known as the Home of Arbor Day. Visitors who appreciate the simple beauty of historic bur oaks and apple orchards will find a peaceful retreat among the Arbor Day Foundation's acreage and attractions. The city also features a small but vibrant downtown with antiques stores and boutiques.

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure
Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure
| Credit: Jay Wilde

Day One

At Arbor Day Farm, historic barns, a cafe, a market and the family-friendly Tree Adventure (with a soaring tree house) offer plenty to explore. In the fall, visitors can pick and buy bags of apples and enjoy a 20-acre corn maze.

Nebraska City, Nebraska , Arbor Lodge State Historical Park
J. Sterling Morton mansion
| Credit: Ginger Crichton

For the afternoon, head to Arbor Lodge State Historical Park across the street for a tour of the 52-room mansion that once belonged to Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton. The house had just four rooms when it was built in 1855, but it was expanded and later finished by Morton's son Joy, founder of the Morton Salt Company. The interior features Victorian- and Empire-style furnishings and a Tiffany glass skylight. The 72-acre estate includes a formal rose garden.

Lied Lodge and Conference Center
Lied Lodge
| Credit: Jay Wilde

Spend the night at Lied Lodge and Conference Center. The Frank Lloyd Wright-style hotel, with a stunning lobby, offers an on-site arboretum and Olympic-size swimming pool. Known for its buffets, the Timber Dining Room is the town's best restaurant; have dinner there.

Nebraska City, Nebraska
Kimmel Orchard Cider Doughnuts
| Credit: Ginger Crichton

Day Two

Visit Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard, best known for apple picking and cider doughnuts. The store includes a wine bar for tasting the private label selections and an array of ciders, pies, salsas and other food products.

Nebraska City's Central Avenue is a perfect location to fuel up for antique and boutique shopping at local stores.

If you're traveling with kids, make a short stop at the Nebraska City Museum of Firefighting and Education Center, where children can play dress up on a 1966 American LaFrance engine.

Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard and Winery.
Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard and Winery
| Credit: Jay Wilde

To round out your day, head to the tiny village of Brownville about 30 miles southeast of Nebraska City, where you can visit Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard and Winery or learn about Missouri River history on a dinner cruise aboard the Spirit of Brownville Cruise Boat (summer weekends only).

Special Events

Nebraska City goes all out for the Applejack Festival in September, Christmas celebrations and Arbor Day festivities. Check Arbor Day Farm's Events page or Go Nebraska City's calendar for more information.