Total Mileage/Average drive time
206 miles, 6 hours, 16 minutes
Tour the Nebraska plains along I-80, starting in Nebraska City and heading west through Lincoln, York and North Platte to Sidney. The plains route stretches past a pleasing hodgepodge of museums, apple orchards, vineyards, endangered zoo animals, a living history farm, a famous ranch and a "Golden Spike" that overlooks railway yards.
1) Nebraska City
At Nebraska City Museum of Firefighting, you can dress up in fire gear and step onto a real fire engine. An Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure offers chances to climb up a 50-foot-high tree house and take free seedlings to plant at home. When you visit Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard in Southeast Nebraska's hills, you can sample the finest seasonal produce in the Missouri River valley. Follow in the footsteps of great explorers or see a replicated Native American Earth Lodge at the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Center.
49 miles, 5 minutes
See world-class fabric creations at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum and enjoy close encounters with penguins, camels, crocodiles and butterflies in a leafy botanical garden setting at Lincoln Children's Zoo, where one-third of the species are threatened or endangered. Learn about 12 centuries of human plains inhabitants at the Nebraska History Museum. View a top-rated collection of elephant fossils, and find out more about minerals, meteorites and sea monsters at University of Nebraska State Museum of Natural History and Mueller Planetarium
53 miles, 56 minutes
The town of York at the intersection of Highway 81 and Interstate 80 is a combination of contemporary city flair and an earlier, simpler agricultural lifestyle. Wessel's Living History Farm offers today's visitors accurate glimpses of farm life in the early 1900s. At Wessel's, you can tour the restored homestead and granary and check out antique farm equipment.
4) North Platte
181 miles, 2 hours, 36 minutes
Visit the previous home and surroundings of William F. Cody—legendary buffalo hunter, scout and originator of the celebrated Wild West Show—at the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park and State Recreation Area. At Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center, take in the sights and sounds at Bailey Yard, the largest railway classification area in the world. It sorts, services and repairs locomotives and cars headed all across North America. Watch workers at Bailey process an average of 150 trains and 10,000 railcars per day.
181 miles, 1 hour 49 minutes
At Fort Sidney Museum, explore a late-1800s garrison constructed to protect railroad laborers. Read posted historical markers to learn about the old train-oriented town and the trails that led to Black Hills gold fields. At Legion Park, you can walk through Sidney's Living Memorial Gardens, planted to highlight the town's historical significance. Scenic Legion Park also contains two other tributes—Nebraska's first Angel of Hope Memorial and a War Memorial that honors veterans of all the American wars.