Just add water and the summer fun quotient shoots up like a geyser. Here’s a sampling of the adrenaline rush that lies ahead.
Bryson’s Airboat Tours
839 Country Road 19, Fremont; brysonsairboattours.com
Set out with Bryson’s Airboat Tours, and you’re bound to be asked whether you want to glide or fly over the water. If you pick the latter, hold on tight! Bryson’s 11-seat Panther can hit speeds of 60 mph on the stretch of Platte River the airboat operator navigates for one-hour scenic tours and three-hour picnic-party packages. Book anytime between 10 a.m. and dusk, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hearing protection, life jackets provided. Sunscreen and sunglasses recommended.
168th and Fort Streets; nrdnet.org
Happy first birthday to Flanagan Lake! The biggest project ever for the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District encompasses 730 acres, including five miles of hiking/biking trails. The no-wake lake, which opened in June 2018, is ideal for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. This season, Neighborhood Offshore relocates from Lake Cunningham (which is closed for the season) to Flanagan Lake for paddle board, mountain bike and windsurfing board rentals and water-based fitness classes.
Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area
3 miles west of Fremont on Nebraska Highway 30; outdoornebraska.gov
With 20 sandpit lakes and 300 surface acres of water, Fremont Lakes is a popular destination for boating, fishing and water skiing. Sandy beaches, barrier-free pier, disc golf. State park permit required.
Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
3701 S. 10th St.; omahazoo.com
Yoga in the Aquarium lets you take in the beauty and serenity of the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium while exercising your body and imagination through yoga. Classes are taught by instructors from Lotus House of Yoga.
Lake Manawa State Park
1100 South Shore Drive, Council Bluffs; iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com
Located near the Lake Manawa business district, this park draws a crowd for summer boating, fishing, water skiing, kayaking, canoeing and swimming. Modern campgrounds, picnic shelters, beach and hiking-biking trails. State park permit required.
Lake Wanahoo State Park
1/2 mile north of Wahoo; outdoornebraska.gov
Grab your fishing pole! This lake has no-wake boating and plenty of places — including barrier-free piers — to drop a hook. Enjoy paddling your canoe or kayak, then stretch your legs on a hiking-biking trail all the way to Wahoo. Playground, picnic shelters, RV and tent camping.
Levi Carter Park
Abbott Drive and Carter Lake Boulevard; cityofomaha.org
This park, next to horseshoe-shaped Carter Lake, is getting an upgrade. Look for the completion of a loop trail, picnic facilities and playground, along with renovations to the bath house and pavilion. Water skiing, disc golf, bird watching, splash pad.
Mahoney State Park
Interstate 80, Exit 426, Ashland; outdoornebraska.gov
Year-round park overlooking the Platte River. Explore nature trails, swim at the aquatics center or tour the lake by paddle boat. Stunning views of the Platte River valley from the observation tower and balconies of the 40-room Peter Kiewit Lodge. Cabins and camping sites are available because you’ll need more than a day to enjoy all the activities. Treetop ropes course, horseback riding, miniature golf/driving range, theater (melodramas!), arts and crafts center, and restaurant. State Park permit required.
Platte River State Park
14421 346th St., Louisville; outdoornebraska.com
Get up-close and personal with frogs, tadpoles, minnows, and, of course, crawdads in Crawdad Creek, a shallow waterway where local kids stomp and splash. The creek feeds Jenny Newman Lake, a popular spot for fishing and paddle boating. For canoe and kayak enthusiasts, the park is a stopping point on a water trail between Schramm and Louisville state parks. Fourteen miles of trails; among the best in southeast Nebraska for mountain bikers. Observation tower, restaurant, shooting and archery ranges. Tent, cabin and teepee camping, along with new “glamping” units. An RV campground is in the works. State Park permit required.
Prairie Queen Recreation Area
Nebraska Highway 370 and 132nd Street; papionrd.org
An outdoor exercise area opened this spring for hikers, bikers and runners who already are fans of the park’s 4-mile loop around the reservoir. Eight pieces of equipment, including a sit-up station, a chest press station and a push-up bench, will help you get fit. Boat ramp, no-wake boating, well-stocked lake with largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, red-ear sunfish and black crappie. Two areas for picnics by the water.
Prairie View Lake
180th Street between Nebraska Highway 36 and Bennington Road; papionrd.org
This 84-acre recreation area contains a 42-acre lake for no-wake boating and catch-and-release fishing. Picnic areas, restroom, 1.5 miles of limestone trails and three pedestrian bridges.
River City Star
151 Freedom Park Road; rivercitystar.com
The old-fashioned, riverboat-style River City Star traverses the Missouri River from its port in Omaha. Public and private cruises, one to three hours in duration. Lunch and dinner packages available.
River Life Airboat Tours
Cedar Bluffs; riverlifetours.com
Observe wildlife along the Platte River via airboat. One- to three-hour tours, some with a BBQ meal and fun on the shore.
Standing Bear Lake
6404 N. 132nd St.; parks.cityofomaha.org
Named for the Ponca leader Chief Standing Bear, this recreation area features a marina for no-wake boating and fishing. More than 3 miles of hiking/biking trails around the lake. Picnic areas, shelters, restrooms, playground. And even a radio-controlled airplane field.
Tubing & Adventures
25205 Harrison St., Waterloo; tubingandadventures.com
The March floods submerged Tubing & Adventures but the tubing and kayak outfitter plans to be open this summer with a new drop point along the Elkhorn River. Check road closures before heading out. West Center Road, West Dodge Road and Q Street reconstruction could impact your route to Waterloo.
Two Rivers State Recreation Area
27702 F St., Waterloo; outdoornebraska.gov
Anglers love the trout fishing at Two Rivers. The season opens in March and runs through July 1 at Lake No. 5, which features a barrier-free fishing pier. Only non-power boats allowed. Beach for swimming, 1 mile of hiking trails, and picnic areas/shelters. Two miles of equestrian trails and an equestrian area for camping; 10 Union Pacific cabooses for sleeping. State Park permit required.
Uncle Scott’s Outfitters
233rd Street and West Maple Road, Waterloo; unclescottsoutfitters.com
It’s been a busy spring for Uncle Scott’s Outfitters; they’re working hard to rebuild after catastrophic flooding. Check the websites for updates on summer floats down the Elkhorn River.
156th and F Streets; recreation.gov
With more than 255 acres, Zorinsky Lake is home to two playgrounds, baseball diamonds, soccer fields and a football field. The lake for boating and fishing features a universally accessible fishing dock. Trails for hiking, biking and horse riding. Boasts one of the few native tall grass prairies remaining in eastern Nebraska.