While Nebraska is often garnered as a “flyover state”, we have so much more to offer than cornfields and sprawling farmlands. In fact, Nebraska is home to spectacular national and state parks, natural wonders, interesting art installations, quaint small towns, and thriving cities—all of which are even more exciting in the fall!
If you’re on the hunt for some unique things to do in the Cornhusker State this season, we’ve got you covered. Below we rounded up some of our favorite, off-the-beaten-track, statewide fall activities—from exploring famous pumpkin patches and apple orchards to paying a visit to a famous clown museum. Have fun!
Due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the area and the Delta Variant, businesses may have made changes in their day-to-day operations. For the most up-to-date information, please click on links in the post below to make sure nothing has changed before you head out. And, as always, please continue to wear masks and social distance when possible.
Explore a haunted landmark
Whether you’re a believer of ghosts or not, there’s something exciting about exchanging spooky stories of the paranormal around a campfire. And here in Nebraska, we don’t have to look very far to find creepy tales! There are several famously haunted destinations across our beloved state, from hair-rising houses and cemeteries to mysterious mansions. Click here to explore a few of the most haunted landmarks in Nebraska and embark on a road trip to see the closest one!
If you don’t do anything else in Nebraska this fall, at least one visit to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna is a must. This iconic fall theme park has been serving the greater Omaha area for more than 37 years, offering a U-pick pumpkin patch, an apple orchard, delicious food and much (much!) more. In 2021, you can look forward to a Hay Rack Ride, a Lost Pumpkin Mine, Corn Mazes, Haunted Farmhouses and Trails, an Apple Education Barn, Barnyard Sports, a Petting Coral, a Barnyard Zipline, and over 35 more attractions, rides and games. Click here to explore everything they have to offer this season and to purchase your tickets.
Here in Nebraska, we are lucky enough to be surrounded by hundreds of miles of farmland, as well as state and national parks. But if you want to see the best fall leaves our state has to offer, you’ll want to pay Indian Cave State Park a visit. One of the most popular parks around, Indian Cave State Park spans more than 3,000 acres along the Missouri River. It has gained quite a reputation for its picturesque camping sites, as well as the 22 miles of gorgeous hiking and biking trails! In the fall the area comes even more alive, bathed in a swath of orange, red and yellow trees. Click here to explore their trail map online and to start planning your visit.
Located in North Platte, Dusty Trails is a recreation venue offering a wide variety of activities all year long! Their 2021 Pumpkin Fest, which you can enjoy every Saturday and Sunday throughout October, features every fall farm activity you can imagine from pumpkin decorating to gold panning, corn canons and horse-drawn wagon rides. The biggest draw to Dusty Trails in the fall, however, is their famous Hay Slide! Gather your children and plop them on one of Dusty Trails’ massive hay bails and send them flying down the slippery slope for a unique and unforgettable seasonal experience.
Glamping is a fun activity throughout Nebraska any time of year, but it’s extra special in the fall when the leaves are changing and the weather is just starting to cool down. There are plenty of spots to go “glamorous” camping throughout the state—from luxury cabins at some of our local vineyards to cozy yurts in some of our gorgeous state parks. We have a list of our favorite Nebraska glamping spots right here that are worth exploring!
Pet alpacas in Fort Calhoun
Located in the beautiful hills of Fort Calhoun, Alpacas of the Heartland is an adorable alpaca farm nestled on 13 acres of mixed grassland and woods. You are welcome to go visit with the alpacas and purchase special alpaca fiber products during specific times throughout October and November. You can make an appointment by calling (402) 669-6979.
For a fall activity you won’t soon forget, head to The Klown Kapital of Nebraska—Plainview this season. This adorable town is home to its very own Klown Doll Museum, which displays the largest collection of clowns in the world. The museum currently houses more than 7,000 clowns, creating an interesting, albeit slightly creepy, roadside attraction that draws thousands of visitors to the area every year.
Kayak the Niobrara
The 76 miles of the Niobrara National Scenic River winds through dramatic bluffs, incredible wildlife diversity, gorgeous waterfalls and world-class fossil resources, offering plenty of floating fun for everyone! While kayaking or rafting down the river is a beloved summer pastime for most, it is equally as beautiful in the fall—especially when the river is surrounded by local fall foliage. The National Park Service has a list of nearby rental companies where you can rent kayaks, tubes, canoes and more. Click here to learn more.
Located about 20 minutes north of Lincoln, Martin’s Hillside Orchard claims to be the place “where fall begins”. Here you can enjoy a plethora of fall activities from a kid-sized corn maze, a gourd maze, a straw tower, a climbing fort and a wildly popular tire mountain that kids will have a blast traversing. Click here to see what else awaits you at the orchard this season!
Imagine more than 200 vintage, antique and junk vendors selling their unique wares and furnishings alongside makers, food trucks and live bands. This is Junkstock! Located at a century-old horse farm in Waterloo, Nebraska, the fall festival will feature shopping, live music, delicious food, kid-friendly activities and more. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, it’s a can’t-miss event happening October 8-10th.
Wander around some of our cutest towns
There’s nothing better on a crisp fall day than wandering around a tiny town surrounded by brightly colored leaves. Nebraska is packed full of cute small towns you can (and should!) explore this season. Red Cloud, which is nestled on the Kansas border, offers quaint brick streets and several historic buildings. Ashland, located in between Lincoln and Omaha, offers plenty of original charm, historic buildings, modern cafes and art galleries. And McCook, which is settled in southwest Nebraska, offers a vibrant downtown, several amazing events and the Harvey P. Sutton House—a private residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Click here for a list of a few of our other favorite small towns near Omaha!
Ted & Wally’s has been an Omaha tradition since they opened their doors in the Old Market in 1984. They produce some of the most high-quality homemade ice cream in the area, made from scratch with fresh ingredients. In fact, Ted & Wally’s is the only ice cream parlor in Omaha that makes their ice cream completely from scratch (with cream, eggs and sugar) using antique machines. Every fall, they come up with a lineup of spectacular seasonal flavors like 2020’s Pumpkin French Toast. Follow them on Facebook for flavor updates and stop by whenever you’re in the area this season!
One of our favorite fall activities every year is apple picking! A day in the orchards gathering a fresh harvest is the perfect way to ring in the new season—and there’s no denying that apples straight from the tree just taste better. Thankfully, the gorgeous Nebraska countryside is filled with orchards and farms filled to the brim with juicy, crisp apples ripe for picking. Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City is a fantastic choice, where you can enjoy picking your own apples and exploring their farm market all season long! You can find their seasonal itinerary here.
This post was updated on September 1, 2020, to reflect current information. It’s never too early to start mapping out your fall adventures in the Omaha and Council Bluffs...This post was updated on September 1, 2020, to reflect current information. It’s never...This post was updated on September 1, 2020, to reflect current information. It’s never too early to start mapping out...This post was updated on September 1, 2020, to reflect current information. It’s never too early to start mapping out your fall adventures in the Omaha and Council Bluffs...
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