Dawn over the Missouri River at Brownville, Nebraska. Image credit marekuliasz via Shutterstock.

7 Adorable Small Towns In Nebraska

Nebraska, the most landlocked state in the U.S. is the epitome of America’s Heartland. Nicknamed the “Cornhusker State” for its most famous agricultural product, Nebraska’s farmland is dotted with hundreds of small towns. These communities are surrounded by natural beauty, and many of them have a heartwarming small-town look and feel that make them truly adorable. Singling out only seven adorable small towns in Nebraska is a difficult task, so treat our list as only a starting point. Check out a few (or all) of these towns on an upcoming trip to Nebraska, then do some exploring and find all of its hidden gems!


Aerial view of the Missouri River downstream of Brownville, Nebraska
Aerial view of the Missouri River downstream of Brownville, Nebraska. Image credit marekuliasz via Shutterstock.

Brownville was founded along the Missouri River in 1854 and was one of the busiest and largest steamboat port towns in the territory (and later state) of Nebraska. Brownville’s importance declined with the arrival of the railroads, however, and today it is a quaint hamlet of only about 150 residents. Fortunately, many of the town’s early homes and buildings have remained well preserved, making Brownville a popular tourist destination for those seeking a glimpse into Nebraska’s past. In addition to the lovely downtown full of historic architecture, visitors flock to attractions such as the Brownville Concert Series, Brownville Fine Art show, Brownville Flea Market, and the nearby Indian Cave State Park.


 Main Street in Chadron, Nebraska. The block is part of the Chadron Commercial Historic Distric
 Main Street in Chadron, Nebraska. Image credit Ammodramus via Wikimedia Commons.

The town of Chadron is located in northwestern Nebraska along the Pine Ridge belt, which differs from the state’s typical flat terrain with hills, canyons, and rock formations. The nearby Chadron State Park provides opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, sightseeing, and more in this distinctive and beautiful landscape. The town itself, home to about 5,000 residents, boasts a lovely downtown historic district with handsome stone and brick structures that speak to the town’s wealth in its early years. In fact, much of Chadron’s wealth in the early to mid 1800s came from the fur trade, and visitors can venture just outside of town to explore the Museum of the Fur Trade.

Falls City

Grand Weaver Hotel in Falls City, Nebraska
Grand Weaver Hotel, Falls City. Image credit Ammodramus via Wikimedia Commons.

Located in the southeast corner of Nebraska, near the borders with Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri, the town of Falls City (population 4,100) is situated within 100 miles of big cities like Omaha, Topeka, and Kansas City. While this makes Falls City a great base for exploring the region, there are plenty of reasons to explore the town itself as well. Falls City’s location along the Big Nemaha River offers picturesque views and recreational opportunities, while the town’s past as a railroad hub explains the large number of historic structures in the charming downtown area. A pair of historic downtown hotels, the Grand Weaver Hotel and Stephenson Hotel, deserve spots near the top of the must-see list.


Rain veil near McCook, Nebraska
Rain veil near McCook, Nebraska. Image credit Lesleyanne Ryan via Shutterstock.

The southwestern Nebraska town of McCook has more of a “western” feel than many other communities in the state, due largely to its past as a key railroad junction for cattle driven from the south and west. Despite a decline in its population and economic importance in recent decades, McCook still has a lovely and lively downtown area with a range of local businesses housed in historic structures. McCook is also an ideal starting point for exploring the surrounding landscape, with highlights like Red Willow State Recreation Area and Medicine Creek Wildlife Area close at hand. While several Great Plains towns have become ghost towns over the years, McCook is still going strong!

Nebraska City

View of Missouri River at Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Center
Missouri River at Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Center. Image credit Joseph Sohm via Shutterstock.

Nebraska City is considered to be the oldest municipality in the state, having been established by the territorial legislature in 1855. Its location along the Missouri River was explored by Lewis and Clark in 1804, and Nebraska City is home to a museum that commemorates that part of the expedition. Nebraska City is also the site of America’s first Arbor Day celebration in 1872, which is fitting since the town is surrounded by forests that are ideal for exploration. While the natural beauty of the river and forests are Nebraska City’s main tourist draws, the town of about 7,200 residents also has a quaint charm and several picturesque historic structures.


Aerial view of Beaver Community in Plattsmouth
Aerial view of Plattsmouth. Image credit Sky360s via Shutterstock.

Situated where the Platte River empties into the Missouri River, with Iowa on the other side of the Missouri, Plattsmouth’s excellent location led to strong economic growth in its early decades. Downtown Plattsmouth retains more than 40 of the grand structures from its heyday in the late 1800s and early 1900s, leading to the Main Street corridor’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The Cass County Courthouse, with its impressive clock tower, is a particular highlight. Many of the historic buildings on Main Street are occupied by charming boutiques and antique shops, making Plattsmouth (population 6,600) a great choice for a small-town shopping trip. Main Street hosts numerous festivals and fairs throughout the year as well.

Red Cloud

Northwest corner of 4th Avenue and Webster Street in Red Cloud, Nebraska.
Northwest corner of 4th Avenue and Webster Street in Red Cloud, Nebraska. Image credit Ammodramus via Wikimedia Commons.

Situated a few miles north of Nebraska’s border with Kansas, the town of Red Cloud is best known today as the childhood home of author Willa Cather, who used fictionalized versions of the town as settings for several of her books. The Willa Cather Historic District preserves her childhood home and several buildings noted in her works, adding to the timeless charm of Red Cloud’s downtown area. Meanwhile, for those looking to venture out of town, the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie contains hiking trails that offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. Red Cloud has fewer than 1,000 residents these days, but it remains a small town that is big on charm!


For those who picture Nebraska as a flat, boring, endless sea of cornfields, think again. In addition to having several lively cities, Nebraska has one of the best collections of postcard-pretty, small towns to be found. For folks who love exploring small-town America and finding picturesque main streets, friendly locals, and one-of-a-kind surprises, be sure to add Nebraska to your travel list. The Cornhusker State’s adorable small towns are waiting to welcome all who venture here!

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