Is over there no better place on a warm summer work than having actually your feet in the sand that a beach? Sure, Omaha isn’t anywhere near an ocean. Yet lake beaches? There room some lake beaches nearby. I damaged up this list into two groups: Nebraska beaches and also Iowa beaches. You’ll discover there space some Iowa beaches that are actually closer come Omaha than part Nebraska ones!

Some beaches are basic day expedition for Omaha families; some space going come be, at least, one overnight pilgrimage in stimulate to fully enjoy them.

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Nebraska Beaches

1. Louisville State Recreation Area

Where: Louisville, Neb.

Distance indigenous Omaha: 27 miles


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Louisville SRA has absolutely grown right into being a summer location for Omaha families, thanks to the inflatable obstacle course that resides there. The course itself is an additional fee and also there is a time limit. Beside the blow up course, though, is a quite sandy beach.

The critical time ns was there, it to be pretty busy through plenty of children in the water and families dotting the shore. You’ll want to bring your own seating.

You will need to have actually a state park happen or salary a work visit fee.

2. 2 Rivers State Recreation Area

Where: Waterloo, Neb.

Distance native Omaha: 30 miles

When girlfriend think that sand pit lakes, perhaps you picture a lake at 2 Rivers SRA. The synthetic lakes, only one of which has a swimming beach, room nothing special yet they gain the job done if friend have kids who desire to swim in a lake to cool off.

Frankly, the water is a tad too murky for me. But to it is in fair, much more people go to 2 Rivers because that the fishing, no the beach.


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The sand is sticky and also ideal for children who like to dig v sand toys.

You’ll desire to carry your very own seating.

You will need to have actually a state park pass or salary a work visit fee.

3. Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area

Where: Fremont, Neb.

Distance native Omaha: 44 miles

Fremont Lakes is a funny day trip for my family, and if you feel up because that it, you have the right to camp and make that an overnighter. Yet for a day, you can’t win it. Consists of several lakes, there’s not just one single beach to pick from.


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Pack a picnic, bring some chairs and get comfy. There room plenty of spots with picnic tables close to the waterfront.

There is a lakeside restaurant and also bar if girlfriend don’t fill choose grilling or unpacking that picnic.

4. Branched Oak State Recreation Area

Where: Raymond, Neb.

Distance indigenous Omaha: 68 miles

I’ll constantly remember Branched Oak Lake, because I just didn’t mean to sit on the gravely coast of a Nebraska lake and have mini tide to marvel at. However there castle were.


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Playing top top the beach at Branched Oak Lake.

Granted, the tide were resulted in by pass boaters, however let’s forget about that.

The sand at this coast is not the most comfortable come sit on, so certainly pack a chair and a ceiling to rest your feet on.

You will require to have actually a state park pass or pay a work visit fee.

5. Fort Kearny State Recreation Area

Where: Kearney, Neb.

Distance indigenous Omaha: 185 miles

I’m most familiar with ft Kearny gift a historical outpost that the United says Army(thus the fort), but it’s additionally home to 7 sand-pit lakes. Swimming and boating are popular here, make it among the top outdoor areas in Kearney.

Side note: these lakes are additionally popular with migrating Sandhill cranes in the spring.

6. Calamus Reservoir

Where: close to Burwell, Neb.

Distance indigenous Omaha: 215 miles

If you wanted a Sandhills getaway and a beach, head to the Calamus Reservoir. I’ve camped there in the fall, yet apparently the best time because that sandy beaches is June and also July (water levels change there, therefore you’ll find an ext sand towards the end of June).

The reservoir is huge, with lake measuring an ext than 5,100 acres! A portion of the Calamus river is likewise nearby.

7. Merritt ReservoirState Recreation Area

Where: Valentine, Neb.

Distance indigenous Omaha: 330 miles

This huge reserve in Cherry county is thought about one of the best fishing lakes in Nebraska. Like Calamus, it’s situated in the Sandhills that Nebraska. The swim is restricted there, yet word is, it’s not also crowded.

Besides sandy beaches, Merritt has a pair other things going for it:

8. Lake McConaughy

Where:Near Ogallala, Neb.

Distance native Omaha: 340 miles

A popular summer destination in Nebraska, Lake McConaughy (or Lake Mac because that short) is the biggest reservoir in the state, measure 30,000 surface acres. It’s popular for boaters and also windsurfers, and also has lot of of sandy beach.

Tip: If you’re not tent camping or continuing to be in an RV, you’ll desire to publication a cabin, hotel, or rental dwellings in Ogallala much in advance. Start browsing areas like Booking.com early.

9. Enders Reservoir State Recreation Area

Where: Enders, Neb.

Distance native Omaha: 340 miles

Enders Reservoir SRA is among those concealed gems in Nebraska. The isn’t overly occurred because a part of the reservoir is a wildlife refuge in the fall and winter. Boating is permitted.

Iowa Beaches


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10. Lake Manawa State Park

Where: the supervisory board Bluffs, Iowa

Distance from Omaha: 8 miles

I frequently forget there’s a large state park just across the Missouri river from Omaha.Lake Manawa is more for boating than swimming, yet there is a small, sandy coast there because that it. I’ve participated in a triathlon that began at the beach.

You’ll need to pay to access said beach (and non-Iowa citizens are claimed to pay secondary $5 park fee, as well).

You’ll desire to carry chairs and an umbrella, as it’s no the most shaded place. Over there is a tiny shop to rental watercraft favor kayaks.

11. Lake Icaria


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Where: Corning, Iowa

Distance indigenous Omaha: 85 miles

I saw Lake Icaria a tiny too early on to get the full summer feeling for the place. Native what i heard, the lake comes to life through boaters and also families. It to be a tad also cool because that that sort of point in May.

The beach isn’t too large, yet just fine for the park its size in landscape Iowa. When we were there, a food truck collection up shop by the coast on the weekends. The beach had a extended eating area, so that seemed favor a smart speak to on the food truck’s side.

12. Viking Lake State Park


Where: Stanton, Iowa

Distance from Omaha: 63 miles

As happy would have actually it, we stumbled top top this sandy coast at Viking Lake State Park top top a cool, fall afternoon. It wasn’t precisely beach weather and, well, the pandemic to be in complete swing, therefore not as well surprisingly, the beach wasn’t busy.

The lake itself is a pretty decent drive from Omaha, for this reason I’d speak you’ve gained a couple of others come visit very first before venturing further into Iowa for Viking Lake.

13. Clear Lake


Where:Clear Lake, Iowa

Distance from Omaha: 250 miles

Clear Lake has actually three different beach areas, with the most easily accessible being situated near the key Street of downtown clean Lake.

This is another fun lake because that boating. Once we visited, we were maybe to rental someone to offer us a private tour in his speedboat.

14. Iowa good Lakes (AKA Okoboji)

Where:North main Iowa, and also includes West Okoboji, east Okoboji, upper Gar, reduced Gar, and also Minnewashta

Distance from Omaha: 210 miles

Okoboji consists of numerous lakes, and is a major summer playground for Iowa and also Nebraska families. There’s a many to perform in that area, past playing in the water. Yet this is about lakes, right? I consisted of a perform of all of the public beaches in the Okoboji area in this guide to Okoboji.


Midwest Lake FAQs

Q. What should I carry to a lake?

A. Be certain to carry sunscreen, many of bottled water, and towels. Ns recommend packing all food you may need, snacks and/or picnic meals, since there won’t be an abundance of dining options adjacent without a drive. Placed it all in a cooler – I like the ones that are easy to dare around.

Nebraska lakes are sandy, however I’d introduce water pair of shoes regardless (especially look because that water shoes for your kids). The tiny beaches may have debris that you’ll desire to prevent stepping on.

If you’re going with kids, bring a variety of sand toys. I’d recommend having a mesh bag to lug the toys in because they will, inevitably, track sand right into your house otherwise.


Most lakes are situated in parks that may have actually a tiny marina v a convenience save or are located near a town v one, therefore if friend forget something, you deserve to likely acquisition it over there (at a greater cost). A couple of places that I’ve checked out on-site marinas for food include Viking Lake, Fremont Lakes, and Branched Oak (though not by the beach).

Q. Space there any dangers to lakes?

A. Midwestern lakes, because that the most part, are not very large, yet they deserve to be deep. Always swim in the areas significant only for swimming. It’s additionally smart to never swim alone.

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Pay attention to any kind of posted signs. Some lakes we’ve visited have actually been impacted by invasive types that have actually either made it unadvisable to swim in. For instance, if there room zebra mussels, certainly wear shoes if you’re walk to get in the water. Those little buggers space sharp. I’d avoid any area v zebra mussels (it to be a lesson us learned the hard method in clean Lake many years ago).