Please sign in to post.

What to do in North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, or Ohio?

So I have a goal to visit all 50 states before I turn 50. I currently have ND, NE, OK, and OH left. Any suggestions of fun things to do in these states?

In particular, I like doing "unique" things when I travel, not attractions that I can find most anywhere (e.g. no aquariums, escape rooms, botanical gardens, museums unless really world-class or unique). I'd like to hit the quirky or "only in this state" kind of attractions.

Thanks for advice!

Posted by
205 posts

In Nebraska we liked Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Arbor Lodge State Park and the Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City, the Quilt Museum and the State Capitol in Lincoln.
In North Dakota, the Enchanted Highway and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Also
Fort Mandan and Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
and Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.

Posted by
5231 posts

Can only speak for Nebraska where I once worked.

CarHenge in Alliance
Palm Garden Lounge in Kearney. Played many a game of quarters there.
Chimney Rock
Watching the Sandhill Crane Migration. Between Feb and April.
Happy Jack Chalk Mine off of Hwy 11
and if you can try getting a ticket to a CornHuskers Football game in Lincoln.

Posted by
766 posts

No much in Oklahoma.

OKC has the river walk (similar to San Antonio), we have lot of lakes with fishing, camping, hiking. Okc does have a nice art museum. They have an exhibit coming in June with impressionist artiste, IE Monet, etc.

Casinos (LOL);

I live in suburb of Tulsa.... no not up on OKC area.

Tulsa has a new park called the Gathering place, never been but going tomorrow with Grandkids.

We have a glass blowing school in downtown tulsa which I do volunteer work for. I do the glass fusing art at the school.

said you don't like museums but we do have two nice museums philbrook and gilcrease.

If you are a runner, we have the Route 66 marathon race in November. I have done it 3 times .

Pioneer women has a restaurant and ranch you can tour sometimes in Pawhuska, OK

We have 66 route highway that has some weird stops along the way, ie Blue whale, round barn, pops restaurant.

Can't think of anything else right off the bat now.

No tee - pees...… Some people think we live in tee-pees.

Posted by
28 posts

For major cities in Ohio, as someone who lives 30 minutes from the Ohio border, lived in Cleveland for 4 years, and been to Columbus and Cincinnati a few times, pick either Cincinnati or Cleveland. Not much to Columbus, I would avoid. Cleveland gets a bad rap, but it’s really not that bad (just visit during the summer!) . It grew stale for me probably because I lived there for 4 years, but their Flats district, Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, West Side market, metroparks, and affordable pro sports events are top things to do. There’s also cedar point, which is a popular amusement park that is dubbed the roller coaster capital of the world, so not your typical amusement park. About an hour from Cleveland. I don’t have much advice to offer regarding Cincinnati as I’ve only been there are few times and each time was for attending a sporting event and bar hopping downtown, so not much exploring, but their over the Rhine area of downtown has really developed and it is cool to be down by the river and even looking across at Kentucky. There’s also the pro football hall of fame in Canton if you’re looking for a “unique” experience. Not far from Cleveland

Posted by
2486 posts

We lived in Norman, Oklahoma for 6 years and found a few things unique and fun to do while living there. We loved looking for armadillos and roadrunners on our many drives on country roads. Going to see the active oil well(s) on the state capitol lawn was unique and our guests thought the Cowboy Hall of Fame was fun.

Our most unique and memorable experience, however, was going to the Great Salt Plains near OKC to dig for selenite crystals. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/salt_plains/visit/dig.html It is only allowed seasonally so take a look at the dates mentioned in the website.

We also looked for rose rocks along rural road banks and have a lot of great specimens. http://www.ou.edu/ogs/generalinterest/rose_rocks

You asked for unique.

Posted by
859 posts

Thanks, y'all, some great, funny suggestions thus far! @LizinPA, the "Save the Best for Last" club is hysterical; I wonder what percent of people visit ND dead last? @Claudia, the pictures of CarHenge are a hoot, some people must have a lot of time on their hands. :)

Posted by
81 posts

If you like baseball, go to Omaha, NE during the college world series. I went for a 14U tournament my son was in and we had a lot of fun at the World Series events.

Posted by
661 posts

Far northwestern Nebraska has a couple of very interesting sites:
Fort Robinson (don’t miss the mammoth skeletons, where 2 locked horns and died)
Toadstool geologic Park (erosion in badlands)
Buffalo jump
Museum of the Fur Trade
Agate Fossil Beds Nat’l Monument

We stayed near Crawford at the High Plains Homestead multiple times. Haven’t been there in some years but it is truly unique place.

The Sand Hills are beautiful. Don’t drive across Nebraska on I-80. It’s dull. Take highway 2.

North Platte has an interesting train platform where you can watch trains being sorted.

Route 26 is a major route with quite a bit of traffic (unlike the sand hills which are quite empty) but has some interesting sites:
Winch Hill where you can see wagon ruts
Chimney Rock
Scott’s Bluff.

Posted by
150 posts

Oklahoma City has 2 outstanding museums. The OKC Museum of Art has one of the largest collections of Chihuly glass in the world and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is a world class museum of all things western.

I grew up in North Dakota and visited Medora and the Teddy Roosevelt NP a couple years ago. Include time for the outdoor musical show in Medora.

Posted by
16 posts

The Woodchipper at the Fargo-Moorhead Visitor Center is certainly unique.
Fort Robinson State Park in Nebraska.

Posted by
664 posts

Pheasant hunting in ND. Counting combines in NE. Shepler's in OKC. Wright Patterson in OH.

There's always the ever popular "hit a deer" in any of those. Experience a tornado is another fairly common event. OH is the easiest to get a ticket in.

Basically they're "get through" States; you have to get through them to go someplace. I've driven I 40, I 70, and I 80 so many times...

Posted by
156 posts

In Ohio, birders flock to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and the adjacent Magee Marsh area during migration seasons. Just be mindful of when Elmer Fudd is allowed to be there. Also in Ohio is Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is particularly pleasant during fall color season.

In North Dakota, yes, Theodore Roosevelt National Park. See both districts, as they are different. Also, the state house in Bismarck is rather uniquely vertical. (It's an RV thing to try to visit all 50.)

Posted by
766 posts

Lo - gosh..... I did forget about OKC memorial... It is a very emotional place

Posted by
150 posts

I also forgot to mention it. It is such a meaningful memorial, I hope you take time to visit it and the museum. The museum has been updated and is excellent.

Posted by
287 posts

Greetings from the state that is round on the ends and high in the middle :) Yup Ohio :) I can help with the western side of the state - I haven't been to Cleveland much, so I am no help there. I live in Columbus and went to college down near Cincinnati and half my family is in Toledo.

Cincinnati

Jungle Jims - It is a huge international grocery store. It is truly unique. Not only can you get food from all over the world there, there are hidden surprises at every turn. In the British section, you can see Robin Hood, but if you look up in the middle of an aisle, you will see his gold stash. They have a great beer and wine selection. The cheese section is out of this world. https://junglejims.com/ - Go to the original one in Fairfield.

The American Sign Museum is a place on my to visit list the next time we go down for our German fix :)

It is also fun to be along the river. You can cross the river on the Purple People Bridge. and go over to Newport KY. (They have one of the 6 official Hofbrau Hauses in the US outside of Munich)

Speaking of German, Cincinnati has a huge German population with active German clubs. If you hit the time of the year right, there could be something going on. Oktoborfest and the Christmas Markets are popular. The coolest Christmas Market is at Germania the weekend before Thanksgiving. The others start after Thanksgiving and are downtown Cincy. http://germaniasociety.com/

Toledo

My favorite place to go is for eating is at Tony Packos. The Original on Front St is the best. The one at the Ball Park would be my second choice. The others aren't as fun. It is a Hungarian restaurant known for it's hot dogs. So if you remember MAS*H this place was mentioned several times by Jamie Farr's character (who is a Toledo Native). The fun thing about this place, is they have famous people sign hot dog buns. https://www.tonypacko.com/.

Toledo also has a great Art Museum and Zoo.

In Maumee which is town outside Toledo - there are two historic places. First is a marker for the Battle of Fallen Timbers (1794). The second is Fort Meigs, which was part of the War of 1812. We were at a British Car Show at the Fort and they were filming for the History Channel on the War of 1812 so that was cool. Also Maumee is a river and if you are into fishing you can fish there for fish that normally live in Lake Erie that come up the river to spawn.

Dayton

The National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton is worth visiting. Also if you hit it right, there is a Air Show sometime in the Summer. Not sure when. As a kid I remember it being really fun! The Wright Brothers were born not too far away, so there is a huge Aviation presence in Dayton. https://www.daytoncvb.com/things-to-do/aviation-sites/

Not too far north of Dayton in Wapakoneta is the Armstrong Air and Space which is also on my list of places to visit

Columbus
I am going to respectfully disagree with the poster above about skipping Columbus. Yes, things are a bit crazy around here during football season, but Columbus is more than just The Ohio State University. I will say it is an interesting campus to walk around. (But Miami University down near Cincinnati in Oxford is better)

German Village and the Book Loft are fun places to visit. The Book Loft has over 30 rooms of books. It is a fun maze to get lost in. German Village also has a German Restaurant called Schmidt's. Which has been on the Food Network. It is famous for it's sausage and cream puffs. When Arnold Schwarzenegger is in town for the Arnold Classic you might catch a glimpse of him here. German Village has an old world feel to it. It is fun just to walk around.

Speaking of Arnold, there is a statue of him downtown at the Convention Center. Every March people from all over come to compete in Health and Sports for the Arnold Classic. He brought it to Columbus as he won his first body building competition here.

Posted by
287 posts

Continued

Columbus

Our North Market has some really fun eating establishments. Momo Gar was on the Food Network and was listed in the Yelp top 100 for the country. Hot Chicken Take Over, Herbert's, Pastaria, and Jeni's are also favorites of mine.

The Franklin Park Conservatory. I know you said no botanical gardens, but it has a great collection of Chihuly Glass which is something special to see. Plus during the spring there they do Butterflies and Blooms.

Columbus also has one of the other 6 Hofbrau Hauses in the US.

There are also all kinds of festival that are going on all summer down town from Food Trucks, to Jazz and Ribs, to Art. The Short North has a gallery hop on the first Saturday of each month. Also Dublin (a suburb of Cbus) has a Memorial Golf Tournament in May/Jun, which draws big names, and a huge Irish Fest in August.

An hour south east from Columbus is Hocking Hills which has some spectacular scenes and hiking trails if you enjoy being outdoors. Old Man's Cave is great!

New Concord Ohio has the childhood home of John Glenn.

Cumberland Ohio has The Wilds. It is an old strip mine that has been turned into zoo of sorts. Some of the animals that live there are extinct in the wild. It has a connection with the Columbus Zoo (Of Jack Hanna fame and worth seeing). At the Wilds you ride in buses around the park and the animals wander free. Watch out for the ponies they like to nibble on the buses.

An hour north from Columbus in Mansfield is Malabar Farms. Humphry Bogart and Lauren Becall got married there. In early spring they have a Maple Sugar Festival.

Also in Mansfield you can do the Shawshank Movie Trail and visit sites where they filmed the movie.

Berlin Ohio has a huge Amish Settlement.

Plus Ohio has 7 presidents that were born here. So there are many sites to visit http://touringohio.com/trivia/ohio-presidents.html and https://www.cleveland.com/travel/2008/10/ohios_presidential_homes_open.html

If you PM me with details of when and where, I am happy to think up other things to do. I love finding place to eat too!

Posted by
1402 posts

@lo I thought the OKC Bombing Museum to be one of the worst I have ever visited.

On the other hand, the 45th Infantry Division Museum is one of the best.

Posted by
5486 posts

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1709324-dakota-a-spiritual-geography

“Once, when I was describing to a friend from Syracuse, New York, a
place on the plains that I love, a ridge above a glacial moraine with
a view of almost fifty miles, she asked, "But what is there to see?"
The answer, of course, is nothing. Land, sky, and the ever-changing
light.” ― Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography

“The fact that one people's frontier is usually another's homeland has
been mostly overlooked.” ― Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual
Geography

Posted by
1076 posts

"And Badlands N.P. In ND"

Badlands NP is in South Dakota.

Posted by
1038 posts

At Nebraska city I also recommend arbor lodge at the state park. Even if you aren't a huge fan of museums, I recommend the archway museum across I 80 at Kearney... a unique concept with a working vintage soda fountain!!!!

Posted by
2703 posts

I'd say 2 highlights of Ohio (many drive throughs)

  1. Cedar Point for the roller coasters. There's nothing like it anywhere in the world and it puts the virtual reality places like Universal Studios (which costs 3 times as much) to shame. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBgNx8nts70 Seasonal opening, of course.

  2. Dayton for the Air Force Museum. Also in Dayton is a bunch of Wright Brothers stuff and an enormous Greek revival Masonic Temple which is open for wandering around in, kind of fascinating.

Would be interested in seeing the Indian Mounds of SE Ohio at some point https://www.tripsavvy.com/ohios-fascinating-indian-mounds-753018

North Dakota: Gets short shrift but there is stuff to see, the Badlands (NB: the ND Badlands are in Theodore Roosevelt NP) and the viewpoint right @ I-94 rest stop is sensational at sunset.

Interesting that Georgia is my last state of the Lower 48.

One of the benefits of visiting large countries is there are lots of interesting alleys and byways away from (all) tourists.

Posted by
303 posts

Come to the Queen City! (Cincinnati) Our river city with its hills is stunning. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of the best. Downtown is the Freedom Center which chronicles the struggle for human rights around the world. The Museum Center at Union Terminal once was a major passenger train station that now houses all kinds of exhibits and a children's interactive area. The art deco architecture and the murals in the rotundra are amazing. See the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge which was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1866 and the prototype of the Brooklyn Bridge. Visit Over the Rhine area in downtown with elegant Music Hall (home to some of the finest arts groups in the region), Findlay Market ( open air market similar to ones in Europe), breweries galore, restaurants and shops. Streetcars run through this area. Sitting above the river with great views of the river and Kentucky is Eden Park where you will also find the Cincinnati Art Museum. There are riverboat cruises available. You might happen to arrive when a festival is going on. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is one of the best.

As you can tell, we love our city. Come and join us in the fun!

Posted by
1510 posts

At least your last few states are together. Mine last five are skattered- Alaska, Montana, Maine, Vermont, and Arkansas.

Posted by
5634 posts

And also in Cincinnati, The Freedom Center,
which focuses on the Underground Railroad. It sits on the banks of the Ohio River which slaves crossed over from Kentucky to Ohio. It is extremely well done.

Posted by
37 posts

In Ohio, travel between May and October. Anytime else can be a real weather adventure. Or beautiful. You just don't know. Regardless, check out the Lake Erie Islands in Lake Erie. Kelley's Island is a quiet area with areas to explore. South Bass Island and Put-in-Bay are definitely party spots, but still attractive and toned down during the week. Cleveland's neighborhoods and ethnic eateries are fantastically unique. Lakeview Cemetery has a collection of celebrities both national and local hard to match, including President Garfield and John D. Rockefeller. And the riverfront area in Cincinnati is worth seeing and attractive, even from teh Kentucky side of the Ohio River. Amish Country (Holmes County area) in the fall is unmatched in its foliage, rolling farms, and Amish culture.

I know Ohio awfully well..good and bad....let me know if I can help!

I myself have AK, HI, LA, MS, and AL to hit in the next 3.5 years before I'm 50! Good luck!

Posted by
1478 posts

Interestingly, my April issue of Smithsonian magazine includes an ad from VisitNebraska.com with the headline "Lucky for you there's nothing to do here." Now THAT's a different slant!

I grew up in Oklahoma City and find the suggestions that people have offered here to be excellent for my home state. There are a couple of wonderful Native American art galleries in OKC as well.

Posted by
3 posts

A little late to the party, but the Omaha Zoo really should make the list! It's consistently ranked as a top zoo in the country and has incredible exhibits, including The Desert Dome and Kingdoms of the Night. http://www.omahazoo.com/

Seeing a Husker game (or hanging out a sports bar during a game) would be something of cultural experience - be sure to wear red! Eating at Runza is also a pretty uniquely Nebraska experience.

Posted by
1803 posts

Check Atlas Obscura if you want to find the quirky in whatever location you are visiting. Roadside America website is another place to find more off-beat, unique attractions.

Posted by
20598 posts

To add to the Nebraska list -- Harold Warp Pioneer Village, Buffalo Bill's Ranch in North Platte,, the Union Pacific railroad yards in North Platte -- largest in the world, Big Ollie's Game Bar in Paxton, Nebraska National Forest -- once the largest man-made forest, now only second to a forest in China. Lots of unique things in Nebraska.

Posted by
3200 posts

The literal high points of Nebraska and North Dakota are both on the far western edge of each state. If you're driving, you'd get to pass through the Sand Hills and South Dakota, too.

Unlike a strenuous multi-day expedition to the top of Mt. McKinley (a/k/a Denali) in Alaska, or even a lung-busting ascent of Colorado's Mt. Elbert, the place with the highest elevation in NE, Panorama Point, is in the middle of the prairie, in the far western tip of the panhandle, just east of the junction of the state lines of Colorado and Wyoming. It's a millimeter higher than anything else within 5 miles. There's a marker on the spot, so you won't confuse its location. Even as tall as Scott's Bluff is, farther east, Panorama Point is higher.

In North Dakota, White Butte is on a farm, and they ask for $5 to help keep the trail up to it in good condition. It's actually a bluff that stands prominent above the surrounding land, but isn't a huge climb by any means, just a hike with some elevation gain. I started off the hike by going through a gate, and the cattle in the field all came running towards me . . . must've thought it was feeding time.

Have you been on Brasstown Bald, Georgia's high point?

Posted by
3 posts

As a Cincy transplant, the one thing I really don't see on here is a food tour. Like Chicago, you can do different levels of sophistication (chili parlor/fast food to German/brewery to fancy.) I would second the Native American mound link as one unique thing that you can't do elsewhere easily. You can link Cincy/Dayton/mounds together easily or Cleveland/Lake Erie. The far edges of the state are about 4-4.5 hours apart driving legally. You've probably got too much OH advice on here, but it's an easy state to see compared to AK (off my list thanks to a cruise).

Posted by
7 posts

As a Nebraska native, I have a few ideas for you:

Omaha is a really fun city with a lot of interesting things to do, depending on your interests. I agree that the Henry Doorly zoo is truly world class and worth checking out. Also, the College World Series is great if you are a baseball fan (or even if you’re not!). That usually is going on in June.

The state capitol building in Lincoln is worth a visit. Unique neo-Byzantine architecture. It has an ahem interesting nickname which I can’t post here, but if you google it you’ll find out.

Nebraska city is really beautiful almost any time of year, but especially in the fall. They are best known for their apple orchards. The best time to visit is during the applejack festival in September. It’s probably my favorite place in the whole state. If you go, stay at the Arbor lodge and you won’t be disappointed.

Another idea for you is Ash Falls, which is a fossil dig in the north central part of the state. I haven’t been myself (yet-planning to visit in a few weeks). I have been told by others that it’s very interesting.

Personally, and I mean no offense to anyone, but I thought the Kearney Bridge museum was not worth stopping off the road for, much less making a special trip for.

Posted by
7 posts

Oh and also I strongly second the Oklahoma City Memorial. Very moving. Also, there is a lovely bed and breakfast in Norman OK called the Montford Inn. Highly recommend.

Posted by
20598 posts

I disagree. I thought the Archway at Kearney was well done. From my perspective well worth the time. Also a native of Broken Bow.

Posted by
3 posts

In North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park & Knife River Indian Villages & Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Sites are musts. Medora Musical is way overrated & overpriced. Hiking or biking part of the Maah Dah Hey Trail is unique & interesting. The Lewis & Clark Trail goes across the state & you can follow most of it by car. If you’re here during any of the ethnic celebrations, mostly German, Ukrainian or Norwegian, those can be fun. I’d also check into any of the Powwows that might be taking place on the American Indian reservations. The Great Plains culture is alive & thriving.

Posted by
11677 posts

From my husband, who was born and raised in Canton, Ohio. His brother and sister still live there, and we enjoy visiting.

Start with a short visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Buy a roll,of duct tape emblazoned with the name and logo of your favorite team.

Then drive out to Amish Country south and west of town ( route 62, south of Highway 30). Millersburg, Walnut Creek, Berlin are some of the towns. Stop in Lehman's and buy something you didn't know you need (but you do).

https://www.lehmans.com

Finish the day back in Canton with dinner at Bender's Tavern, a Canton institution since 1902. You may be the only people in there who don't know most everyone else. Bring a big appetite and "Go local" with the Camp Kagel walleye (if you like fish).

https://www.bendersrestaurant.com

Posted by
2941 posts

North Dakota was where my daughter had her first freeway driving experience while learning to drive. It was great, All she had to do was drive straight with virtually no traffic around......

Theodore Roosevelt Grasslands are worth the stop. I always the enjoy the miles of sunflower fields in Eastern North Dakota.

Posted by
837 posts

Congratulations! I have two left - AK and HI.

In Oklahoma I liked the Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Foraker (near Pawhuska mentioned earlier). Marland Mansion in Ponca City is very interesting and impressive if you like historic homes. There’s a Frank Lloyd Wright- designed office tower in Bartlesville if you like architecture. Keep your gas tank full or at a half tank in some of these locales—long stretches w/o many services in some locations.