I actually really love road trips. Sure, they are a lot harder with young kids (read my “Survival Guide to Roadtripping With a Toddler) but I still love grabbing my Red Vines (yes, I AM a Red Vines family- fight me!) and playing car games (a current fave with my 4 year old is Eye Spy). I also may or may not be known to make mix cds (well, playlists nowadays) that go with the theme or location of our trip.
Yup, I told you I nerd out for road trips!
And as a born and raised Omahan, I’ve come to find that there are actually quite a lot of really great day trips from Omaha. Now, “Day Trips” is a bit subjective, isn’t it? I personally consider anything around the 2ish hour (one way) a decent “Day Trip” distance. However, some people may only want to travel 30 minutes.
So, I’ve compiled an extensive list for you to decide what kind of day trip from Omaha to cross off your list ranging from just out our backdoor to the corners of our Cornhusker state.
Less Than An Hour from Omaha Day Trips
(Approx 30 Minutes from Omaha)
If you’ve been around this site for a while, then you know how much I love Mahoney. It is THE perfect day trip from Omaha!!! Read My Ultimate Guide to Mahoney State Park here.
- It’s close to home
- Has TONS of stuff to do
- Great in all seasons
- Makes for a perfect Omaha Staycation
It’s great as a date day option, too with the zipline course, rock climbing, paddle boats, and more.
(Approximately 20 minutes from Omaha)
Look, I know us Omahans give Council Tucky a hard time, but it’s all in jest. There are actually quite a few things that are worth crossing the bridge for!
If you are looking at a day trip, the Casinos may not be Vegas, but it’s still fun to escape for a bit and pretend like you are on the strip.
The Union Pacific Railroad Museum is also a hit with kids.
And don’t forget about the “Squirrel Cage” museum. I know it doesn’t sound fascinating, but seriously, give it a chance!
(Approximately 30-40 minutes from Omaha)
This just might be one of my favorite day trips from Omaha. The Loess Hills are actually also right across the river on the Iowa side and spans a good distance.
Hitchcock Nature Center
Just 30-40 minutes from Omaha is the Hitchcock Nature Center. If you want to escape the city and go out for a great hike in some really beautiful trails, this is where you should head. In fact, we even did a really fun snowshoe hike here in the winter one year.
Loess Hills Lavender Farm (approx 1 hour from Omaha)
If you’ve never seen a Lavendar field in bloom (best in late June-early July), it is truly beautiful (and fragrant!) But even if you can’t get there during the bloom, you can still enjoy the farm for other fun events such as “Lavenderstock” or go for High Tea.
No, Omaha is not the up and coming Breckenridge of hot skiing destinations, but here’s why I personally think you should go skiing at Mt. Crescent instead anyways!
Wildlife Safari/ Zoofari
(Approximate 40 minutes from Omaha)
This has become an annual summer activity for our family and a fantastic day trip from Omaha. Us Omahans LOVE our Zoo (here’s 10 tips on how to get the most of your Omaha Zoo Day) but the Wildlife Safari is a great spin on that. Drive around from the comfort of your car as if you were on, well, a safari! There are a few pit stops along the way where you can get out, do a hike, pet some goats, get some food, and more. Personally, I like the Pelicans, they always seem so cheeky! They’ll happily go sit in the middle of the road and just stare at you as if to taunt you that you can’t move! The buffalo area is also a really stunning section of the park as well to get up so close to the giants.
Click Here to Read All Of My Omaha Wildlife Safari Tips
(Approximately 30-60 minutes pending which Vineyard)
Omaha is quickly getting known for all of their breweries in the area, but that doesn’t mean we should write off Omaha Vineyards just yet. There are actually quite a few within an hour of Omaha.
Platte State Park
(Approximately 30 minutes from Omaha)
Many people go to Mahoney because of all the activities there are to do, but Platte State Park is the better choice (in my opinion) if you are looking at some great hiking. Ever since I was a kid, every summer we would hike through Platte and go “Mud Stomping” in the streams. To this day, I still continue that tradition with my own kiddos! There is also the lookout tower, horseback riding, and plenty of things to do at Platte State Park.
The new annual “Sunflower Festival” in Valley at the Nelson Produce Farms is an absolute Nebraska Travel Bucketlist now! Not only is it absolutely stunning, but it is a blast! We had so much fun walking through the Sunflower Maze as the blooms peered down on us from above! There was even a fun little train for the kids to ride and a U-Pick produce section!
Fort Atkinson State Historical Park
(Approximately 25 minutes from Omaha)
How is this such a hidden gem!? If you live in Omaha and haven’t made a day trip out here, put it on your list. If you can get there on a living historical day, you are in for a treat. Several times throughout the summer they will do live demonstrations where people are dressed in time period clothing and you get to step back in time for a day.
Chocolate Taste Testing at Bakers
(Approximately 40 minutes from Omaha)
We took a day trip from Omaha to Bakers Chocolate Factory in Greenwood and loved it! There are talks in the work about them having a viewing room where you get to see all the yummy chocolates being made in front of your own eyes. But until then, enjoy Nebraska’s largest candy outlet. But whatever you do, don’t skimp on their freshly made counter. I still dream about those dark chocolate coated caramel salted toffees and all the different kinds of clusters!!! YUUUM!!!
(Approximately 30 Minutes from Omaha)
If you haven’t figure it out yet, I have a young boy. What do little boys love? TRAINS! That’s why we love going to Two Rivers as a day trip. My Dad was also an employee with Union Pacific, so my family is a sucker for UP Trains!
Two Rivers is perfect for a day of fishing, splashing around in the lake (it’s perfect for young swimmers with a great, easy beach), grilling out, and just generally kicking back. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted to spend the night in a train caboose, here’s your chance!!!
(Approximately 45 minutes from Omaha)
Obviously Lincoln needs to be on a Day Trips from Omaha list!! A day at Morrill Hall is always enlightening for all ages, an evening at the Haymarket is always a good time, and if you haven’t visited the Sunken Gardens yet, you are missing out on yet another (not so) hidden gem!
(Approximately 45 minutes from Omaha)
What’s there to do in small-town weeping water?
For all you adrenaline junkies, if you are looking for a truly fun day trip from Omaha, then you can go skydiving in Nebraska. Believe me, you won’t regret it!!!
(Approximately 50 minutes from Omaha)
Whether you are heading to the Lied Lodge for a getaway, the Arbor Day Farm for the treetop adventure, or going for the annual Applejack Parade and apple picking in the fall, you can definitely make a fun day trip to Nebraska City!
Day Trips From Omaha Within 2 Hours
Indian Cave State Park
(Approximately 1 hr 25 minutes from Omaha)
If you can’t tell, a common theme about great places to go near Omaha are actually a lot of the state parks! This one is a real treat though in the fall months if you are looking for stunning fall foliage! However, even if you can’t get there in the Autumn, there is plenty to do here to make it a great day trip any other time as well.
(Approximately 1 Hour 15 minutes from Omaha)
Not all of us have cabins by a lake. However, I like Pawnee SRA because you can go boating, tubing, water skiing, grill out, and more just like if you had your own lake. But, it’s not very crowded at all and actually became one of my favorite places for beach camping in Nebraska recently.
If you are looking for a chill, quiet, lake day, consider Pawnee SRA this summer.
(Approximately 2 hours from Omaha)
Many people don’t look at Des Moines as a day trip, but it easily could be one! Des Moines has great farmer’s markets and a wonderful food and brew scene. Also, if you didn’t know, Iowans take their state fair VERY seriously. A day trip to Des Moines for the fair is a great option next summer as well. While you are there, stop into the botanical gardens, zoo, and plenty of museums to check out as well.
Weekend Trips From Omaha
While the remaining locations could still easily be done in a day trip from Omaha (and many of them I HAVE done as a day trip!) you can also make them into great weekend trips from Omaha as well.
Day Trips From Omaha Under 3 Hours
Ponca State Park
(Approximately 2 hours, 10 minutes from Omaha)
Ponca State Park is truly a fantastic place. There are great cabins to rent and endless things to do at Ponca! A really beautiful experience is to canoe between the bluffs along the river. The Missouri River Outdoor Expo is a huge event held every year where visitors can try out things like kayaking, bow fishing, and other outdoor sports at no extra cost (Book in advance!)
Go Tanking or Stay at Niobrara
(Approximately 3 hours from Omaha)
We really loved our weekend at Niobrara State Park. Of course, if you are going to head up that way, find an outfitter (near Valentine) to go “Tanking” on the Niobrara for a great time! Alternatively, just spend an amazing weekend with great hikes and beautiful views at Niobrara.
(Approximately 3 hours)
We combined the fascinating Ashfall Beds with our Niobrara weekend trip, but it can also be done just as a day trip in and of itself as well. It was truly remarkable stepping back millions of years to see what Nebraska once was. Nebraska hasn’t always been flat cornfields and the Ashfall Beds prove it with ancient, extinct fossils. It’s really fun to see them actually at work still making new discoveries every day.
It’s no question if KC has a ton to offer. As a kid, we made day trips to Worlds of Fun yearly! As an adult, I know plenty of friends who love going for a girl’s day to the Crowne Plaza for a day of shopping. Going to a Royals game is another perfect day trip activity or if you are wanting to spend the weekend, take the family to Great Wolf Lodge
(Approximately 2 hours 45 minutes from Omaha)
While anytime can be a good time to make a day trip to Kearney, around March to see the Sandhill Cranes is an absolutely magical Nebraska experience. I truly believe that every Nebraskan needs to experience it even just once. While there, make sure you stop at the Archway Museum and if you love cars don’t forget the “Classic Cars Collection”
Read My Nebraska Crane Articles Here:
- 7 Tips For Seeing The Nebraska Sandhill Cranes
- A Traveler’s Guide To The Sandhill Crane Migration in Nebraska
(Approximately 2 hours, 15 minutes from Omaha)
A popular location for a day trip is to Grand Island for the Nebraska State Fair, but again, this can be a great weekend trip as well from Omaha. We had a wonderful time camping at Morman Island or you could go to the Sturh Pioneer Village or cool down at the Island Oasis Water Park.