Looking for somewhere to spend your next holiday but are limited when it comes to your budget? That may not be such a bad thing. After all, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy yourself. The state was once called the Great American Desert, but Nebraska is known for so much more than that. Stunning natural attractions like the rock formations of the Pan Handle, the huge dunes of the Sand Hills, and the prairies of the Great Plains are all excellent reasons to visit. And we haven’t even gotten to the cities yet!
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some great ideas on how to visit Nebraska on a budget. They’ll not only be kind to your wallet, but they’ll help you create some awesome and unforgettable memories of your trip to the Cornhusker State!
Take Advantage of Free Activities in the Capital, Lincoln
There’s no better place to start your Nebraska adventure than the state capital Lincoln. This atmospheric and cool university town is easily recognized by its most prominent symbol, the State Capitol. This beautiful building costs absolutely nothing to enter, and it’s a fabulous place to learn more about Nebraska’s history. A knowledgeable and friendly guide can tell you about the building’s more unusual corners and most interesting secrets!
The free fun doesn’t end there though. After that, why not head onto Pioneers Park? If you’ve really thought ahead and planned, pick up some food from a local market or supermarket and prepare a picnic. In the summer sun, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the open green areas, the lake, and the trees dotted all around the park. If nature’s your thing, continue onto the Sunken Gardens, which are on a National Geographic list of the Best Gardens to visit in the USA and Canada! There’s plenty to do in Lincoln that won’t put much strain on your wallet too. For example, Morris Hall is the largest natural history museum in the entire state. A family of 4 can spend a day learning fascinating facts and enjoying intriguing exhibits for under $15. So, you’ll still hopefully have some cash left over for a souvenir from the gift shop or some time in the planetarium – which is well worth it!
Check Out the Cool Attractions in Omaha
Although Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska, Omaha is a much bigger city. Almost half a million people live here! After checking in to a hotel or an Airbnb (neither will make too big a dent in your wallet), head downtown. It’s here that the bulk of Nebraska’s low priced and free activities are based, many of them being very artistic and creative. Visit the free exhibitions at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. These regularly change but almost always have work from local, national, and international artists in a variety of different media. If you like art but contemporary is a bit too modern, not to worry. You can always head to the Joslyn Art Museum instead. This cool art deco building has a beautiful fountain in its courtyard, which is just the start of a fun and free day! The Riverfront is a great place when the weather’s good. There are lots of community events here too, what a way to get to know local life in Omaha!
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All this free stuff might mean that you’re able to treat yourself to a souvenir or some tasty food. If that’s the case, then try out the Old Market. Lots of the businesses in here are unique, and you’ll certainly end up with a cool and memorable memento of your trip.
Camp Out and Get to Know the Pan Handle
If cities aren’t really your thing, then not to worry! Get out and explore the Great Outdoors in Nebraska’s Pan Handle. The more time you have, the more money you’ll save. Fort Robinson is probably your best base for exploring the area. You can find low priced accommodation options here and plenty to do.
No trip to the Pan Handle is complete if you haven’t visited the unusual and otherworldly rock formations. Try Toadstool Geologic Park to see some of the best, which your vehicle will be permitted to enter for $3 per day or $5 if you choose to camp. Other recommended places for your visit are Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, The Hudson Meng Bison Kill Site, and the Museum of Fur Trade in Chadron (this one is also free). These varied geological and cultural attractions are certainly worth putting on your itinerary!
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If you’re planning a trip like this then you’ll need a State Park pass. There are multiple State Parks around Nebraska and they all offer fair prices for entering in your car or RV. $6 per day is nothing split between multiple passengers—you’ll hardly even notice it gone from your wallet!
If you’re thinking of a road trip in Nebraska, then it may be better to rent an RV. Especially if you’re traveling with a group of friends. This enables you to split the costs of gas and it also means you don’t have to splash out extra on places to stay (although state parks will have a camping fee for the night). RVs are also a super cool and memorable way to travel!
Pick the Perfect Place to Stay
Getting somewhere great to stay doesn’t have to cost the earth. And Nebraska has its fair share of cool vacation rentals, hotels, and camping spots (if you’re staying out of town). A family or a group of friends will be much better off renting an entire place on Airbnb and splitting the costs than each paying for their own separate (or even sharing) hotel rooms. At the same time, rather than renting an entire place, a couple or a solo traveler will be better off checking out the prices of vacation rentals in Omaha, Lincoln, and Council Bluffs to get the best value for money.
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