Nebraska is a family friendly state with ample opportunities for fun for all ages. From zoos to waterparks, museums and historic sights, to strange and wonderful scenes, you’re sure to find plenty to keep you busy any day of the week or year.
If it’s animals you’re after, there are a wide variety of attractions in Nebraska. Chief among them is the popular Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, which is ranked as the #1 zoo in the world on TripAdvisor. Sitting on 130 acres, the zoo boasts the largest cat complex in North America, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit, and geodesic dome, as well as an indoor rainforest, indoor desert and aquarium. To get up close and personal with animals, there is the 10-acre Lincoln Children’s Zoo, which provides interactive exhibits throughout the park.
The Riverside Discovery Center, located alongside the North Platte River in Scottsbluff, is a more diverse zoo experience that includes three lakes for watersports and overnight camping, in addition to a wide selection of animals for viewing. The Platte River delivers other attractions in Nebraska, including the AkSarBen Aquarium Outdoor Education Center, featuring outdoor aquatic exhibits, nature trails, and a fish hatchery. If you’d prefer to see some of the state’s native animals in their habitat, head over to the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari, a drive-through park where you can gaze on bison, elk, deer, bears, wolves, and a variety of birds.
For more educational attractions in Nebraska, you have the option of visiting the state’s museums, of which there are many. Four focus specifically on children: Omaha Children’s Museum, Children’s Museum of Central Nebraska, York Area Children’s Museum, and Lincoln Children’s Museum. There is also the Edgerton Explorit Center in Aurora, the perfect place for scientific discovery and exploration for the whole family.
History buffs will enjoy the Durham Museum set in an Art Deco train station in Omaha, Pierce Historical Museum, The Archway, a museum dedicated to Oregon Trail pioneers, Pony Express Riders, local fur trappers, and Native Americans and Legacy of the Plains Museum. You can also pay homage to Buffalo Bill Cody at Scout’s Rest Ranch (also known as Buffalo Bill Ranch). The house is now a museum dedicated to a man who blazed trails as a Pony Express rider and later went on to tour the country in his traveling Wild West Show.
Transportation enthusiasts might like one of the most authentic attractions in Nebraska, the Rock Island Railroad Museum – a completely restored depot with original lobby and ticket office, and containing railroad artifacts, large model train display, and lovely gardens – or Stolley Park Railroad, where you can enjoy a few laps around the park in a garden-scale train. Nebraska is also home to the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum where you can see dozens of vintage planes, missiles, and rockets, multiple exhibits, and take a turn in a flight simulator that features state-of-the-art motion control and high-performance HD-3D visuals and sounds.
As the weather warms up, you might entertain the thought of heading to one of the wettest attractions in Nebraska: its water parks. The largest of the dozen or so water parks is Fun-Plex Waterpark, with a 5-story slide, lazy river, and several pools and slides for the kids. For the uber-adventurous, Island Oasis Waterpark boasts one of the steepest waterslides in North America (150-foot drop), among other attractions. Pawnee Plunge, sitting on 7 acres, sports a climbing wall with a splashy ending, plenty of water slides, and the FlowRider, Nebraska’s only flowboarding spot. You can also enjoy a year-round water park experience at CoCo Key Resort, an indoor venue that is temperature controlled. Imagine hitting the water slides while it’s snowing outside!
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, there are plenty of roadside attractions in Nebraska and oddities that the whole family can get a kick out of. The more sedate among them are the Fort Cody Trading Post (featuring the world’s largest animated miniature Wild West Show), Pioneer Village in Minden and the Museum of the Fur Trade at Chadron. On the odder end of the spectrum are the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps (assembled by the residents of Boys Town), Carhenge, the Caterpillar of Tires in Big Springs and the World’s Largest Time Capsule. Check out all the oddities and roadside attractions in Nebraska for guaranteed family fun.
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