Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farm
Location: Nebraska City, Nebraska
Guest Rooms: 140 guest rooms and suites
Meeting Space: 14,000 square feet of flexible meeting and banquet space
Access: Omaha’s Eppley Airfield; Lincoln Airport; Interstate 29
Tucked into 260 acres of apple orchards, walking trails and abundant nature, Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, woos meeting attendees as an outdoor oasis. It is owned by the Arbor Day Foundation, which inspires people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.
The lodge champions the foundation’s mission, operating with sustainability in mind. It has practiced environmental accountability for years, ranging from water-saving housekeeping practices and growing vegetables on property to recycling.
“When you book a meeting here, you’re supporting a foundation that has global environmental impact,” said Connie Van Nostrand, marketing manager for Arbor Day Farm. “In the last 20 years, our foundation has expanded to work with countries all over the world.”
Located less than an hour south of Omaha and east of Lincoln, the community of Nebraska City has numerous museums and a charming main street lined with boutiques and restaurants. On property, Lied Lodge’s timbered construction is a showstopper. Its soaring, beamed lobby is warmed by a stone fireplace and cozy leather sofas. Meeting rooms frame views of picturesque lawns as do its 140 rooms and suites.
Built in the early 1900s, Arbor Day Farm’s restored barns are a nostalgic respite for lunches, evening barbecues, breakout sessions or team building. A 10-minute walk from the lodge, they can also be reached by trolley. Nearby, the Tree Adventure offers numerous activities celebrating nature. In addition, Arbor Lodge State Historical Park is adjacent to Arbor Day Farm and highlights Arbor Day’s history, which began in Nebraska City as the tree planter’s holiday. On the property, the elegant 52-room mansion of J. Sterling Morton, founder of the Arbor Day holiday, includes his carriage house, with examples of vintage transportation.
“For two weekends in September, the Apple Jack Festival takes place on our grounds, with antique apple tastings, apple picking, private wine tastings and of course, good food,” said Van Nostrand. “On that first weekend, there’s also a maker’s market featuring quality local artisans. During weekends in September and October, costumed docents lead mansion tours for groups and self-guided tours are available.”
Showcasing the surrounding natural beauty, more than 14,000 square feet of meeting space in six flexible meeting rooms accommodates 30 to 380 attendees theater-style, 15 to 165 for classroom seating and 32 to 280 for banquet seating. The 4,672-square-foot Rosenow Room can be divided into four spaces and features a stone fireplace while the Marcotte Room accommodates 50 guests. An executive boardroom provides a kitchenette, breakfast bar and private bathroom. The 1949 Steinhart Lodge is a short walk away, with its rustic chandeliers, exposed timber beams and a fireplace. It accommodates up to 200. Meeting amenities include on-site A/V equipment and support, ergonomic seating and tackable walls.
Intermingling sustainability and beauty, most meeting and guest rooms at the lodge overlook the nine-acre hazelnut orchard (the nation’s second-largest hazelnut research field) or the front arboretum planted with more than 50 species of trees and shrubs. Adjacent to the lodge, Harris Prairie sustains more than 80 plant species grown from hand-collected seeds. Inside the lodge, the lobby’s Douglas fir timbers were plantation-grown in Oregon on lands utilizing forest stewardship management. Meeting rooms contain non-toxic risers, podiums made from recycled newspapers and table pads made with non-toxic soy flour. Whenever possible, the culinary team uses reusable dishes instead of disposable ones.
Unwinding around “council ring” fire pits, guests can toast marshmallows or sip an evening cocktail. An expansive indoor pool affords a year-round haven with floor-to-ceiling windows and an adjacent workout room. The property’s apple theme continues at the spa with a “Signature Apple Blossom Massage” using apple-scented aromatherapy. Premium shade-grown Arbor Day Coffee, part of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Rain Forest Rescue program, is available in each guest room. Shuttle service from Omaha’s Eppley Airfield and the Lincoln Airport can be arranged, and the trolley takes guests to downtown’s main street.
Food and Wine
Taking center stage on menus are apples, herbs and vegetables grown on site, while meats and cheeses are sourced regionally. Apples and grapes from the vineyard are sent to neighboring Brownville to create the farm’s 13 wine labels. Timbers restaurant showcases views of the mansion and outdoor seating on its sunset terrace. The Library Lounge makes a cozy after-hours gathering spot, as does the Apple House Market’s wine bar, whose Gala Room boasts a fireplace and accommodates up to 40 people. Inside the market, guests can watch cider pressing, and Porter’s serves in-house smoked meats, apple cider slushies and apple pie.
Five trails wind through the property’s tranquil landscape. Conservation Trail’s 2.4-mile loop bisects Harris Prairie and skirts Arbor Day Farm’s heirloom apple orchard before bordering the historic barns. A two-hour Arbor Day Farm guided walking tour begins at Lied Lodge and features a look inside Lied Greenhouse. Tree Adventure contains orchards, trails, outdoor activities and Treetop Village, which links 11 treehouses by netted bridges, hanging walkways and a 50-foot slide that plunges to the forest floor. During planting season, guests can take home a free tree plug from the greenhouse. ArborLinks, an 18-hole Arnold Palmer-designed course, is adjacent to the property.
According to Van Nostrand, “Mystery at the Mansion” and “Gnome Hunt” rank as the most popular team building activities. Planners opting for “Mystery at the Mansion” can choose from several whodunits, interactive events held on the mansion’s first floor. Various props and costume pieces are provided, but some groups prefer to bring their own. Dinner for up to 28 people can be served before or after the event. At Tree Adventure, groups can race for prizes or their best time during the “Gnome Hunt.” Using clues, participants compete by spotting gnomes hidden in the foliage.