Who Wouldn’t Want to Do This in Southeast Nebraska?

Southeast Nebraska is a land of plenty with something for everyone. This area-one hour south of Omaha-is filled with history, unique festivals and events, and picturesque landscapes.

Here’s an overview of 4 communities we recently visited.

Website links are provided to help you plan your own adventure.


Brownville (pop. 132)-a quaint village on the Missouri River-is on the National Register of Historic Places. Put on your walking shoes and check out the museums, the riverfront, the theatre and the concert series. Take a dinner cruise. Shop Memorial Day weekend and each fall at the Annual Brownville Flea Market. Stay overnight-perhaps at the River Inn Resort.

There’s plenty to see and explore.

60th Annual Flea Market

Helpful Hint: Call ahead if there’s a particular business or museum you’d like to visit. Most weren’t open during website-posted store hours on our Easter weekend visit. Brownville is an event-based community. Plan ahead if you are visiting during an event. Lodging sells out.

Sweetwater Brooms & Engraving- Broom Maker
Brooms made by hand-last a lifetime.

Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard & Winery

Every once in a while one encounters someone who leaves a forever positive impression. Matthew Heskett did just that. Matt is a sixth-generation farmer and son of proprietors, Ron and Sherry. He’s a 20-something entrepreneur with some of the savviest customer service skills we’ve encountered in Nebraska. He knew his community and his industry like a seasoned pro. Matt is an outstanding ambassador for both his business and Southeast Nebraska. Go meet him at the winery.

We toured the historic 1866 cave (year-round 55 degree temperature) and the 100-year old barn. Inside we sampled wines, checked out the gift shop and viewed the event location upstairs. Matt even showed us the production facility and explained the construction where a distillery is being added. We will return for more award-winning wine and old-fashioned hospitality.

Helpful Hint: Friday nights May through August they host live musical performances. Weddings can be held on location by the gazebo and waterfall.


We drove a short distance on Highway 36 west to Auburn for lunch since none of Brownville’s restaurants were open. Two restaurants were consistently recommended: Hickory Road BBQ and El-Portal Mexican Restaurant.

We chose the former. The food quality and service were both outstanding.


This town of just over 800 is home to Nebraska’s first college (1867). Back then it was known as the teacher’s training school. Today Peru State College has around 2400 students.

Walk the historic, picturesque campus. Be sure to see the Little Red Schoolhouse

Drive to the Mt. Vernon Cemetery and see the historical grave markers. This hilltop location is also a Tri-State Observation Area (Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri).

Pack the bicycles and ride the Steamboat Trace Trail (found at north end of 5th street) between Brownville and Nebraska City. You can also hike it and enjoy birding along the way.

Stop in for a meal, a cool drink and a game of pool while in Peru.

Peru boasts a number of attractive city parks, including Sid Brown Memorial Park. Young children enjoy the splash pad during warm summer months.

A boat ramp to the Missouri River is accessible at 5th and Olive Street. The Peru Bottoms Wildlife Management Area (The Bottoms) is along the route, and beyond, and is available for hunting, fishing and birding.

Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City

Nebraska is the proud home of Arbor Day. Founded in 1972 by J. Sterling Morton (whose son founded Morton Salt Company), Arbor Day encourages citizens worldwide to plant trees.

The 140-room, award-winning Lodge at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City is a sought-after gathering place for those who care deeply about the natural world and its future. It features the Timber Dining Room, a spa, sauna, exercise room, Olympic-sized pool, bar and conference center.

Like most lodging facilities, it is only as good as the guests staying there. During our rainy, holiday weekend stay, families crammed the pool with over-sized floats, leaving little room to enjoy the facilities in the naturally peaceful setting. Floors outside the pool area were wet and slippery. Under-aged, unsupervised guests occupied the sauna. (Safety concerns were reported to front desk staff.)

Helpful Hint: Stay mid-week or on a non-holiday weekend if you are seeking a peaceful retreat.

Visit the Arbor Day Farm website for things to do and trails to walk.

Get a ticket to the Tree Adventure. Educational and fun for all ages.


Walk the trails; listen to the forest

Include Indian Cave State Park on your list of things to do in Southeast Nebraska. The park has 3000+ acres and is southeast of Nemaha, along the Missouri River. Check out the large sandstone cave in the park.

Get out and explore Southeast Nebraska. visitsoutheastnebraska.org

Create your own family memories and enjoy all that Nebraska offers.


Linda Leier Thomason is the founder and former CEO of  a Charleston, SC based event production and publication corporation. Today, she resides in Omaha, NE  where she writes about her undercover visits to towns and communities, among other things. To learn more about Linda, click on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Contact me to have your town or community featured.

©Copyright. April 2017. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.





10 Must See Places Off I-80 in Central Iowa

Update: November 2018. Looking for more to do in Central Iowa?

Read: 9 Reasons Madison County Iowa is Worth Visiting + 10 Free Iowa Attractions For a Day Trip from Omaha found on this website.

Click TRAVEL + then Midwest to find those articles or use the Search box.

Happy Traveling through Iowa.

Here’s how I spent a day in Central Iowa.

A fellow Iowa State Cyclone, Susanne, met me in West Des Moines and we headed out on I-80. These were the stops we made along the way in Central Iowa. Get off the Interstate and do our own exploration in Central Iowa.

#1: Hickory Park Restaurant. We headed east on I-80 and veered north on I-35 to enjoy an early lunch in Ames. As cash-poor students, we usually limited ourselves to the old-fashioned parlor sundaes, but on this trip we savored the generous portions of hickory smoked meats and Susanne enjoyed a delicious sundae. [Regretfully, I’m now lactose intolerant.] Lunch filled our bellies as much as our need for re-connection and nostalgia. There’s a reason this restaurant founded in 1970 remains a must-eat-at place for those visiting Ames. Try it!

#2:Iowa State University. Proud Cyclones we are! It was a hot, dry, summer day, with few students roaming campus, so we took our time, stopped to recall classes and situations in certain buildings and reminisced about the house we both lived in that’s now the Alumni office. The campus has predictably grown yet remains as picturesque and full of promise as the days we spent there in the 1980s.

#3: Reiman Gardens. Walking through 17 acres of indoor and outdoor gardens and strolling july2011 013through the butterfly wing filled my insatiable desire to commune with nature. Perfect for all ages and open year round, Reiman Gardens is a must-see when in Ames, Iowa.

#4: John Wayne Birthplace Museum. Famous for saying, “I’m the stuff men are made of,” rugged Hollywood film actor, John Wayne (Duke) was born and raised in Winterset, Iowa in #5: Madison County-home to the world-famous “Bridges of Madison County.” Some day I will get to the annual covered bridge festival being held October 13-14, 2018.

#6: Greenfield, Iowa. The town that boasts it is the center of culture and commerce in the middle of farm country did not disappoint. Harking back to my North Dakota roots, I felt right at home in Greenfield. It’s 55 miles from Des Moines and 80 miles from Omaha. Hit the road and go visit!

#5: Ed and Eva’s. Located inside Greenfield’s historic opera house, Ed and Eva’s features Iowa made products and artwork. It has the feel of a gallery and one is allowed to leisurely browse without being disturbed by employees. As a huge supporter of small local business, I did some early Christmas shopping and encourage you to do the same through their user-friendly website.

#6. Warren Cultural Center. Pride in community is one of the things I appreciate most about small towns. Greenfield citizens are no different. Leaving Ed and Eva’s I was curious about the impressive building the store is in, so I started snooping around. Within moments I was joined by a staffer from the Warren Cultural Center offering to show me the building-a restored 1896 opera house-placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1979.

#7. Greenfield Bowl. Thirsty. We crossed the street and had a cold drink here, chatting with a very friendly bartender, learning about the history of the place while watching locals gather in conversation and longing to feel that sense of community again somewhere, maybe Greenfield.

#8. Hotel Greenfield. If I need a solo respite or desire a romantic get-away with my husband, this is my go-to place. I loved it here. The furnishings are traditional period pieces matched with modern-day traveler necessities. The staff is helpful without smothering and the rubber duck in the tub, well it’s priceless. The patio out back is quiet. The only drawback is the lack of an elevator; however, front desk staff are willing to carry bags for those unable. Breakfast is included.

#9. Olive Branch Family Restaurant. We had excellent service from a waitress in training and our meals were above average as was the service.  We enjoyed the Greek platter and fried chicken. Cocktails and desserts are served.

#10. The Freedom Rock. This 60+ ton boulder, located just off I-80, is repainted with a Greenfield, IA and summer '14 misc 018different theme every year by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II as a thank-you tribute to our nation’s veterans. Ken met us at the memorial and we ended our terrific day by pausing in a moment of silence, honoring those who give us the freedom to travel this great country.

Share. Which of these attractions are you most likely to visit on your next trip to Central Iowa? Will you make a special trip to Iowa to visit these sites? Do tell and add other sites to see.


Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

Copyright. August 2015. Linda Leier Thomason