Explore Columbus, Nebraska Area

The COVID-19 Pandemic cancelled our family’s summer getaways. Therefore, we’ve taken mini Nebraska stay-cations.

For each adventure we choose locations that

  • We have not previously visited.
  • Are considered a day trip from our home base of Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Have a good mix of art, history, dining and parks and recreation.
  • Are surrounded by a nearby cluster of other interesting sites and locations

Recently we chose Columbus, Nebraska.

After reviewing their wonderful Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website http://www.visitcolumbusne.com/, we decided to add two surrounding small towns, Newman Grove and Humphrey, Nebraska and the village of Tarnov to our itinerary that ended in Columbus, Nebraska before returning to Omaha.

For those interested in driving to the locations we’ve visited, here’s an estimated mileage chart.

Distance

Omaha to Newman Grove, Nebraska: 2 hours 2 minutes

Omaha to Humphrey, Nebraska: 1 hour 47 minutes

Omaha to Tarnov, Nebraska: 1 hour 48 minutes

To Columbus, Nebraska from

… Omaha: 1 hours 30 minutes

…Sioux Falls, South Dakota: 3 hours 5 minutes

…Sioux City, Iowa: 2 hours 5 minutes

…Des Moines, Iowa:  3 hours 11 minutes

Stop #1

Newman Grove, Nebraska

City Café https://www.facebook.com/ngcitycafe/

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-22.png
511 Hale Avenue Newman Grove, Nebraska 68758 402.447.6446     
     Adam and Dawn Witchell, Owners

We’d seen this café and their pies widely touted on Twitter and Facebook. Droves of Omaha citizens were pre-ordering pies driven back and distributed in a local parking lot. We were curious not only about the pies but about the community and the café owners.

After driving through town, we had omelet breakfasts at the City Café around 9:30 AM and finished up our visit with a piece of their famous pie.

If you like pie and road trips, add the City Café to your bucket list.

Here’s the other thing. Your tourist dollar is deeply appreciated in communities such as Newman Grove. And, the service is what you’d expect: top notch.

There are always plenty of freshly baked pies to enjoy at City Café.

Stop #2

Humphrey, Nebraska

Veterans Park https://www.humphreyveteranspark.com/

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-24.png
Near Humphrey Public School (405 S. 7th Street)

Contact Information: humphreyveteranspark@gmail.com

The purpose of the Veteran’s Park in Humphrey, Nebraska is to recognize servicemen and women across all branches of the United States military for their service and sacrifice to our great nation during times of war and peace.

We’ve visited many veterans’ parks. This park is quite impressive, especially for the size of the community. Add it to your places to visit when in the Columbus, Nebraska area.

A local veteran was there the day we visited making our visit even more meaningful. He provided a lot of insight into the Park and the surrounding communities.

Stop #3

Tarnov, Nebraska

St. Michael’s Catholic Church http://www.tarnov.org/

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-25.png
Contact Information: stmichaelstarnov@gmail.com Contact ahead of time for scheduled tour. Free Admission. Good Will Offering Encouraged.

St. Michael’s is the first Polish Catholic parish still operating in Nebraska. Established in 1900. Now listed on National Register of Historic Places.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-26.png
http://www.tarnov.org/complex.html 309 3rd Street Tarnov, Nebraska

To date, it’s the most surprising place we have visited in Nebraska.

Not only is the church spectacular but also the museum next door is plump full of pieces that will help you recall days gone by. Each item is well maintained and appropriately displayed in a historical building.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-28.png
Museum is housed in former Saint Michael Boarding School Built 1910-1911.

HINT: We contacted the church via email before leaving Omaha asking if the church would be open during our visit. Since it was not, we received a gracious reply that someone could come over and open it and give us a tour of both the church and the museum, if we had time and interest. [We texted an assigned number when leaving Humphrey, NE so the guide could meet us at the church.]

Make time. Judy, our guide, was phenomenal. She’s from the area and a member of the Church. Her heart for her community and for the preservation and maintenance of both the church and the museum shone through during the entire 2-hour visit.

RESEARCH: Fascinating Fact: http://www.nebraskaaircrash.com/events/tarnov.html

NOTE: There are stairs in the museum but a stair chair lift is available on each floor.

Groups can make arrangements to tour the complex and eat lunch and/or dessert on site.

The former rectory now serves as a rental property for short-term guest/visitor stays. http://www.tarnov.org/house.html

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-31.png
Contact the church office if you’re interested in arranging a group tour with dessert or lunch and/or overnight lodging. stmichaelstarnov@gmail.com
Be sure to visit the grotto and the cemetery on the grounds before leaving the complex.

Stop #4

Columbus, Nebraska

http://www.visitcolumbusne.com/

Lake North Park-Loup

Before driving into Columbus, we drove through the Lake North Park-Loup. Our intent was to walk the trail; however, the rain storm prevented that.

Contact Information: Two Lakes Trail, Columbus, NE 68601, USA

402.564.3171 / 402.562.5709

Location: 4 miles north of Columbus at US Highway 30 on 18th Avenue. The park is 14 acres with two beaches and two boat ramps adjoining a 200-acre lake. It is popular for boating, water skiing, and fishing. Camping is allowed. Electrical hook-ups and primitive camping are available during the summer. Primitive restrooms are on-site.

Glur’s Tavern

https://www.facebook.com/Glurs-Tavern-114094411990524/

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-32.png
Location: 2301 11th Street Columbus, Nebraska 68601 402.564.8615

This tavern is a National Historic Site (July 30, 1975). It is the oldest continuously operated tavern west of the Missouri River. Circa 1876.

It is believed that it was patronized by “Buffalo Bill ” Cody during a visit to Columbus, Nebraska.

Hamburgers are the menu item of choice here.

Columbus, Nebraska Historical Mural

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-33.png
Location: 2524 13th Street Downtown Columbus, Nebraska

Walk across the street to read the placard on the meaning of the mural.

Sit awhile in the park square. Lovely, clean downtown area.

Pawnee Park

http://columbusne.us/Facilities/Facility/Details/4

Pawnee Park is known as the “Picnic Capital of Nebraska.” It contains almost 153 acres adjoining the Loup River and Van Berg Golf Course.

Location: 2001 Higgins Drive Columbus, Nebraska 68601 Southwest of Columbus. South of the viaduct on either side of Highways 81 and 30.

Contact Information: 402.562.4240

Visit in walking shoes. There is a lot to see and do in Pawnee Park. 

Pawnee Park also contains:

  • 1904 Union Pacific Steam Locomotive
  • Quincentenary Belltower
  • Oregon Trail Monument
  • Horseshoe Pits
  • All Weather Running Track
  • Playground
  • Sand Volleyball Courts
  • Tennis Courts Lit Until Midnight
  • Disc Golf
  • Living Tree Museum
  • Rose Garden
  • Skate Park
  • Water Park

Andrew Jackson Higgins National Memorial

LOCATION: In West Pawnee Park.

This sculpture was built from pieces of World Trade Center steel. The large bronzed freedom eagle on top has an 8-foot wing span. The pieces do not touch symbolizing that terrorists cannot destroy freedom.

 The soldiers in front honor the National Guard and Reserves.

1904 Union Pacific Steam Locomotive

https://columbustelegram.com/news/local/union-pacific-no-561-at-pawnee-park-fully-restored/article_1571e4ce-dfd2-53bc-a6bb-c84e3c44a832.html

Plan your weekend Getaway.

Visit Columbus, Nebraska and the surrounding area.

Share this story and start exploring.

© August 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Do you have a story idea or interesting person who’d be a great feature?

Share below.

What do you think? Let me hear from you.