What Is Nebraska Known For?

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Nicknamed the “Cornhusker State”, Nebraska is a Midwest state renowned for agricultural, wide open plains and its role in the success of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, with Nebraska producing everything from a former US President to one of the most popular summertime soda drinks.

Nebraska is home to two major urban centres in Lincoln and Omaha, both of which are in the state’s eastern region and both have their fair share of cultural, historic and natural attractions. Despite being regarded by many as a flyover state, the Cornhusker State continues to shine bright nationally and internationally, hosting the annual college baseball World Series as well being home to the largest indoor desert in the world.

What is Nebraska known for?

1- Scotts Bluff National Monument

wagon in front of scotts bluff
What is Nebraska known for? Scotts Bluff is one of the monuments that comes immediately to mind.

Soaring more than 800 feet (244 m) above the flat prairie landscapes of northwest Nebraska, the Scotts Bluff National Monument is a historically significant natural attraction which served as a vital visual landmark along the Oregon Trail.

The monument’s easy-to-spot nature made it a popular navigational point of reference for Native Americans and Oregon Trail pioneers, and is a destination renowned for its archaeological and geological history and diversity.

Famous for being one of the Great Plains’ most memorable landmarks, the Scotts Bluff National Monument covers an area of more than 3,000 acres (1,214 ha) and is perhaps the Cornhusker State’s best-known natural feature.

Also check out the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument in Kearney.


2- Omaha

Morning In Omaha
Omaha is the city Nebraska is best known for.

The most populous city in the Cornhusker State, Omaha is a buzzing urban centre in eastern Nebraska home to many of the state’s best cultural, historic and entertainment options.

Omaha’s roots can be traced back to when the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed by what is today downtown Omaha in 1804 on their way West, however, it wasn’t until 1854 that the official settlement of Omaha began with help from the US government.

The city is home to a permanent population of over 480,000 full-time residents and is the state’s largest economic centre, with global conglomerates such as Berkshire Hathaway headquartered in this Midwest state capital.

Among Omaha’s attractions are the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge and the Joslyn Art Museum, making Omaha one of Nebraska’s leading metros.

3- Czech Culture

Festival Cakes And A Cup Of Coffee
The Prague Kolache Festival is one of the festivals Nebraska is known for.

Hosted every year in the small Nebraska village of Prague about 63 miles (101 km) outside Omaha, the Prague Kolache Festival celebrates the traditional dance, polka music and food of the region’s large Czech-descent population.

The Prague Kolache Festival in Nebraska is one of the largest Kolache festivals in the world and attracts thousands of visitors every year to sample a range of traditional Czech Kolaches, a pastry treat that’s typically stuffed with cream cheese or fruit.

The festival is on the first weekend of September and is among the most unique events one can experience in eastern Nebraska, paying homage to the various cultures and backgrounds that helped settle and build Nebraska into the productive Midwest destination it is today.

4- Kool-Aid

Kool-aid is one of the inventions Nebraska is known for.

A staple drink for millions of Americans growing up, Kool-Aid is a simple yet effective thirst quencher that was invented in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1927 by Edwin Perkins.

Perkins stumbled upon Kool-Aid when he began removing the water from a liquid concentrate called “Fruit Smack” in his mother’s kitchen, which left Perkins with a fine powdered drink mix he named “Kool-Aid”.

Production was moved from Hastings, Nebraska to Chicago, Illinois in 1931, four years after Perkins first discovered Kool-Aid, with Kool-Aid initially only available in six flavours: Cherry, Raspberry, Lemon-Lime, Grape, Strawberry and Orange.

Today, Kool-Aid is available in dozens of different flavours around the world and remains most popular in Nebraska, where the summertime beverage was declared Nebraska’s official soft drink in 1998.

5- The Pony Express

Pony Express Trail Sign
The Pony Express is something Nebraska is known for.

One of the most iconic features of the Wild West era of the mid-1800s is certainly the Pony Express, a legendary albeit short-lived express mail delivery service which operated between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California.

The express service ran from April 3, 1860, until October 26, 1861, and utilised a cross-country network of relay horses and horseback riders to carry mail and packages from the East Coast to the West Coast in under 10 days.

The service was revolutionary for its time and was the most direct method of communication between the Eastern and the Western United States until the first transcontinental telegraph system was introduced on October 24, 1861, effectively ending the Pony Express virtually overnight.

With several stopping points in Nebraska, the Pony Express demonstrated that year-round transcontinental communication was viable during the mid-1800s and is an integral moment of 19th-century Nebraska that remains romanticised in pop culture today.

6- Lincoln

aerial view of Lincoln.
Lincoln is one of the cities Nebraska is known for.

The capital city of Nebraska, Lincoln was first settled in 1854 as the city of Lancaster before being renamed in honour of former US President Abraham Lincoln after his passing in 1865.

Lincoln is just 58 miles (93 km) outside downtown Omaha and is popular for being the home of the University of Nebraska’s main campus, the leading educational institution in the Cornhusker State and one of the most prestigious research institutions in the entire Midwest.

Despite not being the most populated city in Nebraska, Lincoln enjoys its fair share of top-notch attractions and unique places, such as the Nebraska State Capitol, the University of Nebraska State Museum and Memorial Stadium, the official home of the university’s Cornhuskers football program.

It’s a fun place to be at Christmas time.

7- Wild West Culture

As a former frontier state, Nebraska has had its fair share of Wild West shootouts and colourful frontier characters, making the Cornhusker a fascinating place to discover for anyone seeking iconic Wild West landscapes and a slice of what life was like along the Old West of the mid-1800s.

The Wild West of yesteryear can still be experienced throughout large parts of modern-day Nebraska, albeit in a more touristy way, thanks to the state’s thriving cattle-ranching culture, Native American roots and authentic Old West landmarks and attractions.

“Buffalo Bill” Cody, the Pony Express, cowboys and still-standing Old West saloons are just some of the many Wild West figures, events and places with direct ties to modern-day Nebraska, making it among the Cornhusker State’s greatest claims to fame.

8- The Reuben Sandwich

Reuben Sandwich
The Reuben sandwich is a food Nebraska known for.

According to urban legend, the popular Reuben Sandwich was invented in Omaha, Nebraska by Reuben Kulakofsky, a Lithuanian-born Jewish grocer who specifically asked for a corned beef and sauerkraut sandwich at his weekly Blackstone Hotel poker game between 1920 and 1935.

Whether or not the Reuben Sandwich was indeed invented in Nebraska remains a mystery, however, what is undeniable is how tasty this uniquely American sandwich is, with a classic Reuben made with corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, Russian or Thousand Island dressing and two slices of rye bread.

The City of Omaha officially declared 14 March as “The Reuben Sandwich Day”, with the popular deli sandwich often associated with typical kosher-style foods despite not being a kosher meal.

The Reuben Sandwich has undergone countless reinventions and variations since its inception, most notably into vegetarian and vegan-friendly versions, kosher-friendly versions, a Montreal-style Reuben and the Walleye Reuben, which swaps corned beef with freshly caught walleye fish.

9- Agricultural

Nebraska Corn Field In The Summer Time
Agriculture is what Nebraska is best known for. Pictured here is a corn field.

In a region that’s widely known as the heartland of the United States, Nebraska isn’t nicknamed the “Cornhusker State” for no reason, with agriculture the largest employer and economic boon in Nebraska.

Since Nebraska is among the least densely populated states in the nation, there’s plenty of arable farmland available across the Cornhusker State to grow corn, wheat and soybeans, as well as run large livestock ranches producing beef and pork.

The state’s productive yearly yields have earned Nebraska the reputation as one of the nation’s largest suppliers of grains and meat, with agriculture playing an integral part in Nebraska’s culture, history and people.

10- Being Part of the Great American Desert

Despite having some of the most productive farmland in the United States, a significant part of Nebraska lies within the Great American Desert, a large arid area which stretches from the Dakotas in the north to Texas in the south.

The term “Great American Desert” was originally coined in 1820 following Stephen H. Long’s scientific expedition westward, becoming the first to map the lands making up the High Plains region.

Initially acquired in 1903 by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase, the Great American Desert has been expanded in more recent decades to include states in the Southwest such as New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California in addition to the states making up the High Plains.

11- 100,000 Miles of Rivers

aerial view of the Dismal River
The Dismal River is one of the rivers in Nebraska.

Nebraska might be best known for its desert-like landscapes and rolling farmland, however, it’s the state’s 100,000+ miles (160,000 km) of rivers and waterways which feed Nebraska’s fertile soil and growing cities.

Both the Missouri and Platte Rivers, two of the longest rivers in the United States, run through the state of Nebraska, with thousands of smaller tributaries and streams combining to give the Cornhusker State one of the longest waterway networks of any state in the United States.

The state’s rivers and streams are stocked with bountiful fish populations year-round and are crucial to the state’s agricultural sector and biodiversity, making them among the most iconic features of Nebraska that very few visitors to the Cornhusker State are aware of.

12- College Baseball World Series

Nebraska Baseball
Baseball is the sport the state of Nebraska known for.

The College Baseball World Series, or the NCAA Men’s College World Series as it is officially titled, is an annual collegiate baseball tournament hosted in Omaha every June that pits the top 2 Division I college baseball teams against one another to crown the best of the best in the nation.

The event takes place right after the 64-team NCAA Division I Baseball Championship and was first organised in 1947, with Omaha hosting the annual baseball tournament since 1950.

The Charles Schwab Field Omaha in Nebraska’s largest city has served as the series’ playing surface since 2011 and attracts sell-out crowds whenever the NCAA Men’s College World Series rolls into town, making it one of the greatest sporting events one can enjoy in Nebraska.

13- The Nebraska State Fair

At The Fair
Nebraska State Fair is a major event Nebraska is known for.

The Nebraska State Fair is a lively 11-day celebration organised in Grand Island every year that without a doubt the single biggest event in the Cornhusker State, attracting crowds of well over 250,000 festivalgoers annually.

First organised in 1859, the Nebraska State Fair is among the largest state fairs in the Midwest in terms of attendance numbers and is accompanied by a myriad of live entertainment, food and amusement options.

Initially organised to pay tribute to the state’s productive agricultural yields and the Cornhusker farming spirit, the state fair has grown into one of Nebraska’s biggest tourist attractions and can be experienced roughly 100 miles (160 km) outside downtown Lincoln.

14- The Birthplace of President Gerald R. Ford

The Flag Of The US State Of Nebraska
What is Nebraska known for?

One of Nebraska’s most famous sons is certainly the 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford Jr., who was born in Omaha, Nebraska on 14 July 1913.

Ford spent most of his formative years growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is therefore claimed by both states as their own, with Ford the only US President to date never to have been elected to either the Presidency or Vice Presidency roles.

One of the best places to learn more about President Ford’s life and legacy is at the Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens in Omaha, which tells the story of how Ford assumed the presidency from Richard Nixon following the Watergate fiasco.

15- The Henry Doorly Zoo

In downtown Omaha, the state-of-the-art Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a world-class conservation, educational and research space which consistently ranks as one of the best zoos in the world.

The Henry Doorly Zoo first opened in 1894 and has since developed into a sprawling zoological park covering more than 130 acres (53 ha) that regularly attracts well over two million visitors through its doors every year.

Home to a wide variety of animals, some of which garnered national and international fame, the zoo is best known for its Desert Dome exhibit, which is one of the world’s largest indoor deserts under the world’s largest glazed geodesic dome.

As one of the Midwest’s finest tourist attractions, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is one of Omaha’s top landmarks.

Map Of United States With Nebraska Highlight

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Jessica Shaw
Jessica Shaw is a storyteller who has lived in four U.S. states - Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and Illinois - and has visited many others. She loves history and nature and is a big fan of road tripping.