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The end of the year is one of the most beautiful times to be outdoors in Nebraska. The trees become rich with red and orange leaves, the weather cools to a crisp but cozy temperature, and towns like Minden, NE offer a wide range of local attractions, from museums and outdoor recreational parks to annual holiday-themed extravaganzas.

In Minden, one of the very first places that you need to check out is Pioneer Village, the only Museum of Progress in the United States where you can “See How America Grew.” This wonderful museum includes thousands of items placed in chronological order of their development. There are 12 historic buildings around the circular green. There’s a Frontier Fort, a real honest-to-goodness Pony Express Station, an Iron Horse, and a homemade sod. There’s a general store and a toy store, chock full of all the goods from yesteryear. An original art collection including 25 Currier and Ives prints, 23 Jackson paintings, and the largest single collection of Rogers statues.

If you are a history buff or have any interest in historical events in Kearny County’s past, you’ll surely benefit from a trip to Kearney County Historical Museum. The museum property was deeded to the Kearny County Historical Society in 1974 by Jennie Rose O’Loughlin, daughter of John and Mary O’Loughlin. The Great White House, the former home of Jennie’s brother William and his family, was also donated with the stipulation that it be restored to look as it did in the early 1900s. Visitors who browse throughout the museum will notice many items which have been donated by various members of the O’Loughlin Family. The museum complex totals over 20,000 square feet of historical displays and includes the main museum building and annex, the White House, Columbia School House, Santa Fe Depot, Round Barn, and a machinery building. Check out the Kearny County Museum Exhibits page for more details about the complex.

Apart from the above museums, the Minden Opera House would also be in the top places to go in Minden, which was viewed as a historical tribute to area arts and culture. It was completely renovated in 1999-2000 to serve as an attractive center for both the community and the region. This remarkable structure is now home to many receptions and conventions, art showings, theatrical productions, and high school and public events. The Opera House is open all year long and regularly schedules entertainment for its state-of-the-art theater.

In addition to historical places to go, Ft. Kearny State Historical Park and Recreation Area are very worthy places to visit, especially during September and October, the season progresses several spooky and cozy-fun autumn attractions open. Originally a haven for Overland Trail travelers, Pony Express riders, and gold prospectors, Fort Kearny established in 1848, is now a state historical park preserved by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Visitors to the park can explore reconstructed buildings, including the stockade, parade grounds, powder magazine, and blacksmith/carpenter shop, and explore exhibits telling the story of the fort.

Moreover, you should have Harlan County Lake on the list, which is the leading attraction in Nebraska’s Harlan County, and North Shore Marina is the premier center of recreation on Harlan County Lake! Beyond the exceptional boating and walleye fishing, there is plenty to do in the local area from your base in our marina or one of our campsites. You can spend a day floating on a tube on the Republican River or enjoy one of the many nearby trail networks that are devoted to hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, or off-road vehicle use. 

If the Harlan County Lake is not enough to spend quality time with your family, then do not forget to explore the Rowe Sanctuary.  Located along the Platte River south of Gibbon, Nebraska, Rowe Sanctuary features multiple trails and hands-on nature education programs for children and adults. Conserving habitat along the Platte River focusing on Sandhill cranes, other wildlife, and their habitats. Rowe sanctuary offers hiking trails, a visitor center, and a gift shop. Seasonally, they offer viewing blinds that are strategically placed along the Platte River to provide excellent views of the Sandhill Cranes while they are on their river roost.

According to Eleanor Roosevelt, “the purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.”


Minden Nebraska. Area Attractions.

Kearny County Museum. Exhibits.

Nebraska Game and Parks. Fort Kearny State Historical Park. 

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