10 Most Beautiful Small Towns in Nebraska

Nebraska is more than just an extended patch of corn. In fact, this state has more than its fair share of lovely small towns and farming communities! Since many of these communities were founded by immigrants who had little contact with the outside world for years, it’s easy to find towns with lingering elements of European roots in their culture. Check out ten of the most beautiful small towns in Nebraska.

1: Nebraska City

Nebraska City
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/David Williss

This Mississippi River community has its roots in Lewis and Clark’s explorations, something it’s very proud of. The town thrived during the steamboat era, since it was an ideal trading and transportation stop. It’s main claim to fame is that the establishment of Arbor Day came out of Nebraska City! Naturally, this holiday is a huge deal in the town. If you visit this friendly community, you can enjoy a trip to the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center, the Mayhew Cabin (Nebraska’s only Underground Railroad site), and Abor Lodge.

Address: Nebraska City, NE

2: Ashland

Ashland
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia/Ammodramus

While Ashland is starting to become a bedroom city for big-city commuters, it’s still very much a rural place. Take a stroll down the brick-paved streets of downtown Ashland to discover the many restaurants, art galleries, and shops in its historic district. While you’re there, stop at the Air and Space Museum and the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari!

Address: Ashland, NE

3: Red Cloud

Red Cloud
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia/Ammodramus

If you’ve ever read the classic novel My Antonia by Willa Cather, you’ll recognize the landscape of this charming small town. When you visit, you can take a tour of Cather’s childhood home and stomping grounds. If historic novels aren’t quite your style, you can still enjoy things like the historic Red Cloud Opera House or a day on the river. There’s plenty to do in this lovely farming town.

Address: Red Cloud, NE

4: Minden

Minden
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Thomas Beck

When you visit Minden, you’ll feel a bit like you’ve taken a trip to Germany. This community was founded in 1876 by German immigrants, who built a lovely town around their agricultural lifestyle. Although it’s cold in the winter, Christmas is a great time to visit Minden, which has dubbed itself “Nebraska’s Christmas City.” Any time you visit, be sure to visit the Pioneer Village and learn about early settlers.

Address: Minden, NE

5: Aurora

Aurora
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia/Ammodramus

Historic Aurora is one of the best small towns to live in. Of course, it’s also a great place to visit, featuring sites like a 19th Century schoolhouse, an interactive science center, and the Plainsman Museum. For a small town, Aurora offers plenty of fun and educational experiences.

Address: Aurora, NE

6: McCook

McCook
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia/Ammodramus

This historic railway town is more than just a stop in the rolling hills of southern Nebraska. In fact, it actually is quite a significant contributor to the small-town art scene in Nebraska! You can enjoy the Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Harvey P. Sutton House, and the array of cultural and art venues downtown.

Address: McCook, NE

7: Seward

Seward
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia/Ammodramus

While most small Midwest towns have a massive 4th of July bash, Seward’s is superior enough to earn it the nickname of “4th of July City.” Needless to say that this is a great destination for Independence Day, as long as you don’t mind the crowds! At any time of the year, you can enjoy the Big Blue River and the walking trails along its banks.

Address: Seward, NE

8: Papillion

Papillion

While Papillion may not technically be a small town anymore, it certainly still feels like one. From the friendly atmosphere to the locally-owned business scene, you’ll wish you could stay here forever and enjoy the best of both worlds. Once a railroad town, the historic district of Papillion is still thriving in preserved historic buildings while newer buildings only serve to enhance the laid-back beauty of the community.

Address: Papillion, NE

9: Valentine

Valentine
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/bk1bennett

This little town on the South Dakota border seems to be in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a great place to visit when you’re traveling between states! Besides serving some of the best corn-fed beef anywhere on the continent, Valentine offers plenty of outdoor fun. Visit the fish hatchery, check out the Cherry County Historical Society Museum, or head a few miles out to witness the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge.

Address: Valentine, NE

10: Chadron

Chadron
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia/Ammodramus

This little town was founded in the 1800s as a fur trading town. Today, although the fur trade isn’t exactly a lucrative business anymore, it still features a fur-trading museum and festival. This is a great place to stay if you’re hoping to visit Oglala National Grasslands or Nebraska National Forest.

Address: Chadron, NE

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