June 19, 2017

Hotel RL – A Fun Place To Stay In Omaha

Love a good makeover story? The new Hotel RL Omaha is in the process of remodeling the Midtown Omaha hotel connected to CoCo Key Water Resort, and the result (so far) is beautiful.

I was invited to enjoy a stay there with my family to get a feel for the new place and share it with you. Hotel RL is part of the Red Lion brand.

Hotel RL Lobby & Living Space

Hotel RL Omaha lobby

Hotel RL Omaha has a lobby straight out of a design magazine.

The lobby and vast open space in the hotel is where you’ll see the most impressive updates. The lobby is a study in Instagrammable space. It’s so stylish.

Move on and you’ll find a coffee shop, bar, and The Living Stage. The Living Stage is a performance space for variety of styles. The night we were there, a band performed. See a calendar of upcoming performances here.

Kids and adults love to play the huge chess game in Hotel RL’s Living Stage area.

The thing families will want to note is that The Living Stage is a strictly-enforced 18 and older space in the evening. Look for posted signs to see when that curfew is the night you’re there.

But the rest of the day, the kids will enjoy the over-sized chess board and climbing the pyramid-like stairs.

Once you venture toward the conference room area (especially, when you’re making your way to CoCo Key), you’ll see some areas that haven’t been remodeled yet.

The Rooms at Hotel RL

When renovations are complete at Hotel RL Omaha, rooms will look like this stylish model room I visited during our stay.

The remodel process isn’t complete, and so, you’re not going to see much change to the rooms, yet. But check out what’s to come.

The sliding door to the bathroom is pretty cool, but I also want to point out that the rooms will be decorated with Nebraska-inspired artwork. Nice touch.

The room we stayed in was a suite, providing a lot of space for my hotel-crazed kids. We had two queen-sized beds, plus a sofa bed. The tub is large.

We had a room facing the large open space, so we didn’t have the benefit of outside light brightening up the room.

The kids had to test out the beds immediately upon entering our hotel room.

Our room also had a mini fridge and microwave, which is handy if you’re staying for a few days.

Dining at Hotel RL

The Castaways dining room at Hotel RL Omaha.

There’s one restaurants in the huge Hotel RL called Castaways. The name and comical sign doesn’t do the restaurant any service. It was a surprisingly good hotel restaurant, with reasonably priced dinners (especially the kids meals). I tried fish and chips, and sampled a bit of Mr. Wonderful’s pulled pork sandwich. Everything was seasoned well, and the fries were spot on.

Breakfast buffet fresh picks. Kids under 5 eat free for the breakfast buffet.

Breakfast was buffet-only, but here’s a good deal: Kids under 5 eat free. Adults are $12. There weren’t any surprises there, your usual spread of hot food likes eggs and bacon. However, I loved the abundant fresh fruit. The kids, naturally, loved the variety of donuts. The coffee was disappointing.

About CoCo Key Water Resort

CoCo Key Water Resort is the best indoor water park in Omaha, in my opinion.

If you’re staying at the hotel and you have kids with you, you can’t skip the indoor water park, CoCo Key. It’s pretty fantastic. You get a pretty good deal if you get a room and add tickets to it.

We were staying only one night, but fit in two trips to the water park. 

We spent most of our time in the lazy river, and trying out the single and double-tube water slides. The huge play area with the giant bucket of water dumping out occasionally overwhelmed the kids at first, but they eventually found a way to avoid the bucket and enjoy all the water slides in that area.

Relaxing on a lazy river at CoCo Key in Omaha.

 

Tip: It’s a bit of a walk bit from the hotel rooms to the water park, but definitely manageable. You can also drive over to the entrance. No need to bring towels from your room.

You don’t have to be a hotel guest to go to CoCo Key, and in fact, I bet a lot of people there were day visitors. If you’re a day visitor, bring a towel.

There is a restaurant and bar at CoCo Key, but the service was so slow to get food, I didn’t last long waiting before we left to eat elsewhere. 

There’s an arcade between the water park and the hotel. Good luck walking through there without stopping.

If you walk from your hotel room to CoCo Key, you’ll have to pass through the danger zone: An arcade.

What’s Near Hotel RL Omaha

Aksarben Village is pretty near Hotel RL Omaha. This park at Aksarben Village (called Stinson Park) has a sandless playground, a small sprayground and amphitheater, plus it’s near several stores and restaurants.

Hotel RL is just off Interstate 80, making it ideal for family vacationers who want to get places like Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Lauritzen Gardens, and further afield to the Old Market. It’s also makes a trip out west to Strategic Air & Space Museum a little more manageable. 

Close to the hotel, families have a few options for fun. It’s not far from Aksarben Village with its shops, playground, movie theater, and frequent fun events on the weekends. Cupcake fans will like that Jones Bros. Cupcakes is in that area. It’s also close to Baxter Arena, where if you time a visit well, you can catch a hockey game or sweet concert.

If you go

Hotel RL Omaha

Where: 3321 S. 72nd St.

Cost: You can book room-only, or look into family-friendly packages that include water park passes for four (starting at $189/night) or a zoo package. Definitely look around the packages offered because there are some incredibly low rates to introduce you to the hotel, well below $100! Add 4 CoCo Key passes to your hotel stay for $60 if you don’t have a water park package (this $60 bundle is only good for one day of admission).

Book a room

 

Disclosure: My stay at Hotel RL Omaha was hosted by the hotel. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

June 14, 2017

Kids & The Durham Museum’s ‘Top Secret’ Exhibit

We’re at the Durham Museum often because it’s a fun place to take kids (here’s my guide for bringing kids to the Durham Museum). Every new temporary exhibit is a great excuse to return. This summer, there’s an exhibit unlike any other we’ve seen called “Top Secret: License to Spy.”

I was invited to check out the exhibit with my kids so I can report back to you about the experience.

Think you have what it takes to be a secret agent? Head to the Durham Museum this summer and visit “Top Secret: License to Spy.”

Wondering if “Top Secret” is kid-friendly?

Wondering if a family can easily solve the case?

Read on!

 

The Concept Behind “Top Secret: License to Spy”

Top Secret at Durham Museum

Spy gadgets! This room’s challenge was tough for my little ones (you had to find the four hidden cameras). Photo courtesy Durham Museum

The concept of this summer exhibit is brilliant: Visitors take on the role as spies, and as you move through the exhibit, you use different spy equipment or techniques to gather clues to solve the case. You’re supposed to figure out who stole the most powerful computer chip in the world and why.

When you complete the mission, you go to the final stop, the Debriefing Room, to see if you were right.

 

Into the exhibit

Instructions for one of the areas in the “Top Secret” exhibit at The Durham. In case you were wondering, it’s a lot harder than it looks to spy on someone with a laser listener.

“Top Secret: License to Spy” sounds like a fun exhibit for families, and it is, but it’s not for all ages. Why? Little ones who can’t read or who get spooked by dim lighting may not enjoy it as much as older kids.

My 5-year-old was easily frustrated with challenges and started to get anxious at every turn. Perhaps it seemed too real for her?

She most definitely did not like the looks of the laser room. Even when I showed her how to do it, she refused to go in there thinking they were real lasers (full disclosure: It was more like I showed her how not to do it. I’m not flexible at all).

In “Top Secret” at the Durham Museum, you can pretend to be a spy and try to make your way through a room of lasers. Photo courtesy the Durham Museum

My 7-year-old wanted to try everything in this exhibit. Sometimes he needed my help or subtle nudge on noticing a clue; other times, he was on it. I think the older the kid, the more they’re going to love this.

Just based on my observation, it looked like the Code Room was the most popular area in the entire exhibit. It was packed when we went in. There are several codes to break in that one room, and each provide a little clue to who the suspect is.

Every kid visiting the exhibit seemed to want to be in the Code Room at the same time. It’s understandable, these codes were fun to try to crack.

The most popular area in the exhibit for my family didn’t actually help us solve the case, but it did help us craft some awesome disguises.

My son’s spy disguise is top notch.

By the way, I totally solved the case. I’d make an excellent secret agent.

For the little ones

“Top Secret: License to Spy” can be a little challenging for youngsters, so there are a few activities that are more of their speed. Plan your visit to be around 10:30 a.m. on the second or fourth Wednesday of the month (June-August), and your little one can enjoy Top Secret For Tots. The program includes a story and craft, and it’s included with museum admission.

Pick up a scavenger hunt from the information desk in the Durham Museum lobby, then see if you can find the clues.

There’s also a fun scavenger hunt going on this summer. Pick up a sheet and pencil at the welcome desk to get started. The hunt will lead you through some of the permanent exhibits to search for clues.

This one was more of my kids’ speed and they knew the exhibits we needed to go to based on the clues. I had to help decipher the code.

Once finished, the kids returned their sheet to the welcome desk to get their surprise.

If you go

“Top Secret: License to Spy”

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

When: Now through Sept. 17, 2017; during regular museum hours

Special events: There are special programs planned through the exhibit’s run. Visit this page to learn more.

Website

 

Disclosure: I was provided complimentary admission to the museum so I could review this exhibit. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

June 5, 2017

Old School Omaha: Nitehawkes Cafe

Kim’s Note: While working on a book about Omaha restaurants that have closed, I started to notice a trend about the more recently shuttered spots. I hadn’t dined at most of them, and I missed out on some gems. So I’ve decided to make it a goal to visit Omaha’s oldest restaurants before any more shut down. Don’t miss the other posts in the series, Gorat’s Steakhouse, Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria and Johnny’s Cafe.

It’s about time I got a breakfast out of this oldest restaurants series! NiteHawkes Cafe serves breakfast and lunch, but, I’m always on the look for a new place to try for breakfast. So, we headed up to North Omaha to try this long-running diner.

This family owned restaurant (the Hawkes family, if you’re wondering) has been around since 1942. They serve breakfast and lunch, with the made-to-order breakfast menu available that entire time.

Nitehawkes Cafe

A busy parking lot is a good sign for a local restaurant.

My kind of place.

Atmosphere at NiteHawkes

The exterior isn’t much to write home about, nor is the interior. It is more spacious than you’d think, once you’re inside, and on the Saturday morning of our visit, it looked like there were regulars all around us.

I bet this place gets pretty busy on a weekend morning.

There’s a small counter near the kitchen that added some interest to the interior, but other than that, not much made this place standout.

It’s no Johnny’s Cafe when it comes to decor, is what I’m saying.

The food at NiteHawkes

You’d better arrive hungry at NiteHawkes Cafe. This is The Scrambler and it comes with either pancakes or toast. Go big or go home.

I ordered one of their specialties (“Hometown Favorites” on the menu), and Mr. Wonderful order another. We went big, because, why not. I tried The Scrambler with toast, justifying the gravy and hashbrowns because of all the vegetables that were added to it. Legit, right?

Mr. Wonderful had The Stacker, which is eggs, hashbrowns and gravy over some flaky biscuits. 

I’m not much of a gravy person, but the sausage gravy was what made both dishes.

M&Ms on my kids’ pancakes because the syrup was just not enough sugar. 🙂

The kids each got a smiley face pancake with a side of bacon. For $2.69 a plate, that was a great deal.

If you’re serious about your coffee, relax. It’s pretty good here.

Good coffee elevates a diner to a whole new level.

I can’t vouch for the quality of lunch food. I can tell you it’s what you’d expect for a diner: Sandwiches, a good variety of grilled foods, soups and salads. There are some interesting burger toppings to point out: There’s the Dan Special which includes some Royal French dressing on top, and The Big Hawkes Burger, with 1000 Island dressing on it. I’m pretty curious about the dressings, that’s for sure.

Overall experiences

Hanging out at the Nitehawkes Cafe counter.

The NiteHawkes Cafe is the quintessential diner – no frills, just good, straight-forward food. The price is about right for a diner and the service was quick.

There’s little wonder why this restaurant has stayed in business for so long.

If you go

Nitehawkes Cafe

Where: 4825 N. 16th St.

When: Tuesdays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and closed on Mondays

Website

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May 25, 2017

Fun Summer Events In Omaha This June

Summer is the best time to get out and explore Omaha. Looking for a memorable night in Omaha? This list has a lot of them. If you’re looking for free things to do in Omaha, you’re also in the right place – there are a lot of free summer events in Omaha this June for families!

Want more ideas? See this list of 100+ FREE movies and concerts this summer!

summer events Omaha

Forever Young Family & Children’s Series: “The Witches”

When: June 1, 3, 4 and 8

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

 

Kids Fun Fare

When: June 1 (Omaha Children’s Museum Amazing Bubble Show), June 8 (Jeff Quinn, magician),June 15 (Raptor Recovery),June 22 (Omaha Children’s Museum Whiz Bang Science Show), June 29 (Wildlife Encounters), July 6 (Omaha Children’s Museum Mad Scientist Show), July 13 (Lemon Days – Meet Peppa Pig), July 20 (Jef Quinn, magician), and July 27 (Omaha Street Percussion) ; 10 to 11 a.m.

Where: Regency Court, 120 Regency Parkway

Cost: FREE

 

“Peter Pan”

When: June 2-18; performances are Fridays, 7 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, 2 p.m. (June 10 is an autism-friendly show)

Where: Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.

Cost: $27 for non-members, $20 for members (Main Floor); $22 for non-members, $15 for members (Balcony)

 

“Ticket to Ride! Family Night At The Museum”

When: June 2, 5 to 7 p.m.

Where: Union Pacific Railroad Museum, 200 Pearl St., Council Bluffs, Iowa

Cost: FREE

 

Starlight Movie “The Jungle Book”

When: June 2, 9 p.m. (“Jungle Book”), and June 30, 9:15 p.m. (“Pete’s Dragon,”)

Where: Sumtur Amphitheater, 11691 S. 108th St., Papillion, Neb.

Cost: FREE

 

Omaha Superheroes Unite!

When: June 3, 7:45 to 10 a.m.

Where: Village Pointe, 17305 Davenport St.

Cost: FREE

 

Seuss on the Loose 5K Character Run

When: June 3, 9 a.m.

Where: Iowa School for the Deaf, 3501 Harry Langdon Blvd.

Cost: $35 for 5K, $10 for kids fun run

 

Croakers in the Creek

When: June 3, 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

 

Fishing Derby

When: June 3, 1 to 3 p.m.

Where: Arrowhead Park, 29357 310th St., Neola, Iowa

Cost: FREE (cars need a Pottawattamie County parks permit or pay $2 daily vehicle entry fee)

 

Family Fun Festival

When: June 3, 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: Hy-Vee, 156th and Maple streets

Cost: FREE

 

“Rent”

When: June 3-4; performances are Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, 1:30 p.m.

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

Cost: $40-$130

 

Do Space Summer Youth Tours

When: June 5, 12, 19 and 26 (activity choice of Unplugged Programming and How to Invent) and July 10, 17, 24 and 31 (activity choice of Coding Robots or Electric Origami)

Where: Do Space, 7205 Dodge St.

Cost: FREE (for ages 6-12 and their chaperones)

 

Monday Night at the Movies

When: June 5 through July 31, dusk; June 5 (“Moana”), June 12 (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), June 19 (“The Wiz”), June 26 (“Angels in the Outfield”), July 3 (“La La Land”), July 10 (“Captain America: Civil War”), July 17 (Student Choice Week), July 24 (“Casablanca”), July 31 (“Finding Dory”)

Where: Turner Park at Midtown Crossing

Cost: FREE

 

Movie Day featuring “The Secret Life of Pets”

When: June 6, 1 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Sorensen branch,

Cost: FREE

 

Jeff Quinn Magic Show

When: June 7, 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. (Saddlebrook); June 8, 2 to 3 p.m. (Abrahams); June 13, 2 to 2:45 p.m. (Willa Cather); June 15, 1 to 2 p.m. (Bess Johnson); June 27, 1 to 1:45 p.m. (Florence)

Where: Various Omaha Public Library locations

Cost: FREE

 

Family Fishing Night

When: June 7, 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Benson Park, 7028 Military Ave.

Cost: FREE

 

Omaha Summer Arts Festival

When: June 9-11; artists’ market open Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and children’s fair is Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Farnam Street from 10th to 15th streets

Cost: FREE (some activities in the children’s fair may cost a fee)

 

Clifford Storytime

When: June 9, 10 a.m. (Saddlebrook); June 10, 10:30 a.m. (Millard); June 12, 10:30 a.m. (Abrahams); June 13, 10 a.m. (Elkhorn); June 14, 10:30 a.m. (Willa Cather); June 15, 10:30 a.m. (Benson); June 16, 10:30 a.m. (Florence); and June 17, 10:30 a.m. (Sorensen)

Where: Various Omaha Public Library branches

Cost: FREE

 

Movies in the Park

When: June 9 through Aug. 4, dusk; June 9 (“Beauty and the Beast”); June 16 (“Ghostbusters: Answer the Call”); June 23 (“Secret Life of Pets”); June 30 (“Trolls”); 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

 

Sand in the City

When: June 10 and 11; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Baxter Arena, 2425 S. 67th St.

Cost: FREE (suggested donation of $5 per family)

 

Get Smart: The Magic of Bubbles

When: June 10, 10 to 11 a.m.

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

Cost: Included with museum admission

 

Garden Bros. Circus

When: June 10 and 11; Saturday at 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 1, 3:30 and 6 p.m.

Where: Baxter Arena, 2425 S. 67th St.

Cost: $8-$34

 

Great Sarpy County Quilt Exhibit Kickoff Pie Social

When: June 10, 2 to 4 p.m.; exhibit runs through Aug. 19

Where: Sarpy County Museum, 2402 Clay St, Bellevue, Neb.

Cost: $2 a slice and $1 for ice cream and drinks (no cost for kids games)

 

Kids 4 Kids Movie: “Lilo & Stitch”

When: June 10, gates open & games start at 7:30, movie at dusk

Where: Child Saving Institute, 4545 Dodge St.

Cost: FREE

 

Forever Young Family & Children’s Series: “Mrs. Doubtfire”

When: June 10, 11 and 15

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

 

Kids Dream Summer Film Series

When: June 11 through Aug. 16 at 10 a.m.; June 11-12, 14 (“The Secret Life of Pets”)”; June 18-19, 21 (“Rock Dog”); June 25-26, 28 (“Sing”); July 2-3, 5 (“A Dog’s Purpose”); July 9-10, 12 (“The Lego Batman Movie”); July 16-17, 19 (“Trolls”); July 23-24, 26 (“Monster Trucks”); 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

 

Movie Day

When: June 13-27, 1 p.m. (“Moana”), June 20 (“Storks”), June 27 (“Finding Dory”)

Where: Omaha Public Library Sorensen branch, 4808 Cass St.

Cost: FREE

 

Papillion Days Kickoff

When: June 14, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Sumtur Amphitheater, 11691 S. 108th St., Papillion, Neb.

Cost: FREE

 

“KINETIC”

When: June 16 – 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

 

Baseball Hall of Fame Tour

When: June 16-28

Where: CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St.

Cost: $4, youth (ages 5-17); $15.50, adults; FREE, under 4

 

 

NCAA College World Series Opening Ceremonies

When: June 16, 8:45 p.m. (fireworks finale)

Where: TD Ameritrade Park, 1200 Mike Fahey St.

Cost: FREE

 

Amazing Lindy Magic Show

When: June 16, 2 to 3 p.m. (Sorensen); June 27, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. (Benson)

Where: Various Omaha Public Library branches

Cost: FREE

 

Family Fit Series

When: June 17 (zumba), 24 (tai chi), and July 8 (zumba), 15 (pilates), 22 (yoga), 10 a.m.,

Where: Elmwood Park, 802 S. 60th St.

Cost: FREE

 

Nebraska Crossing Jamboree

When: June 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Nebraska Crossing Outlets, 21209 Nebraska Crossing Drive, Ste C100,, Gretna, Neb.

Cost: FREE

 

MAKEbreak Splatter Canvas

When: June 17, 1 to 3 p.m.

Where: Michaels Stores, various locations

Cost: Must buy a canvas, other supplies are FREE

 

The Amazing Bubble Show

When: June 17, 2 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Washington branch, 2868 Ames Ave.

Cost: FREE

 

Touch-A-Truck

When: June 19, 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: Quaker Steak and Lube, 3320 Mid America Drive, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Cost: FREE

 

Jolly Bean Juggling Show

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

Where: Omaha Public Library Bess Johnson Elkhorn branch, 2100 Reading Plaza, Elkhorn, Neb.

Cost: FREE

 

Outdoor Screening “Selena”

When: June 22, 7 p.m.

Where: El Museo Latino, 4701 S. 25th St.

Cost: FREE

 

Plane Flights During Ford Tri-Motor Tour

When: June 22-June 25, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: 12916 Millard Airport Plaza

Cost: $70, adult; $50, child (17 and younger); $75, day-of

 

Shakespeare on the Green “King Lear”

When: June 22-25, and July 5, 6, and 8, 8 p.m. (preshow activities)

Where: Young Park, 411-1/2 N. Elmwood Road just south of UNO’s campus

Cost: FREE

 

Princess Party

When: June 23, 2 to 3 p.m.

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

Cost: FREE

 

HLP Youth Pride

When: June 23, 7 to 10 p.m.

Where: Stinson Park at Aksarben Village, 2285 S. 67th St.

Cost: FREE

 

Omaha World Refugee Day 2017

When: June 24, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.

Cost: FREE

 

June Family Fair

When: June 24, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Washington branch, 2868 Ames Ave.

Cost: FREE

 

Zydeco Festival

When: June 24, from 3 to 10:30 p.m.

Where: Turner Park at Midtown Crossing, 3110 Farnam St.

Cost: FREE

 

Hummel Lightning Bug Party

When: June 24, 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Where: Hummel Park Nature Center, 3033 Hummel Road

Cost: FREE (RSVP requested; bring own jar or purchase jar for $1)

 

Art Walk 

When: June 25, noon to 4 p.m.

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

Cost: FREE

 

Millard Branch Has Got Talent

When: June 26, 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Omaha Public Library Millard branch, 13214 Westwood Lane

Cost: FREE

 

Drive-In Movie featuring “Wall-E”

When: June 28, 10:30 a.m. (decorate a box as a car starting at 9:30)

Where:  Omaha Public Library Saddlebrook branch, 14850 Laurel Ave.

Cost: FREE

 

Shakespeare on the Green “The Merry Wives of Windsor”

When: June 29-30, and July 1-2, 7 and 9, 8 p.m. (preshow activities)

Where: Young Park, 411-1/2 N. Elmwood Road just south of UNO’s campus

Cost: FREE

 

Bubble & Water Fun

When: June 30, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

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

Cost: FREE

 

Bank of the West concert featuring Kool and the Gang

When: June 30 (fireworks follow)

Where: Memorial Park, 6005 Underwood Ave.

Cost: FREE

 

More Fun Events In June

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

 

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”

When: Through June 25; performances are Wednesday–Saturday, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, 2 p.m. Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. on June 17 and June 24.

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.

Cost: $42, adults (Thursdays – Sundays) and $25 for students (Thursdays – Sundays). Tickets are $32 for adults and $20 for students on Wednesdays.

 

“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

 

“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

 

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

 

Yoga Rocks The Park/Camp Yoga Rocks

When: Sundays

Where: Turner Park at Midtown Crossing, 31st and Farnam 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? Check out this Pinterest board:

 

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May 23, 2017

Omaha Recycling News: Hefty Energy Bag Program

Omaha and Bellevue residents are now able to recycle more plastic than before thanks to the Hefty® Energy Bag program. The new slogan to know when it comes to Omaha recycling, and it’s “If you don’t bin it, bag it.”

The Hefty® Energy Bag program was the Sustainable Sponsor were at the big Elmwood Park Earth Day Omaha celebration this year. Did you see them?

This recycling program could not make it easier for us to reduce the amount of waste going into local landfills. Thanks to all the program sponsors for initiating this in the metro area! This post is sponsored by the Hefty® Energy Bag Program.

What Goes In A Hefty® Energy Bag

Take a look at the list below to see what can be recycled through the program. I see a lot of things my family tosses in the trash: Frozen vegetable bags, packing peanuts, plastic straws.

Omaha recycling guide by Hefty Energy Bags

As of April 2017, the Hefty® Energy Bag program has collected more than 10,000 bags in the Omaha metro area, diverting more than 5 tons of plastic previously destined for landfills.

How The Hefty® Energy Bag Program Works

This program fits in seamlessly with your usual recycling routine; you just need to buy the Hefty® Energy Bag to recycle the plastics that you used to throw away.

Here’s how the Hefty® Energy Bag Program works:

– Place things like candy wrappers, plastic cutlery and juice pouches in the orange Hefty® Energy Bag. Make sure they’re clean and free of food residue.

– Place orange Energy Bag in your regular recycle bin or cart and put it out with your regular curbside recycling pickup.

– Local haulers pick up the bags during participants’ regular recycling collection and take it to a First Star Recycling facility.

– First Star Recycling sorts the Hefty® Energy Bags before sending them to Systech Environmental Corporation.

– Systech converts the bags and their contents into energy used to produce cement.

 

Get started

For those in the Omaha area who would like to purchase Hefty® Energy Bags and participate in the innovative recycling program, click here.

I had a good question from a Facebook follower, Jessica S.: “Are these bags available locally?” At this time, the bags are not in stores.

However, customers of Papillion Sanitation can get them through the company. According to their websiteEach roll comes with 20 bags and each roll is $10.00.  We will even deliver them to you on your trash day.  If you need some of these energy bags, please call our customer service at 402-346-7800 and your customer service representative will help you. Thanks for the tip, Tabitha!

The Hefty® Energy Bag Program is a collaborative effort between The Dow Chemical Company, Reynolds Consumer Products, Recyclebank, First Star Recycling, ConAgra Foods, and Systech Environmental Corporation. To learn more, visit www.HeftyEnergyBag.com and follow @Hefty and @DowPackaging on Twitter for updates.

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Hefty® Energy Bag program. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

May 18, 2017

Old School Omaha: Johnny’s Cafe

Kim’s Note: While working on a book about Omaha restaurants that have closed, I started to notice a trend about the more recently shuttered spots. I hadn’t dined at most of them, and I missed out on some gems. So I’ve decided to make it a goal to visit Omaha’s oldest restaurants before any more shut down. Don’t miss the other posts in the series, Gorat’s Steakhouse and Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria!

 

Johnny’s Cafe has a lot of supporters. When I asked which restaurant should be on my tour of Omaha’s oldest restaurants, people suggested Johnny’s. You ask where to get a good steak in Omaha, and Johnny’s Cafe is on the list.

Friends rave about Johnny’s

It had the Hollywood allure, having a scene from Alexander Payne’s “About Schmidt” filmed there.

I’d never been, so I figured now’s the time to go.

It wasn’t what I had expected.

Unfortunately.

History of Johnny’s Cafe

Johnny's Cafe exterior

Johnny’s Cafe opened in Omaha in 1922, making it one of the oldest restaurants still in operation.

Johnny’s Cafe opened in 1922. Frank Kawa, a Polish immigrant, expanded the restaurant in spite of Prohibition and the food rationing of the 1940s. A large part of the success was its proximity to the booming Stockyards.

A lot of the features people associate with Johnny’s Cafe were added during remodeling in the 1970s, including the memorable front doors and a new look to the interior.

It’s still a family-owned establishment, with Frank’s granddaughters running things.

Johnny’s Cafe Atmosphere

Johnny's Cafe interior

The dining room at Johnny’s Cafe is unforgettable in its retro cool way.

I want to focus on the atmosphere because that is something Johnny’s does remarkably well. Every room at Johnny’s is a time warp, right down to the yellow and orange tiles in the bathroom.

The retro dining room is large, and even on an early lunch visit, it was fairly busy. Lights were dim, but the large backlit wall mural added some additional light to things. 

It looked so cool in there, I wanted to walk around and take a picture of everything. It totally makes sense why a movie would have a scene here. It’s evocative of an era and you won’t forget how it looks inside.

Johnny’s Cafe may just have the coolest entrance in Omaha. The front doors are so interesting.

I liked the lobby, too, with a massive chandelier and the restaurant’s history framed on the walls for you to read while waiting.

Don’t skip peeking into the bar area. My photos can’t do it justice.

Food at Johnny’s Cafe

The chicken and mashed potatoes entree at Johnny’s Cafe.

The food at this legendary establishment was a letdown. There’s no way around it. Having heard so many great things, and suggestions on what to order, nothing lived up to everyone’s enthusiasm.

It started out rocky. The famous cottage cheese spread appetizer was a hit with half of our table. I didn’t like it much.

Most dishes ordered was served overcooked, from the orange roughy to the chewy chicken. I tried one of the beef specialties, the chicken fried steak. It was pretty chewy, salty and not much else to note about it. The worst offense was my mashed potatoes, which tasted straight out of a box. A sad piece of parley accompanied my entree. I sampled food off two other plates around the table and I could not find one thing to recommend.

What Johnny’s does right when it comes to food is the kid’s menu with a good variety in a range of $2.95 to $7.95, including steak, shrimp, burgers, and grilled cheese. The best thing I tasted was the dessert my son ordered, the Dirt Shake, complete with a gummy worm.

I take that back. The bread pudding was pretty delicious, too.

One last thing about Johnny’s Cafe

Johnny’s Cafe is such a neat looking place, and it’s a part of Omaha’s history, so I hate to say the dining experience was a disappointment, but it was.  

It’s lasted more than 90 years, I suspect, out of loyalty from regulars. My hope is the food gets back on track and begins to live up to its reputation. 

If you go

Johnny’s Cafe

Where: 4702 S. 27th St.

Note: Getting there is tricky. Take the L street exit of the Kennedy Expressway and head south like you’re about to get back on the expressway.

Website

 

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