A Midwest Road Trip: Iowa and Nebraska

Day 5 of our self-planned Midwest USA road trip and we’d already taken in Wisconsin and Minnesota since leaving Chicago, Illinois.

After an exciting start to the day seeing the Largest Ball of Twine in the World in Minnesota, we were delayed arriving in the state of Iowa after hitting a few roadblocks and being forced to take some lengthy diversions.

Once across the state line, we headed straight for “Ice Cream capital of the World”, otherwise known as the town of Le Mars. Le Mars is home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream and we went straight to the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlour. There was a small museum about the history of the company upstairs but we were mainly there to taste the wares, settling onto a bar stool to demolish an ice cream sundae!

Crossing into the stateof Nebraska

With time ticking on, we abandoned our tentative plans for stops at a few more roadside attractions in Iowa and instead continued on to the city of Omaha in Nebraska state. We had left our hotel in St Paul, Minnesota at 7.30am that morning and it was 5.30pm when we finally arrived at our Omaha hotel, our 7 hour drive actually taking us 10 hours!

In the city of Omaha, Nebraska, and below, in Heartlands of America Park

The hotel receptionist was extremely excited to have visitors from the UK at the hotel, wondering what on earth had brought us to Omaha and repeatedly asking us to speak so he could hear our accents!

Exhausted from along day on the road, we resisted the urge to stay in the hotel all evening and instead got the hotel shuttle to the city’s Heartland of America Park.

We had read that it was possible to get gondola rides in the park’s lake over the summer months which we thought sounded like a fun, if a little random, thing to do. Unfortunately, they were not operating that evening but the standard boat rides were so we hopped on the next boat for a trip around the lake, past its impressive fountain, just as the sun started to set.

From the park, we walked into the city and had dinner at a local pizzeria before strolling back to our hotel for a well-deserved sleep.

An airboat to ourselves, and below, our airboat adventure on the Platte River

The following morning, we were leaving Omaha city – and Nebraska state – to head to Kansas City, Missouri. But first, we had a pre-booked morning we had really been looking forward too – airboating on the Platte River just outside of Omaha city. There were a few companies offering this but we had booked a 10am slot with Bryson’s Airboats.

Possibly because it was an early-ish morning slot, we were the only ones on the tour so had the boat to ourselves!

Stood in the Platte River

It was a beautifully sunny morning. Our guide took us up and down the river stopping to point out points of interest and to look for wildlife along the way. We were really lucky to see huge golden and bald eagles up close .

Half way through our tour, we were invited to step out of the boat into a shallow section of water in the middle of the river and pose for photos. It wasn’t until we were in that snapping turtles were mentioned but we were assured there’d not be any in that part of the river!!

There were plenty of other airboats out on the river, mainly privately owned boats for personally use, and our guide stopped to introduce us to people he knew explaining they rarely had out-of-Staters visiting Omaha, never mind Brits!

Other airboats out enjoying the morning sunshine on the Platte River

The airboat tour was without a doubt the best thing we had done on our trip so far and, even though we were only a week into our road trip, we all agreed, the experience was going to be hard to top.

It had been a short visit to Nebraska state but definitely one we wouldn’t forget in a hurry!

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