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9 Surprising Winter Getaways In Nebraska

9 Surprising Winter Getaways In Nebraska

After a few weeks of winter, I believe it’s time for a change of scenery. If you’re looking for a getaway, particularly one that’s easily drivable, consider these Nebraska destinations. Bundle up and enjoy Nebraska’s winter wonderland!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, if you make a purchase on the recommended site, I receive a small compensation for recommending it.

1. Ashland

Situated between Lincoln and Omaha, Ashland is an easy weekend getaway from the city. Located near several state parks and state recreation areas (namely, Mahoney State Park, Platte River State Park, Schramm SRA and Louisville SRA), it’s an outdoorsy family’s option for a getaway.

Ice fishing at Mahoney State Park

What to do

We’ve spent a winter weekend at Mahoney State Park more than once with our kids because it’s so awesome. The park itself has a great toboggan run (bring your own), snowshoe and cross country trails (bring your own), outdoor ice skating (you can rent skates there), and a huge indoor activity center with a kids’ climbing tunnel and climbing walls.

Outside of the park, you’ll find the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum nearby, plus a great winery called Cellar 426 Winery. Venture into Ashland to visit some of my favorite places like like Salt Creek Mercantile, Postscript, and Glacial Till Cider House and Tasting Room.

Interior of Salt Creek Mercantile in Ashland, Nebraska

* Please note that tastings at the winery and cider house may not be available right now.

Where to stay

Your best bet is one of the cabins at Mahoney State Park. These can be reserved up to a week in advance, and will likely be booked on any holiday weekend. We have a favorite Treetop Cabin, but you may like to splurge on one of the newer cabins on Governor’s Row.

Exterior of a cabin at Mahoney State Park in the winter.

Tip: Many Nebraska State Parks hold First Day Hikes on January 1 each year…well, at least during normal, non-pandemic times. You can see what kind of winter events are planned on the Nebraska Outdoor Calendar.

2. Brownville

Quite possibly the world’s best small town for arts lovers, Brownville is quiet destination that would be best suited for couples and friend getaways.

What to do

This historic town shines in the summer, but you’ll still manage to enjoy yourself during the winter months. Brownville is known for having a surprising number of bookstores and art galleries, so head to the main street of the town and stop in the businesses that interest you.

A glass of white wine in front of Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard & Winery in Brownville, Nebraska.

Don’t miss doing a wine tasting at Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard & Winery.

Where to stay

You won’t find many hotels in this small town, so consider something from Airbnb, like the Pierce Cottage Guest House. This is a charming, historic brick cottage in one of the state’s most charming towns. Win-win. Plus, this Airbnb comes with a full home-cooked breakfast served in a private cottage.

Tip: The cottage is available on airbnb.com. If you haven’t set up an account on Airbnb, use my affiliate link and save up to $65 off your first booking!

3. Crofton

Being near Lewis & Clark State Recreation Area, as well as a short drive to Niobrara State Park and Ponca State Park, Crofton is a great home base for outdoor adventures.

What to do

When the water is sufficiently frozen, the lake at Lewis & Clark is used for ice fishing, skating and snowmobiling. Plus, I’m told Lewis & Clark has nicely groomed cross country ski trails.

As for Ponca, that park is known for having a snowman building contest, ice fishing, a popular sledding hill, as well as groomed trails for cross country skiing. Head to Niobrara for wildlife viewing in the winter.

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Where to stay

Cozy up in a cabin after a day outdoors. Check out this two-bedroom cabin with a view of the Missouri River in Crofton.

Tip: The cabin is available on airbnb.com. If you haven’t set up an account on Airbnb, use my affiliate link and save up to $65 off your first booking!

4. Lincoln

Being the second largest city in Nebraska, Lincoln offers a good mix of outdoor and indoor activities in the winter. And, it’s a great destination for families as well as couples.

Note from Kim: I’ve got to include Lincoln on this list because it truly is a great weekend getaway. However, as you’ll see below, several of my recommended places are temporarily closed. Sadly, it may be better to plan a visit for a different time.

What to do

Most people venture to downtown Lincoln and the Historic Haymarket District, where they’ll find museums, restaurants, and unique shops. While in the Haymarket, you’ll find the Railyard, which has an outdoor ice skating rink. NOTE: The ice rink is closed for the season due to the pandemic.

You’re also near Gallery Alley, a short but spectacular alley full of public art that’s lit with stringed lights at night.

Lights strung up in Gallery Alley in Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln has plenty of indoor options in the downtown area that combine to make a full weekend. If you have kids, don’t skip the Lincoln Children’s Museum. Note: The Lincoln Children’s Museum is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

Other great spots include Morrill Hall – The University of Nebraska State Museum, the Sheldon Art Museum, and Nebraska History Museum. Note: The Nebraska History Museum is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

If you want more outdoor time, I hear the sledding at Pioneer Park in Lincoln is fantastic. 

Where to stay

‘ve stayed at few hotels in downtown Lincoln, and while all were an enjoyable experience, The Graduate was the most memorable (and Instagrammable if you’re into that).

The check-in desk at the retro-themed Graduate Hotel in downtown Lincoln.

You can’t beat its location, its quirky lobby, and for families, the fact that it has a pool.

5. Nebraska City

Nebraska City is my family’s favorite day trip from Omaha, but it’s very easy to extend it overnight for a weekend.

Bundle up and go on a hike at the Tree Adventure at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City.

What to do

Bundle up and enjoy a winter wonderland hike around the Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure. Right next door to the Tree Adventure is the Apple House Market, which has a little restaurant, a wine tasting bar, and a shop.

Arbor Lodge State Historical Park has special winter displays every weekend in January, featuring antique ice skates, sleds, snowshoes, and more. I’ve taken my kids to the mansion there, and it’s not nearly as entertaining as the Tree Adventure. Just sayin’. 

Where to stay

When you walk into the lobby of the Lied Lodge, you know you’re staying somewhere special. Enjoy the views from your room, wine tasting in the lobby on weekends, and the pool for the kiddos.

The impressive lobby at Lied Lodge in Nebraska City

There’s also a nice restaurant called Timbers in the hotel. During non-pandemic times, the restaurant has a great brunch buffet on the weekends.

6. Ogallala

Ogallala’s proximity to Lake McConaughy makes it an ideal overnight spot in the summer if you’re planning water activities. However, in the winter, the same can be said!

What to do

While Lake McConaughy is definitely a summer destination with all the water activities, winter is prime bald eagle and raptor spotting time. Time a visit right in January and you can attend Bald Eagle Appreciation Days at the lake.

Other indoor things to do: Visit Front Street Museum (it’s free) and the Petrified Wood Gallery.

Where to stay

You’ll find a range of Airbnbs in the Lake Mac area, though it’s limited if you’re looking for a cabin or house with a lake view. One of the best is the Becker Cabin, which has three bedrooms.  

Tip: The cabin is available on airbnb.com. If you haven’t set up an account on Airbnb, use my affiliate link and save up to $65 off your first booking!

7. Omaha

Omaha may be my hometown, but I’ve had more than one staycation weekend here. I’ll always recommend Omaha first for anyone wondering where they should spend a weekend in Nebraska because there’s something for everyone here. Even in the winter.

What to do

I always send people to the Old Market since the atmosphere will charm the socks off you. Think brick roads, locally-owned shops and restaurants, and carriage rides (even in the winter).

Head to the Desert Dome at Omaha's Zoo during the winter.

The city has no shortage of attractions close to downtown Omaha, including a fantastic zoo (read why winter is my favorite time to go there), Omaha Children’s Museum, The Durham Museum, Joslyn Art Museum and Lauritzen Gardens (they have an indoor conservatory that’s wonderful in the winter).

This may interest you – 20+ Omaha Museums You Should Visit

Where to stay

If you’re planning a getaway without children, check out the beautiful and historic boutique hotel, Magnolia Hotel Omaha. On warmer days, you can walk to the Old Market from there.

The exterior of Magnolia Hotel in downtown Omaha.
Photo courtesy Booking.com

Have kids or want to be right in the Old Market? Check out Embassy Suites Omaha Old Market

8. South Sioux City

The Siouxland area is a good under-the-radar getaway for families and couples. This region includes a portion of Iowa, as well as Nebraska.

What to do

I highly recommend bundling up and heading to Stone State Park for a hike. While you’re there, stop in the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center (kids will love it).

Stairs at Stone State Park in Iowa.

Note: Unfortunately, the park roads are closed for the winter season, so you’ll have to park at the equestrian lot, near the park office and at the west park entrance. The park is open to non-vehicular traffic. 

For indoor options, there’s the Sioux City Art Center, Hard Rock Casino, and Drop Zone Family Fun Center.

For more ideas on what to do in the area, read a local’s recommendations!

Where to stay

The Kottage Knection Treehouse is probably the most unique of all accommodations on this list. It’s a treehouse 18 feet in the air!

As fun as it may sound to kids, it only fits two people and it’s pretty much designated adults-only.

Tip: The treehouse is available only on airbnb.com. If you haven’t set up an account on Airbnb, use my affiliate link and save up to $65 off your first booking!

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9. Tekamah

I usually think of Tekamah as a day trip, but after stumbling across the Willow Valley Ranch, I could see stretching out a full weekend there. If you want a peaceful, relaxing getaway, that is.

What to do

If you’re looking for ice fishing close to Omaha, Summit Reservoir State Recreation Area near Tekamah is a big spot for it.

If you’re staying overnight, visit Master’s Hand Candles and pick up some of their wildly popular cinnamon rolls (you can do a little shopping while you’re there, too).

Where to stay

The Willow Valley Ranch found on Airbnb has a hot tub, a fire pit, and 7 acres with several trails. If you’re trying to get away from it all, this is it.

Tip: The house is available on airbnb.com. If you haven’t set up an account on Airbnb, use my affiliate link and save up to $65 off your first booking!

These Nebraska destinations are great for winter trips! Here are 9 winter getaways for families, couples, and friends throughout Nebraska.

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