Thanks to Mother Nature’s blessing, Norfolk has a wonderful foundation to please outdoor lovers. Our four golf courses alone keep sportsmen challenged; while our 11 city parks provide the equipment (think swimming pools, campgrounds, horseshoe and sand volleyball pits) and acreage families need to play. Soccer represents a growing sport in Norfolk, as the YMCA and other youth leagues fill their openings quickly. There are also sand volleyball, baseball and softball leagues available for all ages. When the weather is not cooperating, there is always the bowling alley with its doors open to help citizens stay active, as well as the Norfolk 7 theatre.
Norfolk also stands as the starting point to the Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail, a rail-to-trail conversion path donated to the state in 1994. The hiking trail follows the old Chicago and Northwestern Railroad’s path from Norfolk to O’Neill, Nebraska, an approximate 75-mile stretch in a northwesterly direction. (When finished, the entire trail will extend 321 miles across the state, making it the longest in the nation.) Hikers, cyclists and horseback riders can witness the beauty of the changing plains at their leisure. Norfolk offers food, camping and lodging.
Hunting for turkey, waterfowl, deer, antelope and elk is plentiful in the area, thanks to more than 20 Wildlife Management Areas in the region. (Willow Creek Dam and Maskenthine Lake and Recreation Area are both within 15 miles of the city limits.) Fishermen delight in the abundance of northern pike, bluegill, crappie, perch, channel catfish and bass in our waters. Photographers enjoy the wildflowers and stunning landscapes available at these Wildlife Management Areas, while the more adventurous seek these areas for power-boating, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
In nearby Battle Creek, botanist wannabes can find a fascinating arboretum featuring 600 trees and shrubs in its outdoor classroom. A wood-chip trail leads to gazebos, wood carvings and an 1867 log cabin.
Saturday evenings from mid-April to mid-September often find the population packed into the stands at Riviera Raceway’s 2 3/10 mile oval track, where Street Stock, Grand National and Cruisers race for prizes. After 35 years, the track’s presence has become a tradition among residents who love fast action.