Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Columbus, NE

  • Published 2023/04/04

Columbus is a relatively small city in Nebraska with many tourist attractions and destinations that’ll pique any traveler’s interest.

This city in Platte County is best known for its water parks, historical monuments and attractions, and various state parks.

It also shares the same name as other cities in different states to honor Christopher Columbus and his voyage.

If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway from the daily hustle and bustle of your everyday life, then this city is perfect!

You can even go on a food trip and try all their delicious, local-favorite eateries and restaurants that’ll make your stomach happy.

Here are the best things to do in Columbus, NE.

Beat the Heat at Pawnee Plunge Water Park

If you’re feeling hot on a warm summer day, beat the heat at Pawnee Plunge Water Park.

Located within the heart of Columbus, this water park has everything you need to keep you cool and entertained for the whole day.

They’re best known for housing the first and only FlowRider in the entire city, where you can practice your balance on a surfboard in preparation for actual waves.

This family-friendly park also features giant water slides, diving boards up to a meter high, lazy rivers, and more pools.

Kids can also enjoy their interactive ship for toddlers and the spray park.

Pawnee Plunge Water Park has an amenity for everyone of all ages so drop by with the family.

Honor the Heroes at Andrew Jackson Higgins National Memorial

Andrew Jackson Higgins is an essential figure in American history.

He is best known for his bravery in World War II, and this memorial seeks to honor him and preserve his memory.

The Andrew Jackson Higgins National Memorial tells the stories of this man and his fellow veterans and how their service has defended American freedom.

At this memorial, you’ll find several displays that detail events of the war, some fun facts about the veterans, and various statues.

There’s a lot of rich history to learn and honor at this memorial, so try adding it to your list of must-visit tourist destinations.

Visit the Platte County Historical Society

Platte County has a lot of history you can learn about with the Platte County Historical Society.

This museum has preserved important documents, relics, and mementos that can take you back in time.

Their exhibits include various preserved artifacts that date back as far as the 1800s.

You can find an original Die Bold Co. bank vault door, the 1857 Gottschalk cabin, a 1914 “Baby Grand” Chevrolet, and other exciting items on display.

This museum also hosts various events, presentations, talks, and more for deeper learning of this city’s historical significance.

Bring the kids for an educational lesson on the history of the beautiful Platte County.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Pawnee Park

Columbus is known for housing several state parks, but Pawnee Park is one of the most popular and most-visited parks in the entire city.

This park is the perfect place to spend the day outdoors with the whole family.

You can play various sports such as basketball, tennis, and volleyball on their courts or play disc golf on their course.

Kids can also jump in the pool to beat the heat.

Teens can use their skate park and learn a new trick or two.

After a long day of exploring the city, you may feel tired and winded.

Cool down and relax in their pavilions or enjoy a nice meal on their picnic tables.

Pawnee Park has everything you need for soaking up the outdoors on a warm day.

Enjoy the Water at Lake Babcock

Lake Babcock is one of the many lakes you can find in Columbus, adjacent to Lake North.

Spanning over 600 acres, this lake offers many water activities you can enjoy with the family.

You can cast your reel in and catch a fish or two before grilling it for lunch.

This lake is also ideal for getting out on the open water where you can swim or go boating to explore.

Kids can run around their playground while the adults relax under the shade.

If you’re looking to get a few steps in or a short workout, you can take a hike or walk on their trails and paths.

Enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding area and communities.

Watch Horse Racing at Columbus Horse Races

If you’re a fan of horse racing, then you might want to stop by Columbus Horse Races.

Fans can purchase tickets and watch horses race on a live track as they sit back and enjoy the show.

Horse betting is also allowed, so try strategizing to make extra cash.

This event happens monthly with new entries for each race, making it exciting and thrilling.

Columbus Horse Races is an exciting event you wouldn’t want to miss, so book a seat ahead of time while visiting this city.

Challenge Yourself at S.T.A.R. Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are always a fun challenge you can enjoy with friends and family.

Bring your crew to the S.T.A.R. Escape Rooms in downtown Columbus.

This establishment features various rooms and themes, each with adventure and mysteries you need to solve to escape.

You’ll have to cooperate and work together as a team, solving brain puzzles, gathering clues, and following hints to beat the clock.

This facility aims to provide entertainment, stimulate critical and logical thinking, and encourage teamwork, bringing people together.

From murder mysteries to treasure hunts, S.T.A.R. Escape Rooms has all you need.

Each team will only have 60 minutes to accomplish all the tasks.

Do you think you have what it takes?

See if you’re up for the challenge at S.T.A.R. Escape Rooms.

Go Bowling at Westbrook Lanes

Westbrook Lanes is a community-favorite bowling alley that brings locals and tourists together for a day of fun and entertainment.

With over 16 lanes, this bowling alley has room for everyone to enjoy a game of bowling or two.

They also feature a game room if you’re looking for something new with arcade games and other classic video games!

You can even grab a quick snack for that extra energy boost at their bar and grill.

Whether it’s your first time picking up a bowling ball or if you’re a seasoned player, Westbrook Lanes would be happy to have you.

Professional players can sign up for different leagues where winners can get special prizes.

Try and stop by Westbrook Lanes at the heart of Columbus.

Watch a Car Race at US 30 Speedway

Since 1986, the US 30 Speedway is a famous racing track in Columbus that has hosted racing events.

You can even catch multiple races and events throughout the month with various entries from different car models and drivers from around the world.

This car racing facility is perfect for car lovers, racing enthusiasts, and aspiring drivers.

You can even bring kids to these races where they watch sports cars speed around the track.

There’s nothing more thrilling than watching a high-speed car race, so buy a ticket ahead of time to ensure a slot.

Grab Lunch at CK Grill and Bar

Drive two miles south of the city center to reach the CK Grill and Bar, another community-favorite eatery.

This restaurant is also considered one of Columbus’ hidden treasures that serve your favorite American eats and dishes.

Serving different meals throughout the day, the restaurant accepts diners for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Some of their best sellers include pasta dishes, surf-and-turf meals, tacos, and more.

You can also grab a cold refreshing beer and other drinks and cocktails at their bar.

Stop for a heavy meal and see why CK Grill and Bar is a local favorite and a great place to dine.

Shop ‘Til You Drop at Treasures Boutique

A great vacation isn’t complete without a shopping spree, and Treasures Boutique can make that happen.

This shop at the heart of Columbus sells anything from women’s clothing and accessories to home decorations and some antique items.

You can find the trendiest, most hip pieces of clothing on the racks for a great price or find a bag, scarf, or hat to complete your outfit.

If you’re looking for a cute ornamental piece to add a pop of color to your house, this boutique might have it in stock just for you.

Their selection caters to a wide variety of people and styles, with new additions and products added to their collection regularly.

Drop by and splurge at Treasures Boutique.

See Columbus’ Historical Monument at Quincentenary Belltower

The Quincentenary Belltower is a lasting monument with much historical and cultural significance, honoring Columbus and his historic voyage.

This belltower was dedicated in 1992 on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage.

If you’re visiting Columbus for the first time, check out this monument, fitted with ten enormous church bells.

These bells ring every 15 minutes, which you wouldn’t want to miss.

You can tour the surrounding area or take pictures with this historical marker to complete your vacation in Columbus, Nebraska.

Join the Annual Platte County Fair

Despite its small size and population, Columbus isn’t one to shy away from celebrations and events.

One of the most sought-after events in the entire city is the Platte County Fair which is celebrated annually.

This fair takes place during the summer months, usually in June, where everyone of all ages can join various activities.

Whether you’re a first-time tourist, a local, or a frequent visitor, you’d be more than welcome to join these events.

From exhibits to talent shows to family games and more, this fair has everything you’re looking for to have a great day with the whole clan.

They even have attractions designed especially for kids, such as face painting, balloon making, and arts and crafts for a fun day.

Bring the Kids to Glur Park

Glur Park is another park you can visit to wind down, and relax after a long day of exploring and touring the city.

You can even play or challenge your loved ones to a friendly game of tennis, basketball, volleyball, and other sports on their designated courts.

You also have the option to bring some food with you and eat a meal on their picnic tables as you enjoy the cool breeze and warm Nebraskan sun.

Kids can run around and play on the playground with several slides and a swing.

Spend some quality time with the people you love most at Glur Park.

See the Events at Frankfort Square

The grounds of Frankfort Square

HI502editingassignment, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In downtown Columbus, Frankfort Square is often the venue for various events year-round.

You can use the park’s spacious land as a relaxation spot, especially if you brought picnic blankets.

Otherwise, check out the farmer’s market that sells a wide variety of local goods and products.

Flags also line the park during Columbus Day, celebrating the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World.

These flags would look great in your pictures.

You can visit the exhibits and displays on the Civil War, memorials, and time capsules scattered around the square.

During the holiday season, Santa drops by the park, so bring your kids for a photo.

Take a Photo of the Discovering the Colorful History of Columbus Mural

The Discovering the Colorful History of Columbus Mural is one of the overlooked spots of the city.

Hence, you shouldn’t forget to take a picture of and with it when you come by Columbus.

This 2006 mural is an amalgamation of the city’s achievements, unforgettable moments in history, and renowned places and buildings.

Its storytelling goes way back to 1856, which was the year of the city’s founding.

In big bold letters are the words “Columbus – City of Power and Progress”.

What makes the mural even more momentous is its birth, which was also the celebration of Columbus’ Sesquicentennial year.

The Discovering the Colorful History of Columbus Mural stands out on the street of 13th.

Watch a Show at Platte Valley Playhouse

If watching a show is your idea of a fun time while on your Columbus trip, you shouldn’t miss out on Platte Valley Playhouse.

This volunteer-run community theater is famous for its local shows and live performances.

From comedic acts to classic musicals, you bet this playhouse has something up its sleeve for your entertainment.

You can view Platte Valley Playhouse’s shows at Central Community College on 63rd Street.

Though its headquarters and meeting spot is on 35th Avenue.

Go for a Run at Two Lakes Trail

Keep your active streak coming with a trip along Two Lakes Trail.

This trail is a part of the city’s extensive recreational trail system.

At over 2 miles long, it’s a scenic route for biking, hiking, and rollerblading.

Birdwatchers may also like the diverse variety of fowl within the area.

As the name suggests, it passes by the city’s famous lakes, Lake North and Lake Babcock.

So, get your walking shoes on and get yourself ready for beautiful views along this route.

Two Lakes Trail’s endpoints are on 48th Avenue and 18th Avenue within Lakeview Road.

Spend a Night at Powerhouse Park’s Campground

Make your Columbus vacation more immersive with a temporary stay at Powerhouse Park’s campground.

This park boasts an outstanding 4.5 acres.

Some of its amenities include primitive camping sites that don’t come with a fee during summer, fishing spots, and graveled trails for your short treks along nature.

Not only that, but the park also has a playground area for the little ones and picnic spots with grills for your ultimate group gatherings.

The park offers a glimpse of the Columbus Powerhouse, the city’s largest hydroelectric plant.

Its camping sites offer partial hookups for RV and tents, so your time out in nature is worth it.

Powerhouse Park Campground is at northern Columbus on 3rd Avenue.

Swim a Few Laps at Columbus Aquatic Center

For a fantastic time indoors, you can never go wrong with a trip to Columbus Aquatic Center.

This top-tier indoor center features an eight-lane pool with a double flume slide and two diving boards.

The center offers swimming lessons, water aerobics sessions, and lifeguard training.

It also hosts a variety of community events, including an easter egg hunt among other things.

It is open year-round, so you can come by anytime you like during the course of your Columbus trip.

Columbus Aquatic Center is on 10th Avenue.

Final Thoughts

Columbus provides its tourists with a relaxing atmosphere, a lovely environment, and a friendly community to create the perfect vacation.

Despite its small size, this city caters to a wide variety of people, offering several activities year-round, including fairs, markets, races, and more.

This beautiful city has so much to explore, from museums to entertainment facilities and community-favorite eateries.

You can also bring the kids to these events or to one of the many state parks this city houses for a fun and enjoyable outdoor day.

Look no further for the perfect vacation and book your next trip to Columbus, Nebraska.

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