Ever since childhood, Nebraska City has meant apples and trees to me.
You may think you know all there is to know about the small Nebraska city – you know, “Seen one orchard, seen them all” – but I’ve found some spots there during a recent visit that were new to me.
If you’ve got a free day coming up, plan a little Nebraska City adventure for your family. It’s only 45 minutes away, after all.
Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure
The first time we took Farley to Nebraska City, we skipped the Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure, scoffing at the price and the fact we could see apple trees for free elsewhere in town.
We ponied up the admission fee during our last visit and it was totally worth it.
Our favorite spots included:
The Outdoor Classroom
The tree house and the cabin of activities next to it
All the things to play on
And the backwoods trail
If you’re kids are sufficiently walking on their own, try out the trail. It’s not stroller-friendly.
There’s a neat outdoor art exhibit that has you looking for all sorts of wooden cutouts of birds. The kids loved hunting for them.
There are also bridges and other play structures to explore.
Leave plenty of time for that hike, and bring along water, treats and bug spray.
There was a sign suggesting how long the hike should take – I think it said 30 minutes – but with kids who like to stop and look at things, plan on doubling that.
We spent more time at the Tree Adventure than I had anticipated – I couldn’t get the kids to leave the Outdoor Classroom.
Tip: Each paid admission gets you a seedling to plant. Our tickets each had a coupon for a free slice of apple pie at the Lied Lodge. Plan accordingly. 🙂
If you go
Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure
Where: 2611 Arbor Ave.. Nebraska City, Neb.
When: Summer hours are Mondays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Adults are $7, kids 3-12 are $5 and kids 2 and younger are FREE. Hayrack ride is extra.
Arbor Lodge Historical Park (The Free Stuff)
Nebraska City is home to Arbor Day, and thusly, Arbor Lodge, which is located inside Arbor Lodge Historical Park. The mansion of J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day, is open for tours. There is admission into the 52-room mansion, but you’re free to explore the 72-acre park and enjoy the playground.
Having just been at the Tree Adventure nearby, my kids were in no shape to traipse through a historic home. Even if they were squeaky clean, we still wouldn’t go in at this point in time. History stuff is lost on them so I’m not paying until I know they’re listening to me. 🙂
We checked out the carriage house behind the mansion – that’s free. There’s also a log cabin and hiking trail.
The playground was the highlight for the kids, naturally.
Notice the tree theme even at the playground?
If you go
Arbor Lodge State Historical Park
Where: 2600 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, Neb.
When: Mansion hours are Mondays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; park is open year round
Cost (to tour the mansion): Adults are $7, kids 3-12 are $4 and kids 2 and younger are FREE
About those apples
You pretty much always have to visit an apple orchard when you’re there, amiright?
Here are the 4 apple orchard/vineyards to see:
– Arbor Day Farm has a lovely little shop, with a wine tasting room and cafe. You can explore some of the grounds without having to pay admission for the tree adventure.
– Union Orchard is the one you see first when you drive from Omaha to Nebraska City. You’ll find all sorts of apple products there, and it’s a convenient location to stop in on your way out of town.
– Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard is the big one, with a large property to explore. We stop there to get cider for the kid and a sweet white wine for us. Don’t be surprised to find loads of tour busses parked out front.
– Central Apple Market and Country Store – Never been here, but figured I’d list it for you.
Oh My! Omaha Facebook Followers’ Tips
I asked around for your ideas on not-to-miss Nebraska City spots and here’s what some of you shared:
Mary Eileen – John Brown’s cave and the Underground Railroad, Arbor Day Lodge, Ride the Trolley, The Whispering Bench, Orchards, Outlet Mall, Apple Jack Festival
Jessica – Outlet Mall!
Editor’s note: That outlet mall, in case you’re wondering, is called Factory Stores of America, and it’s located at 1001 Nebraska State Hwy. 2.