Jul 17, 2020 Communities

11 Beaches Within a Short Drive From Omaha

We know—the word “beach” isn’t normally associated with Nebraska. But it should be! Nebraska is actually full of large waterways like lakes, ponds and rivers that offer soft sandy beaches ripe for exploring.

To prove it to you, we rounded up a handful that are just a short drive from the heart of Omaha. So if you want to explore Nebraska’s secret beach scene this summer, we’ve got you covered.

All of these beaches are within a three-hour drive from Omaha, but if you’d like to travel a bit further, don’t forget about Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area or Merritt Reservoir—both of which offer immaculate lakes and beaches for you to enjoy.

Due to COVID-19, many of these local swimming spots do not have lifeguards stationed. We recommend being cautious and aware of your surroundings at all times, especially when swimming with small children. We also highly recommend staying away from crowded spots, keeping at least six-feet of space in between yourself and others and wearing face coverings when possible.

Louisville State Recreation Area

About 30 minutes from Omaha

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The Louisville State Recreation Area encompasses 192 acres (including 50 acres of water) and is filled with towering cottonwood trees, shaded docks, grassy shorelines and wildlife. A popular hang-out spot every weekend, Louisville State Recreation Area is situated on the Platte River, giving you plenty of opportunities to get in some beach time. Other activities in the area include biking, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, hiking and more!


Two Rivers State Recreation Area

About 30 minutes from Omaha

Two Rivers State Recreation Area is located just 30 miles west of Omaha, making it a desirable getaway for locals looking for a fun day in the sun. The beach is open annually from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and the lake provides ample opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, fishing and more. On the edge of the lake, you’ll find a well-maintained sand beach perfect for sunbathing, sandcastles and family picnics.


Linoma Beach Campground

About 32 minutes from Omaha

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Located just half an hour from Omaha in Gretna, Linoma Beach, or Linoma Lighthouse, is a privately owned recreation area with a lake. While this beach is not open to the public, you can sign up to become a member and participate in the yearly auction. When you become a member, you’ll have access to full amenities, fishing and, of course, the ability to enjoy the beautiful spring-fed lake and sandy beach.


Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area

About 50 minutes from Omaha

Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area is one of Nebraska’s most popular spots for outdoor fun in the summer—and for good reason! The park features 40 land acres, nearly 300 acres of water and is ripe with opportunities for boating, swimming, water skiing and camping. The beaches around the lakes are well-cleaned and tilled, located right next to convenient parking so you don’t have to drag your umbrellas, blankets and beach balls very far.


Branched Oak Lake

About 1 hour from Omaha

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If you’re looking for untamed and unobstructed natural beauty, Branched Oak Lake is a lovely place to visit. Hiking and camping are popular here—we even listed it as one of our favorite camping spots near Omaha!—but it’s the white sandy beach that makes this such a popular spot in the summer. It is worth noting that there are no lifeguards stationed here and that the water is fairly deep. We recommend being cautious when exploring this area, especially if you’re with small children.


Pawnee Lake & Recreation Area

About 1 hour from Omaha

Conveniently located just 65 miles southwest of Omaha, the Pawnee State Recreation Area spans more than 2,500 acres (including 740 water acres). The lake welcomes all types of boats, and features three ramps, two docks and two swimming beaches. The opportunities for swimming and water sports make it an ideal getaway on hot summer weekends! Whether you’re looking to kayak, water ski, go for a boat ride or just relax on the sand—there’s plenty of entertainment opportunities at Pawnee Lake.


Wagon Train Lake Recreation Area

About 1 hour and 10 minutes from Omaha

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For a more peaceful summer experience, head to Wagon Train State Recreation Area. With 746 acres of land and a 315-acre lake, the park offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, swimming, picnicking, biking, hunting, boating and so much more. The idyllic sandy shores are a great place to watch the sunset!


Lake Anita State Park

About 1 hour and 13 minutes from Omaha

This lush state park is located over the state border 80 miles east of Omaha and boasts a gorgeous lake, hiking opportunities and a multitude of campsites. The lake is ripe with fish including largemouth bass, crappies, bluegills, channel catfish and walleye, so it is a fisherman’s paradise! Plus, the beach at Lake Anita is a great place for a quick dip or a round of sand volleyball on a summer day.


Iron Horse Lake

About 1 hour and 45 minutes from Omaha

Located near DuBois, Iron Horse Lake is a popular outdoorsy retreat for Nebraska and Iowa residents alike. This quiet slice of heaven features facilities for camping, boating, swimming and hiking. But the true gem of this lake is the sandy beach along the shore, which offers plenty of space for all your favorite beach activities, from volleyball to sand sculpting.


Ponca State Park

About 1 hour and 49 minutes from Omaha

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Ponca State Park is set on the picturesque Missouri River bluffs in northeastern Nebraska. Due to the spectacular scenery, wildlife viewing opportunities, picturesque beaches and varied lodging options, the park is one of Nebraska’s most visited outdoor getaways! Enjoy a wide range of fun activities for the whole family, including biking, golf, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, horseback riding, a shooting range and so much more.


Fort Kearny State Recreation Area

About 2 hours and 40 minutes from Omaha

Fort Kearny SRA has seven lakes, with one devoted to swimming. Many people come out only for the swimming, enjoying the sandy beach and a large expanse of clear, clean water. The other six lakes are ideal for fishing. Other attractions in the area include sandhill crane viewing during spring migration and the unique Fort Kearny Hike-Bike Trail, which crosses both channels of the Platte River.


Seas the Day!

Take advantage of the warm weather and escape to the beach. If we missed your favorite place to catch some sun in the Omaha area, let us know in the comments!

Jul 17, 2020 Communities
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