Favorite Gardens in Nebraska

Shannon Peterson
| February 22, 2024 | 4 Minute Read
Trees and shrubs with fall foliage surround a large greenhouse. Lauritzen Gardens

Gardening is a relaxing hobby for many, but you don’t need to dig in the dirt to enjoy the sense of calm a garden delivers. Just checking out a beautiful landscape is a wonderful way to spend your time.

Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha

From its perch atop a Missouri River bluff in Omaha, Lauritzen Gardens majestically greets travelers on Interstate 80. It’s hard to believe a place this beautiful was built on what once was a landfill. Head for the elegant, glass-roofed conservatory (above), which is home to tropical gardens—if you time your visit right, you may see bananas on a tree—as well as a temperate garden. Often, the conservatory is graced with a sculpture exhibit that has pieces interspersed among the plants.

After visiting the conservatory, head outdoors. (You can save the gift shop or café in the adjacent visitor center for the way back.) The 100-acre grounds boast multiple gardens and trails. Don’t miss the Model Railroad Garden, which travels through plantings on a hill near the Rose Garden. The miniature trains’ whimsical journeys run daily beginning in May and pass several re-creations of Omaha landmarks.

Sunken Gardens, Lincoln

For another eye-popping experience, follow the westbound I-80 travelers to Lincoln and its Sunken Gardens. This, too, was once a dumping ground. Beautification began in 1930, resulting in 1.5-acres of serenity. Stroll the paths, linger amid the blooms and take a moment or two by the pond. With such a lovely setting around you, don’t be surprised to encounter a wedding party being photographed.

A large fountain in the middle of a manicured grassy area surrounded by green trees. Michelle DeRusha

Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, Lincoln and statewide

The statewide arboretum offers lots of spots for whiling away a gorgeous day. It started in 1978 as a partnership tasked to create arboretums (above) across Nebraska where a variety of flora would be planted, cared for and enjoyed.

It was born from the concept that in an area as large as Nebraska, plants in one part of the state aren’t relevant to people in another part of the state. The same applies to climate and growing conditions. Today you can visit more than 100 arboretums and public gardens affiliated with the statewide arboretum across Nebraska.

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