Nebraska has plenty of tourism opportunities, border to border, for enjoyment this new year. The Nebraska Tourism Commission has done a fine job in explaining those opportunities in its just-released state travel guide.
Tourism offers fun, relaxation and learning, but it’s also important economically — to individual communities and to Nebraska as a whole. Tourism has a statewide economic impact of some $3.4 billion, with benefits to small rural communities as well as the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas. Visitors’ travels to state parks, festivals, rodeos, museums, shops and hotels provide more than 40,000 jobs with total earnings of $750 million.
Omaha annually welcomes more than 13 million visitors, with $1.3 billion in economic impact and generating more than 17,000 jobs.
The new travel guide is packed with information on all parts of the state, listing opportunities in individual communities in seven regions: Northwest, Sand Hills, Southwest, South Central, Northeast, Metro and Southeast. State parks and recreation areas receive much attention. Here are two examples. At Danish Alps State Recreation Area near Hubbard, visitors “can catch largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, channel catfish and walleye in well-stocked Kramper Reservoir.” At the Black Hills Overlook Trail at Chadron State Park, visitors can follow trails that “wind through canyons and meadows, with scenic views of the Pine Ridge and Black Hills. Spring wildflowers and fall foliage add pops of color.”
The guide lists nine scenic byways — multi-county itineraries with a variety of options for shopping, recreation, learning and food and drink. The Heritage Highway Scenic Byway, for example, includes the Red Cloud Opera House, Superior Estates Winery in Superior, Rock Creek State Historical Park near Fairbury, Homestead National Monument near Beatrice, heritage tourism in Brownville and shopping in Fairbury.
The Loup Rivers Scenic Byway includes the Calamus State Recreation Area, Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park near Elyria, which preserves a typical U.S. Army cavalry outpost, Scratchtown Brewing Company in downtown Ord and the Happy Jack Peak and Chalk Mine in Scotia, plus shopping, hiking and fishing in Wood River and nearby areas.
State travel guides are available at attractions across the state, as well as at rest areas and visitor centers along Interstate 80. You can also order a free travel guide at visitnebraska.com or by calling 1-800-228-4307.
Whatever your interest, the variety across Nebraska can meet your tourism need, with benefits to yourself and the local community.