Nebraska is home to a number of nature centers. Whether you want to watch sandhill cranes during their spring migration or learn more about the incredibly diverse flora and fauna of the Midwest, you’ll be able to do so at one of these top-notch centers located throughout the state. If you’re ready to get outside and take in nature, we’ve rounded up the 10 best nature centers in Nebraska.
The Pioneers Park Nature Center offers eight miles of hiking trails that twist through various habitats and animal exhibits where you’ll spot bison, elk, white-tailed deer, and many different birds in the bird garden. Children can dig around in the natural play area and learn new things from one of the dozens of exhibits available. If you’re looking for a day of nature while staying in the city, this is it!
The Fontenelle Forest Nature Center is one of the state’s five National Natural Landmarks, covering over 1,000 acres of lush forest and featuring 20 miles of hiking trails. Birding sites, rare flowers, remnants of the Mormon Trail as well as Lewis and Clark’s journey can also be found throughout the area.
When the sandhill cranes pour into the region around Wood River, Nebraska, the Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center comes to life. Visitors can enjoy larger-than-life murals depicting the birds’ spring migration, exhibits with the latest information on the birds’ habitat, and a butterfly garden outdoors where you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a picnic.
To enjoy some extraordinary exhibitions on Nebraskan wildlife in a beautiful setting, look no further than the River Country Nature Center. You’ll see first-hand some of the birds and animals that inhabit the area as well as the unique wildlife works of Joe Voges, a noteworthy Nebraskan taxidermist.
The Aksarben Aquarium in Gretna features 12 viewing tanks full of native Nebraska fish as well as a museum on fish management. Films are scheduled often in the nature center’s theater and there is a large terrarium you must see to believe.
The Neale Woods Nature Center is located on 550 acres of beautiful forest and hilltop prairies right in Omaha along the Missouri River. It’s also one of the best places in the state for bird and butterfly watching!
Bring the entire family to the birthplace of Arbor Day where there are 260 acres of nature to enjoy. The Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City offers world-class exhibits, such as The Canopy Tree House, where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of life in the forest from 50 feet up. Or visit the Nature Explore Club Cabin and solve fun “nature challenges” while exploring the amazing diversity of Nebraskan wildlife.
There’s plenty to do and see at the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center in Denton, Nebraska. The center is located on 850-acres of tallgrass prairie and includes walking trails, wetlands, woodlands, and a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. Many people recommend visiting Spring Creek throughout the year to experience each season’s different scenery and wildlife.
The Wildcat Hills Nature Center is located near Gering, Nebraska, and features many interesting exhibits such as mounts of indigenous birds, dioramas of large mammals, and an aquarium filled with local fish. A collection of fossils has also been introduced to the center from the University of Nebraska State Museum. Educational events are held year-round so there’s always something new to learn and see.
The Prairie Loft Center for Outdoor and Agricultural Learning is a unique destination housed in beautiful barns that were once used as part of a working farm near Hastings, Nebraska. The center hosts educational programs for all ages, from hands-on field trips to presentations.