5 Ways to Family Fun
From pioneer history that might even be educational (shh – don’t tell the kids!) to rollicking cowboy life, splash-tastic water parks and immersive museums, Nebraska offers something for every kind of kid – and fun-loving adults. Start with these five attractions and activities for a family-sized sampler across the state.
On The Pioneer Trail
Explore the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, a temporary settlement for Latter-day Saint pioneers as they moved west. Chimney Rock National Historic Site in Bayard protects a rock formation so perfectly pointy, it appears to be “Towering to the Heavens.” Stop by the visitor center and museum for hands-on exhibits on the great migration west. At the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, discover collections of Native American and Old West memorabilia, teepee replicas, bison that lived and grazed on the land, train cars from the 1800s and more.
Old West Throwback
Traveling with a little cowboy or cowgirl? Nebraska is full of Old West fun. Learn the storied history of the Pony Express mail carriers at Gothenburg’s Pony Express Station. You’re in for an Old West shootout and show at Crystal Palace Saloon, resurrecting the days when Ogallala was a rough-and-tumble town full of cowhands, cattle barons and drifters. Visit an old cowboy cemetery in Ogallala. Cowboys and criminals alike who passed on during the Texas Trail cattle drive era of the 1870s were buried with their boots on at Boot Hill Cemetery.
Go-Karts, Water Parks & Arcades, Oh Yeah!
Nebraska fun centers and water parks are perfect for visiting families. With an inclusive and accessible playground and splash pad, kids will love Embrace Park in Norfolk. Plus, you can bring lunch and have a picnic in the park’s shaded picnic area. Papillion’s Papio Fun Park is the ultimate fun center with laser tag, batting cages, go-karts, minigolf and an arcade. Looking for more water park fun? Head to Pawnee Plunge in Columbus for four large water slides, a lazy river, splash pad and even a surf simulator.
Explore the history of the Nebraska prairie, from Oregon Trail pioneers to farming tools, at Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering. Browse an incredible collection of aircraft and spacecraft at Ashland’s Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum. Plus, you can explore exhibits on courageous American fighter pilots and the crafts they flew during WWII and other conflicts. From antique cars to firearms, discover over 50,000 artifacts dating back to the 1830s at Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden.
Fossil-Hunting Field Trips
See the captivating ecological “snapshots” at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park in Royal. Stop by the Hubbard Rhino Barn fossil bed to ask paleontologists about their work and the site’s discoveries. Visit a modern archaeological excavation site at Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center in Harrison, the site of the largest extinct bison bone bed in the world. About an hour away, you can take a guided hike and browse the exhibits at the Agate Fossil Beds. This national monument preserves the history of the region, from Miocene Epoch fossil discoveries to Native American culture.