13 Surprising Nebraska Winter Things To Do and Activities - Well Traveled Nebraskan

13 Surprising Nebraska Winter Things To Do and Activities

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I hate winter.
Like, really HATE winter.

I used to complain that if Nebraska was going to have as much snow as we do, that it could at least have something great like mountains to go skiing in to actually ENJOY the cold.
Instead, it often feels like we are just stuck under feet of snow for no reason and for way too long.

However, I’ve recently changed my mind on this matter.

These are some great ideas of things to do in Nebraska in the winter! Just got to get a warm coat!

Like most things with Nebraska tourism, it’s not that there is truly a lack of things to do in Nebraska, it’s that there is a lack of resources to find them or worse, lack of even TRYING to find them, out of the assumption that it’s just better to head elsewhere.

And that couldn’t be more true about things to do in Nebraska in the winter

Well, I hope that this list proves us all wrong.

Here are 13 Amazing Things Every Nebraskan Should Do This Winter!

Get In the Festive Spirit

Photo Credit Nebraska Tourism

 

The Arbor Day Lodge and Mansion in Nebraska City is a holiday sight to behold.

You’ll feel transported to a magical winter wonderland during the “Christmas At the Mansion” weekends during the holiday season. Enjoy the mansion beautifully decorated for Christmas, holiday music and more.

Weekends only from Nov 23- Dec 23

Hours of Opening:

Fridays and Saturdays: 10am-5pm
Sundays: 11am-5pm

Admission: $8 adults, $6 youth (age 3-12)

After-Hours Mansion Viewings (beginning November 30)

Fridays & Saturdays: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Evening admission: $12 adults; $6 youth (age 3-12)

Find An Enchanted Forest

There are plenty of things to do in Nebraska in the winter

Getting outside in Nebraska can be hard when the months are blustery and temperatures seem to stay below freezing (shoot, below ZERO!) for days and months on end.

However, there are still winter days that are pleasant enough with the right clothing gear for a Nebraska winter that makes finding a path in a Nebraska forest so peaceful, serene and rejuvenating.

Some favorite Nebraska Forests are:

  • The Nebraska National Forest (North East Nebraska)
  • Samual R. McKelvie Forest (North Central Nebraska)
  • Fontanelle Forest (near Omaha)
  • Bessey Ranger District (Central Nebraska)
  • And of course, just about any Nebraska State Park

Go Tobogganing

Tobagganing at Mahoney
Photo Credit Nebraska Tourism

Why do boring ol’ sledding when you can toboggan!?  Head to Mahoney State Park for plenty of winter activities, one of the all-time favorites being the old toboggan hill.

Glide On Through Winter’s Months on the Rink or Lakes

Places to Ice Skate in Nebraska

Whether you are looking for a romantic winter date night idea or want the kids to get some energy out, find an outdoor ice skating rink! While there are plenty of indoor rinks in Nebraska, there is just something so charming about an outdoor rink in the winter months!

A few favorites Are 

Or, Find a Lake

Nebraska has plenty of lakes that you can easily enjoy a spin on once it’s iced over.

Catch A Sky Show

Things to do in Nebraska in the winter: catch a meteor shower

Nebraska may not have the effervescent flowing Northern Lights of some classic winter travel destinations, but the wide open prairies for miles on end and unpolluted skies make it the PERFECT state to go stargazing in.

It’s pretty easy to get out of any major city and find a dirt road to pull off onto to enjoy the night skies or better yet, rent a discounted, off-season cabin (see next activity!) at a State Park Cabin and enjoy a meteor shower with the comfort of a warm blanket, hot drinks and a cozy bed!

In fact, mark your calendars for December 13 and 14 for the peak of one of the best winter meteor showers, the Geminids.

Cozy Up in a Cabin

There is just something romantic and rustic about holing yourself up in a cabin as the winter snow drifts softly outside as you sip hot drinks and curl under a blanket.

The Nebraska State Parks typically have drastically reduced prices for the off- season and are a great deal if you want to be somewhere that has other winter activities as well.  Parks such as Ponca and Mahoney are ideal winter destinations, as they have tons to do in all seasons!

Another option is to find a beautiful home on AirBnB with great views. There are some absolutely charming cabins like
This Limestone Cabin Loft

Adorable Wooden Cabin on a Working Ranch

or This Cabin Overlooking a Canyon!

Use our exclusive code to get up $40 off your first AirBnB booking!

Cross Country Ski

Cross Country Skiing at Pioneers Park is just one of the many outdoor things to do in Lincoln Nebraska in winter
Cross Country Skiing at Pioneers Park in Lincoln (Photo Credit NE Tourism)

No, Nebraska may not be able to compete with nearby states for great Alpine and downhill skiing, but the rolling hills and flat plains of Nebraska actually make it absolutely ideal for cross-country skiing!

For beginners, all you have to do is find some relatively flat paths and you are good to start learning!

A few great places to cross country ski in Nebraska are

Lincoln: Pioneer park, Wilderness park
Omaha: Elmwood park and Zorinsky lake
Schramm State Park is great for those wanting a bit more of a challenge
The Cowboy Trail, a rail-trail, which stretches for close to 200 miles across the state is a great place to find some great trails to ski on!

Grab a Cold One

Next Winter Day Activity in Nebraska: Go to a microbrewery!

Nebraska’s breweries are popping up left and right. Find a new one near you and go do a brewery tour or taste testing. It’s the perfect activity to kill a few hours during the day on a snowy, cold, weekend with a few good friends.

Experience Winterfest

Winter at Mahoney in the Past (Photo Courtesy NE Tourism)

See what a State Park near you is offering for winter activities for their annual “Winterfest.” Lake Mac has an acrylic painting event, Ponca has some great activities for bird watchers and more.

See A Great Migration

The Breathtaking Nebraska Sandhill Crane Migration: A Traveler's Complete Guide

Even a lot of Nebraskans don’t realize just how big of a deal the annual Sandhill Crane Migration is.

This is a truly amazing experience, even for those who are not into bird watching. There is just something magical as THOUSANDS of birds EACH day flutter in on the Platte River at dusk. And the thunderous sound as they all depart at once, each dawn is something all Nebraskans should experience.

Read about the best times of winter to see the cranes and what else to do on our trip here.

Snowshoe in the Snow

If you love walking and hiking, then you’ll love snowshoeing.

If you’ve never been before, all you have to do is find some great hiking locations and you’ll have the paths all to yourself since most Nebraskans don’t get out onto the snow-covered trails, which is a shame, because it is a winter wonderland treat!!!!

Places to snowshoe in Nebraska

  • Fontanelle Forest in Bellevue even has classes and shoes to rent
  • Ponca State Park has GORGEOUS snow covered trails to hike in the winter.
  • Scotts Bluffs is another great location with plenty of trails
  • Pine Ridge National Recreation has over 80 miles of marked trails, making it an ideal location for winter snoeshoeing

If you’ve never snowshoed, it’s actually incredibly easy. You’ll just need a good pair of snowshoes.  If you are looking for a fun winter activity or new winter hobby, this is a fantastic investment that will give you days upon days of Nebraska winter fun.

Check out current prices of Snowshoes here

Winter River Tanking

Winter Tanking, by Quentin Photo Courtesy NE Tourism

I’ve talked about tanking down the Niobrara before as a truly classic Nebraskan thing to do, but the Cornhuskers really up the ante every year by doing the “Polar Bear Tank Race” down the Middle Loup River near central Nebraska.  .You can sign up for the race here.

What’s great is that it helps fund the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, one of the most beautiful scenic roadtrips in the US.

Go Back In Time

If you are wanting to stay indoors this winter, genealogy is a great winter project.

With towns like Loup City, the “Polish Capitol of Nebraska,” or the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia in Lincoln or Wilber, the Czech Capitol of the US, Nebraska is home to a lot of rich cultural heritage. Find the town in Nebraska that has your ancestral roots and see what digging around you can do.

One fun winter activity is to do an ancestral DNA test as you work on your genealogy. My family’s was pretty fascinating and I highly recommend doing one for anyone into their family’s pasts or who are working on a family tree or genealogy!

 

I don’t know about you, but I now see Nebraska winter’s in a whole different light.

I actually can’t wait to get out and explore this winter and see a different side and season of Nebraska that I haven’t before!

Do you know someone who is looking for fun things to do this winter?  Sharing is caring! Send This To Them Now.

 

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