May 28, 2013

Mahoney State Park For Families

Mahoney State Park trails often lead you to a great river view, and if you're lucky, you'll catch a passing train. For my two kids, it was one of the highlights of the whole weekend.

Mahoney State Park trails often lead you to a great river view, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a passing train. For my two kids, it was one of the highlights of the whole weekend.

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is a fun day-trip from Omaha or Lincoln, but there’s so much to do, I recommend planning at least staying overnight if not longer. Especially if you have kids. Especially if you have to factor in naps.

Lodging Options

On our way to brunch at the lodge. (I'm not too impressed with the food there, but I hear the rooms are nice)

On our way to brunch at the lodge. (I’m not too impressed with the food there, but I hear the rooms are nice)

The park offers camping/RV parking, a hotel and cabins. We have yet to camp with the kids, but there are are nice campgrounds near the main lake (the paddle boat lake, as I’ll call it for simplicity’s sake). Most of the lodge rooms have balconies.

Yeah, you might not want to lean to hard on that screen window, dear.

Yeah, you might not want to lean to hard on that screen window, dear.

For cabins, your options include two-, four- and six-bedroom cabins. We opted to stay at a two-bedroom cabin this spring – I highly recommend it. They have AC, appliances and dishware, bathtubs, grills, and for those who like going to a state park but not going outside, they have satellite TV. Ours had an included deck with not-too-sturdy netting (if your child often channels The Hulk, best keep a close eye on her while out there). For dining, our cabin had two picnic tables and a dining room table. Cabins are modern, but not fancy.

The living room of one a two-room cabin at Mahoney State Park. Nothing fancy, but also not roughing it.

The living room of one a two-room cabin at Mahoney State Park. Nothing fancy, but also not roughing it.

Family-Friendly Activities

You never forget the first time you had a s'more. Cheers, Mooch!

You never forget the first time you had a s’more. Cheers, Mooch!

Basically, everything at the Mahoney State Park is family-friendly; what will be the most fun depends on the age of your children. Mine are happy running across a bridge or collecting rocks. Your older kids might require a little more to thrill them.

For the Wee Ones

Playgrounds: There are several, including a huge indoor play area (it has an admission fee but it’s awesome). The biggest one is near the swimming pool – it has a separate jungle gym for smaller kids.

Gardens: My kids love walking around the gardens, especially the greenhouse

Pony rides: Ages 3-9

For All Ages

Pool – Two water slides, wave pool and an area for small children. Very popular summer spot.

Arboretum

S’mores eating

Ball Field

Bicycling

Bird watching

Paddleboats

Fishing – Several fishing clinics are planned during the summer. Check here for dates.

Explore the marina (which, for me, includes exploring the ice cream shop there)

Hiking: If you’re lucky, you see a nearby passing train.

Farley on a hike with Grampy at Mahoney.

Farley on a hike with Grampy at Mahoney.

Putt-putt golf

Soccer/Rugby Field

Craft center: Paint ceramics, work with wood or leather

Lookout tower: It’s a tall one with a great view, and climbing it is a useful tool for tiring out little ones.

You climb this baby a couple times and you'll have buns of steel.

You climb the lookout tower a couple times and you’ll have buns of steel.

Kountze Memorial Theater – Melodramas are often performed here

Stargazing: Climb the lookout tower for a spectacular view. There are a few clinics this summer sponsored by the Omaha Astronomical Society & Prairie Astronomy Club, who will bring telescopes. Check here for dates.

Older Children

Driving range

Game room

Horseback riding – You must be 6 or older to ride a horse

Horseshoe pits

Mountain/trail bicycling

Tennis

Nature programs: The park now offers about 20 programs, including ones focusing on horses, native reptiles, insects, prairie and hummingbird workshops, nature hikes and fishing clinics. Learn more here.

For hours and fees on activities, visit this link. Park’s phone number is 402-944-2523.

Nearby Excursions

Strategic Air & Space Museum: Planes and space exploration stuff. The new Children’s Learning Center opened in August 2016.

Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari: Drive-through safari featuring native species

Ashland: Nearest town, and it has two ice cream shops, pizza option and winery (for mommy)

Schramm Park State Recreation Area: Trails for hiking and an aquarium with cheap admission

Comments

  1. We just went to Mahoney for the first time in years and had a great time! We look forward to returning and trying out some more of your ideas. Thanks for sharing!

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