While some travelers may think of Nebraska as mostly expansive prairies and farmlands – there are three times more cattle than people in this state – they’re missing out on the more curiosity-inducing elements: funky art exhibits, Old West attractions, and extreme ingenuity that you’ll only find in Nebraska’s small towns.
After all, some of the tiniest towns in America exist here, places with a pioneering backbone and a good bit of eccentricity. For instance, in the 1950s, members of a local stamp collecting club decided to create an enormous ball of stamps—the world’s largest, in fact—that when finished weighed 600 pounds. It still sits proudly on display in Boys Town, a suburb of Omaha. Over in Grand Island, in the lower-middle of the state, is another Nebraska oddity: Fred’s Flying Circus, as whimsical roadside attraction of reworked vehicles, each pieced together from old car parts and upcycled materials, colorfully painted, and perched atop various poles in an otherwise empty parking lot. Keep an eye out for a wolf with a slicked-back ‘50s-style pompadour behind the wheel of a hot rod, and a witch doubling as a taxi driver.
If you’re after an even deeper dive into Nebraska’s unconventionality, there are attractions like The Villagers: black-and-white plywood cut-outs of life-size figures—think cowboys, horse-riding cowpokes, and even some real-life former residents from the late 19th and early 20th centuries—scattered throughout the tiny village of Taylor. There’s also Nebraska’s ode to Stonehenge—the iconic prehistoric monument in England—but in this case it’s made with 39 cars. Over 100,000 visitors flock to see this spray-painted replica, located in a field near Alliance, annually.
Whether it’s the ionic sandstone pillars in Lincoln that look as though they’ve been plucked from history, or the incredible Pioneer Village—a slice of pure Americana housing everything from a real Pony Express Station to a display on the evolution of cash registers, the Cornhusker State is anything but flyover—you just have to know where to look.