Nebraska Fun to Cool Off On Hot Summer Days


Nebraska Fun to Cool Off On Hot Summer Days

Summer in Nebraska is the perfect time to get out and experience all the state has to offer. It can also get a bit toasty. So here are some ways you and your group can beat the heat and cool off in style.

 Lake McCongaughy

Lakes and Reservoirs

Nebraska may be a landlocked state, but there is no shortage of water-based fun here if you plunge into one of the many lakes and reservoirs. Whether you want to go for a swim, take out the boat, go wind surfing or water skiing, cast out a fishing line or just enjoy a day as a beach bum, there’s a spot in nearly every corner of the state to enjoy.

Ogallala’s Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area is Nebraska’s largest reservoir at 30,000 surface acres, and endless recreation possibilities come with it. Lounge on the many beaches, camp by the water and float out to enjoy the waves. Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area near Burwell is set in the gently rolling, idyllic Sandhills and is a great stop for a picnic or grill-out. Set among the picturesque cliffs near the state’s northeast border with South Dakota, Lewis and Clark Lake State Recreation Area is a fantastic boating destination and offers tremendous wildlife viewing.

If you’re on the eastern side of the state, Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area is one of the most popular recreation areas in the area. Located near Fremont, it has 20 sandpit lakes and has all the amenities you need to make your day (or camping trip!) enjoyable. Another sandpit lake destination is Louisville State Recreation Area, which includes a floating playground obstacle course that the kids are sure to enjoy.

Island Oasis Water Park

Water Parks

Are you looking to jump into the water, just maybe not out in nature? Take a visit to local water parks and swimming pools.

Island Oasis Water Park in Grand Island is home to a lazy river, wave pool and four giant water slides. Plus, you can slide over to the full concession stand, patio area and sand volleyball court to take a break from the pool. Pawnee Plunge Water Park in Columbus offers a full water park experience, plus the only FlowRider surf simulator in Nebraska. Step inside at Crowne Plaza in Kearney offers hotel guests a top-notch indoor aquatic adventure that’s good any time of the year.

Visiting Nebraska’s state parks? Many offer aquatic centers and pools, including Eugene T. Mahoney State Park and Ponca State Park.

Niobrara River

River Adventures

Nebraska boasts its share of beautiful river country, and with it comes endless opportunities for recreation. All you have to do is pick y our river adventure for how you want to enjoy your trip! Some of the state’s rivers are deep and fast-flowing, while others are shallow and present a leisurely floating adventure. The Niobrara National Scenic River near Valentine has been designated one the world’s only International Quiet Trails and provides a scenic float through the varied ecosystems of the Sandhills. Little Outlaw Outfitters and Brewers Canoers & Tubers are fantastic services that let you choose from tubing or kayaking. Be sure to slip off of the river to enjoy Smith Falls, Nebraska’s tallest waterfalls or any of the area’s 200 smaller, more hidden waterfalls.

Further south, you’ll find the Calamus River, Middle Loup River and Platte River. These are the perfect spots to introduce yourself to a Nebraska pastime known as Tanking. Hop into a livestock water tank with a few of your friends and family, load up your drinks and snacks for the day and enjoy the ride!

Calamus Outfitters is a go-to provider on the Calamus River, Dusty Trails is a great option on the Platte River, and you can’t go wrong with Glidden Canoe Rentals or Sandhill River Trips on the Middle Loup River.

Coneflower Creamery
Photo Credit: @val.and.the.dinos

Ice cream

Finally, what if you just want to cool off with a refreshing treat? We’ve got you covered there, too.

The UNL Dairy Store on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East campus has been whipping up delicious dairy products for more than 100 years. Omaha’s Coneflower Creamery, which includes a Blackstone and Millwork location, makes fresh, farm-to-cone ice cream under the theme of the brilliant Midwestern prairie.

If you’re looking for a sweetly nostalgic experience, visit a local old-fashioned soda fountain, like the Springfield Soda Fountain or Arapahoe Pharmacy and Fountain. Or you can head west to the Potter Sundry, home of the famous Tin Roof Sundae.


Header Photo: @destination_dame