We love our communities! Every one has a little something special to see and experience, so this month we’re celebrating Nebraska City! It’s just a short drive south of Omaha and the home of Arbor Day, the Enchanted Arboretum, and (our favorite!) the annual Applejack Festival. Sometimes the smaller communities around us have the biggest personalities!
But we can’t give away too much here — read on to find out how charming this small town is and plan your visit!
Nebraska City Arbor Day Tradition
You’ve probably heard of Arbor Day — maybe you’ve even planted a few trees in celebration — but did you know Nebraska City is home to the national holiday? The first Arbor Day celebration was held in Nebraska City in 1872. On that first day, an estimated 1 million trees were planted just in the state of Nebraska. Since 1990, The Arbor Day Foundation has planted 60 million trees throughout our nation’s forests.
As a testament to Nebraska City’s history, trees are sort of the town mascot (and maybe Johnny Appleseed is our biggest hero), but we’re also fond of all the fresh grown apples, cherries, pears, peaches and more. When visiting this quaint town, you’re sure to find fresh made apple pies, ciders and jams around every corner!
Apple House Market at Arbor Day Farm, Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard and Union Orchard are a few of our favorite places to find delicious apple and fruit related products. Apple House Market even makes signature grape and apple wines, and hosts daily wine tastings on site!
Photos courtesy of Union Orchard, Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard and Apple House Market at Arbor Day Farm
While exploring Arbor Day Farm’s 260 acres of land, you can explore the Tree Adventure with interactive exhibits, watch a hive of honeybees in action and climb into a 50-foot tall treehouse! The Farm also provides a Discovery Ride which takes visitors through the nature and beauty of the entire acreage. At the end of the day, everyone can take their own tree home from Lied Greenhouse to plant in celebration of Nebraska City’s history and trees.
An Enchanted Arboretum
Enchanted Arboretum began in 2012 with 21 tree sculptures designed and painted by artists around the country. While professional artists set to work on their creations, local students got to work on their own. Of all the student trees, which consisted of 46 4-foot trees designed by 1st – 8th graders and 25 6-foot trees designed by high schoolers, were chosen to be a part of the arboretum. Many of these trees are on display round Nebraska City, including inside and outside local businesses and city offices!
The trees are a testament to Nebraska City heritage and an effort to creatively promote the town as “Arbor Day’s Hometown — Where Great Ideas Grow.”
Photo courtesy of Enchanted Arboretum
What to do in Nebraska City
While we love our trees and our fruits, Nebraska City isn’t all trees, all the time. There are so many things to do and places to visit in this quaint little town!
We recommend starting your day with a pick-me-up from Scooter’s Coffee. The coffee house began in Bellevue, NE, and roasts their own beans to perfection. If you’re looking for a special treat, give their Turtle Latte a try!
If you’re shopping for souvenirs outside of fresh fruit inspired goods, Chocolate Dreams and Sweet Things is the cutest (and most delicious!) sweet shop in town. WilliNilli features art by local artist Susanne Williams. She sells beautiful paintings as well as clothing, jewelry and bags perfect for gifts and souvenirs.
Photos courtesy of Scooter’s Coffee and Chocolate Dreams and Sweet Things
No matter your age, don’t miss TTM Toys. They sell toys, games, puzzles and more and also have an awesome toy museum!
When you get hungry, stop by The Keeping Room for a snack, sweet treat or meal. Functioning as both a craft shop and a restaurant, The Keeping Room serves some of the best paninis and sandwiches in town. For a fancier lunch or dinner, we recommend the Timber Dining Room at Lied Lodge. They serve locally sourced and inspired food in their beautiful lodge style dining room. Parker’s Smokehouse serves casual BBQ fare for lunch and dinner. Try their Catfish Cajun Strips for a real treat!
Photos courtesy of Timber Dining Room at Lied Lodge and Parker’s Smokehouse
At the end of the day, Dinty Moore’s is the best place in town to grab a drink and they have been since 1906! Grab a beer and try their warm pretzel bites.
Annual Events in Nebraska City
If you’re unsure about when to visit Nebraska City, there are a couple events you certainly don’t want to miss!
The Annual Applejack Festival is a celebration of the apple harvest throughout the entire city, but most enthusiastically at Arbor Day Farm. You can pick your own apples, drink cider, and eat apple pie, apple cider donuts and apple slushies. You’ll definitely get your apple fix for the day and have plenty of goodies to take home with you!
Throughout Nebraska City you can see live music, a community parade, street dancers, craft shows and vintage car displays. The 2016 festival will be September 16-18 and you don’t want to miss it! USA Today named it one of the top 10 Fall Harvest Festivals in America.
Photos courtesy of Nebraska City Chamber of Commerce
The Apple Blossom Festival is a celebration of spring and the blossoming trees and lilac bushes! For three consecutive weekends, from Arbor Day through Mother’s Day, Nebraska City is the place to be to participate in community events, the Apple Blossom Ball and the Arbor Day 5k/10k. Just pack some allergy medicine, some sun block, and you’re all set for a fun Nebraska City tradition!
Lemon Days is a city-wide celebration of bargains every year near the end of July. Self proclaimed “the world’s biggest sidewalk sale based in southeastern Nebraska,” the weekend is packed with local businesses clearing their shelves and sending their “sweet deals” to the sidewalk. You’ll be able to explore new local shops, pick fruit, savor locally made wines and visit the area’s best farmers’ markets. If you’re lucky, you may even find a few lemonade stands around town!
What do you love about Nebraska City?
Share your favorite places and things to do in Nebraska City with us!