Located in southeast Nebraska within easy distance of Omaha, Lincoln, and Kansas City, Otoe County is a lovely, rolling region of rich, cultivated soil, apple orchards, vineyards, and untamed woods. It borders the dramatic bluffs and rapid water of the Missouri to the east and, to the west, the High Plains. Otoe, as in the Otoe Indians, is an abbreviation for Watota, which means “lovers of pleasure.” And we’re sure you’ll find much pleasure discovering the geographic diversity of the area as well as the frankly surprising variety of historic, cultural, romantic and family-friendly attractions.
The region is known for its great wines, BBQ, and, of course, apple pie, but be sure to sample some of the local cafes and Mexican restaurants as well. Shopping is also a treat! You won’t get many chains in these parts, but you will find some outstanding specialty boutiques: antiques, art galleries, quilt shops, clothing stores, and green goods are the favorites.
So . . . join us for a sun-filled adventure at Arbor Day Farm or the Syracuse Aqua Center, or encounter culture and history at one of over a dozen museums, including Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, the Home of Arbor Day!
Otoe County Visitors Committee invites you to select one of the area’s unique lodging options so that you may take in all the area has to offer. B&Bs, lodges, campgrounds, hotels and motels await.
Situated on the beautifully wooded Missouri River, Nebraska City is rural Otoe County’s largest community and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Midwest. Its 7,500 residents are proud to say they’re from the Home of Arbor Day, the National Arbor Day Foundation, Arbor Day Farm, Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Center, and the Mayhew Cabin, which is Nebraska’s only site on the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. Although best known for their lush fall foliage and apple harvests, you can experience the splendor of Arbor Day’s hometown year-round. Climb a 50-foot tree-house; visit one of the community’s 11 museums; lose yourself in the aroma of 300 varieties of lilacs; hone your golf game, sample some of the best cider, microbrews, and wines in the region; cozy up in front of the fireplace on a romantic winter getaway. Go ahead . . . Take Your Pick at www.NebraskaCity.com.
In the heart of Otoe County rests Syracuse, Neb., which is at the intersection of Nebraska Highways 2 and 50. It is a community of 1,762 that combines elements of the past — original bricks on the downtown streets and renovated historic buildings — with up-to-date specialty design and home accent stores, an art gallery, a nationally recognized quilt shop, gift shops and coffeehouse.
The community celebrates its heritage with the annual GermanFest, held on the second Saturday in July. The event is a combination of a downtown farmer’s market and craft show, German entertainment, parade, kids’ activities, “Veiner” dog races, street dance and fireworks.
In August, the Otoe County Fair comes to town with all the old-fashioned fair attractions. It is located on the south edge of town at the Otoe County Fairgrounds.
Syracuse hosts a variety of recreational opportunities and facilities. Williams Park is located in the middle of town and features a mile-long lighted bike/walk path, playground equipment, sheltered picnic areas and restroom, along with a fishing pond. Near Williams Park is the Lion’s Club Arboretum. The South Park, located on the south edge of town adjacent to the Otoe County Fairgrounds, offers several large picnic shelters, camper hookups, restrooms and playground. A newly constructed sports complex is in the SW corner of Syracuse. It features four ball fields, picnic shelters, volleyball and basketball courts, multi-purpose field and bike/walk path.
The Syracuse Aqua Center offers six lap lanes, drop slide, diving boards, zero-depth entry, floor geysers and a flower geyser. In addition, the Syracuse Country Club hosts a well-kept par 70, nine-hole golf course on the western edge of the community. The course is open to the public.
Syracuse is the home of the Otoe County Museum of Memories, housed in the former First Faith Church, dedicated in 1881. The museum complex also houses the Kramer Building, a nature exhibit and is open every Sunday afternoon from May through September or by appointment.
Overnight visitors have the option of staying in a 74-room motel located at the intersection of Highways 2 and 50, a motel located at Ninth and Park streets or at the Alte Haus, a quaint bed-and-breakfast located on the southwest corner of Thorne and Sixth streets. For more information, contact the Syracuse Area Chamber of Commerce at (402) 269-3242.
Otoe County Museum in Syracuse
Lied Lodge sleigh rides
Germanfest Parade in Syracuse
Trails in Nebraska City
Keeping Room in Nebraska City
Lied Lodge in Nebraska City
Tree Adventure in Nebraska City