Nearly 40,000 people have already joined in the 2017 Nebraska Passport program, the Tourism Commission’s annual campaign encouraging travelers to explore the state while collecting stamps and earning prizes.
The games run from May 1st to Sept. 30th and are completely free to participate in. There are 80 stops to hit along the way, spread all across the state. For those who collect all 80 stamps, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a $1200 prize pack from Omaha Steaks, consisting of 95 lbs of meat and a five foot chest freezer. Other drawing include a weekend trip somewhere around the state, worth $500 as well as 300 $1 Nebraska Lottery tickets. There are cumulative base prizes for all the less fortunate folk, including t-shirts, chocolates, and a jacket.
The passports will take you all over Nebraska, with a little bit to do in every town. In Omaha, there are stops at eCreamery, Infusion Brewing, the Artist Co-op, the Lauritzen Gardens, and a few others.
You can pack up the car and take a trip to Alliance, NE to see, well, cars! Alliance is the home of the hilarious homage to Stonehenge, known as Carhenge! The quirky display is a popular Nebraska landmark, and is bound to rev anyone’s engine.
A stop in Our Corner Cottage Gifts in Wahoo, NE will have everyone you bring a souvenir back to wahooing! The gift shop gives you a chance to relax and enjoy coffee on the cozy porch with a lovely view of the countryside. Passport travelers even receive a special discount.
In the beautiful town of Seward, you can stop at Chapters is an independent, locally owned book and toy store featuring a large selection of books about Nebraska, and works by Nebraska authors. After you’ve picked out a nice read, you can stop and enjoy high-quality wines made from locally grown grapes at Junto Wine. Be sure to check their website for events because they offer live music!
As far as beautiful scenery goes, you’d be hard pressed to find more scenic areas than the Niobrara State Park or the Smith Falls State Park. Some of the more unique sites are the Happy Jack Salt Mine and the Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, because who doesn’t love dinosaurs!
Stop in Lincoln for lunch at Runza before hitting the state capitol building and the Nebraska History Museum. Don’t forget to stop at the UNL Dairy Store and UN State History Museum, as well as the American Speedway’s Museum of American Speed.
There’s an entire subsection of the Passport adventure devoted to booze! There’s the Glacial Till Tasting Room in Ashland, known for their wines and ciders; or get away from it all at the Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard which is as much of a destination spot as it is a winery.
In the first month alone, 24,000 passports were distributed. Over 12,000 requests have come in this year from 40 different states and 352 Nebraska communities. There’s a good chance you’ll run into some other folk on their own adventure, so be prepared to make some new friends along the way.
Passport booklets are available at participating stops and the app can be download for free in the Apple Store and Google Play-- simply search for “NE Passport”. Travelers are encouraged to share stories about their time, traveling the state on nebraskapassport.com.
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