A Kid’s Guide To 10 Things To Do In Nebraska

Nebraska State Fair Midweay

Every time my friends, Tim and Lisa Trudell, write a new book, I inevitably end up with a new list of things to do and see in Omaha (prime example: See the result of reading “100 Things To Do In Omaha Before You Die”). In April 2020, they published their third book, “100 Things To Do In Nebraska Before You Die.”

And yes, I made a list. However, interestingly enough, my son made one, too.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book for this post. This post contains affiliate links.

My 10-year-old son is a big reader, and thankfully, has developed a love of travel. I found him reading this book one afternoon and I got an idea: What does a kid think are the must-do things in Nebraska? I’ll do my best to provide background on why he chose what he chose.

A kid's list of places to visit in Nebraska as well as the 2020 book "100 Things To Do In Nebraska Before You Die" by Tim and Lisa Trudell.

About the book

The title “100 Things To Do In Nebraska Before You Die” is a bit of an understatement. Many sections, like “Explore Nebraska’s top park at Mahoney State Park” includes a list of 10 other great parks to explore as well.

Cover of the bool "100 Things To Do In Nebraska Before You Die"

So, even for someone like me, who’s made a job out of exploring my home state of Nebraska, there’s something new to learn about in the book. There are even itineraries in the book, including one for families.

Basically, I’ve got some road trips to plan now.

If you want to pick up your own copy of the book, it’s available at major retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

But back to what my son thinks people ought to do if they visit Nebraska.

Kid's Guide To 10 Things To Do In Nebraska

In 10 years, my son has explored more of Nebraska than I have in my first 30 years. He helped me compile this list based on his experiences and his opinion of what families would enjoy most about the state.

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Looking for things to do in Nebraska with kids? Here's a list of kid-approved destinations in Nebraska, inspired by the book "100 Things To Do In Nebraska Before You Die." #Nebraska #familytravel

20+ Awesome Road Trips From Omaha

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? You don’t have to go too far from Omaha to have a fun getaway. I’ve collected some of my favorite Midwest destinations for this post to give you a variety of options near and far. All road trips from Omaha on this list are within a day’s drive, and most are much closer than that. Happy travels!

COVID-19 update: Current CDC guidelines advise against all non-essential travel. But if you do decide to travel, please keep in mind things have changed. Double-check your destination to make sure 1) you’re not traveling to a hot spot; 2) it’s even open and what the new hours may be; and 3) the activities you want to do are still running.

Road Trips From Omaha

These getaways are just a car ride away. Read on for destinations to consider for your next overnight or weekend trip.

Find more inspiration for road trips

Sky’s the limit on these bucket list for Midwest destinations:

Nebraska Bucket List

Iowa Bucket List

Missouri Bucket List

South Dakota Bucket List

Kansas Bucket List

I pin a lot of road trip ideas so if you don’t already, please follow me on Pinterest! I have boards for each Midwestern state, plus a special board just for family trip tips.

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Inspiration for weekend getaways in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota and Kansas! All  trips are less than a day's drive from Omaha. Summer vacation is just a car ride away. #Midwest #FamilyTravel #RoadTrip

8 Unique Nebraska Ice Cream Shops You’ll Want To Seek Out

Who screams for ice cream? Hand scooped. Soft serve. Homemade. It’s all so delicious. And worth a road trip around Nebraska to enjoy unique and tasty frozen treats. Buckle in and maybe undo a belt notch or two and find out why Nebraska ice cream is for everyone.

A look at 8 unique ice cream shops in Nebraska, including the Potter Sundry, home of the tin roof sundae. #Nebraska #MidwestisBest #icecream #dessert

Ted and Wally’s

Location: Two locations in Omaha – the Old Market and Benson

Covid-19 Update: Both Ted and Wally’s locations are currently offering takeout and delivery services.

Waffle cone with sprinkles at Ted and Wally's

Housed in former gas stations, Ted and Wally’s creates more than 3,000 flavors in their antique ice and rock salt ice cream maker. With flavors that change daily, order your homemade hand-scooped ice cream treats in a cone, cup, sundae, or as a malt.

Using ultra-premium 20 percent butterfat gives Ted and Wally’s ice cream that special taste that has made it one of the most-popular ice cream shops in Nebraska. On a warm summer day, it’s common to find people willing to stand in line for half an hour, waiting for the amazing ice cream, such as vanilla bean.

e-Creamery

Location: 5001 Underwood Ave., Omaha

Covid-19 Update: The ice cream parlor is open 3 to 9 p.m. daily for takeout. You can also order delivery through Uber Eats or online.

Chocolate ice cream in a bowl at e-Creamery

Located in the Dundee neighborhood, e-Creamery’s lone ice cream parlor offers handmade ice cream and gelato. Created as an online delivery service, e-Creamery creates unique flavors that they believe fits its name, such as special flavors for Warren Buffett, each College World Series team, and other special events or people. You can even create your own flavor and give it a name.

The fun part of visiting the ice cream parlor is ordering a cone or cup and walking along Dundee’s classic neighborhood, taking in the sights, such as the large KFAB radio sign or the marker commemorating the time a Japanese bomb landed in Dundee during World War II. 

Coneflower Creamery

Location: 3921 Farnam St., Omaha

Covid -19 Update: Coneflower Creamery currently offers curbside pickup.

Exterior of Coneflower Creamery

A farm-to-cone ice cream shop, Coneflower Creamery uses locally-sourced fresh resources to create impressive seasonal flavors as well as classics, such as vanilla bean and cookies and cream. Try their handmade butter brickle ice cream, which pays tribute to the flavor invented at the nearby Blackstone Hotel. Coneflower also offers vegan ice cream.

Located in the Blackstone District, Coneflower Creamery offers ice cream cones, cups, and ice cream sandwiches. Since the parlor is in a small building, take your order to go and enjoy the treat and some people watching as you stroll along Farnam Street.

Related post: Must-try ice cream shops in Omaha

UNL Dairy Store

Location: 114 Food Industry Complex, Lincoln

Covid-19 Update: Open noon to 6 p.m. on Fridays, you can order curbside pickup via online and phone.

Kids in front of the UNL Daily Store
Smiley kids after an ice cream cone at the UNL Dairy Store.

Open since 1917, the UNL Dairy Store originally supplied dairy products for students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Its transitioned into a popular daily stop for locals and visitors, staffed by university food science students and offering handmade ice cream. The store also sells cheese.

Enjoy a cone at the store or take your treat to go and stroll around the complex area, taking in the sights of classic college buildings and the beauty of the tree-lined streets.

Ivanna Cone

Location: 701 P St., Lincoln

Covid-19 Update: Open 2 to 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday, you can place phone orders and prepay for pickup.

Located in Lincoln’s historic Haymarket District, Ivanna Cone is more than just delicious ice cream treats, it’s an experience. You’ll first notice the bright colors and then the old soda fountain décor. But, the handmade ice cream is the true star.

With a 14 percent butterfat vanilla base, Ivanna Cone features at least 17 daily flavors. Classic flavors, such as strawberry, are joined by unique and seasonal tastes, including French toast. You can watch ice cream being made inside the store.

Enjoy your cone or shake as you take a walk around the Haymarket, including stops at the train plaza. 

Springfield Drug

Location: 205 Main St., Springfield

Covid-19 Update: The soda fountain is currently closed as the drug store is offering drive-thru pharmacy services.

Kids having sundaes at the counter at Springfield Drug in Nebraska

Located inside a former bank building, a visit to Springfield Drug’s soda fountain is a trip back in time. Sit on a stool at the counter and order a hand-scooped ice cream treat, such as a cone, shake, banana split, or phosphate drink, and you’ll feel like in you’re in the 1950s.

After enjoying your treat, take a short tour of the drug store, that’s more than just a drug store. Take a selfie while sitting on a bench with the Simpson family from the long-running cartoon, or tour some of the antique items located around the store. Springfield is home to the annual Sarpy County Fair. 

Potter Sundry

Location: 324 Chestnut St., Potter

Covid-19 Update: The restaurant offers curbside pickup for orders.

Photo courtesy Potter Sundry

Home of the Tin Roof Sundae, Potter Sundry has been offering treats since 1916. Named for its tin ceiling, the sundae includes overflowing vanilla and chocolate ice cream scoops with chocolate and marshmallow sauce and nuts.

Potter Sundry also offers shakes, malts, and ice cream cups. You can also order breakfast and lunch at the Sundry.

Frosty Drive-in

Location: 223 S. Main St., Valentine

Covid-19 Update: The drive-in offers carside orders.

You’ll feel like you’re visiting an old-fashioned drive-in with a visit to Valentine’s Frosty Drive-in. With carhops to provide carside service, or a picnic area, you can order a burger or sandwich before you top off your visit with a frozen treat like ice cream cones, malts and shakes, banana splits, and floats.

After enjoying your ice cream at a unique ice cream shop, explore the Valentine area, including nearby Smith Falls or Cowboy Trail.

From Omaha to Valentine, Nebraska offers a variety of unique ice cream shops. Whether you enjoy handmade ice cream or a malt from a soda jerk, Nebraska has it all. Grab a spoon, pull up a seat, and enjoy a treat.

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Ice cream lovers, here's where to find the sweetest treats in the state of Nebraska. Discover popular spots in Omaha, Lincoln, and beyond, including small town soda fountains! #Nebraska #USA #dessert #icecream #sweet #guide #midwest

35+ Great Hiking Trails Near Omaha

Now that my kids are a little older, we’re starting to venture beyond Heron Haven and other easy trails near Omaha that we’ve loved. There are a lot of hiking trails in Nebraska and Iowa that are within two hours of driving for us, so we won’t run out of new-to-us trails for a while.

Yes there are great hikes in the Midwest! Here are some great hiking trails in Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa, all within 2 hours of Omaha.

Trails Near Omaha - Within 30 Minutes

Looking for a quick hiking getaway from Omaha? Below is a list of trails that are within about a 30-minute drive from the city.

Lewis and Clark Monument Park

Where: Council Bluffs, Iowa
Details: 5 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 15 minutes
Learn more about this park

Fairmount Park

Where: Council Bluffs, Iowa
Details: 3 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 15 minutes
Learn more about this park

Vincent Bluff State Preserve

Where: Council Bluffs, Iowa
Details: 1 mile of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 15 minutes
Learn more about this state preserve

Folsom Point Preserve

Where: Council Bluffs, Iowa
Details: The Nature Conservancy does not maintain trails but hiking permitted throughout. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 15 minutes
Learn more about this preserve

Schramm Park State Recreation Area

Where: Gretna, Neb.
Details: 4.5 miles of trails. Schramm is also home to an archeological dig site (free) and an educational center (additional fee).
Distance from Omaha: 20 minutes
Learn more about this state recreation area

Fontenelle Forest

Where: Bellevue, Neb.
Details: 19 miles of trails. Also home to the Raptor Woodland Refuge and TreeRush Adventure.s
Distance from Omaha: 20 minutes
Learn more about this forest

West Oak Forest

Where: Oak, Iowa
Details: 3 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 20 minutes
Learn more about this forest

Hitchcock Nature Center

Where: Honey Creek, Iowa
Details: 10 miles of trails. Has a great visitor's center and lookout tower. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 25 miles
Learn more about this nature center

Pony Creek Park

Where: Pacific Junction, Iowa
Details: 2 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 25 miles
Learn more about this park

Platte River State Park

Where: Louisville, Neb.
Details: 17 miles of trails, including one that leads to a small waterfall.
Distance from Omaha: 30 minutes
Learn more about things to do at this state park

Mile Hill Lake

Where: Glenwood, Iowa
Details: 1 mile of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 30 minutes
Learn more about this county park

Glenwood Archaeological State Preserve

Where: Glenwood, Iowa
Details: 3 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 30 minutes
Learn more about this state preserve

Hikes Within A One-Hour Drive From Omaha

Once you've explored all the nearby trails around Omaha, time to venture further afield to these trails. Included in this list are a lot of trails throughout the beautiful Loess Hills.

Old Town Conservation Area

Where: Missouri Valley, Iowa
Details: 10 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 35 minutes
Learn more about this conservation area

Sawmill Hollow Wildlife Area

Where: Missouri Valley, Iowa
Details: 1 mile of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 40 minutes
Learn more about this county wildlife area

Murray Hill Scenic Overlook & Brent’s Trail

Where: Little Sioux, Iowa
Details: An 8-mile route through Loess Hills State Forest ending at Gleason-Hubel Wildlife Area (a half-mile is on county land at the northern start of Brent's Trail). Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 50 miles
Learn more about this trail, one of the newer ones to open in the Loess Hills in recent years.

Loess Hills State Forest

Where: Pisgah, Iowa
Details: 38 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 50 minutes
Learn more about this forest

Willow Lake Recreation Area

Where: Woodbine, Iowa
Details: 6 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 55 minutes
Learn more about this county recreation area

Pawnee State Recreation Area

Where: Lincoln, Neb.
Details: 6 miles of trails
Distance from Omaha: 55 minutes
Learn more about this state recreation area

Pioneers Park Nature Center

Where: Lincoln, Neb.
Details: 8 miles of trails. The nature center has small animals on exhibit, but the bison and elk on the preserve are the highlights.
Distance from Omaha: 55 minutes
Learn more about Pioneers Park

Indian Cave State Park in southeastern Nebraska has 22 miles of hiking trails.

Trails That Are One To Two Hours From Omaha

Pack some road trip snacks before taking off to these trails. They're more than an hour's drive from Omaha, so at least two hours round-trip. But, I've been to some of these trails and they're worth it!

Branched Oak State Recreation Area

Where: West Oak, Neb.
Details: 2 miles of trails, plus the Hans Burchard Arboretum. It's a little generous to call these hiking trails, but the lake is pretty, at least.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour
Learn more about Branched Oak, including what to expect if you camp there.

Waubonsie State Park

Where: Hamburg, Iowa
Details: 7 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour
Learn more about this state park

Preparation Canyon State Park

Where: Moorhead, Iowa
Details: 6 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour
Learn more about Preparation Canyon State Park.

Whiting Woods Recreation Area

Where: Castana, Iowa
Details: 2 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Learn more about this county park

Southwood Conservation Area

Where: Smithland, Iowa
Details: 3 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Learn more about this county conservation area

Fowler Forest Preserve

Where: Smithland, Iowa
Details: 1 mile of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Learn more about this preserve

Sioux City State Prairie Preserve

Where: Sioux City, Iowa
Details: 2 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Learn more about this prairie

Bacon Creek Park

Where: Sioux City, Iowa
Details: 3 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Learn more about this park

Curtin Timber

Where: Anthlon, Iowa
Details: This county park is a 210-acre undeveloped public wildlife area with abundant wildlife and wildflowers. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Learn more about this park

Oak Ridge Conservation Area

Where: Oto, Iowa
Details: 5 miles of trails. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Learn more about this conservation area

Indian Cave State Park

Where: Shubert, Neb.
Details: 22 miles of trails, and home to an interesting living history area that features re-enactors on seasonal weekends.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Learn more about this state park

Mount Talbot State Preserve

Where: Sioux City, Iowa
Details: No actual maintained trails, but hiking is permitted throughout. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Learn more about this state preserve

Stone State Park

Where: Sioux City, Iowa
Details: 11 miles of trails. This is a unique state park located in a city and home to the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, a great place to visit with kids. Don't miss the outdoor nature playscape. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Learn more about this state park

Ponca State Park

Where: Ponca, Neb.
Details: 22 miles of trails
Distance from Omaha: 2 hours
Learn more about the trails at Ponca State Park

Five Ridge Prairie State Preserve

Where: Westfield, Iowa
Details: No actual maintained trails, but hiking is permitted throughout. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 2 hours
Learn more about state preserve

Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve

Where: Westfield, Iowa
Details: The Nature Conservancy does not maintain trails but hiking is permitted. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 2 hours
Learn more about this preserve

Knapp Prairie

Where: Westfield, Iowa
Details: The Nature Conservancy does not maintained trails but hiking is permitted. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 2 hours
Learn more about this prairie

Hillview Recreation Area

Where: Westfield, Iowa
Details: Five miles of trails, though the Nature Conservancy does not maintain trails but hiking is permitted. Part of the Loess Hills.
Distance from Omaha: 2 hours
Learn more about this county park

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Hiking trails aren't far from the Omaha metro! Here are dozens of options within a two-hour drive from the city. Trails include those in the Loess Hills (like Preparation Canyon and Hitchcock Nature Center) and those in Nebraska state parks like Indian Cave, Schramm and Platte River. #Nebraska #Iowa #hikes #hiking #midwest #guide #outdoors

These Nebraska Instagram Accounts Are Bringing The State To You

I’m not traveling these days and like the rest of the world, I’ve had to settle for virtual experiences. Being a Nebraska-born explorer, I decided to curate a feed Nebraska Instagram accounts featuring beautiful images from around the state. I’ve been following a few of these photographers and Instagrammers for a while, and a few I’ve only just discovered. Enjoy the (virtual) trip around Nebraska!

While you’re at it, follow @ohmyomaha on Instagram!

Nebraska Instagram Accounts

Follow these Nebraska Instagram accounts to curate a feed of beautiful scenes around the state.

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Subscribe to the FREE e-newsletter sharing family travel ideas, giveaways and more! Subscribe here.

These Instagram accounts feature gorgeous photos of Nebraska, so when you can't take a trip, take a virtual one! See accounts to follow for scenic Nebraska images.

Virtual Nebraska: Experiencing The State While Staying Home

I miss a lot of my favorite places around my home state, and I imagine a lot of you do too. Since most places are closed, or it’s too hard to maintain social distancing if you do visit them. What’s a family to do? Virtual tours and virtual experiences. And maybe, if we’re lucky, live cams. Here’s my guide for some of Nebraska’s virtual experiences.

Virtual Omaha: Tours & Videos

My hometown, Omaha, is the city I know best. If you follow me on any social platform, you know I’m usually out exploring, so these days are tough for me. So, I started looking around to see where I can find virtual experiences of the city. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Virtual tours in Omaha

I’m not sure how frequent these will be, but Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts had a live virtual studio tour today on Facebook with one of their resident artists.

Omaha Children’s Museums’ “Diggin’ Dinos” special exhibit which is currently at the museum (which is closed through March 31). You can see some of the museum’s past exhibits’ virtual tours, too.

Joslyn Art Museum has a virtual tour of its temporary exhibit, “Fact and Fiction in Contemporary Photography.”

Ever wonder what “the vault” at The Durham Museum is like? There’s a virtual vault tour for that.

360-degree virtual tour of "Diggin' Dinos" at Omaha Children's Museum.

Daily videos and activities with Omaha institutions

Miss Omaha’s zoo? Yeah, me too. Each day at 2 p.m. CST you can visit the zoo’s Facebook page and watch a live, interactive video from inside the zoo.

Omaha Children’s Museum has daily programming geared for kids ages 8 and younger. Stay tuned for daily videos on the museum’s Facebook page. Recent ones have been a story time, game suggestion, and a tinker challenge.

Do you know of any Omaha businesses or museums doing virtual tours or interactive videos? Leave me a comment so I can add them to the post!

Virtual Nebraska road trip, anyone?

Outside of Omaha, you have other virtual options.

Iain Nicolson Audubon Center in Kearney, Neb., has a live crane cam, which is perfect timing to see the impressive sandhill crane migration.

Head to Lincoln, Neb. (virtually, that is) and take a virtual tour of the Capitol and Governor’s Residence. While you’re “in” Lincoln, you can also take a virtual tour of Lincoln Children’s Museum.

Lincoln Children’s Zoo has a fun program going on each day on Facebook. Each day at 3 p.m., the zoo shares a new Keeper Corner Facebook video and a fun activity to go with it. They even have an activity punchcard that you’ll be able to bring into the zoo someday and get a free ice cream cone.

Ever been to Red Cloud, Neb.? You can go there virtually and tour four of the town’s most important sites linked to Willa Cather.

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer has been doing some live Facebook videos around their facilities.

Image to link to more Nebraska stories

More online entertainment and resources

If you’re looking more for activities and educational resources, I have a few posts to help:

Educational Resources For Nebraska Families – These are downloadable materials related to Nebraska history, Nebraska wildlife and nature, and other helpful links to museums and local teachers.

25+ Free Online Resources For Bored Kids – This post contains a ton of links to free sites, including celebrity storytimes, printable Madlibs, and children’s museums with DIY projects for kids.

Bored at home? Here's a running list of Nebraska live cameras, virtual tours and interactive videos from Nebraska museums and zoos.