May 3, 2019

10 Unforgettable Things To Do This Summer In Nebraska

Nebraska Tourism has this slogan, perhaps you’ve heard of it: “Nebraska, it’s not for everyone.” It got some good chuckles when it was announced. If you take the time to explore the state, though, I believe you’ll find something for you. Summer is a great time to travel through Nebraska, so, I created a list to inspire some summertime fun. Here are 10 thing to do in Nebraska that are unforgettable.

Related post: My Nebraska Bucket List

Planning a trip to Nebraska this summer? Here are 10 unforgettable things to do in Nebraska, including Omaha, North Platte, Niobrara and more | Summer fun in Nebraska | Things to do outdoors in Nebraska | Kid-friendly things to do in Nebraska #familytravel #USA

Canoeing

Nebraska has more miles of water than any other state, so you bet there are some opportunities to canoe. One of the most scenic and popular waterways is the Niobrara River in north central Nebraska.

The scenic section of the river I’m most familiar with takes about three hours to a half-day to canoe (depending how much you stop) and ends at Rocky Ford. That section takes you right by Smith Falls State Park, where you can park your canoe and walk up to the falls. The outfitter my group has always used is Rocky Ford Camp & Outfitters.

10 unforgettable Nebraska experiences - Canoeing the Niobrara River
Paddlers on the Niobrara River in Nebraska. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

College World Series

The best show on dirt, as they call it, occurs every June in Omaha. The NCAA Division I Men’s College World Series takes place at TD AmeriTrade Park in north downtown. The biggest crowds (and parties) occur that first weekend.

If you’ve never been, be sure to check out the Essential Guide To The College World Series.

10 unforgettable things to do in Nebraska this summer - attend a College World Series baseball game in Omaha
TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha is the home to the NCAA Men’s College World Series. Photo courtesy Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau

Off-road jeep ride

I never thought I’d be zooming around cliffs in Nebraska, but I had the opportunity to ride in an off-road jeep tour at Fort Robinson State Park. My kids were pretty young at the time, and they enjoyed the thrill. It’s a bit of a rocky experience, but you can’t beat the views of the buttes.

10 unforgettable experiences in Nebraska - Off-road jeep ride through Fort Robinson State Park in western Nebraska
The Fort Robinson State Park off-road jeep excursion takes riders on dirt trails with outstanding views.

Chuckwagon dinner

I have a love affair with the idea of chuckwagon dinners or cowboy cookouts. Truth be told, though, I’ve never been to one. It sounds like the best kind of cookouts, one with a little entertainment with the fresh air.

At Fort Robinson State Park, they offer hayrack breakfast rides as well as buffalo stew and steak cookouts. At Niobrara State Park in the summer, they hold buffalo cookouts with entertainment such as cowboy poets and storytellers. 

Tanking

Why canoe or kayak along a river when you can tank it? Tanking involves cruising in style in a water tank originally intended to keep cattle hydrated. Pack snacks and bring a cooler, and enjoy the quintessential Nebraskan ride.

Re-live Nebraska history

Learn about Nebraska history by actors taking on the roles of the very people who lived it. One of the closest places to Omaha to see living history is Fort Atkinson Historical State Park, which has historical re-enactments on the first weekend of the month in the summer.

One of the most popular weekends is the one near the Fourth of July. Be sure to cover your ears if you happen to catch them firing a cannon!

10 unforgettable experiences in Nebraska - Watching historical re-enactors fire the cannon at Fort Robinson State Park
The cannon is prepped to be fired at Fort Atkinson.

Other places to catch living history in Nebraska include: Rock Creek Station Historical Park in Fairbury; Fort Kearny State Historical Park in Kearney; Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park in Burwell; and Homestead National Monument of America Education Center in Beatrice, which holds unique events including Homestead Days and Living History Extravaganza.

You can also enjoy interacting with costumed actors at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island.

Rodeos

The thrills and edge-of-your-seat action are all a part of rodeos in Nebraska. You can catch a weekly rodeo held at Fort Robinson State Park or plan on attending on at NEBRASKALand Days in North Platte or the Pony Express Rodeo in Gothenburg. You can even catch the rodeo in Omaha during AKSARBEN Stock Show & Rodeo.

Horseback riding

There are state parks with trail rides near major metropolitan cities like Omaha and Lincoln, including at Platte River State Park and Mahoney State Park. Those rides will be through wooded areas, mostly.

If you ask which I prefer, I’d pick Platte River’s trail.

10 unforgettable Nebraska experiences - horseback riding at Platte River State Park
Even young kids can enjoy the trail ride at Platte River State Park.

For a more rugged experience, head west. Trail rides are offered at state parks in western Nebraska including Fort Robinson and Chadron.

Summer festivals

Nebraska’s Fourth of July town is Seward, where the celebration is spread out over more than one day. Other summer festivals you might want to see include NEBRASKAland Days in North Platte, Oregon Trail Days in Gering, and the celebration of a fried delicacy…the Testicle Festival in Ashland.

Wildlife safari drive-thru

Ever have a bison walk by your passenger window? How about a herd? The Nebraska Wildlife Safari is located half-way between Lincoln and Omaha in eastern Nebraska. See native Nebraska animals up close, including elk, cranes and those bison, as well as wolves, eagles and more.

The road through the Nebraska Wildlife Safari takes you near herds of native Nebraskan animals, including bison.

Midway through, there’s a point where you can park and get out on short trails to see more animals, including some cute goats at the petting zoo.

Best things to do in Nebraska in the summer, including big events & festivals, outdoor adventures like trail rides and canoeing, and unforgettable experiences like tanking and close encounters with bison. #Nebraska #USA #FamilyTravel

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Comments

  1. The off-road jeep ride and wildlife safari are currently at the top of my Nebraska bucket list. They sound sooooooo fun! ~ Sage Scott, the Everyday Wanderer

    • If you ever come to Omaha, the safari is an easy thing to get to from there! The jeep ride at Fort Robinson is a to of fun – definitely plan a whole trip around getting there and exploring the state park.

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