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 Robinson 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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March 28, 2019

Guide To Nebraska State Parks Cabins

If you love the idea of being immersed in nature but you don’t like sleeping on the ground, cabins are for you. In Nebraska, I always look at the state parks for cabin choices. I’ve stayed at a few that I could recommend, but there are even more in the state I’ve yet to visit. Here are all the state parks cabins in Nebraska (as well as a few other lodging options that don’t involve sleeping on the ground:

Kim’s note: In 2019, 75% of Nebraska countries were impacted by floods. Check the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission website to be sure the park you’d like to visit is unaffected.

Not all state parks in Nebraska have cabins and not all cabins are equal. Here's a guide to staying at state park cabins in Nebraska. Find out what's included in a cabin and what you can do nearby at each state park.

Chadron State Park

Where: Chadron in northwestern Nebraska

Hikers on a trail overlooking Chadron State Park in western Nebraska
A hiking trail at Chadron State Park, the oldest state park in Nebraska. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

About the cabins: Chadron State Park is Nebraska’s oldest state park. We stayed at one of the two-bedroom rustic cabins during a trip through western Nebraska and South Dakota. It was bare minimum and dated, but a pretty inexpensive lodging option. There are 22 such cabins available seasonally.

Exterior of a two-bedroom cabin at Chadron State Park in Nebraska
We stayed at this two-bedroom cabin at Chadron State Park.

Things to do at Chadron State Park: The park offers horseback trail rides, craft center and evening programs. We spent some time at Chadron State Park with the kids, and visited the pool, hiked, and did the paddle boats. The park lies in the Nebraska National Forest with bike and hike trails through the ponderosa pines. Elevation reaches 5,000 feet in the park.

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Where: Ashland in southeastern Nebraska

About the cabins: Cabins at Mahoney State Park are notoriously hard to reserve for the summer, especially for weekend stays, so the sooner you pick a date, the better. Reservations may be made up to a year in advance, which is what you’ll need to do for the summer. Winter reservations are much easier to make and, also, cost less. Mahoney State Park has some of the newest cabins in the park system, and they usually are reserved first. I’ve stated at treetop cabins and would recommend them. They’re older, certainly, but pretty comfortable with a “treetop” living room.

Exterior of a cabin at Mahoney State Park in Ashland, Nebraska. Cabins reservations fill quickly. They are among the most popular state cabins in Nebraska.
Here’s an example of one of Mahoney State Park’s older cabins, which is still pretty nice. The newer cabins are even bigger. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

All cabins at Mahoney State Park are fully furnished, include a fireplace, satellite TV, and WiFi. There are 57 cabins, with more under construction. There are 49 two-bedroom cabins, three four-bedroom cabins, and five six-bedroom cabins.

The park also has Peter Kiewit Lodge, which has 40 guest rooms, some with sleeping lofts and electric fireplaces.

Things to do at Mahoney State Park: Summer is peak season at Mahoney. The park has a Family Aquatic Center with two waterslides, zero-depth wave pool and a water playground, plus a traditional pool. There is also a zip line course, horseback trail rides, putt putt golf, fishing, paddle boats, craft center, disc golf, and a live theater. Hiking isn’t the best here, but there are some trails. Don’t skip the conservatory and observation tower. Mahoney State Park has a lot of activities for families.

There’s also a great indoor play area with a climbing walls. In the winter, there is ice skating, sledding, and ice fishing. Here are more things to do at Mahoney State Park in the winter.

Fort Robinson State Park

Where: Crawford in northwestern Nebraska

Riders on horseback at Fort Robinson State Park in Crawford, Nebraska
A horseback trail ride at Fort Robinson, a Nebraska State Park that covers more than 22,000 acres. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

About the cabins: Rather than having individual cabins, this park makes use of the historic fort’s 1909 enlisted men’s barracks for accommodations. This is quite possibly the best park in Nebraska for large family reunions. Accommodations sleep between 2 to 60 people, with 35 different group lodging options to choose from. All options have kitchens, baths and bedrooms. Larger cabins have living rooms.

A historic building at Fort Robinson in Crawford, Neb. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Things to do at Fort Robinson State Park: This park is spread out over 22,000 acres with an abundance of things to do in the summer. Much of what there is to do and see is connected to the outpost’s history when it was in operation during the Indian Wars until after World War II. The park has an enclosed swimming pool; museums; horseback trail rides and pony rides; rides by jeep, stagecoach and hayrack; bike, kayak and tube rentals; hiking trails; and fishing. For food experiences, the park has buffalo stew and steak cookouts and hayrack breakfasts.

When we went to Fort Robinson with young kids, the highlight was definitely the off-road jeep rides (though the ponies were a close second).

Lewis & Clark Lake State Recreation Area

Where: Crofton, Neb.

About the cabins: Lewis & Clark has 10 newish modern lakeside cabins next to Nebraska’s second largest reservoir. All are two-bedroom cabins that sleep up to eight, plus they’re air conditioned. Each cabin has a porch with a picnic table, grill and a view of the lake.

Boater on the lake at Lewis & Clark State Recreation Area in Nebraska
Boating is a popular activity at Lewis & Clark State Recreation Area. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Things to do at Lewis & Clark SRA: This park has an unsupervised swimming beach. There are a total of five recreation areas on the lake that feature hiking trails, mountain biking, and lake access. This lake, as you can imagine, is popular with boaters.

Medicine Creek Reservoir State Recreation Area

Where: Cambridge, Neb.

About the cabins: Medicine Creek has four lakeside, two-bedroom cabins that are available to reserve from April to December. They’re fully furnished with an indoor bathroom and include a deck.

Things to do at Medicine Creek Reservoir SRA: Medicine Creek is among southwest reservoirs that offer quite a bit of water-based activities. This particular state recreation area has an unsupervised beach and boat ramp. Fish for walleye, white bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, wiper and crappie there. The other reservoirs nearby are Swanson Reservoir SRA, Enders Reservoir SRA, and Red Willow Reservoir SRA.

Niobrara State Park

Where: Niobrara, Neb.

About the cabins: Niobrara State Park has 20 modern cabins, with a mix of two-bedroom and three-bedroom options.

A cabin surrounded by trees at Niobrara State Park in northern Nebraska
Niobrara State Park is near both the Niobrara and Missouri rivers. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Things to do at Niobrara State Park: The park sits on the confluence of the Niobrara and Missouri rivers, so you can imagine access to the rivers are a draw for boaters. There are also horseback trail rides, buffalo cookouts, hiking trails and a pool (open mid-June to mid-August). There are two ponds at Niobrara State Park that are stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish. Go to pond 2 for rainbow trout fish in the fall and early spring.

The buffalo cookouts are popular and held on Saturdays throughout the summer. The cookouts include entertainment, which may be cowboy poets or storytellers. Reservations are required, and you’ll need to make them at the park admin office.

Platte River State Park

Where: Louisville, Neb.

About the cabins: Platte River State Park has quite possibly the widest range of accommodations, from absolute bare minimum to the ultimate in glamping. There are 20 modern cabins, including one four-bedroom cabin. Four of those modern cabins have a fireplace. In 2018, the park opened its glamping tents, ultramodern two-person digs that are pretty swanky. They also book very far in advance.

The exterior of a camper cabin at Platte River State Park in eastern Nebraska
The camper cabin at Platte River State Park offers beds with bedding, A/C, and a refrigerator like other modern cabins, but it lacks one biggie: Water. You’ll have to walk if you want to take a shower, use the restroom or wash your hands.

The park also has camper cabins. I’ve stayed at one of these and they’re bare bones, but super affordable. There is no running water and you must use the restrooms/shower facilities with other cabins. Most cabins have air conditioning. Most. There are also teepees at this park.

Things to do at Platte River State Park: Platte River State Park has some great hiking trails, including an easy, kid-friendly trail that passes a little waterfall. The park recently opened a large sprayground that replaces its pool. There are horseback trail rides, paddle boats, naturalist programs, Crawdad Creek, an observation tower and fishing opportunities. This is one of the few parks to have a shooting range for a variety of disciplines, including sling shot, tomahawk throw, rifle, pellet gun, and shot gun. We’ve been there when they’ve offered educational programs, where my kids learned some archery basics.

Ponca State Park

Where: Ponca, Neb.

About the cabins: Ponca State Park opened 10 gorgeous two-bedroom cabins in 2017, which adds to their 15 four-bedroom mini lodges, two two-bedroom “green” cabins, and rustic log cabins (two-bedroom and one-bedroom options). The new cabins are often all reserved early so plan accordingly.

Exterior of a mini lodge cabin at Ponca State Park in eastern Nebraska. The mini lodges at Ponca are among the most popular state cabins in Nebraska.
Here’s what a mini lodge looks like at Ponca State Park. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Things to do at Ponca State Park: I haven’t been to Ponca in years, but it’s a picturesque park situated on the Missouri River, and one of the most popular state park in Nebraska. There is a new aquatic center, as well as hiking and mountain bike trails, kayak programs, and horseback trail rides (Memorial Day to Labor Day). The park also has a nine-hole golf course and a shooting range.

Ponca State Park features one of the state’s most comprehensive outdoor and environmental education programs, with programs held daily Memorial Day through Labor Day and on weekends during the spring, fall and winter. 

Spring is a good time to visit for bird watching. In the fall, they have a popular haunted hayrack ride. There are winter activities, as well, including snowman building contests, sledding, ice fishing, and special events like Christmas in the Woods and Winterfest.

Two Rivers State Park Recreation Area

Where: Waterloo, Neb.

About the cabins: Two Rivers doesn’t actually have cabins. Instead, they call their “cabins” caboose cabins. They have a lot of amenities that you’d find in traditional cabins – air conditioning being one biggie. Each has a kitchen and restroom and sleep up to six people. It’s one of the more unique lodging options in Nebraska.

A row of caboose cabins at Two Rivers State Recreation Area near Omaha, Nebraska
Each caboose “cabin” at Two Rivers State Recreation Area sleeps up to six people. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Things to do at Two Rivers State Park: Two Rivers State Park has sandpit lakes that are popular for catch-and-release fishing. Catfish are stocked in Lakes 3 and 4; Lakes 1 and 2 are stocked annually with catchable channel catfish. Find largemouth bass at Lakes 1-4. Fee rainbow trout fishing is available at Lake 5, as is smallmouth bass. There is unsupervised swim beach, which we visited once. It’s rather small, but the kids liked it. This is not a park for hikers.

Victoria Springs State Recreation Area

Where: Anselmo, Neb.

About the cabins: Cabins are limited here – just two modern, two-bedroom. The cabins have a kitchen (with ranges, refrigerators, tableware, sink), double beds, linens, blankets, shower and toilet. The kitchenettes are furnished. The cabins are seasonal and are typically available from Memorial Day Weekend through mid-November.

Things to do at Victoria Springs SRA: Victoria Springs is one of the state’s oldest parks, and its waters were once renowned for its “healing” qualities back in the heyday of spas. Now it’s just a picturesque getaway in the Sandhills. Fishing is a draw, and the 5-acre pond is stocked with bass, bluegill and catfish. Boating is permitted and paddleboat are available to rent.

How to make reservations for Nebraska State Park cabins

There are two ways to reserve a cabin at a Nebraska State Park. You can reserve them online at OutdoorNebraska.org, which is my preferred method. You can also call 402-471-1414 (they have pretty traditional business hours, Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

Over-night stay minimums at Nebraska State Park cabins

There is a two-night minimum for reservations are required if you’re staying at peak season, and weekends. Otherwise, one-night stays are allowed during non-peak season from Sundays to Thursdays.

Want to stay in a yurt?

Nebraska doesn’t have yurts, yet. I stayed at the closest yurt to Nebraska one summer – you can find two yurts in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Looking for a cabin in Nebraska? Here's a list of all the state parks with cabins and what you can do in the park while you're there | Nebraska travel guide | Places to stay in Nebraska | Things to do in Nebraska

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February 8, 2019

Most Unique Places To Stay In Nebraska

Nebraska offers a wide variety of adventures for families, from stagecoach rides in the west, to canoeing in the north, and a world-class zoo in the east. And while you’re out venturing to each of those corners to the state, you’ll need a place to stay. I’ve been planning mini getaways for my family (checking off things on my Nebraska Bucket List), and I’ve started coming across some unique places to stay in Nebraska.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. At no cost to you, if you purchase something after clicking the link, I may receive a referral fee from it.

My hope is to eventually spend at least one night in each of these. I’ll report back to you all with a review of the accommodations so you can decide if it’s right for you and your family. Take a look at some of the cool inns, B&Bs, and, well, quirky places you can stay in Nebraska:

List of incredibly unique overnight experiences in Nebraska - From glamping to sleeping in a corn crib or teepee #Nebraska #travel

The Corn Crib 

Where: Crab Orchard, Neb.

Fits: 2 people

Why: You’re staying in a unique “cottage” that screams “Nebraska.” The Corn Crib is just that, a corn crib, but it’s been remodeled into a guest cottage, complete with a balcony overlooking a lake. It’s located on the estate grounds of Sheah Blue Vineyard.

Book it (Get $40 off your first AirBnB booking if you use this referral link!)

The Former Officers Quarters at Fort Robinson State Park in western Nebraska
Instead of individual cabins, Fort Robinson State Park lets guests stay overnight in former officers quarters. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Former Officers’ Quarters

Where: Fort Robinson State Park, Crawford, Neb.

Fits: 2 to 20 people

Why: This state park’s accommodations are pretty unique. You can stay in former officers quarters that date from 1874 to 1909. While they’re not cabins, They’re equipped like them: They have a kitchen and bathroom, and some of the larger ones have living rooms. And it’s full housekeeping, so they have linens and all the kitchen utensils you might need.

Book it

Glamping At A Winery

Where: Slattery Vintage Estates & Tasting Room, Nehawka, Neb.

Fits: 2 people

Why: Slattery was the first place that introduced the concept of glamping in Nebraska to me. Glamping tents are set up within walking distance to the tasting room (and of yeah, you can request wine and snacks to be waiting upon your arrival).

Note: This is one overnight you’ll want to leave the kids at home. Also note that, due to its location, you cannot bring outside alcohol with you when you’re glamping here.

Book it

Glamping cabins are available at Platte River State Park in eastern Nebraska
Glamping cabins opened at Platte River State Park in the summer of 2018. These cabins are part of the Outdoor Venture Park initiative. Photo courtesy NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Glamping At A State Park

Where: Platte River State Park, Louisville, Neb.

Fits: 2 people

Why: The three glamping sites at Platte River State Park have been a hot item to reserve ever since they first opened in 2018. They’re modern and outfitted with all the amenities you’d want (namely air conditioning and a comfy bed). Snagging a weekend reservation is tough, though.

Note: This is one overnight you’ll want to leave the kids at home.

Book it

A teepee at Platte River State Park in eastern Nebraska
Teepee Village is located at Platte River State Park in eastern Nebreaska. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Teepee Village

Where: Platte River State Park, Louisville, Neb.

Fits: 8 people

Why: While we’re talking about Platte River State Park, let me tell you about the teepees there. The Pawnee TeePee Village at Platte River State Park consists of four teepees situated on top of platforms, so at least your not sleeping on a ground. It’s a step above camping, but not on par with even a yurt. I’m pretty sure the only reason why you’d want to stay in one of these is to say you’ve stayed in one.

Book it

Kottage Knechtion Treehouse

Where: South Sioux City, Neb.

Fits: 2 people

Why: The Kottage Knechtion Treehouse is a B&B nestled between two cottonwood trees. It’s not far from downtown Sioux City, which I had fun exploring with my husband.

Book it (Get $40 off your first AirBnB booking if you use this referral link!)

One-Room School House

Where: Arnold, Neb.

Fits: 5 people

Why: Facebook fan Laura S. recommended Center School B&B and Museum, saying “We stayed there on the last night of our Sandhills trip. The apartment is clean and serviceable but the museum is AMAZING. Berni, the owner, is putting so much work into making it as authentic as possible and she has so many great stories to tell about the building and one room schoolhouses in general! As a teacher myself, I appreciated the care and detail in the museum so much!”

Note: This lodging does not have air conditioning, but the host notes that guests stay in the basement, which stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Book it (Get $40 off your first AirBnB booking if you use this referral link!)

River Inn Resort

Where: Brownville, Neb.

Fits: 2 people (possibly more)

Why: Here’s your chance to stay in a floating B&B! This 18-room floating inn is located on the Missouri River (and near one of my favorite towns in Nebraska).

Book it

Safari Tent Camp

Where: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Omaha, Neb.

Fits: 2 people

Why: While zoo offers a variety of camping options for the whole family, it was the Safari Tent Camp for adults-only that caught my eye – you stay in the safari tents near the African Grasslands. Tents include an electrical outlet, nightstand with lantern, area rug, dining table, two director chairs and oscillating fan. There are only a few nights offered each year, so you’ll have to plan ahead.

Book it

Cabooses at Two Rivers State Recreation Area in Waterloo, Nebraska
The cabooses at Two Rivers State Recreation Area in Waterloo, Neb., can accommodate up to six people. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Vintage Caboose

Where: Two Rivers State Recreation Area, Waterloo, Neb.

Fits: 6 people

Why: Ever since we saw the cabooses on our first camping trip to Two Rivers SRA, I knew that one day, we’d have to stay there. First off, they’re REAL cabooses, outfitted with bunkbeds and two mattresses in the cupola. But more important, unlike camping in a tent, they have air conditioning.

Note: Two Rivers is catch-and-release fishing spot more than anything else, though there is a small beach at one of the lakes. If you’re looking for hiking, this ain’t your park.

Book it

Get some road trip inspiration for your trip through Nebraska. Follow the Nebraska Travel board by Oh My! Omaha on Pinterest.

Stay somewhere fun in the Cornhusker State! Here's a list of unique places to stay in Nebraska, from clamping to staying in a corn crib, one-room school house or teepee #Nebraska #travel

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January 5, 2019

Nebraska Bingo

Think you know Nebraska? I’ve explored the state from Fort Robinson State Park in western Nebraska to Indian Cave State Park in southeastern Nebraska, and I’ve decided that there’s so much more I’ve yet to see. With the idea that we should get out and explore more, I’ve created this Nebraska Bingo playing card.

How many landmarks can you check off on Nebraska Bingo? I've got more places to visit in this state! #Nebraska #Bingo #travel

I don’t have a Bingo on this card, yet, but it’s going to be my guide for exploring Nebraska from this point on.

Start Planning

There are a few on the list I have written about, so if you want to get some inspiration in order to complete a row in Nebraska Bingo, check out these posts:

Smith Falls – Read about canoeing the Niobrara River, which passes through Smith Falls State Park

Family walking on a trail at Toadstool Geological Park in western Nebraska
Nebraska’s own Badlands, AKA Toadstool Geological Park.

Toadstool Geological Park – An interesting stop during a western Nebraska and South Dakota road trip

Omaha Children’s Museum – I wrote this post about the perks of a family membership long before I started working at the museum, but it still stands. This museum is best for kids ages 8 and younger.

Indian Cave State Park – This scenic park is known for its trails. There is a cave, but it’s not the kind of cave you’re thinking.

Historical re-enactor dressed as a blacksmith at Fort Atkinson in Nebraska
Don’t miss the blacksmith during the re-enactment weekends at Fort Atkinson, located in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. He may even make a little souvenir for your kid.

Fort Atkinson – The best time to visit is during the historical re-enactments. They’re held the first Saturday and Sunday of the month, May through October.

Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium – There are more detailed posts about recently opened exhibits like Asian Highlands and African Grasslands.

Boy looking out from a stagecoach at Fort Robinson State Park in western Nebraska.
When we went to Fort Robinson, the kids weren’t old enough for trail rides, so we settled for a stagecoach ride.

Fort Robinson State Park – This is a one-of-a-kind state park in Nebraska. You won’t find anything like it, with it’s jeep rides, stagecoach rides, trail rides, and unique buildings.

With any luck, I’ll add to this list in the next year or two! I’d love to hear where all you’ve been and if you can yell “BINGO” on the Nebraska Bingo card. Leave a comment!

How many Nebraska landmarks have you visited? #Nebraska #Bingo

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December 14, 2018

Winter Day Trips From Omaha

There’s only one thing to do when cabin fever strikes: Bundle up and get out of the house. I recently shared a list of 30+ things to do this winter in Omaha. But if you’ve done it all here, or at least it feels like it, then maybe it’s time to get out of town. Here are some ideas to inspire your next winter day trips from Omaha:

Winter day trips from Omaha, Nebraska - Indoors and outdoor ideas for families #Nebraska #Iowa #familytravel

Council Bluffs, Iowa

You don’t have to go far for your next day trip. Council Bluffs, Iowa, has enough to keep you busy for the day. Visit Union Pacific Railroad Museum for free, or pay a few dollars to see the nearby Squirrel Cage Jail. The city also has Joe’s Carting, for go carts.

Related post: Family-Friendly Outdoor Activities Near Council Bluffs

The historic Squirrel Cage Jail is located in Council Bluffs.  Photo courtesy Iowa Tourism Office

Where to eat? 712 is great food but not necessarily a place you’d necessarily want to bring little kids to. Pizza King is an iconic pizza joint (though Pizza Counter nearly won the entire Great Pizza Tournament this year). Quaker Steak & Lube is a chain restaurant, but the decor gives you plenty to look at while you’re there. 

Honey Creek, Iowa

Bundle up and hit the trails at Hitchcock Nature Center. You can rent snow shoes and if you’re feeling adventurous, try a sled down the Chute Trail. Warm up and have the kids play around the great visitor’s center.

Related post: Fall At Hitchcock Nature Center

Where to eat? When the weather’s nice, I usually pack a picnic for Hitchcock outings. However, I don’t picnic in the winter. Crescent is your closest city with restaurants. My favorite restaurant is closed now, so I guess I’ll just recommend the iconic Crescent restaurant, Pink Poodle. I haven’t eaten there in, oh, about 20 years, though, so I can’t tell you if it’s still great or not.

Truthfully? I drive into Council Bluffs if I’m looking a restaurant near there. 

Crescent, Iowa

The area’s only skiing is at Mt. Crescent in Crescent, Iowa. In addition to ski slopes, there are tubes to rent. Best part? You don’t have to walk up the hill each time with the big tubes; Mt. Crescent has a lift for the tube trail, too.

Where to eat? Mt. Crescent has a small lodge that may have some food. It’s near Crescent, Iowa, so see the above suggestion.

Lincoln, Neb.

There’s so much to do in Lincoln in the winter, but our favorites are the Lincoln Children’s Museum and Morrill Hall. We also enjoyed Lost In Fun!, but it is out of the way of most everything.

Related Post: 8 Great Things To Do With Kids In Lincoln

The hall of mammoths at Morrill Hall on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Where to eat? We always end up eating at Lazlo’s with the kids in the Hay Market. Fora good dessert, I recommend The Rabbit Hole Bakery, an Alice in Wonderland-themed café.

Ashland, Neb.

Mahoney State Park is a destination in itself, but you can combine a stop there with a few hours at Strategic Air and Space Museum. Outdoor activities at Mahoney include tobogganing and ice skating. We usually spend all of our time at the Activity Center, which has a huge indoor playground and climbing walls.

The indoor Activity Center at Mahoney State Park is a popular (and inexpensive) destination for families living in Omaha.

Where to eat? – You could eat at the Activity Center, but I wouldn’t recommend it beyond getting a snack. Head into Ashland for Cherri’s, which has some good sandwiches and ice cream, or just get a pizza to go from Casey’s.

If you’re traveling without kids, there’s winery and tasting room to check out, too. Visit Cellar 426 or Glacial Till Tasting Room.

Related Post: Things To Do At Mahoney State Park In The Winter 

Nebraska City, Neb.

OK, I’ll be the first to tell you Nebraska City is better any other time of the year, but don’t dismiss it. For older kids, explore some of the historic sites including Arbor Lodge and Wildwood Historic Center. If you’re ambitious and hearty in the winter, hit the trails at the Arbor Lodge Tree Adventure.

Related Post: Visiting Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure

Going off the trail at the Arbor Lodge Tree Adventure in Nebraska City, Neb.

Where to eat? The last restaurant we dined at in Nebraska City is now closed and, I confess, I’m more likely to pack a picnic visit (and then eat apple pie at the Apple House Market next door to the Tree Adventure). The Keeping Room looks charming, so if I were to pick the one I’d try out, I’d go there.

Your turn: Tell me a great winter day trip from Omaha!

Great, family-friendly day trip from Omaha - Things to see and do in nearby towns like Lincoln, Ashland and Honey Creek #Nebraska #Lincoln #Midwest

Get more day trip ideas by following my Pinterest board dedicated to traveling with kids through Nebraska:

https://www.pinterest.com/ohmyomaha/traveling-in-nebraska-with-kids/

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July 13, 2018

What’s New At Nebraska State Parks Near Omaha

There are a lot of updates happening at four Nebraska state parks and state recreation areas near Omaha, including an addition of a ropes course, “glamping” cabins, and an aqua playground. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission calls them Outdoor Venture Parks. Here’s a look at what’s new and what’s coming. What’s great for us is that these parks are located within about 30 miles of Omaha.

For the most up-to-date information and to see the artist renderings of everything, visit Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s website.

A look at the plans for four venture parks in eastern Nebraska #statepark #outdoors #adventure

Mahoney State Park

Artist rendering of Mahoney State Park climbing walls
A rock wall will open in the Activity Center at Mahoney State Park in Nebraksa. Artist rendering courtesy Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Where: Ashland, Neb.

What’s new: The Go Ape Ropes Course opened at Mahoney State Park in the spring of 2018. It’s Nebraska’s only treetop rope course, and in it you’ll find ziplines and suspended walkways. There are age and height restrictions.

What’s on the way: Slated to open in the fall of 2018, Mahoney State Park is expanding its Activity Center and adding an indoor rock climbing wall. In the winter of 2018-2019, be on the lookout for a new alpine and sledding hill. That means year-round sliding, folks. There is also the addition of a lazy river at the park that’s been proposed, but no design plan has been selected yet and no installation date has been set.

Platte River State Park

Glamping cabins are available at Platte River State Park in eastern Nebraska
Glamping cabins opened at Platte River State Park in the summer of 2018. These cabins are part of the Outdoor Venture Park initiative. Photo courtesy NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Where: Louisville, Neb.

What’s new: Glamping! The three glamping cabins opened in July 2018, and are an upscale way to camp. The feature I’m most interested in is the queen-size bed on rollers that can be moved out onto the deck to sleep under the stars. This summer, Platte River State Park also opened a two-tiered splash pad. It replaces the pool, and is intended for preschoolers on up to young teens. In 2017, Platte River State Park added Crawdad Creek, which was a hit with my kids. Find it by Jenny Newman Lake – it’s a series of small ponds. Look up program times, where kids (and adults) can learn and explore with a parks employee.

Related post: Glamping isn’t only found at Platte River State Park. Check out this post about all the unique places to stay in Nebraska!

What’s on the way: Sometime in the summer of 2018, they park should have river access for visitors, including kayaks to rent. It may be open already. Be on the lookout for a new RV campground in the fall of 2018. Further ahead in the future, the park will be enhancing mountain bike trails to make it a premier regional destination for mountain bikers. Those trails are scheduled to be completed in 2019.

Louisville State Recreation Area

Louisville State Recreation Area floating playground is the first of its kind in Nebraska
The floating playground at Louisville State Recreation Area (SRA) will open in July 2018. Photo courtesy NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Where: Louisville, Neb.

What’s new: A new floating playground is supposed to open any day now. It’s a huge, inflatable obstacle course, and as such, there are age restrictions. You’ll also be able to rent watercycles and paddleboards.

What’s on the way: A new access point to the Platte River should open in the fall of 2018. No word on being able to rent equipment.

Schramm Park State Recreation Area

Artist rendering the the Schramm Park interactive exploration center
Schramm Park State Recreation Area (SRA) will open a new interactive exploration center aquarium soon as part of the Nebraska Outdoor Venture Parks. Artist rendering courtesy Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Where: Gretna, Neb.

What’s new: Nothing new…yet, though sometime this summer, there should be more access to the river, with expanded rec options like canoeing, kayaking and other water-based activities.

What’s on the way: I’m happy to say the former Aksarben Aquarium is getting a makeover. Expect the renovated center, soon to be called Interactive Exploration Center, to open in the fall or winter of 2018. It should be a state-of-the art nature center and aquarium when finished. This fall, there should be some enhanced and expanded mountain bike trails opening.

List of what has opened at the Nebraska Venture Parks and what is planned. These are all parks within 30 miles of Omaha.

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