Adventure is calling through statewide programs that encourage families to stay active and enjoy great experiences across Nebraska over the summer.
The Great Parks Pursuit and 2023 Nebraska Passport both kicked off at the beginning of May with components designed to get families outside. Both programs run into the fall and offer exciting sights, activities and learning opportunities, many of which can be found here in the Panhandle.
The 2023 Nebraska Passport is designed to encourage travelers to discover the state’s hidden gems. With 70 unique stops across the state and multiple prize levels, the program encourages tourism and supporting small businesses.
This year’s passport includes a handful of stops right here in the Panhandle, making it easy for families in western Nebraska to qualify for prizes. As part of the Passport program this year, the NEST 529 program partnered for summer exploration activities, called “Creature Comforts stops.” The Riverside Discovery Center is one of the seven Creature Comforts stops across the state.
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“We are thrilled to partner with Nebraska Tourism, supporting this year’s Creature Comforts stops,” Nebraska State Treasurer John Murante said in a press release. “Summer vacation is a special time for families. We hope to inspire kids to consider their future while encouraging families to start saving funds now to support continuing education needs down the road.”
Some of the other stops are already popular summertime destinations like Legacy of the Plains Museum. Others might send families off the beaten path.
Up north, Crawford’s High Plains Homestead takes visitors back to life in the 1880s in addition to hosting a Mercantile shop filled with necessities and local consignment goods.
By the South Dakota border travelers will find WhiteClay Makerspace, which connects Native American artists and crafters to their community and anyone who enjoys art.
The Double L Country Store and Cafe is a local favorite in Harrisburg known for its homemade breads, cakes, pies and farm to table menu.
A Collective Gathering Antiques & Flea Market in Potter is home to 2,500 square feet of eclectic shopping featuring 25 vendors offering antique and vintage items, silver coins, trains, rocks, handcrafted items, a selection of food items and many more treasures.
Visitors to Sidney can stop by Boss City Brewing Co. located inside Sam & Louie’s to enjoy a handcrafted beer with a delicious pizza or classic pasta dish.
There’s even more adventure to be found further east, with prizes available for visiting 10, 25, 50 and all 70 stops. To participate, simply request a booklet or download the Nebraska Passport app. For more information, visit nebraskapassport.com.
Those looking for outdoor fun can find it by participating in the Great Parks Pursuit, which features the chance to win great prizes by visiting a variety of community, regional, state and federal parks.
To participate, teams of up to 10 individuals must register online, in advance, at negpp.org. All ages may participate. Teams then follow clues from the website or Great Park Pursuit mobile app to find a program post within the park area. Once found, the team marks its visit in the app or makes a pencil impression of the post to prove its visit.
Five of the participating parks can be found in the Panhandle: Bridgeport State Recreation Area, Chadron State Park, Kimball City Park, Legion Park in Sidney and Ash Hollow State Historical Park. Visiting those five impression sites is enough to enter teams into a drawing to win a GoPro camera, a 2024 State Park Entry Permit, a NEBRASKAland Subscription and a NEBRASKAland Calendar.
To begin your Great Parks Pursuit, visit negpp.org to register your team and checkout a map of all 20 participating parks.