Nebraska : Safety by City
- Grand Island
- La Vista
- Nebraska City
- North Platte
- South Sioux City
Nebraska City, Nebraska, is a small town along the Missouri River in the southeastern corner of the state.
While it might seem like much on a map, this town is home to Arbor Day, which brings big attractions and festivals throughout the year.
The history runs deep in this part of Nebraska, from a famed stop for Lewis & Clark to an underground railroad station during the Civil War.
The museums are as exciting as outdoor recreation, and you’ve got the comfort of bigger cities nearby in Lincoln and Omaha.
The city is also famous for its apple orchards and hosts an annual Applejack Festival, celebrating the harvest season.
That also brings wineries and family-friendly adventures to life throughout the year.
You can walk through an Indian cave or ride along the beautiful Missouri River while enjoying some of the best steaks and fresh farm-to-table foods in the state.
Nebraska City is a small but dynamic place, whether it’s a day trip from Omaha or a conference held at one of the several meeting spaces in the city.
If you’re looking for a place to hold a convention or retreat, I highly recommend you research the options here.
You’ll be blown away!
Warnings & Dangers in Nebraska City
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, especially for tourists. This small town makes big money off the tourism industry, so many steps are taken to keep the experience fun and fearless.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The only public transportation here is for senior citizens, but when you see the size of the town, you'll understand why. A rental car is really the only option since the town is small and a good 30–45 minutes from any larger city.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The risk is low, but use extra caution during any festival. The crowds can be thick, so it's just standard practice to keep your personal items limited to the bare necessities and keep wallets and purses secured.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
This is a medium risk because Nebraska weather can be outrageous. We run the gamut—severe storms, tornadoes, drought, floods, flash floods, winter storms, blizzards, ice storms, wildfires, and extreme cold.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
This is another low risk with hardly more than one or two robberies to talk about in recent years. You'll keep the risk especially low if you avoid walking around at night or showing off expensive items. Besides, that new Pixel 7 camera won't impress anyone here.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Offutt Air Force Base is about 45 minutes north of Nebraska City, which would be the largest hard target. In fact, while Offutt has resurfacing being done, all the military planes flew into Lincoln. I had the chance to see the "Doomsday Plane" fly over, which is the plan that would be used to keep the U.S. Government going in the event of a large-scale attack. Keep in mind that hard targets will come with extensive security. However, there's nothing to fear in Nebraska City.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The biggest scams here involve residents being called and threatened with arrest if they didn't pay money. This isn't how law enforcement works, even if you do have a warrant and owe them money. There's a low risk against tourists, but keep it low by avoiding any third-party websites for reservations (Craigslist, for example). The tourism site and Chamber of Commerce can give you reliable resources for booking hotels and rentals.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here, but you should avoid any private parties or go to a private place with someone you just met. This is a rural area, and if you run into trouble, there won't be people to help you. That's a rare risk, but it was worth mentioning. Keep your phone charged at all times in case you break down in a rural area.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. Keep in mind that any issues that are time-sensitive, like boil orders due to a broken water main, will be published on social media sites and wouldn't be reflected in the annual report.
Safest Places to Visit in Nebraska City
You can tell the difference between the city’s website and the tourism website by domain name.
The .gov is for the city, and the NebraskaCity.com is the tourism site.
It helps to know when the biggest festivals happen here.
The Arbor Day celebration is in April, and the Applejack Festival is in September.
The city also hosts a holiday event and a 4th of July celebration, but the previous two festivals are the “big ones” that draw people in from across the country.
Arbor Day is every day in Nebraska City, and the Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure is like Disneyland for tree lovers.
There’s a lodge on site, but guests can also visit the Treetop Village and Tree Adventure, bringing all childhood dreams of the “ultimate treehouse” to life.
Apple picking is available seasonally, and fall is the perfect time to visit!
The Arbor Lodge is a historical home where the idea for Arbor Day began.
The mansion has 52 rooms, and the grounds cover 72 acres of the property open to the public.
Wine lovers shouldn’t miss the Apple House Market to get a bottle of Nebraska-made wine (we grow more than just corn here!).
There’s also Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard for those who want to taste some wine while also having a family-friend atmosphere to plan and learn about agriculture in Nebraska.
I love that there’s a Nebraska City Museums website, so you don’t have to scour a bunch of other sites to find options.
All the museums are on one page with landing pages for the attraction if you want to learn more.
- Civil War Veterans Museum: “One of the last remaining Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Halls in the state.”
- Kregel Windmill Factory Museum: “…housed in the last, intact historic windmill factory in the United States.”
- Mayhew Cabin & John Brown’s Cave: “Nebraska’s first nationally recognized Underground Railroad historic site.”
- Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Visitor Center: “This 12,000 square foot facility is dedicated to the study and interpretation of the amazing scientific discoveries made by William Clark and Meriwether Lewis on their historic expedition to the Pacific Ocean.”
- Nebraska City Museum of Firefighting: “…dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska’s oldest volunteer fire department, dating from the formation of the first ‘bucket brigade’ in 1856.”
- Old Freighters Museum: The origins of the Pony Express happened here.
You can also explore the overall history of this region at the Gothic-style Wildwood Historic Center and the Otoe County Museum of Memories, a series of three buildings, including one of the first churches in this part of the state.
Places to Avoid in Nebraska City
You don’t have dangerous neighborhoods or parts of town to avoid in Nebraska City (or Lincoln, for that matter), but you should always stay off of private property.
While that seems logical in the city, when you get to the rural areas, it can be hard to determine if you’re on public or private land.
Not all land boundaries have fences.
You also want to avoid ignoring weather warnings and risks.
We have a really critical group of citizens here that will follow the forecast, understand there’s a storm risk, and then get “mad” when the big storm doesn’t happen.
It can lead to a false sense of “the storm never happens here.”
When big winter storms do it, all roads will be closed down under cleared.
If there’s a major severe system brewing, it can develop quickly.
You can also ride a bike along the Steamboat Trace Bicycle Trail that parallels the Missouri River for 21 miles on an old railroad path.
The trail is closed from mid-November through early January due to hunting season.
I highly recommend heading 45 minutes south to Indian Cave, with a living history museum and a cave viewing platform There are 22 miles of trails to explore and sweeping views of the Missouri River.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Nebraska City
- Nebraska City has its own police department, and they regularly updated Facebook (@nebraskacitypolicedepartment) and Twitter (@Nebraskacitypd). The email is listed as email@example.com, but it seems odd that they would use a GMail account, so call (402)873-6666 just to be sure you’re reaching the right place.
- Otoe County has a Citizen Alert system that sends out emergency notifications during major events like severe weather, road closures, and wildfires. Sign up for this, and you can easily unsubscribe when you leave. The county’s emergency management department also has a page on Facebook with sporadic updates. You can email them at OCEMA@otoecountyne.gov.
- Use 511 Nebraska to check road conditions during your trip. This is a great app I often use to check live cameras of incoming storms, road construction, traffic backups, and live snow plow cameras in the winter.
- The Nebraska Outdoors app and website offer everything you need to know about state parks, fishing, hunting, trails, rivers, lakes, etc. You will need a fishing license to take part in that activity, which you can purchase through that website.
- If you notice any suspicious activity that isn’t a crime in progress, you can call Crime Stopper and remain anonymous. That number is (402)873-7496.
- In Nebraska, we’ve moved past the “don’t do drugs” message (though we still don’t want you to do drugs) and realized the drugs that are making their way into our state are fueling a terrible opioid epidemic. Even Mexican cartels have been directly linked to Nebraska. If you are presented with any drugs, even if it looks like prescription drug, don’t take them. It’s likely laced with undetectable fentanyl, which is deadly in very small doses.
- If you’re visiting for one of the major festivals in Nebraska City, hotels and rentals will fill up quickly. Both Omaha and Lincoln are close, with easy, flat roads to get there. Book early or plan to drive farther to reach these events.
- You’ll want to track fire weather information through the National Weather Service in Omaha. Even as I write this on a beautiful spring day from Lincoln, there’s a nearly 1,000-acre wildfire burning near Nebraska City on a day when winds will peak at 50 mph. Always know your escape route, and never assume a fire won’t come near a town.
- Nebraska is windier than you can ever imagine. I was joking with a meteorologist friend the other day that I don’t know how pioneers settled this state without naming a city “Damn Wind.” It might make driving a little more challenging or prompt you to put long hair in a bun or avoid flowing dresses or tops that will be annoying in the wind.
- The tourism website has a video tour of the city to help you see what you’ll be experiencing. It’s better than looking at Google Maps or taking various opinions from social forums. You can decide for yourself.
So... How Safe Is Nebraska City Really?
Statistically, Nebraska City might raise some eyebrows, but for visitors, it’s really a safe community where you shouldn’t let your guard down but also doesn’t have an overwhelming risk in any part of the city or county.
Statistics can appear worse than they are in a small town of 7,200 people when tallied to “per 100,000.”
Nebraska City historically didn’t have more than 12 violent crimes in a year going back to 2000, while most years saw fewer than 10.
Crime spiked five times higher between 2017 and 2018, and that trend continued.
Even with the crime spike, the risk is still slightly lower than the national average and slightly above the Nebraska average.
The positive side is that very few, if any, crimes occur against strangers.
No strangers were victims of violent crime in 2021.
On the other hand, thefts reached a 21-year low in 2021, with theft rates 250% lower than 2019’s spike in theft.
31% of those thefts were car break-ins or accessory thefts, with an average theft valued at $1,400.
It’s another great reminder to lock your car doors and avoid leaving anything of value inside.
You’ll likely visit Nebraska City as part of a visit to Omaha or Lincoln, so read our reviews of those cities to keep your travels as safe as possible.
How Does Nebraska City Compare?
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- Visas - International visitors need a passport that isn't within six months of expiring paired with a visa or visa waiver, which depends on your country of origin. The U.S. State Department acknowledged a backlog of visa processes in a post-pandemic rush of travelers, so read the new rules before you start your application.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. Keep as many purchases as possible to credit cards, as that offers the best fraud protection—even better than a debit card. If you do need cash, exchange currency in Omaha or Lincoln before getting to this small town.
- Weather - Nebraska City gets four seasons, but spring and fall can be quite confusing. The Midwest is known for "if you don't like the weather, it will change in a few hours," so packing some layers of clothing will be helpful. It doesn't need to be complicated. Bring a warm jacket or hoodie and some short-sleeved T-shirts and long pants and shorts. You'll definitely need bug spray and sunscreen. The area can get dusty and filled with wildfire smoke, so grabbing a few COVID masks is helpful, just in case.
- Airports - Eppley Airfield (OMA) in Omaha is the largest and closest commercial airport. It's just an hour away. If you're flying out of Kansas City, that's a 2.5-hour drive, but you won't run into a lot of traffic.
- Travel Insurance - We recommend comprehensive travel insurance to cover your flight, belongings, rental car, and health, especially in a place prone to such extreme weather.
Nebraska City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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