15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Nebraska

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dogs are posing at the golden spike tower visitor center in north platte in a dog friendly vacation in nebraska

Also known as the Cornhusker State, Nebraska is a US state in the middle of the country. The nickname was given to the state in 1945 after the popular University of Nebraska sports teams. It is surrounded by Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and South Dakota. With a population of more than 1.9 million people, it is estimated that there are about 315,000 fur babies in Nebraska, too. 

The state enjoys all four seasons with cold weather and snow in the winter and hot temperatures in the summer. Luckily, there are plenty of parks, trails, lakes, rivers, and other recreational spaces to enjoy for every season. There are eight state parks, including the 22,332-acre Fort Robinson State Park as well as hundreds of county, community, and city parks with hiking, biking, camping, swimming, boating, and fishing. 

You will not have to search hard to find a place to stay because there are almost 700 rentals in the state, including hotels, motels, resorts, lodges, and campgrounds. There are also 300 dog-friendly restaurants, 38 off-leash dog parks, and more than 50 hiking trails. We listed our top 15 choices for a dog-friendly vacation in Nebraska. 


The city of Omaha has more than 20 dog-friendly hotels with rooms starting at under $100, including the Comfort Inn at the Zoo, which is right across the street from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. La Quinta Inn is only $56, and it even has a pool! Being the most populated city in Nebraska, you probably will not be surprised to know that there are almost 500,000 residents and approximately 100,000 fur pups. 

Sticking with the inexpensive trip ideas, you can find quite a few dog parks in Omaha where you can let him play off the leash. And they are completely free! Dewey Dog Park has a separate small dog area and agility stations, Hanscom Park has three sections in their dog park, and Hefflinger Dog Park has a five-acre all-dog section and two acres for the little ones.

If you need to do some shopping or just want to browse, Nebraska Crossing Mall has almost 80 shops that welcome dogs. Be sure to stop at Woof Gang Bakery to get your pup a treat!


Take the kids and the dog to Lincoln this summer for a wet and wild adventure. Your cuddly buddy will need to be dropped off at a doggie daycare because they do not allow dogs at Grand Island Oasis. The water park has more than six acres of fun with a 350,000-gallon wave pool and a 700-foot-long lazy river. The kids will love the four 150-foot slides and so will you! 

For the preschoolers, there is a wacky wet otter slide, sand to build sandcastles, a log walk, and lily pads to maneuver. The fountains will keep them cool as they enjoy the interactive fun. There is a great concession stand with some good food for cheap prices. Tacos, hot dogs, and awesome french fries. 

Then, go pick up your pup and take him to Rickman’s Run at Holmes Lake Park. It has 23 acres of fenced space for off-leash running around. There is even a section for small dogs. 

North Platte 

The city of North Platte has almost 24,000 residents, making it one of the most populated places in Nebraska. It is home to an award-winning dog park you have to visit! The Waggin’ Tails Bark Park was rated number 31 in America’s Top 40 dog parks by Dog Fancy Magazine in 2010, and you will see why. The park has almost three acres with a small dog area, wood chips, water, and a river trail. 

Another fun off-leash park is the Happy Hound Retreat. It has not won any awards yet, but it has even more space, a small dog area, water training, toys, and agility stations. It is located inside Cody Park, which also has a train display, three playgrounds, and animal enclosures with elk, deer, burros, and sheep. They even have a carousel, picnic areas, and a campground in case you want to stay overnight.  

Don’t miss the Golden Spike Tower Railyard where they have more trains than you can imagine in one spot. Still a working railyard, it fixes about 14,000 rail cars every day and about 8,500 locomotives a month!

Platte River State Park 

With 453 acres on the Platte River, this park has some incredibly stunning views from the bluffs and two observation towers. It also has 10 miles of hiking trails for you and your pooch to explore. Halfway between Omaha and Lincoln, the park is in the perfect spot for everything from boating and fishing to swimming and hiking. There are many places along the river to toss in a line or jump into a canoe to paddle down the water. 

Whether you want to stay at a cabin, in an RV, or in a tent, there are 72 spots to pick from. They even have four teepees. Most of the campsites are at Bison Lane RV Campground where they also have a playground, showers, and Fido’s Freedom Run Dog Park! He would love to be able to run around off the leash here. 

Don’t miss the Stone Creek Waterfall, where you can play in the water with your pooch and get some good selfies. 


Whether you want to take a long hike through the backwoods or enjoy a leisurely walk through the park, you will find all sorts of fun, dog-friendly trails in Kearney. The city is located in south central Nebraska by the Platte River, where you will find about 34,000 residents who have around 5,600 dogs living with them. If you want to travel along the canal, take your pooch on the 9.4-mile Kearney Canal Trail. For something longer, try the 10-mile Yanney Trail in Yanney Heritage Park. 

At Fort Kearney State Recreation Area you will also find some awesome trails. The Fort Kearney Hike and Bike Trail is 3.6 miles and takes you on a bridge over the river. There is also a short and easy historical trail where you can see the 1849 military post. This park has all sorts of fun like fishing, canoeing, disc golf, picnicking, playgrounds, and historic sites. 

If you want to stay longer, book a campsite at Fort Kearney. There are only 44 sites though so be sure to reserve a spot way in advance.  


Even larger, Bellevue has almost 65,000 people living there with more than 10,000 fur babies. It is located on the eastern edge of the state and is the second largest place in the country named Bellevue. The first is Bellevue, Washington. One of the most pup popular places in the city is Falconwood Park down by the Platte River. It is a great place for a weekend getaway, especially during the summer when you can do some tubing, fishing, and swimming. 

The park even has a drive-in theater where they show two movies per night for just $5 a car. Your dog is free but he has to stay on a leash when he is outside the car. If you are too tired to drive after the movie, pitch a tent and stay the night. There are also 26 acres of space for volleyball, badminton, a playground, and even a Ferris wheel. 

When you are ready to let your pup run around off the leash, take him to Jewell Dog Park where he can play leashless. The fully-fenced dog park has lots of space and a small dog section as well as seating for pup parents. 

Grand Island 

Another busy place, Grand Island, has 53,000 residents with about 8,800 dogs. It is located right by Kearney and is also close to the Platte River. This is another inexpensive place to visit with eight out of 10 hotel rooms starting under $100. In fact, SureStay and Sleep Inn both have swimming pools and are less than $90 per night.

What’s more, Grand Island is also home to Dog Island, which is an off-leash beach for dogs with separate spaces for large and small dogs. It is located on L.E. Ray Lake and is one of the only dog beaches in the state. Besides swimming and chasing each other, you can also play a game of fetch or toss around the frisbee. Then, put your pup’s leash back on and you can go fishing, play disc golf, go boating, and take a hike.

Maybe you can catch something big enough to cook on the grill. There are picnic areas with tables and grills to use. 


In northeastern Nebraska, the population of Fremont is just under 28,000 and they have an estimated 4,000 dogs. What started as a small patch of forest along the Mormon Trail by the Platte River went from being 13 log houses in 1857 to the large community it is today.  There are over a dozen dog-friendly hotels in town, including the Fairfield Inn, which has an indoor pool and free breakfast, as well as Baymont, which has a restaurant, gym, and golf course. 

If you have any kids with you take them to Fremont Splash Station where they have a bunch of waterslides, a splash pad, and a wave pool. Pups have to stay out of the water though. But one place he can get involved is at Arlington Dog Park. The fully fenced off-leash park has agility equipment, a pavilion, and benches.

Afterward, get a beer or some booze and burgers on the patio at the LA Fireproof Door Company, where leashed dogs are welcome. 


Pack up your pup and head to the Dog Park at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Norfolk, Nebraska, this weekend for a fun getaway. The local dog park is not well-known, so you may not see as many fur babies as usual, but you will see some. With 24,000 people and 4,000 pups, you are likely to see at least one at the park on a nice day. It has over 1.5 acres for big dogs and a half-acre for small dogs, where there are benches, waste stations, and water. 

The rest of the 180-acre park runs along the Elkhorn River with old shade trees and picnic tables to enjoy a meal. There are also some awesome fishing spots, several playgrounds for the kiddos, and boating.

If you want to stay at the park all weekend, reserve a site at the Ta-Ha-Zouka Campground between the lagoon and the Elkhorn River. It is best to reserve a spot way in advance because they do not have many. 


Couples with dogs love Hastings because it has so much to offer, like a movie theater for a sweet date, the Adams County Fairground, where there is always something going on, and lakeside picnic areas at Heartwell Lake Park. There is even a quaint little bowling alley if you are into that sort of thing. First, get a special room for the two of you (and your pup) at Motel 6, where they have a spa and hot tub. And dogs are free!

After putting your pup to bed or leaving him with a sitter, take your honey to see some spectacular art at Hastings College Jackson Dinsdale Art Center. After, the Hastings Museum also has some incredible things to see including fossils and Indian relics. Then, you can sample some delicious local wine and cheese at Miletta Winery.

Before going in for the night, take Fido to Lake Hastings and let him stroll around the water. There is a trail that takes you around the western side of the lake. 


Columbus is a nice town of about 24,000 with quite a few attractions with the largest being Pawnee Park. On any summer day, you will likely find a lot of the locals hanging out at the Pawnee Plunge Water Park. they have a swimming pool with a lazy river, climbing wall, FlowRider, diving boards, four huge water slides, and even a special ship-themed area for toddlers. Even if you do not have kids, this is a fun place to be!

The park also has some important historic sites like the life-sized Higgins Boat replica with soldier statues, the 9/11 Freedom Memorial, and Glur’s Tavern from 1876. In fact, you can still get a beer there. There is also a disc golf course, fishing, horseshoes, picnic areas, a skate park, and a trail. 

Finally, take your pooch out to the Columbus Bark Park so he can run off some of that excess energy from missing you all day. It is right next to Lake Babcock, so you can play in the water after he runs around for a while. 

Fort Robinson State Park 

Want to surprise your sweetheart with a cozy cottage in the woods? Fort Robinson State Park has 35 pet-friendly cabins and cottages to choose from, with everything you need for a weekend alone with your two best friends. If you would rather sleep in a tent in the woods together, they have those as well. They even have barns with stalls for horses if you are bringing some of them, too. 

There are 22,000 acres of woods and historic sites. There is a blacksmith shop from 1904, a vet hospital from 1908, and an officer’s quarters and guardhouse from 1887. They also have a museum, but Fido is not allowed inside. But he can join you in a walk along Soldier Creek up to Carter P. Johnson Lake and 10 other ponds on the property to do some fishing. 

Later, cook steaks and serve them at a lantern-light dinner under the stars for a romantic ending to a wonderful day. 

Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area

For a lake vacation with your cuddly canine companion that you will never forget, take him to Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area. The lake is the largest in the state at 22 miles long and about four miles wide, with 35,700 acres and 76 miles of shoreline. Nicknamed Big Mac, you will not have any trouble finding somewhere to stay if you want to camp because there are six different campgrounds.

Martin Bay has 40 basic sites, Little Thunder has 42 sites with electricity and water, Lone Eagle has 84 sites with full hookups for RVs or tents, and Sandy Beach has 16 basic sites. Cedar View has 85 sites with electricity and water and 17 basic sites, Spring Park has 14 basic sites, and Otter Creek has 10 basic sites. Also, there is a huge camp area running down Shoreline Road with 966 beach campsites. 

You can get food, boats, bait, and other things you may need at the Big Mac Marina, Kingsley Lodge, or Van’s Lakeview Shop.


Fun-Plex Waterpark & Rides is the largest amusement and water park in the state and it is located in Ralston, just south of Omaha. Although your fur baby cannot join you at the park, you and the kids will have a blast cooling off on the slides or floating on the Lazy River. There is even a 317-gallon bucket of water that dumps on you. The ride park is also fun and includes go-karts, tilt-a-whirl, a Ferris wheel, and more. 

For the littler kiddos, they have Go-Gator, Red Baron Planes, The Fun-Plex Express Train, and Race-Go-Round. The park also has games where you can win prizes, shops to buy souvenirs, and over a dozen places to get something to eat. If you would rather take your pooch to dinner, the Spaghetti Works Restaurant has delicious pasta with outdoor tables where leashed pups are welcome. 

Afterward, take Fido to Seymour Smith Park. It has 200 acres of play space and allows dogs on a leash to join you. 

Mahoney State Park 

It may be cold, but winter in Nebraska is special, especially for those who like winter sports like sledding, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Mahoney State Park has all that and then some. You can also go ice skating, ice fishing, and build a snowman while sipping hot chocolate. Of course, you probably will not want to camp, but they have 60 cabins, with some that allow dogs. Or just stay at the Holiday Inn Express, where dogs are welcome for an extra $50 per stay. 

The park has almost 700 acres of space that is mostly used for summer activities so you will not have to worry about crowds. Ice skating and fishing are subject to weather conditions so if that is what you want to do, check with the staff first. But the six miles of trails are typically snowy so you can do some cross-country skiing. 

Be sure to stop by the Ashland Dog Park sometime during your stay so he can play at the agility course if there is not too much snow. 

The Final Woof

Many people have no idea all the fun that Nebraska has to offer them. Pet parents will be pleasantly surprised to find out how many dog-friendly parks, hotels, and restaurants there are. If you are looking for something affordable, Omaha has 21 hotels with rooms starting under $100, and Grand Island has eight, as well as a free Dog Island. For a fun family vacation in Nebraska, there are several cities with parks to enjoy. Lincoln has the Grand Island Oasis Water Park, and Ralston has the Fun Plex with rides and a water park. Winter fun like skiing, skating, and snowboarding, can be done at Mahoney State Park and you can camp and hike at Platte River State Park.

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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