The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler as winter slowly prepares for its yearly ballet here in Nebraska and while we can’t say it’s our favorite season of the year, we can hardly discount the abundant fun that winter brings us in the Sandhills region. From sledding down the Sandhills to taking up new hobbies like cross-country skiing and snow fort building, we often find ourselves looking for opportunities to create our own fun during the winter.

To get your creative juices flowing as cold weather approaches, we’ve put together a winter Sandhills bucket list of sorts to keep you occupied this winter!

Check out the list!

  • Try out a new hobby that you’ve always thought of trying, but never followed through with: Whether you’re taking up snowshoeing or bird watching here in the Sandhills, there’s endless potential to learn and become a pro at something new on winter’s chilly days!
  • Take a trip to somewhere new that you’ve never been before here in Nebraska: Nearly every town and city throughout the state brings something unique to the table. Whether you’re traveling to Halsey, NE and the Bessey Ford Ranger District or taking a cross-state trip to hubs like Omaha, Lincoln, or Grand Island, you’re sure to make unforgettable memories filled with new experiences that you would’ve never had if you had stayed home. To spice up the adventure, get a map of Nebraska and throw a dart at it and go to wherever it lands – how fun would that be?
  • Take part in a local Polar Plunge or Tank Race: Who doesn’t love raising money for worthy charities while having an absorbent amount of fun? If you’re in the Mullen area, Sandhills Journey raises money every year with their tank races which send competitors rowing down the Middle Loup River in the middle of winter.
  • Take a trip from one end of the Sandhills Scenic Byway from one end to the other: No matter which end you start on in Grand Island or Alliance, the Sandhills are a sight to behold in the winter as snow and frost envelope the hilly scenery throughout central Nebraska.
  • Go winter star-gazing: The Sandhills are quite literally one of the best places in the world to go stargazing on a clear night. With minimal light pollution and endless opportunities to bear witness to exciting events like meteor showers, we promise you won’t regret going on a starry adventure. (Just remember to pack blankets and a coat.)
  • Go ice fishing with a friend: If you’re a local or a fellow Nebraskan, you already know that the state offers plentiful opportunities to fish year-round. Pack up your ice shack, fishing gear, some warm snacks and get a move on to fun places like Merritt Reservoir in Valentine or south to the Platte River! Click here to check out great places to ice fish in Nebraska
  • Learn more about the Sandhills: We can’t even begin to tell you how many amazing books there are out there about the Sandhills and their incredibly unique history. For those who aren’t big on reading, enjoy an afternoon watching films like Ocean of Grass which highlights ranching in the Sandhills!
  • Enjoy a weekend or weeknight of cooking/baking new recipes. Let’s be honest – we’re all guilty of cooking the same recipes over and over again throughout the month. Why not spend some down-time broadening your horizons? We especially enjoy the recipes UNL Food Institute has been sharing. If you’re feeling especially sentimental, check out these traditional Nebraskan recipes.

Whether you try out one of these ideas or all of them, we hope you’ll let us know all about your winter excitement next time you see us! Until then, stay safe, stay warm, and have a very Happy Holidays.