North Platte, Nebraska, the home of Buffalo Bill Cody and the Union Pacific Railroad, celebrates its Western heritage. Located in West Central Nebraska, North Platte offers some experiences you won’t find anywhere else, from the opportunity to explore Buffalo Bill’s ranch to the fun of floating down a river in a stock tank.
What To Do
Explore The Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park
Following an eventful career as a soldier, scout, Pony Express rider, and actor, William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody settled in North Platte. However, his retirement was short-lived. He organized a Wild West show and rodeo for North Platte’s Independence Day celebration; word spread of the show, and he was asked to perform in Omaha. This launched the last chapter of his career in entertainment, and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show traveled around the United States and Europe, even performing before British royalty. The showman eventually retired for good on his ranch in North Platte.
Today, you can tour the house and see the parlor where Buffalo Bill hosted dignitaries and celebrities. As you stroll the grounds of the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park, stop by the barn where Buffalo Bill once kept horses; it now houses a collection of wagons and carriages the showman used. You can even see his hunting cabin and the bison that graze on the ranch. And you never know when Buffalo Bill himself and his lovely wife will stop by to visit with you!
Take The Family To Cody Park
Cody Park is much more than just a city park. You’ll know you’re in for a fun experience when you see the Wild West Memorial — including a statue of Buffalo Bill — at the entrance. While the park contains a playground and athletic fields, it also features a wildlife sanctuary and a railroad museum with diesel engines you can climb aboard.
After you visit, enjoy a soft-serve ice cream treat at the park’s sweet shop. There’s also a small children’s amusement park, including a carousel.
Shop Till You Drop At The Fort Cody Trading Post
Stop in for souvenirs, and stay for the fun. As you drive up to the parking lot, you’ll notice the giant 30-foot-tall Buffalo Bill sign welcoming you to the Fort Cody Trading Post. Designed to resemble a fort, the trading post is the perfect spot to pick up gifts and souvenirs, all while checking out unique exhibits, including a miniature version of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show featuring about 20,000 hand-carved pieces and a two-headed calf. Take a walk on the fort’s grounds, which could pass for an outdoor museum with their covered wagons and other Western memorabilia. During the summer, Fort Cody hosts an outdoor concert series.
Pay Your Respects At The 20th Century Veterans Memorial
North Platte’s 20th Century Veterans Memorial honors veterans from each major military conflict of the 1900s, from World War I to the first Iraqi campaign. The memorial recognizes each military branch with sculptures and a walk of honor. It also depicts the volunteers of the North Platte Canteen, who greeted the more than six million soldiers and sailors who passed through the North Platte train depot during World War II.
Climb The Golden Spike Tower At Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard
At Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard, the nation’s largest railyard, you can climb the Golden Spike Tower to watch railcars being moved about. About 150 trains visit North Platte daily to be rearranged and sent off to their final destinations. The 8-floor tower features both an indoor and an outdoor observation deck. State flags from the 14 states served by Union Pacific fly at the base of the tower. You can learn about the history of the company on the first floor before heading to the observation deck.
Stop By The Lincoln County Historical Museum
For a look into North Platte’s history from the Wild West to World War II, take a trip to the Lincoln County Historical Museum. Exhibits cover the lives of early settlers as well as local business ventures. The museum is home to a major World War II exhibit highlighting the North Platte Canteen, which consisted of volunteers who helped the soldiers and sailors traveling through the area. Take a stroll through the early days of North Platte at the museum’s living history town, which features several historic buildings.
Hunt For Treasures At Grain Bin Antique Town
Grain Bin Antique Town is home to 14 wooden grain bins that were once used by farmers during the Great Depression, but now house a variety of antiques and vintage wares. The retail area, located a few miles outside of North Platte, was once a place to relax and entertain during the summer. Today, you’ll find all sorts of unique items, from old soda bottles and clothes to rare books and household goods. With a boardwalk connecting the buildings, the area resembles an old Western town.
Walk Through The Fort McPherson National Cemetery
Pay your respects to the fallen soldiers interred at the Fort McPherson National Cemetery near Maxwell, Nebraska, about a 20-minute drive from North Platte. As you traverse Nebraska’s oldest national cemetery, you’ll find perfectly-aligned stone markers recognizing veterans of the American Indian Wars to veterans of the recent conflicts in the Middle East. The cemetery, which is located a short distance from the original fort, is the final resting place of four Medal of Honor recipients, as well as the members of a World War II aircrew who were buried together.
Check Out Sandhills Drive
Enjoy a leisurely drive along Nebraska’s Sandhills north of the city. Heading north to Stapleton, Nebraska, and then west to Tryon, Nebraska, you’ll take in the rolling hills, named for the sandy dunes that were once part of a prehistoric sea and are now home to a seemingly endless wave of prairie grass. This is the Nebraska of your dreams.
Go Tanking On The North Platte River
What is tanking, anyway? Imagine taking a metal stock watering tank, putting some chairs in it, tossing it in the river, and spending a lazy day floating along.
Dusty Trails is a local outfitter that can organize a river tanking float trip for you. The round tanks include secure seating and a small table. You’ll be given an oar to help push you off the river banks if you get near them. Then, you’ll enjoy a relaxing float along the calm North Platte River. Trips lasting 2 hours to all day are available. You can bring your own drinks and food.
Where To Eat
North Platte’s culinary scene offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy homestyle cooking as well as fine dining featuring outstanding rib-eye and prime-rib steaks.
Espresso Shop By Caravan
Offering freshly made breakfast and lunch, Espresso Shop by Caravan quickly became a local favorite after opening in 2014. Located in downtown North Platte, Espresso Shop attracts locals and visitors for its outstanding coffee and menu. The coffee shop is a great spot to meet friends, and it also hosts local musicians.
Lincoln Highway Diner
A U.S. Route 30 staple, the Lincoln Highway Diner offers homestyle cooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From omelets in the morning to club sandwiches at lunch and chicken-fried steak at dinner, Lincoln Highway Diner has you covered.
Good Life On The Bricks
New to the North Platte dining scene, Good Life on the Bricks opened its downtown location in 2019. Known for its smoked meat, the restaurant also offers barbecue, pizza, burgers, salads, and pasta, as well as vegan options.
Another Round Sports Bar And Grill
You don’t need to be a golfer to dine at Another Round Sports Bar and Grill at the River’s Edge Golf Course. Combining fine dining with the relaxed atmosphere of a sports bar, the restaurant offers a mix of burgers, sandwiches, and salads along with outstanding steaks and prime rib at very reasonable prices.
Where To Stay
Conveniently located off Interstate 80 and a short distance from North Platte’s attractions, the Hampton Inn North Platte offers a quality stay at an affordable rate. The reliable hotel features a complimentary breakfast, an indoor swimming pool, and a fitness center.
Tru by Hilton North Platte offers a streamlined approach. The rooms are sleek and minimalist in design, but with the conveniences of older brands. Offering complimentary breakfast and a fitness center, the Tru also has pet-friendly rooms. The hotel gives out digital keys, making room access much easier.