Founded in 1854, Nebraska City is one of the oldest settlements in Nebraska. From the beginning, it was a thriving community filled both with pioneers traveling through on their way west and those looking to settle the new territory. Steamboats and stagecoaches were a common site in Nebraska City and the population boomed.
One early resident was J. Sterling Morton, who arrive din 1855 as the young, enthusiastic editor of the Nebraska City News. Morton was a life-long lover of nature and used his position at the paper to educate the public on benefits of planting trees in the then treeless prairie. In 1872, five years after Nebraska became America’s 37th state, Morton proposed that Nebraska residents set aside a day every year to plant trees. “Arbor Day,” as he called it, soon became a state holiday and has since grown to be recognized in all 50 states and in many countries around the world. Now celebrated on the last Friday in April, Nebraska City’s annual Arbor Day Celebration has grown into a city-wide festival with activities that revolve around tree planting, conservation, fun, and education.
Nebraska City is not only known for being the Home of Arbor Day. The community is ripe with activities in September and October to celebrate a bountiful apple harvest, recalling more than 100 years of fertile and commercial orchards operating in and around the area. Happening annual on the third and fourth weekends in September, the AppleJack Festival offers craft shows, museum tours, a quilt show, a bull riding competition, carnival, classic car show, a parade highlighted with a marching band competition, water barrel fights, a Progressive Dinner, and the Taste of AppleJack ‘All Things Apple’ Recipe Contest, featuring apple-infused goodies to eat and drink. Meanwhile, throughout the fall, visitors to Arbor Day Farm can enjoy the Tree Adventure attractions, including trails and the Treetop Village, and shop in the Apple House Market. Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard offers u-pick opportunities and wine tastings, and visitors can see how apples are processed and cider is produced onsite. Wostrel Family’s Union Orchard, located just north of Nebraska City, rounds out the trio of orchards with family-friendly events and a large outdoor pavilion.
Nebraska City recently added a new summer festival centered around the 4th of July called the Treestock Independence Day Celebration. Weekend events include an all-day outdoor concert, food trucks, cornhole tournament, an obstacle color run, a community worship service, car show, golf scramble, legion baseball games, and, of course, fireworks.
Shopping in Nebraska City ranges from boutique speciality shops to antique stores to general needs locations. Nebraska City boasts a thriving downtown district on Central Avenue as well as a commercial area on South 11th Street. Restaurants populate both areas, serving up fast food, fine dining, and everything in between. For lodging, we offer a variety of award-winning hotels, motels, campgrounds, and even a bed-and-breakfast. For those seeking leisure activities, Nebraska City has three golf courses, a three-screen movie theatre, a bowling alley, sand volleyball courts, a dog park, a multi-million dollar aquatic center, tennis courts, basketball courts, pickle ball courts, walking trails, nine museums, and art galleries. Summer events include a weekly Farmers Market and a Downtown Movie Series.
For details on all things Nebraska City, visit NebraskaCity.com!