February 16, 2017

My Isla Mujeres Bucket List

I’ve been told some stories about Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

That’s it’s so small, visitors and locals use golf carts to get around.

That if you time your visit right, you can swim with whale sharks.

That you mostly spend your vacation days sitting on a beach.

Isla Mujeres sounds pretty idyllic. I’m headed there soon, so I made a big wish list of what I’d like to do if time and money weren’t an issue. Truthfully, I will just be sitting, reading, and sleeping most of my vacation. But, if I do get up and find myself a golf cart, here are some other things I’d go do:

Swim With Whale Sharks

Statue of a whale shark on Isla Mujeres (which is probably how close I’ll get to seeing a real one since I’m not going during the season you’d find them in Mexico). Photo by Kirt Edblom on Flickr.

This is on the bucket list, but I know full well I won’t be doing it. Wrong time of the year. If you want to swim with these gentle giants, you need to visit between June and September.

Chill at Playa Norte

Isla Mujeres is about 5 miles long, so it’s entirely possible that I will be at Playa Norte daily without much of a hassle. It’s the most popular beach on the island.

Explore By Golf Cart

You’ve got to love a vacation destination that’s small enough to explore that all you need is a golf cart. Photo by Shinya Suzuki on Flickr.

While we plan on getting around the island by bikes most of the time, it sounds so fun to rent a golf cart and zoom around the island.

Eat. A lot.

It’s a small island but it is loaded with good restaurants. A lot specialize in fresh seafood because, come on, it’s an island. Among the ones that rank high on travel lists and get featured on blogs a lot are Ballyhoo Restaurant & Margaritas, Mango Cafe and Lolo Lorena. Lolo Lorena sounds like an especially unique dining experience. I also have Bastos Grill, Greenverde, Ruben’s and La Lomita on my list.

Try Mexican Specialties

While on the topic of eating…Yucantan has some noted foods that I want to try, including a citrus roasted pulled pork specialty that originated there called Cochinita pibil. I read about it here, a post about Mexican food I’ve never heard of before, including fruits like nance fruit and guaya fruit (which sounds trick to eat), and cheese-stuffed street food called marquesitas.

Underwater Museum

The surreal-looking sculptures that create a reef in an underwater museum in Mexico called Museo Subacuatico de Arte. Photo by Andy Blackledge on Flickr.

There’s a surreal-looking sculpture garden off the island is not only beautiful to see while snorkeling or diving, it’s also functional by contributing to the reef structure and growth of coral. I’d love to see the Museo Subacuatico de Arte, plus learn how it helps keep the environment healthy for marine life. More information here.

Shop The Women’s Beading Cooperative

This place looks like a nice place to purchase homemade gifts to bring home.

Visit A Turtle Farm

The island has a sanctuary for sea turtles called NAME. Here, they have a hatchery and regularly release the hatchlings to sea.

Zip Line Over Water

You can zip line over the ocean on Isla Mujeres. Photo by Grisha Levit on Flickr.

How often do you get to zipline over an ocean? Garrafon Natural Reef Park offers that experience on Isla Mujeres.

Find The Recycled Bottle Island

There is a man-made island found on Isla Mujeres that’s kept afloat by recycled plastic bottles (it’s called Joyxee Island or Joyxee Island II). A quick tour can be arranged. Sounds like the sort of oddity I need to see while on vacation. Here’s the Trip Advisor page on it.

See Mayan Ruins

You can find incredible ruins in Mexico, and for the best preserved, I know we need to go to the mainland. Isla Mujeres does have some remains of ruins, though. Being on the east side of the island, they’re said to be important in that they’re the first to have the sun hit them each day.

Sea Kayak

Our little hotel has some kayaks available for guests to use, so why not try sea kayaking? Since this is a bucket list post, I’d like to imagine we’d have a guide who’d take us to gorgeous locals. The likely scenario, though, will be that Mr. Wonderful and I will strike out on our own and we’ll get tired 5 minutes into it.

Find A Cenote

Mexico is known for cenotes, underground, water-filled caves. There aren’t any on the island, so if I were to swim in one, I’d have to go inland. There are a few on the Yucatan, so who knows? Someday I’ll find one.

What should I add to my Isla Mujeres bucket list?

 

February 15, 2017

Odd Squad Live! Coloring Contest

I love the Omaha Performing Arts’ Family Series. Doesn’t matter if I’ve never heard of the performer or show, if it’s in that series, I know my kids will love it.

The final show in the 16-17 Family Series is “Odd Squad LIVE!”, which some of you are probably familiar with if your family is a PBS kind of family.

In advance of the March 2 “Odd Squad LIVE!” show at the Orpheum Theater, Omaha Performing Arts is offering a fun way for kids to win tickets: A coloring contest.

How to enter the coloring contest

1. Download this coloring page.

2. How your kiddo color it.

3. Enter the contest by snapping a picture and tagging Omaha Performing Arts on social media (@OPerformingArts on Twitter, @OmahaPerformingArtsOrg on Facebook, and @operformingarts on Instagram) – don’t forget to use #OddSquadColoringContest. Your other option to enter is to scan your child’s masterpiece and email it to socialmedia@omahaperformingarts.org.

4. Winners will be chosen on Feb. 24. Two winners will a 4-pack of tickets to the show!

 

What is Odd Squad LIVE!?

Here’s the synopsis: Attention Odd Squad fans! Things are about to get very odd in Omaha, and Ms. O needs YOU to help solve the case. Odd Squad LIVE! is springing into action on stage in this action-packed, laugh-out-loud adventure where kids get to participate in solving a seriously strange case. When agents Orion and Oleanna get turned into grown-ups by villains, it’s up to the kids in the audience to use their math skills and help the agents decode, decipher and unravel clues.

“Odd Squad LIVE!” is filled with the coolest new gadgets, funniest and quirkiest villains  like “Father Time” and “Lady Terrible,” and catchy hit songs from the Odd Squad-favorite band, Soundcheck. The side-splitting humor and oddly irresistible fun that earned the “Odd Squad” writing team a 2016 Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Writing in a Children’s Series” will burst onto the stage in this wonderfully weird, hilarious and interactive live show that is not to be missed!

If you go

“Odd Squad LIVE!” is in Omaha March 2, 2017. Photo courtesy Omaha Performing Arts

“Odd Squad LIVE!”

When: March 2, 7 p.m.

Where: Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.

Cost: $15-$50

Get tickets here

 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. Since you’ve stuck around all the way to the end of the post, I’ll let you in on the surprise: I’ll be giving away tickets to the show soon. Stay tuned! 🙂 

February 13, 2017

SkipTheDishes In Omaha {Giveaway}

Do you guys know about SkipTheDishes? It’s a delivery service featuring a lot of restaurants who don’t typically deliver, including some of my favorite restaurants.

I never tried it until recently, when I was contacted by SkipTheDishes and they asked if I’d give it a go. What a great service!

Want to try it out? Oh My! Omaha readers can get 10% off their orders through March 31, 2017! Just use OHMYOMAHA10 at checkout. Keep reading for a giveaway!

 

What to know about SkipTheDishes

Why order delivery?

Let’s see. Are your kids wild cards when you eat out? Is it 9 degrees out? Are you so done with doing the dishes? Three very good reasons to have someone go fetch you good food.

If you feel like it, you do have the option of pick-up. I never feel like it.

 

Is it really local restaurants?

Yes, and they’re good ones! If you like ethnic foods, there are a lot represented. Restaurants serving up pizza, smoothies, falafel, ramen, subs, burgers…they’re all represented.

Want to dine in your fancy pants (ie., your nice PJs)? Order from Le Buillon or J. Coco.

We tried a new-to-us restaurant, Burrito Envy. If you try them, do yourself a favor, and get the dessert! Those little fried bites of cinnamon heaven topped with sea salt caramel make diet cheat nights worth it.

Got kids? Some of the local restaurants include some kids meal options, like Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob and Frank’s Pizzeria.

 

How much extra is delivery?

It depends on where you’re ordering from. Expect to pay between $2-$5.50.

 

How long does it take?

SkipTheDishes does a good job letting you know up-front how long deliveries will be as you browse the list. Delivery times are based on things like distance from your house, where couriers are, type of food, etc.

 

Was it easy?

Very. You need to register an account before you place an order. Then you look through the list of restaurants, find something tempting, order your meals, add the tip if you want, and then wait happily for delivery. You can place an order to be delivered “ASAP” or during a 30-minute window some other time.

 

Stalking time

You can “watch” your courier through the whole process via a GPS tracker on the website. This is particularly useful with children who ask “When is our food going to be here?” every 3 minutes.

 

Did you mess it up?

Of course. I didn’t finish the ordering process when I thought I had, so my window of delivery came and went. I had to reorder once I realized my mistake. I learned this obvious lesson:

Tip: You know your order has gone through when you get an email confirming it.

 

SkipTheDishes Omaha Discount

 

I want readers to try this service out, so SkipTheDishes is giving you 10% off orders through March 31, 2017! Just use OHMYOMAHA10 at checkout. Start drooling over browsing menus today here.

Giveaway

 

One lucky reader will receive $50 credit to SkipTheDishes! Use the easy Rafflecopter entry form below for your chance. Giveaway ends Sunday, Feb. 26, at 11:59 p.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Must be 18 or older to enter. Giveaway ends Sunday, Feb. 26, at 11:59 p.m. One winner will be randomly selected through Rafflecopter and contacted via email within 48 hours. The winner has 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected. Good luck and happy eating!

 

 

February 7, 2017

19 Great Places To Get Breakfast In Omaha

The Oh My! Omaha Facebook community knows good food. I recently asked where I could find the best breakfast in Omaha and they did not disappoint with recommendations.

Here are some of the breakfast recommendations:

11-Worth Café

11-Worth had a few votes for best breakfast. Jamie N. and Nicole B. both suggested it. The food is ample and the service is friendly, and as a bonus for kids, they get a balloon. 11-Worth Cafe, 2419 Leavenworth St.

AJ’s Café

Here’s a new diner (new to me, that is) that was suggested by Cee W.: AJ’s Café. Find AJ’s at 5146 N. 90th St.

Bailey’s Breakfast & Lunch

Mishl P. recommended one of my go-to local restaurants for breakfast: Bailey’s. If you like benedicts, you’ll love the variety offered there. Bailey’s Breakfast & Lunch, 1259 S. 120th St.

The Diner

Gaby H. recommended this Old Market greasy spoon. Gaby actually recommended a couple, but The Diner is her first choice. The Diner, 409 S. 12th St.

FarmHouse Café & Bakery

Melissa F. recommended this popular restaurant, suggesting their cinnamon rolls and County Smoked Ham ‘n Eggs. This is a great place for a group. FarmHouse Café & Bakery, 3461 84th St.

Harold’s Koffee House

Harold’s, a Florence staple, was recommended by Diane P. Ask for one of their homemade donuts to go with your meal. Harold’s Koffee House, 8327 N. 30th St.

Joe’s Café

Just off the main strip of Maple Street in Benson, you’ll find a little restaurant called Joe’s Café. Valerie L. recommends trying it out. Joe’s Café, 6564 Maple St.

Keystone Café

Don M. recommended Keystone Café, one I’m not too familiar with. Keystone Café, 7805 Military Ave.

Leo’s Diner

Leo’s Diner is a Benson neighborhood staple.Barb W. and Diane T. both recommended Leo’s. I love the breakfast there, maybe not so much the coffee… Leo’s Diner, 6055 Maple St.

Lisa’s Radial Café

Here’s a place you should probably expect a wait. It’s really good. Jennifer G. recommended Lisa’s, and she shared the stuffed french toast and an omelet (“fastastic!”). Violet M. suggested a dish I haven’t tried yet, but she may have convinced me to order it next time: “The butterscotch pancakes are AMAZING!!!” The decorations at Lisa’s are fun to look at, as well. Lisa’s Radial Café, 817 N. 40th St.

Louie M.’s Burger Lust

It might not sound like a place for breakfast, but it is. Rebekah P. recommended Louie’s for breakfast. Louie M.’s Burger Lust, 1718 Vinton St.

Over Easy

Over Easy is a favorite around these parts. Gaby H., Ashley P. and Erin F. recommended the cute little West O. restaurant, for breakfast. Order a homemade poptart to accompany your breakfast. You’re welcome. Over Easy, 16859 Q St.

Pitch Pizzeria West Omaha

Looking for brunch? Mishl P. said Pitch (the West O. location) has a great brunch. “Fabulous bloody Mary’s and creme brûlée French toast and sausage ragout.” Pitch Pizzeria West Omaha, 17808 Burke St.

The Special Restaurant

Melissa N. and Jen S. both recommended a restaurant in Bellevue, Neb., that’s a new one to me. She said try the chicken fried steak or french toast at The Special Restaurant. The Special Restaurant, 303 Fort Crook Rd. N., Bellevue, Neb.

Summer Kitchen Café

Tim T. suggested Summer Kitchen, particularly the potato casseroles. Summer Kitchen Café has three locations: 1203 Cornhusker Road, Bellevue, Neb.; 12010 Giles Road, LaVista, Neb.; and 1130 Sterling Ridge Drive.

Taxi’s Grille & Bar

Reader Alisha L. recommended the brunch at Taxi’s. I haven’t dined there for any meal, so I think I’ll make their brunch my first meal there. Taxi’s Grille & Bar, 1822 N. 120th St.

Upstream Brewing Co.

Jen S. recommended Upstream Brewery for its brunch buffet, which I have to chime in and say it is the best brunch buffet around. There are two locations for this brew pub, and while I like the Old Market location for sitting outdoors enjoying the brunch, the buffet at the West O. location is so great. Upstream Brewing Co., 514 S. 11th St. and 17070 Wright Plaza

Vidlak’s Brookside Café

Several people recommended Vidlak’s. Emily and Julie S. both recommended Vidlak’s for breakfast, with Julie recommending the cinnamon rolls. Randy A. recommended bringing some patience with you: “If you decide on going to Vidlak’s go early or you’ll have a wait time to a table……trust me it’s worth the wait!” Vidlak’s Brookside Café, 15668 W. Center Road

Wheatfields

Elise H. recommended the One Pacific Place location (there are a couple other locations). I’ve never been disappointed at Wheatfields – their coffee is great and their menu is extensive. Nicole B. recommended Wheatfields, as well, but didn’t single out which location. Don’t miss out on trying a baked good! Wheatfields, 1224 S. 103rd St.

 

Notable Chains

There are several chain restaurants in Omaha that have great service and food. Here are some that were recommended by readers: The Egg and I, Le Peep, and one of my favorites, First Watch.

Family-Friendly Breakfast Spots

Have little ones? Check out this list of kid-friendly restaurants with a great breakfast!

Like what you’re reading? Stay up-to-date by signing up for my e-newsletter! Emails are twice a month, and full of good stuff.

February 6, 2017

4 Tips For Large Group Dining At Disney World

Traveling to Walt Disney World with a large group can be a wonderful thing, and wonderfully frustrating thing.

When it comes to a large group dining at Disney, it pays to plan ahead (especially if you go over the holidays).

Large group dining at Disney World is possible, but not always easy.

Here are some tips to make sure your large group can enjoy a meal together:

1. Plan ahead

If at least one member of your party is staying on Disney property, he or she can make a reservation at 180 days in advance. Read blog post by WDW Prep School has a great list of restaurants at the Disney World that can accommodate large groups (and includes max size of groups). It helped me plan our trip!

2. Speak with a person to book it

My Disney Experience app does allow booking a fairly good-sized group – I’ve been able to book for 10 people. If you don’t have the app, get that on your phone pronto.

I’ll wait.

Got it? 

When we tried to get a table for 36, we had to speak with a person.We used the app to book three separate, staggered reservations at Maya Grill at the Coronado Springs Resort. When we arrived early, we asked the restaurant staff to seat all of us together. They could accommodate us since we were the first reservations at the restaurant.

If you’re planning ahead of time, though, it’s even better to call to set it up (407-939-5277). Keep in mind that our reservation was right when the restaurant open – any later and it wouldn’t have helped.

Note: I would not recommend Maya Grill for large groups.

3. Be ready to reserve a meal at an odd time

Even when planning 180 days in advance, some of our reservations had to be made for atypical dining times. For a party of 16, we got a reservation at Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom, we had a reservation time for 11:30 a.m., but for the Akerhus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot at Epcot, our lunch for 11 people was at 2:30 p.m.

4. Group size could change the experience

We had a large party reservation for 16 people at 50s Primetime Café at Hollywood Studios. I’d heard great things about the experience there. There’s a lot of humorous interaction with the waiters. But, it was lost when our waitress tried to get the orders of 16 people.

Granted, part of the problem was that two of the families in our group didn’t speak English as a first language, and maybe the sass was lost of them.

Recommended restaurants

Disney Restaurants for Groups

Here are three restaurants where I had a good experience dining with a large group. Keep in mind, we were traveling with younger children, which may or may not be a detail that you are also taking into account.

– The Quick Service restaurant Be Our Guest at lunchtime was efficient and spacious enough for us to find tables next to each other, even for a group of 16. On the Disney dining plan, it is one Quick Service Credit per person. Reservations are a must.

– The Storybook Dining lunch at Akerhaus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot was wonderful for meeting princesses. If you’re on the dining plan, it is one Table Service dining credit. Our group of 11 was seated together. The food was great.

Chef Mickey’s at the Disney’s Contemporary Resort accommodated a group of seven together. It is a buffet and rather hectic, but it’s another great character meal. We were there for breakfast. If you’re on the dining plan, it is one Table Service dining credit.

– I would not recommend Maya Grill at Coronado Springs Resort for a large group. Our entire party, 36 of us, had a dinner there and it was a three-hour comedy of errors. On the positive side, we were able to make a reservation there just the day before and we were seated all together.

What are your favorite Disney restaurants? Would you recommend them for groups?

February 1, 2017

5 Star Wars Experiences At Disney World

I braved Disney World during the holidays in 2016, and survived to tell you all about it. What I didn’t mention in that post was that I was traveling with two young Star Wars fans, so our first day in Orlando, we went to Hollywood Studios to take in all Star Wars Disney experiences we could handle excitement.

Here are the five Star Wars Disney experiences that were the biggest hits with my young kids.

Jedi Training

My 5-year-old daughter got to take on Darth Vader at Hollywood Studios during Jedi Training.

A rare freebie at Disney World, your kids have the chance to take the stage and battle the likes of Darth Vader. Training is held several times each day. However, this is extremely popular. You must arrive to the park before it opens and then zip over to the Indiana Jones area to get in line to sign up. Bonus: Since we missed prime ride time, a cast member kindly gave us some Fast Pass+ tickets good for up to five people for one ride.

Jedi Training involves a march to the stage, where costumed cast members teach them some basic moves with light sabers. Then, the kids take turns battling Darth Vader or another baddie. There’s a bit of theatrics to watch, and it’s all pretty entertaining. Disney has photographers there to capture the entire experience.

My son was really into learning the moves of a Jedi.

This is kinda intense for some youngsters, so know your kid’s comfort level. They are on stage without you and Darth is an imposing figure. If your kid is uncomfortable spending a lot of time away from you, this might not be a pleasant experience. Also, take into account your kid’s natural energy level. I signed mine up for training right in the middle of their usual nap time. We were on the verge of a meltdown the entire experience.

 

Character Interactions

Meeting Chewbacca was a highlight of character meet and greets.

Head to Star Wars Launch Bay to meet Chewbacca, Kylo Ren and a Jawa.

Tip: Plan ahead and have something to trade with a Jawa.

Heads up, though, Kylo Ren is an intense character. My usually afraid-of-nothing daughter was totally scared of him. It didn’t help that he zeroed in on her and said he’d been waiting for her. Chewie, on the other hand, was fun and huggable.

You will likely see Storm Troopers throughout the park. Occasionally they interact with you. They interrogated my teen niece.

Side notes about the Launch Bay: When you arrive, you have the option of going straight to the characters or watching a short documentary first. Skip it if you’re with small children. There are displays of movie memorabilia at the Launch Bay, and fans are going to want to take the time to check it all out. There are also some video games to play there.

My friend Cat and her boys looking at light sabers at Star Wars Launch Bay.

 

 

Star Wars: The Adventure Continues

There is a lot to look at if you wait in line for the Star Wars: The Adventure Continues Ride. That line is going to be long, though, without a Fast Pass+ time.

One of the kids’ favorite rides of all the parks was Star Wars: The Adventure Continues. You’ll want to get Fast Pass+ times because this will be a long wait otherwise.

The “ride” is actually a 3-D simulation of flying or being chased through space. There are dozens of variations so each ride will be different. There is a height restriction as the simulation can be intense for itty bitty ones.

 

Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away

The ending of Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away is memorable.

This short, live theatrical show is held several times a day. It involves some favorite characters re-enacting scenes from the franchise. Stick around for the end. They light off a couple fireworks.

There’s also a nighttime show called Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. We didn’t catch it on our trip, but no doubt it has show-stopper moments.

 

Star Wars Penny Press

All the Disney World theme parks have penny presses. My kids had sorted their coins before the trip (I was inspired by this post).

Star Wars penny presses can be found at the Star Wars Launch Bay. Penny presses, costing two quarters and the penny you press, are a lot cheaper than most souvenirs, don’t you think?

But just try getting your kid out of the stores at Hollywood Studios without a new stuffed Ewok or light saber (they can even build their own). The Force was strong with my kids and they got their bonus souvenirs.

 

What are some of your favorite Star Wars experiences at Disney?