December 30, 2017

10 Beautiful Midwest Destinations For Families

I’d like 2018 to be a year of beauty and wonder for my kids. The good news is that you don’t have to travel far to encounter some truly beautiful or unique places. There are so many beautiful Midwest destinations! Here are a few of my family’s favorites so you, too, can have a year of beauty and wonder with your family.

I’m stilling brainstorming where we may go in 2018, so I’d love your suggestions! Where in the Midwest should I go with my family for beautiful sights and wonder-inducing experiences?

 

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

The Monster Trees might have been my favorite part of all Botanica Wichita.

Where: Wichita, Kan.

Why it’s beautiful: Obviously, being a botanical garden, things are going to be beautiful. Must-see pretty spots at Botanica include the koi pond and Chinese Friendship Garden.

Why kids will like it: You must take the kids to the whimsical Downing Children’s Garden to see the Monster Woods, musical maze, the familiar storybook character statues. and, being Kansas, the yellow brick road.

Read more about this kid-favorite destination!

 

Clear Lake

The view from the top of the carousel at Clear Lake’s Fourth of July celebration.

Where: Clear Lake, Iowa

Why it’s beautiful: Like most Midwestern lakes, there’s a beautiful of the sky reflecting on the water and the serene appeal of quiet, lapping waves on a shore. But, the bonus with Clear Lake is that it’s a getaway without being far from modern conveniences. The town of Clear Lake is literally right at the water’s edge.

Why kids will like it: There are a couple beaches to choose from where kids where it’s shallow enough for littles to enter the water safely. My kids particularly remember Clear Lake for its Fourth of July festival…and the chance to stay overnight in a yurt.

Want to stay in a yurt? Here’s a post about the only yurts in Iowa you can stay in. 

 

Coronado Heights Park

Coronado Heights Park has a structure that looks strikingly like a castle to young children (and grown ups with big imaginations).

Where: Lindsborg, Kan.

Why it’s beautiful: Coronado Heights sits on a sandstone bluff looking over flat pastures. The beauty is the view, yes, but also the stark contrast of an ancient-looking castle set on the plains.

Why kids will like it: The castle, obviously. It’s not really a castle, but go ahead and let them believe there was once a small, medieval castle just northwest of Lindsborg.

Bonus: Don’t just visit the park and miss out on the charming town of Lindsborg. The town wears its Swedish heritage with pride, and it’s utterly charming to visit.

We tacked on a visit to Coronado Heights during our weekend trip to Wichita. Read about that stop here!

 

Ledges State Park

We looked for rocks in the shallow river that flowed through Ledges State Park.

Where: Madrid, Iowa

Why it’s beautiful: This park is an unexpected treasure in the middle of Iowa. The walk along the sandstone gorge carved out by a tributary of the Des Moines River is unforgettable.

Why kids will like it: Playing in the water is a big draw, but part of the fun, too, is Canyon Drive, a route that passes through the sandstone gorge and is often partly submerged under water. The bigger the splash, the better.

 

Loess Hills

They don’t call them the Loess Hills for nothing. Don’t expect a flat hike at Preparation Canyon State Park.

Where: Western Iowa and Missouri

Why it’s beautiful: We’ve hiked a few trails in western Iowa’s Loess Hills, and each have had their own unique beauty about them. Trails along these unique formations can sometimes lead to rolling hills or steep bluffs, and have views of prairies or forests. You’ll find them along the eastern edge of the Missouri River flood plain.

Why kids will like it: This is Midwest nature at its purest.

Here are three hikes in the Loess Hills to consider!

 

Missouri Botanical Garden

The Japanese Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden is 14 acres with bridges, waterfalls and peaceful nooks.

Where: St. Louis, Mo.

Why it’s beautiful: This huge botanical garden has a space that appeals to everyone, but the most beautiful, to me at least, is the 14-acre Japanese Garden. It’s peaceful with its path around the lake, and everywhere you look, you see pure beauty.

Why kids will like it: The kids enjoyed feeding the Koi fish at the Japanese Garden and looking for turtles around lake. However, you’d be making a huge mistake if you skip the seasonal Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden. It’s a lot of fun (pack their swimsuits).

They don’t call this place one of the most beautiful gardens in the U.S. for nothing! Read why here.

 

Smith Falls

A view of Smith Falls on a sunny day.

Where: Cherry County, Nebraska (nearest city is Valentine, Neb.)

Why it’s beautiful: Located in Smith Falls State Park, this 63-foot waterfall is the tallest in Nebraska. You don’t forget the first time you ever see this waterfall.

Why kids will like it: You hear the waterfall before you actually see it, which thrills children to no end. The fun part is that you can stand under the water, if you dare (it’s very cold no matter the season, and the water hits you pretty hard).

Bonus: Getting to Smith Falls from Omaha is half the fun – you drive through the beautiful Sandhills of Nebraska. Plus, most people opt to canoe the Niobrara River to Smith Falls State Park, which in my opinion, is another beautiful thing to experience.

Get Western Nebraska road trip inspiration to visit Smith Falls here!

 

Sylvan Lake

Where: Black Hills, South Dakota

Why it’s beautiful: Sylvan Lake is found within Custer State Park in South Dakota, which is itself, a truly unique and wonderful destination. Visit Custer, and make sure Sylvan Lake is on your list of stops. This gorgeous lake is a worthy destination for any family, either for an easy hike, water sports, or a waterside picnic.

Why kids will like it: The trail around lake is mostly easy, but there are some more challenging points that kids love. This is a spectacular spot to immerse yourself in nature.

Get inspired for a Black Hills road trip starting with this post!

 

Table Rock Lake

Jumping into Table Rock Lake to cool off in the summer.

Where: Stone County, Missouri

Why it’s beautiful: Table Rock Lake is a reservoir in the expansive Ozarks region of southern Missouri (and expands well into Arkansas). I particularly enjoyed Table Rock because it offered an peaceful escape from the frenzy of nearby Branson, Mo.

Why kids will like it: Water sports and small cliff jumping is a big appeal here. If you plan ahead, you can rent a houseboat to extend your stay on the water.

Toadstool Geologic Park

Nebraska’s own Badlands, AKA Toadstool Geological Park.

Where: Harrison, Neb.

Why it’s beautiful: This is Nebraska’s own Badlands. It’s off the beaten path, and much smaller than South Dakota’s Badlands, but park is just stunning to hike.

Why kids will like it: I suspect they like it because they’re imagining they’re on the moon. At least, that’s why I liked the park. Please note: The trail can be challenging for young children, and seriously panic-inducing for parents who bring their young children. Hike with care.

Read some Western Nebraska road trip inspiration in this post!

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October 26, 2017

5 Nebraska Must-See Places To Add To Your Bucket List

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Oh My! Omaha is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

I’m pretty confident that I’ve seen a lot of remarkable places in Nebraska – from Toadstool Geological Park and Fort Robinson to Smith Falls and the Sandhills. Yet, browsing through the new book, “Detour Nebraska,” by Gretchen Garrison, I realize that there’s a lot more I have yet to see. It’s an inspired me to create a new Nebraska must-see list.

 

Gretchen is a friend of mine, and her blog, Odyssey Through Nebraska, has inspired more than a trip or two of mine. It’s no surprise, then, that her book would prompt more trips. Here are five places she writes about that I want to add to my Nebraska Bucket List.

1. Kreycik Elk & Buffalo Ranch – This is a totally new place to me. At this ranch, guests ride a covered wagon to see the animals, and get this, they can feed the tamer ones. It’s near Niobrara State Park, which has been one of Nebraska’s state parks I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. I see a combo trip in my future.

Kreycik Elk & Buffalo Ranch in Nebraska. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

2.The Arthur Bowring Ranch – The allure of the Sandhills combined with a ranch it too great for me. I have to go here. Plus, there’s a sod house. It’s very Nebraska. There’s a Sodhouse Sunday event on the last Sunday of June that sounds like something I’d drag my family to like to attend so I can see the re-enactments of what early Nebraska life was like.

3. Seward – OK, I really only want to go to Seward for its Fourth of July festivities. It hear it’s called Nebraska’s Fourth of July City for good reason – more than 40,000 people travel there for the parade and parties.

Nebraska’s Fourth of July City, Seward. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

4. Happy Jack Peak and Chalk Mine – One of two underground diatomite mines in the U.S. is located near Scotia, Neb. I have a strange fascination with mines and caves, so naturally, this one is on my radar. I don’t expect to see much in the mine, I just want to go underground because underground stuff is cool.

Happy Jack Peak & Chalk Mine near Scotia, Neb. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

5. Ashfalls Fossil Beds State Historical Site – I first heard of Ashfalls through Gretchen’s blog, so naturally her book reminded me that I have yet to go there. If you visit in the summer, you may catch student paleontologists digging fossils of rhinos, camels and horses.

 

Nebraska attractions

“Detour Nebraska” comes out on Oct. 30 (it’s actually the same day as my book, “Lost Restaurants of Omaha”).

 

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September 13, 2017

Halloween At Nebraska & Iowa Parks

There are a lot of city and state parks Halloween events in 2017. Most are appealing for all ages, though if you’re looking for some scares, you can find a park for you. I mostly gathered details for fun events near Halloween in Nebraska parks, but included some nearby Iowa park events as well as notable state parks with themed plans.

Please note: Most of these parks will require a park permit to enter.

Halloween at Nebraska Parks

Looking for more fall fun? Check out the 20+ Things You Must Do In Nebraska This Fall list!

 

Viking Lake State Park Spooktacular

When: Oct. 7

Where: Viking Lake State Park, 2780 Viking Lake Road, Stanton, Iowa

What: Details to come on this event, other than things start at 5 p.m.

Scare factor: TBD

 

Halloween Campsite Decorating Contest & Trick-or-Treating

When: Oct. 14

Where: Fremont State Recreation Area, 4349 W State Lakes Road, Fremont, Neb.

What: Decorate your campsite for a chance to win free nights of camping. Judging and trick or treating runs from 5 to 7 p.m. Don’t forget to bring candy for the kids.

Scare factor: Low

 

Trunk or Treat at Homestead Knolls Campground

When: Oct. 14

Where: Calamus State Recreation Area, 42285 York Point Road, Burwell, Neb.

What: Kids in costumes are invited to trick or treat around the campsites from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Decorate your campsite and hand out candy. Registration is required for those wanting to decorate their vehicle or campsite for the event by calling the park office at 308-346-566 or email the park at ngpc.calamus@nebraska.gov.

Scare factor: Low

 

Lewis & Clark State Park Halloween Celebration

When: Oct. 14

Where: Lewis & Clark State Park, 21914 Park Loop, Onawa, Iowa

What: No details available, yet, except activities start at 5 p.m.

Scare factor: TBD

 

Ledges State Park Trick or Treat

When: Oct. 14

Where: Ledges State Park, 1515 P Ave., Madrid, Iowa

What: Hike through the campground and trick-or-treating at campsites decorated for the occasion. Activities run from 5 to 7 p.m.

Scare factor: Low

 

Bellevue State Park Trick or Treat

When: Oct. 14

Where: Bellevue State Park, 21466 429th Ave., Bellevue, Iowa

What: Trick or treating through the campground from 5 to 7 p.m.

Scare factor: Low

 

Harvest Fun Days

When: Oct. 14, 21 and 28

Where: Hummel Nature Center, 11808 John J Pershing Drive, Omaha

What: Free activities run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., including fall crafts, exploring trails and games, as well as rides to the pumpkin patch. Pumpkins are $2 each. Reservations requested.

Scare factor: None

22nd Annual Haunted Hollow Hayrack Rides

When: Oct. 14, 20-21, and 27-28

Where: Indian Cave State Park, 65296 720 Road, Shubert, Neb.

What: From 7 to 9 p.m., enjoy several activities throughout the park, including a Halloween scavenger hunt, campground decorating contest, pumpkin roll contest, horseback rides, costume contest, face painting, Halloween crafts to make and take, living history demonstrations. Rides depart from the museum parking lot. Must purchase tickets in advance starting Oct. 1 at 402-883-2575. Adults are $8, kids (4-12) are $6 and children 3 and younger are FREE.

Scare factor: Most events are low on scares. If they do a hayrack ride–I believe they once they did–I’ve heard the is scary for littles.

 

All Hallow’s Eve at Botna Bend Park

When: Oct. 20 and 21

Where: Botna Bend Park, 42926 Mahogany Road, Hancock, Iowa

What: Campfire stories for all ages will be presented by Council Bluffs Library on Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. Activities planned all day Oct. 21 include Halloween crafts at 10 a.m.; a two-person team corn hole tournament starting at noon (register in advance at the park office the morning before); Raptor Recover demos at 3 p.m.; campground trick-or-treating at 6:25 p.m.; Movie in the Park screening of “Hotel Transylvania” at 7:15 p.m. Meet at Olson Lodge for all activities.

Scare factor: Low to none

 

Nature’s Harvest

When: Oct. 21

Where: Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, Iowa

What: Costumes are encouraged for this event that runs from 4 to 6 p.m. Activities planned for participants of all ages including guided hikes, games, scavenger hunts, refreshments, campground trick or treating & hayrack ride. Free-will donation accepted. Everything is FREE with park entry fee. RSVP here.

Scare factor: None

 

30th  Annual Pumpkin Carvers Event

When: Oct. 21

Where: Calamus State Recreation Area, 42285 York Point Road, Burwell, Neb.

What: Spend the day carving pumpkins. Carving utensils and patterns will be provided but visitors are encourage to bring their own. Pumpkins will be limited; recommended that visitors bring their own to carve. Pumpkins will be displayed around the campground starting at 5 p.m. Access to the campground will be closed to vehicle traffic from 6 to 10 p.m. to allow viewers to enjoy their time looking at the displays. All parking will be located at the Homestead Knolls boat ramp area and also day use area.

Scare factor: None

 

Pink Pumpkin Walk

When: Oct. 21

Where: Indian Cave State Park, 65296 720 Road, Shubert, Neb.

What: This is a 10 a.m. breast cancer walk for survivors and in memory of loved ones. Registration is $25 and includes a T-shirt. You can call to order a personalized pink pumpkin in memory of a loved one, for those who have beat cancer and those currently with their fight.  $10 due by Oct. 14. Proceeds going to Richardson County Cancer Society and Nemaha County Giving Hope Cancer Fund.
Pre-register online by Oct. 14 here.

Scare factor: None

 

Vintage Halloween

When: Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 28-29

Where: Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, 22 Street & 2 Avenue, Nebraska City, Neb.

What: Step back in time to see historic trades, talents, and other demonstrations come alive inside the mansion and out. The weekend is full of Vintage Halloween fun frivolity as we celebrate vintage Halloween customs, games, crafts, and décor from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mansion admission is $8 adults, $6 youth (age 3-12). Entrance to the park is free.

Scare factor: None

 

Camp ‘n Treat!

When: Oct. 27-31

Where: Red Willow Reservoir State Recreation Area, 72718 Trail 2, McCook, Neb.

What: A Halloween camping event with half-price camping rates of $10/night for a pad site, $4/night for a tent site. There is a camper/campsite decorating contest with a price of three nights free camping on dates of your choice. Kids pumpkin carving contest is at 4 p.m. on Oct. 28. Camper to Camper Trick or Treating on Halloween night. Bring treats for the kids in exchange for the half-price camping.

Scare factor: 1

 

Trunk & Treat

When: Oct. 28

Where: Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, Fort Calhoun, Neb.

What: Fort Atkinson State Historical Park will have a truck or treat event from  from 1 to 3 p.m. There will be Halloween activities, a parade of costumes and pumpkin painting.

Scare factor: None

 

Haunted Hike Night

When: Oct. 28

Where: Windmill State Recreation Area, Gibbon, Neb.

What: Get in some exercise as you walk, or RUN, the trail filled with swamp monsters, zombies, and more. Trail is recommended for individuals 13 years or older, or with parental consent. Hot cocoa is offered at the end of the trail. Event is $1 a person or a donation of a canned food item to be donated to the Gibbon Food Pantry.

Scare factor: Scary

 

Do you know of some other events at parks in Nebraska or Iowa that can be added to this list? Leave a comment or email ohmyomaha (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks!

 

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September 7, 2017

20+ Things You Must Do This Fall In Nebraska

Here’s everything you could ever want to do in the fall in Nebraska, as well as favorite activities in Iowa for those looking for a day trip.

Fall in the heartland is fun. There’s a bounty of good things to eat, pretty places to visit and awesome sites to see.

I shared my favorite fall activities, and crowdsourced to fill in what I’m missing. Tips came from the Oh My! Omaha Facebook page, Omaha Area Foodies Facebook Group, and Midwest Travel Bloggers. Leave a comment with your favorites!

– Pick apples at the closest apple orchard to Omaha, Ditmars Orchard in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Other places to go include Martin’s Hillside Orchard near Ceresco, Neb., and Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City.

– While you’re at the orchards, you have to try some of their apple specialties. I love Ditmars’ fresh apple cider donuts. You might also like their fried apple pie there. Other items to try: Kimmel’s apple wine and Union Orchard’s caramel apple pie (both located in Nebraska City).

– Spend the afternoon at an Oktoberfest celebration in Omaha. Popular ones are at Crescent Moon, Gerda’s and the German-American Society.

– Go to a “for real” haunted place. One of the closest to Omaha that I know of is that is reportedly haunted is the Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs. Here are five of Iowa’s spookiest, according to Olio in Iowa. If you’re brave, head to Villisca Ax Murder House in Villisca, Iowa. (shared by Mojotraveler).

– Make an Arbor Day Farm family field trip. We pretty much do this every year. We head to the Arbor Day Farms Tree Adventure first for a hike and then order the apple pie a la mode at the restaurant on the property. Arbor Day Farm is in Nebraska City.

– Get a group together to do the hayrack ride and bonfire at Shady Lane in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Having s’mores on the menu is a must.

– Get a new take on the s’more and try B & B Classic Dogs’s dessert: Smore Krispies. They torch the marshmallow right before it leaves the kitchen.

– Head to the pumpkin patch. Some Nebraska and Iowa favorites include Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna, Neb. (shared by The Walking Tourists), where you can also try out this fun scavenger hunt; SkinnyBones Pumpkin Patch in Blair, Neb.; and Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Patch in Bellevue, Neb. Head to Iowa for more day trip destinations like: Bloomsbury Farm and Wilson’s Orchard in Cedar Rapids; Enchanted Acres in Sheffield, Iowa (shared by Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids); or The Pumpkin Patch in Winterset, Iowa (shared by Olio in Iowa). Sioxland Families shared a big list of pumpkin patches around Sioux City, too.

– Navigate a corn maze.

– Attend a fall festival. Recommended ones include the Applejack Festival in Nebraska City and Applefest in Woodbine, Iowa.

– Make soup or buy your favorite from a restaurant. Not a cook? Try to potato soup at Don & Millie’s.

– Go to a U-pick farm.

– Take the kids to a Halloween event. There are no shortage of events in Omaha each year, but some of my favorites include Omaha Symphony’s “Symphony Spooktacular,” Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium’s Spooktacular, and Omaha Children’s Museum’s Cobweb Castle. All are great for my little ones, because they’re low on scares.

– Carve a pumpkin.

– Go to a Husker football game. It’s true: The stadium, when full, becomes Nebraska’s third-most populated “city.” Or you can watch the game at home and make tried-and-true Husker recipes, like Crack Dip (cream cheese, sausage and Rotel).

– Drink apple cider. One of my favorite places to get on-site pressed apple cider is at Arbor Day Farm’s little restaurant in Nebraska City.

– Taking a slow walk or hike. A recommended trail from a reader: Papio Trail. Here are seven of my favorite trails near Omaha.

– Bob for apples.

– If you’re in Omaha and love food, you know fall means Omaha Restaurant Week.

– Take a brewery or winery tour. You could also grape stomp (something I’ve tried, but I actually do not recommend. One word: bees).

– Visit a farmer’s market for the fall bounty of produce. One foodie said she makes zucchini bread with the last of the giant squash everyone avoids.

Your turn: What are your favorite fall activities in Nebraska or Iowa?

 

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June 12, 2017

7 Reasons To Visit Platte River State Park

Platte River State Park is one of the closest state parks to the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas. There is an abundance of fun things to do with kids, especially during the summer.

Yet, I think it gets overlooked for flashier, newer parks. But, with the addition of glamping, I think this park is going to become very popular soon.

Here’s are seven reasons why you should plan a visit the park. Bringing kids along? Don’t miss this guide to taking kids to Platte River State Park.

Great Hiking Trails

This waterfall at Platte River State Park is my favorite destination of any Omaha metro trail.

I’m guilty of thinking of another state park near Platte River for day trips first (ahem, Mahoney), but when I want to immerse myself and kids in nature, few places nearby can top Platte River State Park.

The trails at Mahoney have nothing on Platte River. First off, there’s a waterfall that’s incredibly quick and easy to get to at Platte River State Park.

For those looking for more of a challenge, Platte River State Park’s terrain will satisfy you.

It’s still the Midwest, so you know, it’s not mountainous, but it’ll do.

Horseback Trail Rides

My son right before we began our trail ride at Platte River State Park.

Your family can ride horses at Platte River State Park. The cutoff age is one year younger than Mahoney’s (age 6). They do a great job matching your ability to the right horse.

The route takes you past a creek, over a bridge and through some inclines in the forest. In all, you’re on your horse for about an hour.

Naturalist Programs

The kids spent more time than I could have imagined trying to catch tadpoles during the naturalist program held at Crawdad Creek at Platte River State Park. The creek is a new feature at the park in 2017.

This is the first summer we’ve really taken advantage of the programming offered at a state park, perhaps because all of our stays in the past have been off-season. At least through June 30, there are daily activities for kids.

Some teach fishing; others might instruct them on creek ecology. There’s a small nature center with aquariums of native Nebraska species. One naturalist program let kids get up close to some of them to learn more about their characteristics.

Tip: If you stay over Memorial Day Weekend, you may even find a special event on that Friday night. When we were there, the kids got to learn some archery, try out an air rifle, and learn about Dutch oven cooking.

Movie Screenings

Saturday nights through the summer, you can go to the park’s little amphitheater to watch a family-friendly movie for free. We brought snacks and drinks, and since it was early summer still, a blanket.

There is bench seating, so you don’t have to bring a chair.

Fun Lake

Paddle boats and fishing are the popular activities at this lake at Platte River State Park.

The lake at Platte River State Park is a lovely one surrounded by tall trees. There’s a marina where you can get a variety of food and cold treats, as well as rent a paddle boat for a half-hour.

Tip: You can check out fishing poles for your kids for free (bait is extra).

Near the lake you’ll find Crawdad Creek. It’s a new addition to the park, and the kids loved it. It features three ponds with little waterfalls flowing from one to the next. There’s a naturalist program at the creek, during which a guide helps kids look for tadpoles and other critters and bugs.

Cheaper Cabins

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.

Having stayed about both Mahoney and Platte River state parks, I can affirm Platte River has cheaper options, including teepees if you’re so inclined. The options are cheaper because Platte River State Park has things like camper cabins, which has some amenities of a typical cabin (A/C, refrigerator, beds) but not all of them (no water or bathroom).

Having spent a few nights in a camper cabin, I’m cool with spending a few more bucks to have a bathroom next time.

Proximity to other fun stuff

The view from my lounger at the Mahoney State Park aquatic center. The pool has an annoying schedule, and is closed over dinner time; however, if you go when it’s open for those few hours after dinner, you’ll find a much less crowded pool.

The great thing about Platte River State Park is that it’s near places like Mahoney State Park, so you can stay (cheaply) at Platte River, and then take the 10-minute drive to the other park to enjoy what’s there as well.

I’d recommend heading to Mahoney to the aquatic center, which is much larger than Platte River’s little pool, plus it has water slides and a kids area. If it’s a rainy day, nothing beats letting the kids run wild in the indoor play area at Mahoney, too.

If you go

Platte River State Park

Where: 14421 346th St., Louisville, Neb.

Cabin & Camping Information

Visiting in the off-season? Read this post on what to do at Platte River State Park in the winter.

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April 17, 2017

Strider Bikes Lincoln Race On June 10

I had a bike coach tell me his kids learned to bike using a balance bike. So I followed his lead and got one for my son.

Here’s how the balance bike works: Little ones learn to balance on a two-wheel balance bike and are able to progress easier to two-wheels with pedals, skipping the whole training wheel headache. That’s how it worked with Farley. We’re working on getting kid No. 2 to master the bike now.

Not a single bike ride with training wheels for these two.

Strider Bikes is a giant in the balance bike industry, selling more than 1.5 million bikes. They’re known for durability and high performance. They reached out to me to tell you about an upcoming balance bike race. I was all for this campaign because I love encouraging bike in Nebraska, and I’ve seen first-hand that balance bikes work…and now know not to settle for anything less than a Strider!

2017 STRIDER Cup Series

strider bike race lincoln

The Strider Cup Series race is in Lincoln, Neb., on June 10, 2017. Photo courtesy Strider Bikes

Do you have a kid who’s 5 years old or younger and a total champ on his or her Strider bike? Sign him or her up for the STRIDER Cup Series race in Lincoln, Neb., on June 10. Sounds totally cute and fun. There will even be an Adventure Zone riding area separate from the race where little ones can test out demo bikes (with helmets). It’s a place for children to try out a Strider Bike if they have one and play “in the zone.”

If you go

When: June 10, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (race start times vary for age groups and a special needs wave)

Where: Tower Square in downtown Lincoln, 1300 P St., Lincoln, Neb.

Cost: $25 (plus service fee), and includes a Strider jersey, number plate, and goodies

Register here (registration closes June 9)

** Be sure to check the race website for packet pick-up details and times

Now here’s Strider Bikes race nitty gritty: Genuine Strider Bikes are the only balance bikes allowed to race. You can find them at quality bike stores and online.

But I have great news for you…you can enter to win a Strider bike right here on the blog!

Strider Bikes Giveaway

One lucky winner is going to win a Strider Sport, just in time for the race! These bikes are easy to adjust so they’re good for both an itty bitty 18-month-old or sturdy 5-year-old. They’re a step up from the basic model, with a padded seat, foot rests, and mini-grips designed for tiny hands to have better control.

It’s really simple to enter. Enter through the Rafflecopter entry form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You must enter by 11:59 p.m. April 30. One winner will be randomly chosen within 48 hours – be on the lookout for an email! The winner will have 48 hours to respond before another entry is drawn. Must be 18 or older to enter and a resident of the United States. Prize is valued at $119.99.

Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this sponsored post by Strider Bikes. Opinions expressed are my own