A Little Town on the Prairie Grows Up

Long a pass-through spot between larger cities, Ashland, Nebraska, has discovered its chic side. Here's how to spend an overnight getaway.

A decade ago, Ashland was a quiet bedroom community tucked between Nebraska's biggest cities, Omaha and Lincoln. Today, it's a destination in its own right, conveniently located off I-80. A crop of homegrown, mostly female entrepreneurs contributes to a thriving future for this town—with the seeds sown for even more new businesses to open soon.

Pastries at Fariner Bakery
Fariner Bakery. Courtesy of Salt Creek Mercantile

9 a.m. Cafe Cravings

Warm up on a blustery day with a caramelized onion-sweet potato scone at Parisian-inspired Fariner Bakery. (The name means to flour in French.) But this bright and airy spot does much more than sling sourdough and savory treats. Part wine merchant, part specialty market and part coffee shop, Fariner is an ideal pit stop for interstate road-trippers. Get a seasonal caffeine fix with a peppermint mocha or a cinnamon and nutmeg latte.

10 a.m. Walk in the Park

Just five minutes from downtown Ashland, you can ice-skate or sled at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park—Nebraska's most-visited. Rentals are available, or you can bring your own snowshoes or Nordic skis for a more challenging workout. When thick snow blankets the ground, the park's new cross-country running course is also perfect for cross-country skiing.

Interior of shop with brooms, candles and holiday displays
Courtesy of Salt Creek Mercantile

1 p.m. Silver is Gold

On Silver Street, Ashland's revitalized main drag, two stellar shops stand out. Honoring the Platte River tributary that meanders through town, Salt Creek Mercantile sells vintage items, sustainable goods and other products from small entrepreneurs. Customer favorites include whimsical dried floral bouquets and hand-poured soy candles in signature scents like Spiced Almond.

Interior of store selling cards, gift wrap and other paper goods
Postscript. Heather Hall

Pop into Postscript for fine paper goods, vintage stamps and a curated book collection. While you're there, select an edition of Poetry by Post, a handcrafted love letter to the written word, to ship off to someone you love.

5 p.m. A Local Sip

Snag an early bite at Glacial Till, a cider house and tasting room that takes its name from the Nebraska soil, a remnant of long-ago glacial activity. In winter, try the special semisweet blended cider brimming with cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorns and star anise. Hearty soups like corn chowder with harissa crab, or ooey-gooey Blooming Bread—a pull-apart take on garlic bread—feed the soul after a day exploring Ashland.

Glamping geodome in snow
Courtesy of Kimberly Creek Retreat

6:30 p.m. Starry Night

Rest your head in a real-life snow globe at Kimberly Creek Retreat. This sprawling, glamping-style property has two geodomes perfect for stargazing on a chilly evening. Or book their brand-new accommodation, a two-story, repurposed grain bin. Overnighters can preorder breakfast, such as egg bakes, muffins and fruit, from an à la carte menu, then settle down to hibernate.

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