August 17, 2017

10 Shows To See This Fall In Omaha

Anyone else think of theater when autumn rolls around? Sure, fall also means football, bonfires, and pumpkin patches, but September through November is prime time to see live shows in Omaha. We’re lucky – we have a ton of Omaha theater options, including many family-friendly ones.

Read my tips on raising a theater-goer, including judging age-appropriateness, show length, and where to go for your child’s first show!

Here are some shows I’m looking forward to that should also be on your radar. Most you can take kids to, and a few I’d recommend planning a date night.

Keep reading until the end – I’m giving away tickets to a few of the really good ones!

 

“Mamma Mia!”

When: Sept. 15 through Oct. 15

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse

Ages: Parents, use your judgement on this one. My friends at OCP recommended ages 10 and older. If you ask me, it’s great for teens.

Tickets: Adult tickets start at $32 (Wednesdays) and start at $42 (Thursdays – Sundays) and student tickets start at $20 (Wednesdays) and start at $25 (Thursdays – Sundays). Ticket prices are subject to change based on performance date, seat location and ticket demand. Buy tickets early to get the best seats at the best prices. Call the OCP box office at (402) 553-0800 for current prices.

Discounts: Whatta Deal Wednesday ($10 tickets on the first Wednesday of the run (Sept. 20 only) available in person at the OCP box office starting at 4 p.m. on the day of the show; Twilight Tickets (half-price tickets when purchased in person at the OCP box office after noon on the day of the show); Lucky 7 Tickets ($7 tickets for students for opening weekend performances only (Sept. 15-17 only, good in person at the OCP box office or by phone at 402-553-0800)

 

“Madagascar: A Musical Adventure”

When: Oct. 6-22

Where: The Rose

Ages: Ages 5+. This is as kid-friendly as it gets.

Tickets: $20 through the theater

Discounts: Find discount vouchers at HyVee food stores’ customer service desks.

 

“B – The Underwater Bubble Show”

When: Oct. 7

Where: Orpheum Theater

Ages: All ages. This looks pretty spectacular and entertaining even for adults.

Tickets: Tickets start at $15 through Ticket Omaha

 

“Disney On Ice presents Dream Big”

When: Oct. 12-15

Where: CenturyLink Center

Ages: All ages, but probably most appealing to the preschool and early grade school crowd.

Tickets: $10-$85 at Ticket Master

 

“Momentum: Fosse Style!”

When: Oct. 20 and Oct. 22

Where: Joslyn Art Museum (Oct. 20) and Arts Center at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa (Oct. 22)

Ages: Ages 5+. There is a huge variety of dances presented, and most are pretty short performances, which is great for short attention spans.

Tickets: $22-$78 through Ticket Omaha 

 

Omaha Symphony’s Symphony Spooktacular Superheroes!

When: Oct. 22 (note there’s trick or treating afterward)

Where: Holland Performing Arts Center

Ages: All ages. I’ve taken my kids when they were toddlers and now that they’re grade school age, they appreciate it even more.The setting is casual, the music is familiar, and there are costumes every where. Super kid-friendly.

Tickets: $12 through Ticket Omaha

Tip: Read my review of a previous Symphony Spooktacular so you know what to expect – like how early you should arrive to enjoy pre-show activities!

 

“Van Gogh and Me”

When: Nov. 3-12

Where: The Rose

Ages: This one’s great for middle schoolers and high school students.

Tickets: $20 through the theater

Discounts: Find discount vouchers at HyVee food stores’ customer service desks.

 

Omaha Performing Arts presents “Disney’s The Little Mermaid

When: Nov. 7-12

Where: Orpheum Theater

Ages: Early grade school and older. Being a Broadway production, gauge how well your child can sit through a lengthy production (a good bet is that it will be at least two and a half hours long). 

Tickets: Season tickets available now; individual tickets go on sale at a later date

 

“PJ Masks Live: Time To Be A Hero”

When: Nov. 20

Where: Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St., Ralston, Neb.

Ages: All ages, but probably most appealing to the preschool and early grade school crowd.

Tickets: $25-$99 through the arena

 

“The 39 Steps”

When: Nov. 24 through Dec. 17

Where: Blue Barn Theater

Ages: Parents, use your judgement on this one. It’s probably best for teens and adults. I saw it the last time Blue Barn performed it and it was a lot of fun, but not something I’d take my kids to.

Tickets: $30 for general admission, $25 for students through the theater

 

Post-show treats: You’ve picked the show you want to attend, now start planning where you’ll go for treats afterward. Here’s a list of my favorite places to go for post-theater treats like ice cream and pastries.

 

Learn more about these venues and presenters at:

Ballet Nebraska

Blue Barn Theatre

CenturyLink Center

Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha Performing Arts

Omaha Symphony

Ralston Arena

The Rose

 

Giveaway!

Want to go to one of these shows with your family? Three families are going to win tickets to a show! Use the Rafflecopter entry form for your chance to win a four-pack of tickets to one of the following awesome fall shows: Four (4) tickets to Omaha Symphony’s Symphony Spooktacular Superheroes!; four (4) tickets to winner’s choice of a show at The Rose, either “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure” or “Van Gogh and Me”; or four (4) tickets to Ballet Nebraska’s “Momentum: Fosse Style!” Giveaway ends Sunday, Sept. 3, at 11:59 p.m. Three winners will be randomly chosen within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway, and will be contacted via email to claim their prize. Winners have 48 hours to respond to the email before another winner is chosen. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Sorry, no exchanges on the prize awarded to each winner.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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July 21, 2017

Harry Potter Events In Omaha

This summer, “Harry Potter” turned 20. It’s hard to believe the first book printed 20 years ago, but there you go. We’re all old.

Anyway, Harry Potter is on everyone’s mind. If you’re a fan, and you live in Omaha, you’re in luck. You can celebrate all things Potter over these next few months. Here are some Harry Potter-themed events in the Omaha metro:

Forever Young Family & Children’s Series: “20 Years of Harry Potter”

When: “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone,” July 29 and 30; “Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets,” Aug. 3 and 5; “Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban,” Aug. 6 and 10; “Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix,” Aug. 17 and 19; “Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince,” Aug.  17 and 19; “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” Aug. 26 and 27; “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” Aug. 27

Where: Film Streams’ Ruth Sokolof Theater, 1340 Mike Fahey St.

Cost: $9 general; $7 for seniors, students, teachers, military and those traveling to the theater by bicycle; $4.50 for Film Streams members; $2.50 for children ages 12 and under (July 29 screening is FREE). Tickets may be purchased at the box office.

 

Harry Potter Night at The Storm Chasers Game

When: Aug. 4, 7:05 p.m.

Where: Werner Park

Cost: $9 for berm seats, other seats range from $11-$28

 

Escape From Azkaban – Adult Night

When: Oct. 28, 8 to 11 p.m.

Where: Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.

Cost: $20 per person for members, $35 for non-members (must be 18+). Tickets are available here.

 

Omaha Symphony’s Movie Music Series: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™” In Concert

When: Nov. 25, 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 26, 2 p.m.

Where: Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.

Cost: $19 to $79. Individual tickets pre-sale is July 31 from 10 a.m. to midnight; regular on-sale is Aug. 14. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone, or in-person at the Holland Center box office.

 

Wizard’s Yule Ball

When: Dec. 4, 6 to 10:30 p.m.

Where: TBD

Cost: $10 per person or $20 for four; children younger than4 admitted FREE. Adult tickets go up to $15 after Nov. 1

 

Know of a Harry Potter-themed event? Leave a comment and let me know! I’ll add it to the list.

 

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July 18, 2017

40+ Great Events In August For Families In Omaha

Summer’s not over yet! Get and have some fun with the following family-friendly events in August happening all around the Omaha metro area.

Looking for FREE movies and concerts this summer? Head over to the post 100+ Free Summer Movies & Concerts. Prefer nature to the crowds at events? Here are 7 Favorite Trails Near Omaha.

Neighborhood Night Out

When: Aug. 1, 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Where: Kids Can Community Center, 4860 Q St.

Cost: FREE

 

National Night Out

When: Aug. 1, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Charles B. Washington Branch, 2868 Ames Ave.

Cost: FREE

 

Crafty Tots: Caterpillars

When: Wednesdays, Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, 11 to 11:30 a.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Saddlebrook Branch

Cost: FREE

 

Zoo Member Appreciation Days

When: Aug. 2 (last names M-Z), 1:30 to 7 p.m.

Where: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St.

Cost: FREE for members; regular zoo admission applies to non-members

 

Back to School: Weights and Measures at Wenninghoff Farm

When: Aug. 4, 10 to 11 a.m.

Where: Wenninghoff Farms, 6707 Wenninghoff Road

Cost: FREE

 

Out & About Storytime

When: Aug. 4, 10:15 a.m. (Aromas Coffeehouse at Flagship Commons); Aug. 4, 10:30 a.m. (Azria Health Montclair); Aug. 7, 10:30 a.m. (Chalco Hills Natural Resources Center); Aug. 15, 10:30 a.m. (Joslyn Art Museum); Aug. 25, 10:30 a.m. (Do Space)

Where: Various locations

Cost: FREE

 

AIM’s Amazing Tech Race

When: Aug. 4, noon to 4 p.m.

Where: AIM Brain Exchange, 1902 Howard St.

Cost: FREE (must pre-registers; for ages 4-17; must be accompanied by adults)

 

Party in the Park/Playground Grand Opening

When: Aug. 4, 4 to 7 p.m.

Where: Hanscom Park, 3201 Woolworth Ave.

Cost: FREE

 

Back to School Bash

When: Aug. 5 and 6, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St.

Cost: Included with regular zoo admission, which is $19.95 for adults (ages 12+), $18.95 for seniors (65+), $18.95 for military adults (ages 12+), $13.95 for kids (ages 3-11), and $12.95 for military kids (ages 3-11), and FREE for zoo members.

 

Community Wellness Bash

When: Aug. 5, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Bayliss Park, 530 First Ave., Council Bluffs, Iowa

Cost: FREE

 

Family Fun Carnival

When: Aug. 5, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, 28210 West Park Highway, Ashland, Neb.

Cost: Included with admission, which is $12, adults; $11, seniors/military; $6, children (ages 4-12); and FREE for children 3 and younger

 

Root Beer Float Day

When: Aug. 5, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

Cost: FREE root beer float; cost of admission applies ($11 for adults, $8 for seniors, $7 for children (ages 3-12), and FREE for children younger than 2)

 

Nebraska Farm & Family Day

When: Aug. 5, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th St.

Cost: FREE

 

Going Buggy

When: Aug. 5, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari, 16406 N. 292 St., Ashland, Neb.

Cost: Included with admission, which is $7.50 adults (12 and over), $6.50 military adult; $5.50 children (3-11), $5.50 military child; $6.50 seniors (65 and over), $5.50 military senior; and FREE for children 2 and younger

 

Popping Dance Class

When: Aug. 5, 2 to 3:15 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Milton R. Abrahams Branch

Cost: FREE (for ages 10+)

 

Fairytale Ball

When: Aug. 5, 6 to 9 p.m.

Where: Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.

Cost: $20 per person for members and $35 per person for non-members

 

Moon-day Afternoon

When: Aug. 7, 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Where: South Omaha Library, 2808 Q St.

Cost: FREE

 

Solar Powered S’mores Teen Event

When: Aug. 10, 4 to 5 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Charles B. Washington Branch, 2868 Ames Ave.

Cost: FREE

 

North Omaha Summer Arts Crawl

When: Aug. 11 (reception at 5:30 p.m. at Omaha Public Library George B. Washington Branch)

Where: Various venues along North 30th Street and nearby

Cost: FREE

 

Ribfest

When: Aug. 11-13; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park, east side of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Cost: FREE on Friday and Saturday until 5 p.m. and then $5 after 5 p.m., FREE all day Sunday

 

Board Game Party

When: Aug. 12, 1 to 3 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library A.V. Sorensen Branch, 4808 Cass St.

Cost: FREE

 

BSC Block Party

When: Aug. 12, 3 to 9 p.m.

Where: Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, 7706 S. 96th St., La Vista, Neb.

Cost: FREE

 

Night Sky – Perseid Meteor Shower

When: Aug. 12, meet at 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, Iowa

Cost: No additional fees, but must pay park admission per vehicle

 

S.T.E.A.M. Stations

When: Aug. 16, 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Milton R. Abrahams Branch

Cost: FREE (for elementary & middle school aged students)

 

Omaha’s Original Greek Festival

When: Aug. 18-20; Friday from 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church, 602 Park Ave.

Cost: $3 for adults, FREE for children 12 and younger

 

Gifford Farm Teacher Appreciation Night

When: Aug. 19, 6 to 9 p.m.

Where: Gifford Farm Education Center, 700 Camp Gifford Road, Bellevue, Neb.

Cost: $5 for ages 2 and older; teachers and three family members get in FREE

 

Get Smart: Robotics

When: Aug. 12, 10 to 11 a.m.

Where: Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, 28210 West Park Highway, Ashland, Neb.

Cost: Included with museum admission

 

Pokemon Party

When: Aug. 18, 2 to 4 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Florence Branch, 2920 Bondesson St.

Cost: FREE

 

Constellation Viewing at Neale Woods

When: Aug. 18, 8 to 11 p.m.

Where: Neale Woods Nature Center, 14323 Edith Marie Ave.

Cost: Included with daily admission

 

Council Bluffs Zombie Walk

When: Aug. 19, noon to 5 p.m.

Where: Bayliss Park, 599 First Ave., Council Bluffs, Iowa

Cost: FREE

 

Vintage Wheels at The Fort

When: Aug. 20, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Historic Fort Omaha; 30th and Fort streets

Cost: FREE

 

WorldFest Days

When: Aug. 20 and 27, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Aug. 20 – Yantai, China; Xalapa, Mexico; and Siauliai, Lithuania; Aug. 27 – Shizuoka, Japan; Naas, Ireland; and Braunschweig, Germany)

Where: Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.

Cost: Included with admission, which is $12 general admission, $11 for seniors, and FREE for children under 2 and members

 

Back to Homeschooling Ice Cream Social

When: Aug. 22, 1 to 2 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Milton R. Abrahams Branch, 5111 N. 90th St.

Cost: FREE

 

National Waffle Day Teen Event

When: Aug. 24, 4 to 5 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Charles B. Washington Branch, 2868 Ames Ave.

Cost: FREE

 

Midwest Pirate Festival

When: Aug. 26 and 27, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch, 11001 S. 48th St., Papillion, Neb.

Cost: $7 for children and $10 for adults

 

Opera Outdoors

When: Aug. 26, 7:30 p.m. (Kids zone and lawn games start at 5:30 p.m.)

Where: Turner Park at Midtown Crossing, 33rd and Farnam streets

Cost: FREE

 

Autism Night

When: Aug. 27, 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Where: Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.

Cost: FREE (pre-register with Autism Action Partnership)

 

More Fun Events In August

The following events are on-going, or had started in a previous month:

Movies in the Park

When: Through Aug. 4, dusk; July 7 (“Sing”); July 14 (“Finding Dory”); July 21 (“Doctor Strange”), July 28 (“Jungle Book”), Aug. 4 (“The Great Gilly Hopkins”)

Where: Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs

Cost: FREE

 

“Fairytale Land”

When: Through Aug. 6

Where: Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.

Cost: Included with museum admission, which is $12 for ages 2+; $11 for seniors, and FREE for children younger than 2

 

Kids Dream Summer Film Series

When: Through Aug. 16 at 10 a.m.; July 30-31, Aug 2 (TBD); Aug. 6-7, 9 (“Storks”); and Aug. 13-14, 16 (TBD)

Where: Majestic Cinema of Omaha, 14304 West Maple Road; Village Pointe Cinema,  304 N. 174th St.; and Twin Creek Cinema, 3909 Raynor Parkway,  Bellevue, Neb.

Cost: $3

 

Forever Young Family & Children’s Series: “ “20 Years of Harry Potter”

When: Through Aug. 27; “Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets,” Aug. 3 and 5; “Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban,” Aug. 6 and 10; “Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix,” Aug. 17 and 19; “Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince,” Aug.  17 and 19; “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” Aug. 26 and 27; “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” Aug. 27

Where: Film Streams’ Ruth Sokolof Theater, 1340 Mike Fahey St.

Cost: $9 general; $7 for seniors, students, teachers, military and those traveling to the theater by bicycle; $4.50 for Film Streams members; $2.50 for children ages 12 and under (July 29 screening is FREE)

 

Omaha Farmers Market – Charles Drew Health Center

When: Wednesdays, through Aug. 30, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Where: Charles Drew Health Center, 30th and Grant streets

Cost: FREE

 

“Dinosaur Safari”

When: Through Sept. 3

Where: Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.

Cost: Included with museum admission, which is $12 for ages 2+; $11 for seniors, and FREE for children younger than 2

 

“Glorious Flights: Illustration Art of Alice and Martin Provensen”

When: Through Sept. 3

Where: Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge. St.

Cost: FREE

 

“Top Secret: License To Spy”

When: Through Sept. 17

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

Cost: Included with museum admission, which is $11 for adults, $8 for seniors, $7 for children (ages 3-12), and FREE for children younger than 2

 

“KINETIC”

When: Through Oct. 14; Tuesday – Friday, noon to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: KANEKO, 1111 Jones St.

Cost: FREE

See my video on the exhibit here!

 

Toddler Tuesdays

When: Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. to noon

Where: Where: The Salvation Army Kroc Center, 2825 Y St. (gym or at the pool starting at 10:30)

Cost: FREE for members; non-members participate by paying a $4 activity fee for your toddler (age 9 months to 4 years) and the attending parent is FREE.

 

Inflatable Fridays

When: Fridays, 4 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: The Salvation Army Kroc Center, 2825 Y St.

Cost: FREE to members; non-members pay daily entry fee of $5 per youth, $7 per adults

 

Omaha Farmers Market – Old Market

When: Saturdays, Oct. 14, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: 11th and Jackson streets

Cost: FREE

 

Kidz Kayak Racing

When: Saturdays, 2 to 4 p.m.

Where: The Salvation Army Kroc Center, 2825 Y St.

Cost: FREE to members; non-members pay daily entry fee of $5 per youth, $7 per adults (for ages 8-12)

 

Arts for All

When: Saturdays, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Where: Omaha South Public Library, 2808 Q St.

Cost: FREE (ages 8-12, registration required)

 

Omaha Farmers Market – Aksarben Village

When: Sundays, through Oct. 15, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Aksarben Village, 67th and Center streets

Cost: FREE

 

Sunday Funday

When: Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m.

Where: The Salvation Army Kroc Center, 2825 Y St.

Cost: FREE to members; non-members pay daily entry fee of $5 per youth, $7 per adults (for ages 8-12)

 

Want more ideas? Follow me on Pinterest, or just check out this Pinterest board:

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July 14, 2017

Lost Restaurants Of Omaha

I’ve written a book, you guys, and it’s about to be published! Here’s the first glimpse of “Lost Restaurants of Omaha,” set to be published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press on Oct. 30, 2017. 

Lost Restaurants of Omaha cover

This has been a labor of love for over a year. I’ve interviewed a number of families and friends connected to some of Omaha’s most beloved restaurants; scoured hundreds of newspaper, magazines and books; and one time, chatted on the phone with Alexander Payne during my son’s 7th birthday. True story.

This is what book research looks like at Louie M’s Burger Lust. Louie Marcuzzo’s grandma opened Italian Gardens in Little Italy, a restaurant that was bombed days before opening.

There are some incredible photos in the book, too, and I want to express my appreciation for the folks at The Durham Museum Photo Archive, who not only helped me search for photos properly, but helped make it affordable to secure the rights to use the images. You can browse their archives, too, and even reprint photos for your own use. 

Researching this book made made me realize how connected restaurants are to this city’s history. Many of the restaurants in this book were open during my lifetime and, yet, I never dined there. My hope is that what I’ve written will recreate some of those dining experiences for those who did make it to those restaurants, and inform the rest of us what we missed. Writing this book spurred the Old School Omaha dining series on this blog where I visited some of Omaha’s oldest restaurants, because I don’t want to realize too late that I missed visiting a gem in my own city.

Stay tuned for details on the book release, book signings and more!

July 10, 2017

7 Favorite Trails Near Omaha

Stumped on where to go for your next family hike? Here are seven of my family’s favorite trails near Omaha to inspire your next outdoor adventure:

Heron Haven

A limestone crushed trail at Heron Haven, located in the center of Omaha.

Where: Omaha city limits

Why: Head here if you want a taste of nature but you’re short on time. This pretty wetland sanctuary in the heart of the city feels like an escape once you’re in the thick of it, but it’s not very large (so it’s great for little legs). Definitely venture to the little boardwalk over the pond. Read more about Heron Haven here.

Tip: Heron Haven has monthly kids on the second Saturday of the month.

 

Hummel Park

One of the new slides at Hummel Park in Omaha.

Where: Omaha city limits

Why: This city park has easy to somewhat difficult trails, plus a nice visitor center. There are some interesting features on trails, like the stairs that no one seems to agree on the number of them, plus two cool new slides. 

Trail map

Tip: Omaha City Parks & Recreation holds quite a few FREE activities each year, that you should check out! My family has done a firefly night event and the Halloween themed one.

 

Fontenelle Forest

The entrance to Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Woodland Refuge in Bellevue, Neb.

Where: Bellevue, Neb. (about a 10-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: Fontenelle Forest has 26 miles of trails, including the area’s best accessible boardwalk that makes it easy for wheelchairs and strollers to go deep into the woods. They also have Acorn Acres, a great children’s outdoor playscape, and the new Raptor Woodland Refuge space that my kids insist we see each time we’re there.

Tip: While these trails have more signs posted than others, grab a map before heading out on your hike.

 

Hitchcock Nature Center

An easy trail at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa.

Where: Honey Creek, Iowa (about a 20-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: This park tucked in the Loess Hills is beautiful in any season. You’ll find 10 miles of trails with a good mix of easy ridge lines and difficult, rugged trails, plus an accessible boardwalk. The visitor center is top-notch, and there’s a lookout tower that kids enjoy. Time a visit well and participate in the Hawk Watch. Read more about fall at Hitchcock here.

Trail map

Tip: Check out a backpack at the visitor center. They’re free to borrow, and include kid-friendly items to enhance your hike.

 

Arbor Day Farms Tree Adventure

One of the bridges found along the trail at the Tree Adventure.

Where: Nebraska City, Neb. (about a 50-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: The South Table Creek Trail at the Tree Adventure is a favorite of my family. It has a couple bridges, some fun kids structures, and a bird sculpture-spotting game. In addition to the trail, we love the outdoor education center and tree house there. Read more about the Tree Adventure here. There is a paved trail and a dirt trail here.

Tip: There are frequent special events held at the Tree Adventure, so check the calendar to time a fun visit. We visited one time when there was a gnome scavenger hunt!

 

Platte River State Park

This waterfall at Platte River State Park is my favorite destination of any Omaha metro trail.

Where: Louisville, Neb. (about 30-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: This is one of my family’s favorite Nebraska State Park, with a good variety of easy to difficult trails. A favorite is the very short, flat trail to a waterfall. It’s a tough call which park, Platte River or Hitchcock, have the best terrain for hikes out of this list. Read more about Platte River State Park here.

Interactive trail map for NE state parks

Tip: Bring a map with you when exploring these trails. There aren’t a whole lot of signs out there, and you can end up taking a much longer hike than anticipated.

 

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Exploring the easy-to-hike trails near the lookout tower. If you time it right, you can catch a nice view of passing trains.

Where: Ashland, Neb. (about 30-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: This state park is full of things to do. It’s not a particular great place for hiking, but there are some trails and they are pretty easy. There’s a paved path around the park, too, though it’s not very shade. One highlight for kids is the trail near the lookout tower, which leads you to an overlook where you might catch a train passing by.

Interactive trail map for NE state parks

Tip: Bring a swimsuit and cool off at the park’s amazing aquatic center after your hike. Or, keep the trail theme going and go on a horseback ride at Mahoney.

 

Want MORE ideas for hikes? Read 3 Places To Hike In The Loess Hills!

 

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July 3, 2017

Urban Walking Labyrinth In Omaha

My family stumbled upon a map for the Urban Walking Labyrinth at Urban Abbey.

Curious thing to find, right? Sounded like an adventure.

My son was the map keeper and read the quotes at each stop of the Urban Walking Labyrinth.

On a whim, we decided to try it out.

Was it a walk full of adventure? Not so much.

Did we see things in our own city that we hadn’t noticed before? Definitely.

Side note: If you haven’t been to Urban Abbey, go check them out! It’s a bookstore/cafe/gathering place in the Old Market, and I love it.

About the Urban Walking Labyrinth

My kids using two maps to complete this walking tour through the Old Market.

The map for the labyrinth in Omaha guides you on a simple walk around the Old Market. There’s no actual labyrinth hidden in Omaha. At each stop, the map has a quote for you to read and ponder. Like a labyrinth, though, you don’t walk a direct route from start to finish.

“Walk slowly. Don’t rush. Each step brings you to the best moment of your life, the present moment.’

-a quote by thich nhat nanh to be read at the J’s on Jackson stop of the walk

The quotes you read along the route were about love, peace and kindness, with a nondenominational religious slant. Our kids are a bit young to get all philosophical with us, so we didn’t dwell much at each stop.

If you haven’t been to the Old Market in a while, this is a good way to discover or rediscover some places. We found a wall of records that my kids had never noticed, and I’ve honestly, just overlooked all these years.

Have these bent records been on this wall this whole time? I’ve lived and worked near the Old Market for more than a decade and I do not recall. Find them on the southeast corner of 12th and Jackson streets.

This is a walk best done on your own, if you ask me, or at least, with other contemplative adults. Maybe your kids like maps, maybe they’re little philosophers… go ahead and bring them! This walk is more of an excuse just to explore the city in a different way.

Want another downtown walk idea? Check out my post on the Omaha Art Walk!

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