With its camping, swimming, paddle boating and miniature golf activities, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is a popular place for families to connect in the summer.
But, the park also boasts an array of winter activities that also make it the perfect location for a winter family getaway.
Ice skating, an indoor play center, sledding, live theater and an arts and craft center give families plenty of options for entertainment. Plus, the park offers off-season rates on cabins and lodge rooms that make it easy on the pocketbook, too.
Mahoney State Park is located near Ashland just off Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha. The jewel of the park is Peter Kiewit Lodge, which offers 40 guest rooms, most with balconies that offer a stunning view of the Platte River valley.
Jake Rodiek, park superintendent at Mahoney, said the park provides a “budget friendly” destination for families, especially in the winter.
Standard lodge rooms rates range from $80 for a standard room with two queen beds to $95 for a loft room with two queen beds and a sofa sleeper. Cabins range from $135 for a standard two-bedroom cabin to $455 for the new six-bedroom deluxe cabins. From Oct. 1 through April 30, the park offers a 30 percent discount of these rates, with even better prices Sunday-Thursday, excluding holidays.
Each cabin has air conditioning/heat, a fireplace, cable TV, refrigerator, range, outdoor deck and grill and are open year round. The larger cabins are popular spots for extended families to get together for holidays during the fall and winter months.
“A stay at the park during the winter is a great way to experience the park in a different, beautiful and more peaceful season,” Rodiek said.
While at the park during the winter, there are many activities to promote family adventure and bonding:
Sledding: The hills are open for sledding once the snow falls. Sledding is free with the purchase of a park day pass or annual pass. Visitors must bring their own sleds.
Arts & Craft Center: Located at the Owen Marina convenience store, the arts and craft center is a spot where kids and adults can paint ceramics, learn the art of leather tooling and create wood crafts and other projects. Winter hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Activity Center (Indoor playground): The indoor playground features a large play structure that includes slides, net bridges, and a ball pit that provide the perfect place for little ones to burn off energy. This is also a popular location for birthday parties. Winter hours for the activity center are Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 4-8 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission is $2 per person.
Ice skating: The ice skating pavilion is connected to the activity center, and ice skate rental is available during activity center hours. Ice rink admission is $2, and skate rental is $3.
Theater: The Denman and Mary Mallory Kountze Memorial Theater is centrally located in the park and features melodramas and other stage productions throughout the year. The facility is an indoor, climate-controlled theater seating 165 audience members. The upcoming show is a family-friendly live theater production, “Cooking with Gus” by Jim Brochu. It is the hilarious story of Gussie, a world-famous cookbook author who’ll do anything — including being hypnotized — to get over her fear of public speaking when she is offered a TV show. The play runs Friday, Jan. 20 to Sunday, Feb. 12, showing at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for youth ages 12 and younger. Shows are on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For advance tickets, call 402-944-2523 ext. 7122. Visitors will receive a 10 percent discount off of a buffet meal at the Lodge Restaurant with the purchase of a ticket
In addition to the activities listed above, the park hosts its annual Classic Christmas event each December featuring sugar-cookie decorating, visits from Santa and free lighted hayrack rides in the park, among other activities. Mahoney also hosts an annual ice fishing clinic (subject to weather conditions) every January. Nebraska Game and Parks staff and trained volunteers provide guidance and loaner equipment. The park also offers special lodging and dining packages for Valentine’s Day. Visit calendar.outdoornebraska.gov for details on these and other activities.
For information about reserving a room or other activities at Mahoney State Park, call the reservations center at (402) 471-1414 or visit www.outdoornebraska.gov and following the prompts to check on availability and to see photos of the cabins and lodge rooms.