May 28, 2013

Mahoney State Park For Families

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is a fun day-trip from Omaha or Lincoln. There are a lot of free things to do, and a lot of seasonal fun that costs extra, from horseback riding and swimming in the summer, to ice skating in the winter. There’s so much to do, I recommend planning at least staying overnight if not longer.

In this post, I share all the things families can do any season while visiting Mahoney State Park. I include tips on things I’ve learned first-hand while visiting with my kids. I also include suggestions for staying overnight at Mahoney, including prices to help you decide whether you should camp or stay in a cabin or lodge.

This post was first published in 2013 and updated in 2019 with information of new activities at the park. If I’ve missed any new additions, please let me know!

Lodging options at Mahoney State Park for families

The park offers camping/RV parking, a hotel and cabins. Depending on your budget, your accommodations can be inexpensive or cost as much as a hotel would (or more!).

On our way to brunch at the lodge. (I'm not too impressed with the food there, but I hear the rooms are nice)
On our way to brunch at the lodge. (I’m not too impressed with the food there, but I hear the rooms are nice)

We have yet to camp with the kids, but there are are nice campgrounds near the main lake (the paddle boat lake, as I’ll call it for simplicity’s sake). Some sites are reservable in advance, while others are first come, first served. Camps sites are $25 to $35 a night.

If you stay at the Peter Kiewit Lodge, expect your rooms to be about $90 to $95 a night. All rooms come with a mini-fridge, microwave, coffee pot, AC and heat, wireless Internet, telephone, TV and a private bath. More than half the rooms have a balcony.

Yeah, you might not want to lean to hard on that screen window, dear.
Yeah, you might not want to lean to hard on that screen window, dear.

For cabins, your options include two-, four- and six-bedroom cabins. We opted to stay at a two-bedroom cabin and a tree top cabin. I’d recommend. the tree top cabin.

There are also ultra-modern cabins that can fit up to people.

How much are cabins at Mahoney State Park?

Prices vary greatly for cabins at Mahoney State Park. For the most basic accommodations, you’ll pay between $170 and $190. If you stay off-season, there is a discount.

Mahoney State Park cabin - Exterior of one of the older cabins at Mahoney State Park in Nebraska
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

The larger, six-bedroom cabins can fit up to 20 people can run more than $450 a night.

Mahoney State Park cabins have AC, appliances and dishware, bathtubs, grills, and for those who like going to a state park but not going outside, they have satellite TV. They also all have housekeeping.

If you’re ready to go camping or to reserve a cabin, click here to check availability.

Tip: Cabins become available to reserve one full year in advance. If you plan on booking a cabin during the summer, try to reserve it as early as possible.

Mahoney State Park’s Activity Center

My kids’ favorite place to visit at Mahoney State Park is the Activity Center. It doesn’t matter what season it is, the Activity Center should be a stop during your visit. It’s especially great to visit in the winter.

Things to do at Mahoney State Park for families - The indoor Activity Center is a good rainy day place to play.

The Activity Center has an indoor play space that’s good for kids ages 10 and younger. There are several slides, tubes, and ball pits. Cost to enter is $3 for kids ages 3-12 and $2 for anyone over 12 years old. Kids under 3 years old are FREE.

Connected to the Activity Center is a rock climbing center called Venture Center. It has a 42-foot wall. While it looks high, my kids climbed to the top when they were ages 6 and 8.

The rock climbing center allows for free climbing, as well, though there is a minimum age requirement.

The costs for climbing is $11 for adults and $10 for children age 12 and younger. There is no time limit. 

Indoor things to do at Mahoney State Park - The Venture Climb is an indoor climbing center that offers all-day climbing for one fee.

There is an outdoor ice skating rink open seasonally. Admission to the Activity Center includes admission to the ice skating rink; however, skate rentals are not included. Skates are $3.

Swimming at Mahoney State Park

The Mahoney State Park aquatic center has two water slides, wave pool and an area for small children.

Summer activities at Mahoney State Park -  The aquatic center has water slides as well as a wave pool and a standard pool.
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

It’s a very popular summer spot, open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The hours are noon to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. daily from late May to mid-August. Hours are reduced from mid-August to Labor Day (including being closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays).

Tip: They will kick you out of the pool for that evening break.

The cost to enter the pool is $10 per adult, $8 per child (ages 3-12), and FREE for children 2 and younger. They offer season passes if you think you’ll be going frequently.

Mahoney State Park Ropes Course

The Go Ape! Treetop Adventure opened April 28, 2018. This course includes Treetop Adventure and Treetop Junior, so it’s an outing suitable for kids and adults. There is a height requirement of a minimum 4 feet 7 inches, and there is a maximum weight limit of 285 pounds. The course includes zip lines, obstacles and a ropes course, and expect it to last two to three hours.

Cost is $49 for ages 16 and older and $39 for children 15 and younger. There must be a supervising adult age 19 or older to accompany children. Reservations are suggested.

More great family activities At Mahoney State Park

Mahoney State Park activities - Trail rides on horses are offered seasonally.
Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Basically, everything at the Mahoney State Park is family-friendly; what will be the most fun depends on the age of your children. Mine are happy running across a bridge or collecting rocks. Your older kids might require a little more to thrill them.

Playgrounds: There are several, including a huge indoor play area (it has an admission fee but it’s awesome). The biggest one is near the swimming pool – it has a separate jungle gym for smaller kids.

Gardens: My kids love walking around the gardens, especially the conservatory at the state park. It’s not very large, but stop by and see the water feature there.

Things to do inside at Mahoney State Park - Visit the small conservatory which has native plants and a water feature.

Pony rides: Ages 3-9. Cost is $7 per kid. Pony rides are weather permitting and run daily through Aug. 13, and then they’re only on Saturdays and Sundays.


Ball Field


Bird watching

Paddleboats – Paddleboat rentals are down by the Owen Marina. They are $10 per boat for a half-hour rental.

Fishing – Several fishing clinics are planned during the summer.

Explore the marina – For me, includes exploring the ice cream shop there. This is also where all the arts & craft stuff are. Projects vary by size and medium.

Hiking: If you’re lucky, you see a nearby passing train.

Farley on a hike with Grampy at Mahoney.
Farley on a hike with Grampy at Mahoney.

Putt-putt golf – Mini golf is $3.50 per person. There’s also a driving range, and it’s $3 for a bucket of balls. The putt putt golf course is open daily.

Soccer/Rugby Field

Lookout tower: It’s a tall one with a great view, and climbing it is a useful tool for tiring out little ones.

Best view at Mahoney State Park - Climb the lookout tower to see the Platte River, trains and Nebraska farmland

Kountze Memorial Theater – Melodramas are often performed here. Usually there are two or three show options.

Tickets are $7 per adult and $5 per child (ages 12 and younger. The family package, which is two adult tickets and two child tickets, is $20.

Stargazing: Climb the lookout tower for a spectacular view. There are a few clinics this summer sponsored by the Omaha Astronomical Society & Prairie Astronomy Club, who will bring telescopes. Check here for dates.

Horseback riding – You must be 6 or older to ride a horse. Read more about trail rides at Mahoney here. The cost is $18 per person.

Horseshoe pits

Mountain/trail bicycling


Nature programs – The park offers about several free programs, including ones focusing on horses, native reptiles, insects, prairie and hummingbird workshops, archery, nature hikes and fishing clinics.

For hours and fees on activities, visit this link. Park’s phone number is 402-944-2523.

All the family-friendly activities and things to see at Mahoney State Park - Get tips on cabins and camping, and find out what to do in the summer and winter. #guide #Nebraska #USA #stateparks

Things to do near Mahoney State Park

Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum: Planes and space exploration stuff. The new Children’s Learning Center opened in August 2016, and I wrote all about it here.

Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari: Drive-through safari featuring native species. Read What to Expect if you Visit the Wildlife Safari with Kid

Ashland: Nearest town, and it has two ice cream shops, pizza option and winery (for mommy)

Louisville State Recreation Area: There are plans to upgrade the park, including adding a water obstacle course! Read this post for details.

Schramm Park State Recreation Area: Trails for hiking and an aquarium with cheap admission. There are plans to upgrade the park! Read this post for details.

Platte River State Park: Great hiking trails, including one to a waterfall. Here are 7 Reasons To Visit Platte River State Park. There are plans to upgrade the park! Read this post for details.

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  1. We just went to Mahoney for the first time in years and had a great time! We look forward to returning and trying out some more of your ideas. Thanks for sharing!

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