6 ways to cool off with kids this summer

When temperatures heat up, cool down poolside. Or riverside. Or screaming down a waterslide. Nebraska has 'em all—for kids of all ages. 

Let's start with waterparks. 

1. Island Oasis Waterpark in Grand Island is full of thrills. Hurtle down one of the six-story-tall slides or brave the wave pool. Those looking for a little relaxation can float the day away in the lazy river. Little ones can get in on the action in the children’s area.

Island Oasis Waterpark in Grand Island, Nebraska
Island Oasis Waterpark

2. Pawnee Plunge in Columbus packs a full day of water features into its park. Swim, dive and fly down huge water slides including a swirl bowl, tube and speed slide. Toddlers can play pirate on an interactive ship. And everyone loves surfing on the watery jets of the FlowRider.

Pawnee Plunge in Columbus, Nebraska
Pawnee Plunge

3. Bring your towel and maybe a change of clothes when you visit the Omaha Children’s Museum: Kids love Sandy’s Splish-Splash Garden onsite. Anticipate giggles of delight as kids play in the gentle spouts of water.

Now let's splash into nature. 

4. Start on the Niobrara National Scenic River, lined with trees and wildflowers. Just grab a tube from Little Outlaw in Valentine and float! The slow-flowing water and pretty scenery create an ideal setting for making family memories.

Bryson's Airboats in Fremont, Nebraska
Bryson's Airboat Tours

5. On the Platte River, check into Bryson’s Airboat Tours. These Fremont-based captains can seemingly fly over the water or chart a slow ride for maximum animal-viewing. On these rides, the boat gracefully glides over the waterways, sometimes bringing explorers face-to-face with river otters, beavers, eagles, deer and turkey. Ask about packages that allow time for swimming and additional activities on the water.

6. This may sound unusual, but it’s common to see during a Nebraska summer: families bobbing down rivers in giant “drums” made of metal. It’s called tanking, and those drums are actually unused livestock watering tanks—the perfect vessel for lazy float trips, and guaranteed smiles, on Nebraska’s gentle rivers. Introduce the family to this local pastime at Glidden Canoe Rental in Mullen.