Winters can be cold and snowy in Nebraska, so Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial first weekend of summer — is a great time to go on vacation. Explore a bustling city or a small town with easy access to exciting outdoor activities. From Omaha to Lincoln, there’s something for everyone in this humble state. Book a stay at a Nebraska vacation rental for your upcoming Memorial Day weekend trip. Take a look at the most popular cities and towns in Nebraska.

1. Omaha

Source: Flickr/Bradley Weber

Located on the Missouri River, Omaha is a bustling city with lots of outdoor activities. This city is actually a stop on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Kids love visiting the Omaha Zoo over this holiday weekend. The zoo offers a host of patriotic activities for kids and families to enjoy as they visit with the animals. On Saturday, attend the annual Helicopter Day at the SAC Museum. Helicopters start landing early in the morning and then the pilots share stories, job details, and other fun events.

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2. Lincoln

Nebraska’s state capital, Lincoln makes for a great weekend trip. Make sure to visit the Nebraska Capitol Building on Friday afternoon. This gorgeous, stately building offers access to the dome that has observation deck with views of the city. Only open in the spring and summer months, the Lincoln Children’s Zoo is a small zoological park with your favorite animals and a train ride for the kiddies. It includes interactive exhibits and up-close encounters with the critters. Lincoln Children’s Museum features hands-on exhibits so that children can learn through play.

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3. Grand Island

Source: Flickr/Geoff Livingston

In central Nebraska, Grand Island provides you with a look at what life was like on the prairie in the early 20th century. Stolley Park is the place to step back in time. This park includes an open-air train to ride around the park to see replica buildings from a small town in the Old West. You can even try your hand at disc golf. If the weather is nice, take advantage of pools opening over Memorial Day weekend, or visit Island Oasis Water Park with its pools, slides, lazy river, and a dedicated kid’s area with fountains.

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4. Kearney

Source: Flickr/USFWS Mountain-Prairie

Unwind and relax in the small town of Kearney. Start by seeing the Archway dedicated to those who travel through Nebraska. The guys love seeing all the old cars and classic speedsters at the Classic Car Collection. There are more than 150 cars that date from the 1900s to the 1980s. Visit the lake at the Cottonmill Park and Recreation Area. Enjoy some family fun when you rent pedal boats and see who can cross the lake first. In the evenings stroll around the quaint downtown area or book tickets to see a show at the Crane River Theater.

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5. North Platte

Source: Flickr/Don Graham

In North Platte, the North and South Platte Rivers meet forming the Platte River, making this town a great place to explore the outdoors. Take a tour of a restored train station and see some steam engines at the Cody Park Railroad Museum. Climb to the top of the Golden Spike Tower for views of the rail yard and for miles in any direction. For kids, the North Platte Area Children’s Museum lets them learn through play with a market and medical exhibit.

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6. Papillion

Close to Omaha, Papillion began as a railroad town with trains coming in from around the country. Bring your boat and store it in the garage of your vacation rental until you’re ready to put it in the water at one of the public launches at the Walnut Creek Lake and Recreation area. If you prefer fishing from land, the area offers a public fishing pier. Start your visit to the Chalco Hills Recreation Area with a stop at the ecological education center, and then hike for a couple of hours checking out the scampering wildlife.

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7. Ogallala

Source: Flickr/Luisa

The Old West is alive and well in the small town of Ogallala. Start your visit with a stroll on Front Street, where all the buildings feature an Old West look. For a unique art experience, stop by the Petrified Wood Gallery. This gallery features artwork created from petrified wood from vases to carved sculptures. Just a few miles north of town sits Lake McConaughy. This lake offers a public boat launch and a beach for people without a boat to enjoy playing in the water.

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8. Nebraska City

Source: Flickr/David Williss

Nebraska City some great local museums and sites to remember America’s fallen service members. At the Civil War Veterans Museum, learn more about the history of the American Civil War. The building itself is the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall, a historic site. A short distance away the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center displays plants and animals the explorers found on their search for the other edge of America.

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9. Gering

Source: Flickr/Doug Kerr

Outdoor lovers choose Gering as their vacation destination for its close proximity to the Scotts Bluff National Monument. Spend your days hiking and rock climbing in the park. Take the family out for a trail ride by signing up for an afternoon ride through CC Thoroughbred and Black Bluffs Equestrian Center. They offer horses for all skill levels, and their friendly staff matches you up with the perfect mount.

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