Things To Do With Kids in Keith County
Keith County is filled with family vacation experiences that kids will remember for a lifetime!
#1 Build Sandcastles
Lake McConaughy was constructed on the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills, and its soft white sand rivals the Caribbean. Kids can spend hours having fun making castles with just a bucket and spade. Lake Mac also hosts a great annual sand sculpture event, Kites and Castles, the last Saturday in July. The 2021 date is July 31, and teams and individuals can compete in multiple categories.
Planning Tip: Be sure to bring sunscreen, lots of water, and a way to provide shade.
Introducing kids to fishing is a great way to spend quality time, and may be the beginning of a lifelong hobby. Bank fishing success varies from month to month, but some places to try in early summer include: Diver’s Bay for smallmouth bass, the west of the lake near Otter Creek for bass or catfish, the shallows of Martin Bay for walleye (although success is more likely in late spring here), and the fishing corner dock at the northwest corner of Lake Ogallala for trout. If you’d like to book a guided boat trip, see this list of local guides.
Planning Tip: You can save time by purchasing your fishing permits and vehicle permit ahead of your trip at outdoornebraska.gov.
(photo credit: thanks to@kristiescism123 via Instagram)
#3 Explore History
What was it like to attend school in a one room schoolhouse? What did a child’s bedroom look like in the 1890s? The Mansion on the Hill Museum campus contains a beautifully preserved Victorian home as well as a country schoolroom and a homestead era cabin. It’s open to the public through the Sunday before Labor Day, Tuesday through Saturday 9:00-4:00, Sundays 11:00-4:00, and closed Mondays. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
** Kids and their families are welcome to attend Story Time at the Mansion from 10 to 11 a.m. on July 8 & 15, 2021. Local historian Tomás England will read aloud from classic children’s stories of the 1920s and 1930s.**
Other opportunities to learn about local history include Boot Hill, Ogallala’s Texas Trail era cemetery, the free cowboy museum at Front Street, the historic Little Church at Keystone, the Petrified Wood & Art Gallery, and nearby Ash Hollow State Historical Park.
#4 Become An Honorary Ogallala Deputy
Front Street’s Crystal Palace Revue is a Western Nebraska institution. Thousands of visitors have laughed and clapped their way through this musical tribute to Ogallala’s colorful past. And generations of kids have been sworn in as honorary Ogallala deputies. (They do have to promise to change their underwear at least once a week!) Shows run Memorial Day weekend to Mid-August: Wednesday through Saturday with the outdoor gunfight at 7:15 pm and the show at 7:30 pm.
Planning Tip: Shows fill up fast, especially on weekends. Call ahead at 308-284-6000 to make a reservation.
#5 Get Back To Nature
Opportunities abound in Keith County to observe animals, birds, fish, and insects in their natural habitat. The Lake Ogallala Hike-Bike Trail on the east side of Lake Ogallala (entrance in the Modern Campground) is a good place to observe many the numerous species (363 counted) of birds that nest, pass through, and inhabit the lake area year round. The Lake McConaughy Visitors and Water Interpretive Center contains an aquarium with native fish, interactive educational exhibits, and a theatre where educational films are shown on request.
#6 Enjoy Some Music
The City of Ogallala hosts outdoor concerts throughout the summer at Rendezvous Square. In addition to the Thursday night Sounds on the Square series, the Nebraska-based children’s group The String Beans will appear live in concert Saturday, July 10, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. From pop and country to rap and rock n’ roll, these goofy guys perform a wide variety of original, family-friendly songs about all the things kids love: animals, cartoons, food, science, sports and more! Each show is hilarious, inclusive and spontaneous, and each catchy tune is designed to get every audience dancing and singing along.