It’s summer time in Nebraska, and what better way to have fun in the sun than at one of Nebraska’s amazing water parks. We asked our readers to tell us about their favorite Nebraska water parks, and we visited some ourselves. We’ve chosen our top three favorite Nebraska water parks plus four honorable mentions:
Pawnee Plunge, Columbus
One Omaha dad at the Pawnee Plunge in June said, “This is the best water park in Nebraska!” He has traveled nearly 90 miles from Omaha to Columbus a handful of times since the park opened in late 2015 for summer water park days with his kids.
Nebraska Family Magazine reader Crystal Mayfield lives in Fullerton (about 45 minutes from Columbus) and takes her grandchildren (ranging in age from 19 months to 15 years) to the park .
“It has something for everyone, and we go there with our now 9 grandkids,” Crystal said.
The 7-acre water park features four giant slides, including a unique “toilet bowl” slide that spins riders around a cylinder before “pooping” them out the bottom.
Pawnee Plunge also houses the state’s only FlowRider, a surfing simulator. Kids (and adults) can sit on a mini surf board and ride the waves.
Guests will enjoy floating down the lazy river (with special easy-to-get-into floaties for adults). Younger kids can chill in the children’s area that features a pirate ship play structure and spray toys, while older kids will have a blast in the “diving pool” with a climbing wall, basketball hoops and a 3-meter platform diving board.
This water park expanded in the summer of 2015, and it’s definitely worth the trip!
Hours: Noon-8 p.m. seven days a week.
Admission: $7 plus $3 for all-day access to the FlowRider
Address: 560 33rd Ave, Columbus
Eugene T. Mahoney State Park Family Aquatic Center near Ashland
This water park located inside the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park near Ashland also ranked as a favorite among Nebraska Family Magazine readers.
The water park features two slides, a dive pool, a zero-entry wave pool that simulates floating on ocean waves, and a kid’s area with a large in-pool play structure with a giant dumping water bucket, fountains and pool side water experiments.
The pool is located inside the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, which also provides many other family fun activities, such as paddleboats, horse-back riding and miniature golf.
Hours: Summer hours are Noon-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. daily with reduced hours starting in mid-August. The pool is open through Labor Day.
Admission: Adults, $10 Children, $8
Address: 28500 W Park Hwy, Ashland,
This fun water park in Hastings features a children’s play area with water spray toys, mini slides and a ropes challenge; big kids area with two diving boards, a climbing wall and three slides (a chute slide, a tube slide and a drop slide); wave pool that sends waves out at different angles every 30 minutes, a lazy river; and sunny or shady places for parents to relax.
“The Hastings water park is amazing. It has great low prices and good food,” said Nebraska Family Magazine reader Cassandra Richey of Grand Island. She enjoys the lazy river, the wave pool and the kids area the most.
Hours: Noon-8 p.m. daily through mid-August
Admission: Adults $8, Kids $6 (ages 5-15), 4 and younger free.
Address: 2200 W 3rd Street, Hastings
While Pawnee Plunge, Mahoney and Hastings water parks topped our list this year, we also had to mention some of our other favorites, including two new swimming attractions that opened in 2016.
Island Oasis Water Park in Grand Island:
Features: Thrill seekers will love this park as it features four slides, including two six-story high speed slides. The park also features a 750-foot lazy river, zero-depth entry pool with spray fountains and a wacky wet otter slide and a log walk. With a sand volleyball court, sand-castle building area and a wave pool, Nebraskans will feel like they are living in a coastal state at the Island Oasis.
Hours: Noon-8 p.m. daily
Admission: Youth (Ages 5 – 15) $7; Adults (Ages 16 – 54) $8
Address: 321 East Fonner Park Road, Grand Island
AquaVenture Water Park, Norfolk
Features: A 54-inch raft slide that is 310 feet long (that’s equivalent to the length of a football field), a 32-inch body slide that is 235 feet long, a play station featuring more than 20 water features including two slides, water cannons, water curtain and dumping buckets; a wave pool, a recreation pool with diving boards, a water walk, shooting geysers, and a blowfish slide.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily
Admission: Adults $8 ($7 for 55 and older), kids 4-15, $6, Kids 3 and younger, free
Address: 715 South First Street Norfolk,
Alma Swimming Pool
Features: This pool is the smallest and newest “water park” in our rankings. It opened in the summer of 2016 in Alma, population 1,157. Alma is a small town that thinks BIG! The brand-new pool is perfect for families with young kids, and you can feel safe leaving older kids there on their own. It features a colorful water slide, two diving boards, a basketball hoop, and a zero-depth entry area for smaller kids with a water fountain and dumping water buckets. There’s plenty of shade and sun, and the admission is just $3 per person for the entire day ($80 for a family season pass)!
Hours: Monday-Friday, 1-5 p.m. and 6-8:30 p.m. and Saturdays & Sundays, 1-6 p.m.
Admission: $3 per person
Address: North of the City Park
Steinhart Park Aquatic Center Nebraska City
Features: This aquatic center also just opened in 2016. It features a zero-depth entry area for young kids with fountains and a mini slide, and a lazy river and three water slides (a speed slide, a curvy slide and a wide slide). And, swimmers can cool off with snow cones when they are done swimming. The new pool is located just a few blocks from the Lied Lodge & Conference Center and the Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure.
Hours: 1-8 p.m. daily
Admission: Adults 18 and older, $6; Youth, $5; 2 and younger free
Address: 1409 Central Ave., Nebraska City