State offering great ideas for summer travel

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

We got a letter from the lawn service the other day and you can see the bags of garden soil and mulch piling up outside the garden departments -- can spring be far away?

While we're getting soil ready to plant some tomatoes, we'll also want to think about where we want to spend our summer vacation.

The Nebraska Tourism Commission has some suggestions, and they're not far away.

This year's Nebraska Passport will feature 80 attractions on 10 themed tours and one special tour honoring the state's sesquicentennial.

The "A Little Me Time" tour includes the Citta' Deli restaurant in McCook, and the "Hello Sunshine" tour includes the Red Willow State Recreation Area north of town.

In case you're not familiar with it, the Nebraska Passport encourages Nebraskans and tourists to travel the state collecting stamps to earn prizes while supporting small businesses, attractions and hidden gems, said Rohn Ricks, Nebraska Tourism executive director.

Last year, more than 87,000 total stamps were collected and 2017's participation is expected to improve.

It's especially important during the 150th birthday of Nebraska, not to mention 135th anniversary of McCook's founding.

The various tours include Thrills & Chills with places like Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, the Speakeasy in Holdrege, Trails and Rails Museum/BCHS in Kearney, Fort Sidney Museum and Post Commander's Home in Sidney among others.

Hidden Treasure stops include places like the Brownville Historic District, Gibbons Honey Farms in Crawford and the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed in Lincoln.

Art for the Heart includes the Prairie Arts Center in North Platte, Robin's Nest in Springfield and Pender Quilt Tour in Pender.

Besides the Red Willow SRA, Hello Sunshine includes the Fort Robinson, Ash Hollow and Niobrara state parks among others.

A Warm Welcome includes downtown squares in Aurora, Fairbury, Ord, Seward and Tecumseh as well as other stops.

Celebrate Nebraska 150 stops include the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska National Forest in Halsey, Nebraska State Capital in Lincoln and Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island.

Joining the Citta' Deli on the A Little Me Time tour are Chapman Swifts Coffee House in Kearney, Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, Smith Falls State Park in Valenine and others.

Good People, Good Times tour stops include the 17 Ranch Winery in Lewellen, the Chocolate Bar in Grand Island, Infusion Brewing Co. in Omaha and the Tangled Tumbleweed in Scottsbluff.

Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park in Royal is one of the stops on the Uniquely Nebraska tour, along with Bakers Candies Inc. in Greenwood, Carhenge in Alliance, Fathe Flanagan's Historic Home in Boys Town, Happy Jack Chalk Mine in Scotia, the University of Nebraska State Museum Morrill Hall in Lincoln, Ole's Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton and the original Runza Restaurant in Lincoln.

Be a Kid Again includes stops like Dusty Trails LLC in North Platte, eCreamery Ice Cream & Gelato in Omaha, the Edgerton Explorit Center in Aurora, Front Street Steakhouse and Crystal Palace Saloon in Ogallala, and the Kimel Orchard and others.

And those are not complete lists.

Passports will be available at participating stops starting May 1, or can be pre-ordered at http://bit.ly/2l84Xuc . A Passport app is also useful, but it will be updated with the 2017 information on May 1.

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