Summer is quickly approaching, and you know what that means: it’s time to start figuring out how you’re going to spend those precious warm months. You already know about our
ultimate all-time bucket list for all Nebraskans, but how about some short-term goals? These are some of the things you should definitely experience this summer in Nebraska…in no particular order.
1. See how many state parks you can visit.
Chances are you've been to the ones nearest to you. But have you ever ventured out to explore the state parks a little further from home? Challenge yourself this year to visit those you've never gotten around to seeing. An annual park entry permit is just $30 (for Nebraska-registered vehicles) and gets you into ALL of the state parks.
2. Catch a drive-in movie.
There are only two drive-ins left in Nebraska: the TK Starlite in Neligh and the Sandhills Drive In on the other side of the state in Alliance. If you can get to one of them, seeing a movie there will definitely be a bright spot in your summer.
3. Walk across the Missouri River.
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Omaha is the longest pedestrian bridge connecting two states - that's pretty cool, right? It also happens to be extremely lovely, particularly when it's all lit up at night.
4. Visit Nebraska Wine Country.
Nebraska has so many more vineyards and wineries than people think! Our climate is surprisingly friendly to grapes and other fruits used to make exceptional wines. Check out
some of our favorites here.
5. Go for a horseback ride.
Can you think of a better way to see Nebraska than from the top of a horse? No worries if you don't own one - you can find trail rides (horses provided) at locations throughout the state.
6. Party with some stars.
...At the Nebraska Star Party, that is. The annual event is held at Merritt Reservoir’s Snake Campground, where the night sky is so clear you can see forever.
Go here for info on this year's party.
7. Get up close and personal with some interesting characters.
8. Head to a pow wow.
There are several to attend each summer. The Intertribal Gathering at Fort Robinson near Crawford is always a favorite.
9. Go camping.
No Nebraska summer is complete without at least one great camping trip. Whether you've got your own pop-up trailer, an RV, or tent, or if you choose to rent a cabin for your stay, getting away from home and into nature is such a great experience.
10. Walk around in a beautiful garden.
Nebraska's gardens and arboretums are outstanding places to connect with nature and find your inner peace. Find some of our
11. Visit the state fair...and a few county fairs, too.
The Nebraska State Fair is a big deal, and if you haven't gone yet, this is your year. But your county has an awesome summer fair, too! So do the counties around yours - and lucky for you, they all have interesting exhibits and tasty food.
12. Go fishing.
With thousands of great fishing spots to choose from, there is always a new adventure (and possibly a delicious dinner) waiting for the avid Nebraska fisherman. Just don't forget to buy your annual license first!
13. Eat some fruit fresh from the vine or tree.
This is one of the simplest but most wonderful pleasures of life. Go to your garden or a U-Pick-It fruit place and eat a strawberry or apple that is still warm from the sun. For a few moments, all will be right with the world.
14. Check out NEBRASKAland Days.
This huge annual event in North Platte is the official celebration of the state of Nebraska. You can think of it as the state fair's younger, hipper brother - and the two don't overlap, so you can go to both with no guilt.
15. Take a seat at the BIG rodeo.
You would never guess that the little community of Burwell was host to such a major event. Nebraska's Big Rodeo has been going strong since 1921, and it has been pulling in pro rodeo champs for decades. Even if you don't think of yourself as a "rodeo person," this event is just so Nebraska that you've got to experience it.
16. Go underground.
As Nebraska's one and only cave/mine attraction, Happy Jack Chalk Mine in Scotia is something of an oddity. But we mean that in the very best way, because it's an excellent place to escape from the summer heat while learning something interesting about our state's history.
17. Go tubing or tanking.
This is one item you'll see over and over on our recommendations for things you should do. Why? Because it's AWESOME. Drift down the Niobrara in a one- or two-person inner tube or (even better) in a big livestock water tank, taking in the sincerely beautiful sights along the way. As long as you pack drinks, snacks and sunscreen for the several-hour journey, there is nothing not to love about this fun activity.
18. Go rollin' on the river...boat.
The River City Star lives in the Missouri River and offers a wide variety of river tour experiences. The 149-passenger 1940s-era paddlewheel boat is available for public cruises and private charters...you can even get married on it! Learn more about this unique little attraction
19. Explore the natural wonders of the western part of the state.
We took the liberty of throwing together a few natural wonders you should see in western Nebraska. The road trip is simplified to make it easy to follow; there are a multitude of side trips you could (and totally should) take along the way!
Get all of the road trip details here.
20. Wrap up the summer with the Junk Jaunt in September.
The Junk Jaunt is technically in the first weekend of fall, but that's ok. We still know and love it as a summer activity. Tour this 300-mile-long yard sale in central Nebraska to find all of those treasures you never knew you always needed. Get more info on the
Junk Jaunt here.
Whew…you’re probably tired after just reading about all of the amazing things you should be planning, right? There are a LOT of great things here, but we know this isn’t everything that all Nebraskans should do this summer. Add your contributions to the summer bucket list in the comments!