Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska, near Gering, Nebraska.

8 Most Scenic Small Towns in Nebraska

Nebraska is famed for its vast and colorful agricultural splendor, as the home of the legendary Warren Buffet. It is also famous for its rich history, and incredible attractions like Carhenge. The state is also lavish, with scenic small towns perched on the banks of lakes, rivers, or at the foot of mountains and hills. These towns are incredibly picturesque and feature many natural and man-made attractions that promise to keep visitors busy all year round.

From the historic Nebraska City to the charming town of Gering, uncover the most scenic towns in the Cornhuskers state worth visiting.


Downtown Blair, Nebraska: north side of Washington Street, looking northeast from about 18th Street
Downtown Blair, Nebraska.

Blair overflows with natural beauty as it is surrounded by charming hills and the Missouri River. Once here, visitors can relish the sights and sounds of one of the town's best scenic outdoor charms at the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge. Here, migratory birds play a natural soundtrack above the pristine Lake DeSoto, while the water beckons tourists for fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and photography. The refuge also has a museum in its visitors center featuring over 200,000 exhibits, while wildlife such as bald eagle, mallard, and killdeer are common sights.

Next, visit the Black Elk-Neihardt Park, situated at the highest point in the town looking down on the Missouri River Valley. The park has wood chip trails alongside the Tower of the Four Winds, its prime attraction. Do not leave without a visit to the Red Brick Bar & Grill as it offers sensational American burgers and exotic wines.

Nebraska City

Mayhew Cabin and marker, Nebraska City, Nebraska
Mayhew cabin and marker, Nebraska City, Nebraska.

Nebraska City is the oldest incorporated town in the state with so much to love. This picturesque town is located on the western bank of the Missouri River, and the Riverview Marina Recreation Area offers front-row seats to the river's scenic charm. While here, visitors can fish on the river, camp, boat, and canoe, and hold picnics on its banks. Retreat from the river and grace the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitor Center, with a nature trail, 178 plants, and 122 animals. The center also features three floors of exhibits in its museum, including picnic areas to relax.

Soak up history at the War Veterans Museum, the only Civil War Museum in the state. The museum is only open from April to June and October, but appointments can be scheduled when visiting in the off-season.


Toadstool Geological Park near Crawford, Nebraska.
Toadstool Geological Park near Crawford, Nebraska.

Crawford is a serene and seductive town where laid-back tourists can relax and enjoy nature undisturbed. An ideal starting point here is the Toadstool Geologic Park, where one can wonder at fascinating geological formations by exploring its trails or camping for a full-fledged experience. The Ash Creek Ranch is another nearby outdoor attraction to explore and see wildlife such as elk, turkey, wild-tailed deer, and bighorn sheep.

Afterward, delve into history at the Fort Robinson State Park, featuring a museum, a library, a 19th-century veterinary hospital, and a campsite. The park also offers opportunities for biking and canoeing. Elsewhere, the town's historic essence and allure are available at the Crawford History Museum in exhibits and historic photographs. For scenic river views and camping adventures, head to Crawford City Park by the White River and pick a tent.


Scotts Bluff National Monument located west of the City of Gering in western Nebraska, United States.
Scotts Bluff National Monument located west of the City of Gering, Nebraska.

Gering is a charming town in Scotts Bluff County, surrounded by beautiful landmarks and historical sites. The Scotts Bluff National Monument is the town's highlight attraction on the Oregon Trail, with a gigantic 800-foot bluff framing the scenery. The monument sits in a park of 3,000 acres and once served as a landmark for Native Americans, pioneers, and emigrants.

Gering is also home to the beautiful Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area, perched on a headland and featuring sights of green-draped canyons as well as campgrounds, hiking trails, and lots of birds. While here, head to the Nature Center observation deck to get incredible views of the North Platte River Valley. For nature and plant lovers in Gering, visit the Northfield Arboretum and Park to enjoy picnics, camping, and explore a nature trail.


Colorful sunrise clouds over the Niobrara River near Valentine, Nebraska
Colorful sunrise clouds over the Niobrara River near Valentine, Nebraska.

Valentine charms every outdoor lover from its position by the northern banks of the Niobrara River. This river is beautiful and offers its waters for kayaking, boating, canoeing, and tubing adventures. But there's more. A short trip away from Valentine reveals Snake River Falls, Nebraska's largest waterfalls by volume. Also, Smith Falls, the tallest waterfall in the state is just east of the town within the Smith Falls State Park. The nearby 72,000-acre Valentine National Wildlife Refuge offers nine lakes for fishing, trails for hiking, and spectacular bird-watching opportunities.

Back in the town’s main street, visitors can check out the Cherry County Historical Society Museum to learn more about the area from the pioneer era.


Cyclical tornadic supercell in between tornadoes. Near McCook, Nebraska.
Cyclical tornadic supercell in between tornadoes, near McCook, Nebraska.

McCook is a pristine, charming town on the high plains of Nebraska, spectacular for its vast natural beauty. The town is home to exciting attractions like the Red Willow Reservoir where visitors can kick back and soak in natural beauty. The lake is also an ideal destination for fishing, boating, picnicking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and beach relaxation.

History buffs can head into the town to embark on McCook's Heritage Square Walking Tour and see 10 blocks of historic architecture. The district also houses the famous Museum of the High Plains, featuring everything from antique cars to WWII exhibits. Once done with the tours and exploration, relax at the Lighthouse Marina and Grill to relish exotic lakefront dining and maybe fish later on the lake.


Late summer scenery of a valley in Nebraska National Forest near Chadron with a cattle
Late summer scenery of a valley in Nebraska National Forest near Chadron.

Chadron is a majestic town on the high plains with abundant greenery, history, and recreation to offer visitors. For a taste of its green splendor and outdoor beauty, head to Nebraska National Forest and engage in hiking, horseback riding, biking, and camping adventures. More adventures await at the Chadron State Park, which is also known as the first state park in Nebraska. Nestled in the picturesque Pine Ridge, this park is a haven for recreation, with campgrounds, a swimming pool, and trail rides.

On the historic side, the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center is available to interpret the history of the High Plains region with exhibits and educational programs. For more history, head to the Museum of Fur Trade to learn more about the iconic North American Fur Trade era.


Outlet from the Kingsley Hydro Plant power generation facility at Kingsley dam, lake McConaughy on the north Platte river near Ogallala, Nebraska
Outlet from the Kingsley Hydro Plant power generation facility at Kingsley dam, Lake McConaughy on the north Platte river near Ogallala, Nebraska. Image credit Bob Pool via Shutterstock

Visit Ogallala, one of Nebraska's finest gem towns, and be blown by its scenic charm. This lovely town is home to Lake McConaughy, Nebraska's largest water body and it combines with Lake Ogallala, to offer more than 30,000 acres of water for recreation. Both lakes set the stage for swimming, kayaking, boating, camping, and fishing. Additionally, Lake McConaughy has beautiful white sand beaches for sunbathing, picnics, and building sand castles.

Exit the lakes into the downtown to immerse in its historical and Old West scenery at Front Street, featuring quaint shops, restaurants, and a free cowboy museum. Before leaving, visit the scenic Boot Hill, to learn how unfortunate cowboys were buried with their boots on.

Nebraska has the cities of Omaha and Lincoln to steal the attention of tourists because they are captivating, grand, and active. However, a further look beyond these big cities reveals quaint old-world charms and spectacular natural scenery in small towns. These towns are in a class of their own, housing some of the state's finest natural, historical, and recreational attractions. Tourists can kick back in serene environments to enjoy nature without the crowd, craft memorable summer vacation experiences, interact with locals, and embark on mind-blowing adventures. From lakes, rivers, and mountains to creeks, forests, and wildlife refuges, these scenic towns are full of incredible sights, sounds, and activities.

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