Oliver Reservoir Recreation Area

For those of you interested in camping or other outdoor activities along the Lincoln Highway, there is a great spot just 10 miles west of Kimball in the Nebraska Panhandle.  Oliver Reservoir Recreation Area is a wonderful option for those looking to get off of the road and stretch their legs or anyone who is looking for some fun in the water without the massive crowds that are usually found at Lake McConaughy during the summer.  Oliver Reservoir is situated on 917 acres of land with a 270 acre, two-level lake that is open to boating, fishing, swimming and other water sports.

There are three entrances to the Rec area off of the Lincoln Highway, there are 75 pad sites and 100 non-pad camping sites as well as 130 picnic tables, 142 grills and two shelters with electricity.  So no matter whether you’re stopping for an afternoon or a weekend there should always be a spot for you.  A designated swimming area on the north side of the lake give you an option of cooling off during the summer heat and two boat ramps give you easy access for more aquatic fun.

Oliver provides a nice mix of fishing opportunities due to the fact that it’s a two-story lake capable of supporting both cold and warm water fish species.  You can generally find Walleye, Yellow Perch, Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Bluegill, and limited numbers of Rainbow Trout.

If you’re looking for outdoor fun in on the Lincoln Highway out by the western edge of Nebraska Oliver Reservoir is just the place you’re looking for.

Dude’s Steakhouse

If you’re looking for a place to stop and eat or have a beer in Sidney, Nebraska then stay on Highway 30 until you see the bull on the sign.  This is your sign to stop at Dude’s Steakhouse & Brandin’ Iron Bar.  This steakhouse has been family owned since 1952 and has been a Sidney fixture ever since.  They serve all manner of gigantic pieces of beef and a wide range of seafood as well as all of your favorites like burgers, salads and sandwiches.

 The Brandin’ Iron Bar at Dude’s is one of Sidney’s local hotspots for nightlife.  If you’re spending the night in town and are looking to knock a few back, take a twirl on the dance floor or just have a nice night after a day on the road, it’s the place you’re looking for.

So to review; giant pieces of Nebraska raised beef, everything else you could want from a steakhouse, drinks and dancing at night, all right on the Lincoln Highway.  When you’re in Sidney you need to stop at Dude’s.  Just look for the bull.

Bergie’s

If you’re looking to take a break from the road in Chappell, Nebraska then head over to Bergie’s.  This restaurant/bar/bowling alley is the perfect place to waste some time in western Nebraska.  They open at 9am every day but Sunday and serve a limited breakfast menu.  For lunch they have all of your favorites but I recommend the bacon grilled cheese.  I’m sure all of their other options are great as well but bacon in a grilled cheese is the pure delicious stuff of a truly evil genius.

After 12 pm they start serving beer and have a decent selection of options.  If you’re looking to kill more time than just a meal or are looking to get out of the hot afternoon sun you should probably bowl a game or two.  Their bowling prices are absurdly cheap and shoe rental is $.80.  That is not a typo, shoe rental for bowling is 80 cents.  The best part of bowling at Bergie’s is that it’s truly an old style bowling alley down to the score keeping.  That’s right, you’re using a pencil and a scorecard. There are no fancy computers or TV screens broadcasting to the world your ineptness at knocking down pins with a heavy ball.

The staff is friendly, the food comes out quickly, and it’s less than a block from the Lincoln Highway.  Get out of the car, have a meal and loosen up to throw a few frames.  You’ll be glad you took a pit stop in Chappell and went to Bergie’s.

Bergie’s Website

University of Nebraska Kearney

If you’re rolling through Kearney a great place to pull off of the Lincoln Highway is at the University of Nebraska Kearney.  It’s a prototypical Midwestern college campus to the point of being a stereotypical college campus.  That is not a bad thing, it means there are trees and lush lawns, small-college sized buildings that adhere to the same architectural style.  It is in short a very nice place to take a stroll or sit in the shade on a nice summer day.

If you’re looking for some history on your stroll through UNK stop by the Frank House.  Built in 1886, this stone mansion was the first house west of the Missouri River to be wired for electricity during construction.  Throughout it’s history it has served as a Sanitarium and Tuberculosis Hospital, and now plays host to small concerts, events, and Halloween tours.  The architecture features Tiffany stained glass and a host of antiques.  Tours are always free and it’s well worth wandering over to check it out while you’re in Kearney.

After you’ve wandered around campus for a bit, visit the Museum of Nebraska Art in the renovated Kearney Post office located just off of the Lincoln Highway in downtown Kearney.  This museum has a collection of over 5,000 pieces of art that represent artists like George Catlin, Robert Henri and John James Audubon.  The museum also features pieces by current Nebraska artists and offers tours and workshops for thousands of people every year.

Get off of the highway for a bit, stretch your legs and see some of the things that make Kearney a great little college town.

Green Apple Cafe

If you find yourself hungry for breakfast, lunch, or pie while passing through Cozad, stop at the Green Apple Café.  It offers everything you’re looking for in a small-town main street café.  There are plenty of breakfast options but if you’re really hungry go for one of the platters.  The servings are enormous and the food’s great, thus you will be stuck with a dilemma.  Do you stop because you’re full or keep going because it tastes so dang good?  No matter when you go you should probably save room for a piece of pie.  The selection is extensive and on any given day there will be more than a dozen to choose from.  No matter what flavor you choose you can’t go wrong.  They are all amazing and what’s the point of being on vacation if there’s no room for a little pie in your schedule?  The service is prompt and friendly, the food plentiful and once again, get some pie.

If you want to get to the Green Apple Café simply get off of the Lincoln Highway and head north on Meridian Street.  It’s right there just off of Meridian on 8th Street in downtown Cozad.

Grand Theatre

The Grand Theatre in Grand Island is a true throwback.  It has been lovingly restored to it’s original state by a group of local volunteers.  No detail has been overlooked.  The carpet in the lobby is an exact replica of the original pattern from the 1930’s, there is Art Deco neon lighting both inside and out, the original colored glass façade has been restored and a replica of the original marquee has been painstakingly re-created.  The Grand shows first-run movies on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year.

The completely volunteer run theatre is a true community treasure that gives everyone a chance to see a movie the way that they are meant to be seen, not in some soulless megaplex but in a true grand theatre.  One that allows you to be captured by the movie magic from a time when that still meant something.

If you’re heading through Grand Island on a weekend make sure that you stop in and catch a show, all the proceeds go to the maintenance and restoration of this treasured piece of America.

Gothenburg Pony Express

The Sam Machette Pony Express Station is located in Ehmen Park just blocks from downtown Gothenburg and the Lincoln Highway.  The station is open to visitors from April 1st through October 31st each year.  Admission is free and the guides are more than happy to give a quick overview or a detailed history of the Pony Express in Nebraska; they will also answer any questions you have.

A visit to the Pony Express Station might be worth it just to spend some time lollygagging in the park on a summer day.  Ehmen Park is well maintained and has a variety of shade trees, lawns, and playground equipment.  It looks like it came out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Right across the street from the Pony Express Station is the Gothenburg Historical Museum.  Admission is free and it features displays on Union Pacific’s westward expansion, the power plant that was built in 1891 that made Gothenburg the first town in western Nebraska to have electricity, as well as exhibits on the Swedish and German immigrants who first settled Gothenburg in the 1800’s.

Taking a little while to explore Gothenburg is well worth taking a quick detour off of the Lincoln Highway.  Whether you’re interested in history or just want to escape from your car for a while there are options.

Coney Island Cafe

The Coney Island Café is an old lunch counter tucked away in historic downtown Grand Island.  It’s been in operation for more than 90 years and is open from 8:30-5:00 pm on weekdays and 8:30-3:00 pm on Saturdays.  This historic lunch counter serves a basic breakfast and lunch menu featuring burgers, sandwiches, and of course Coney Dogs.  If you’re looking to avoid soulless chains and have a cheap lunch in a great atmosphere check out Coney Island.  No matter what you order for lunch, be sure you order a shake or malt to wash it down with and maybe have a piece of pie or an ice cream sundae for desert.

Chubby Monkey

As you’re cruising along on the Lincoln Highway you’ll pass through a small non-descript town of Shelton, Nebraska roughly halfway between Grand Island and Kearney. On the east side of Shelton you may notice a gigantic pink ice cream cone.  This is your sign to slow down and immediately pull into the driveway by said ice cream cone. If you make this very wise decision you will now be at The Chubby Monkey where they serve sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, ice cream and just about anything that is made with ice cream, shakes, malts, sundaes..ect.

In addition to all of their wonderful treats they also have a back area with a sandbox and other toys to keep the kids occupied, a nursery with a wide selection of potted plants, and if you happen to be driving by close to Independence Day, a fireworks stand. The Chubby Monkey is, in short, the perfect oasis to get out of the car and relax for a bit. So stop in get an ice cream cone, bask in the wonderful aroma of the nursery and let the kids play in the sandbox.

Chicken Coop Grand Island

If you’re looking for a dinner spot traveling through Grand Island look no farther than the Chicken Coop.  It’s a sports bar and microbrewery with a laid back atmosphere that you expect from central Nebraska.  It’s owned by Thunderhead Brewing based in Kearney and offers over ten different beers on tap that are either brewed right there or in the brewery in Kearney.  They offer a full menu, craft beer, root beer and cream soda made in house and a beer garden for those of you who prefer to eat outdoors.

Located right in historic downtown Grand Island, the Chicken Coop is right across the street from 24-hour free parking and just down the street from historic attractions like the Coney Island Lunch Counter, the Grand Theatre and a host of other shopping and attractions.  For a taste of local flavor in Central Nebraska be sure to head to the Chicken Coop.