April 6, 2017

Visiting Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure in Nebraska City has become such a family favorite, we bought a membership. It’s one of my “Happy Places” that I can return to repeatedly and never get bored. That’s nature for you.

We’ve gone every season, though for this post, I’m sharing mostly summer and fall pictures.

Go figure, the snowless, winter pictures just aren’t as beautiful.

What to expect at the Tree Adventure

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure

There are a variety of structures at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure that blend in well with the setting.

At the Tree Adventure, you will find a mix of paved and dirt trails. None are too long for little legs, nor very challenging for tired adults.

Along the paved trail, you’ll find interactive pit stops. Some will ask you to identify the tracks in the pavement, the smells in a box, or to stop and listen to bird calls.

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure tree house

The cabin next to the 50-foot tree house has hands-on activities for kids.

Further afield, you’ll find the 50-foot  tree house/lookout tower. Kids will be tempted to race to the top, but try to get them to peek inside the cabin-like room next to the tower first. There are some cool things to see and do in there.

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure climber

Pretending to be a spider at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure.

If you stay on the paved trail, you’ll find a couple more active pit stops for kids. There are things to climb through, climb under, over, etc. It’s great for working on their gross motor skills, but let’s be real. We’re happy to have yet another thing to help tire kids out.

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure outdoor education area

Playing the wooden xylophone at the Tree Adventure.

There’s an outdoor education area (actually two, but we just go to the big one) where families should plan on spending quite a bit of time there, especially if you have a young builder. I’d say skip the area if you’re not visiting with kids, but don’t – you’ve got to try the outdoor xylophone, at least.

 

There is an apple orchard where you can pick apples in the fall, as well as a pumpkin patch. There’s a hayrack ride offered to drive you out and back for those two activities.

Throughout the year, there are themed activities to spice up your next visit. In March, there’s a gnome hunt that we tried this year. You search for little statues hidden throughout the woods, using clues and a map to help you. There are also weekend events with activities connected to learning about different animals and insects.

You can see upcoming events planned for Arbor Day, Sunset & S’Mores and more here. Some of these events include activities at other Arbor Day Farm properties.

Into the woods

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure dirt trail

It’s worth stepping off the paved path to go further into the woods of the Tree Adventure in Nebraska City.

There is a loop called the South Table Creek Trail that goes deeper into the woods, and it’s less than a mile long. Don’t skip it! You’ll cross bridges, encounter “kissing trees,” chairs built for three bears, and find a little fairy door in a tree.

There’s also an added game of sorts, where you’ll look for wooden cutouts of birds and a squirrel. Granted, some will want to look for the real things, this game has become a competitive sport for my family.

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure bridge

One of the bridges found along the South Table Creek Trail at the Tree Adventure.

The trail through the woods does have some inclines and stairs, so it’s not super stroller-friendly.

About the trees

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure entrance

The entrance to Arbor Day Tree Adventure in Nebraska City.

Being part of Arbor Day Farm, trees are a focus at Tree Adventure. Obviously. You can visit the greenhouse and get your own free tree seedling to plant at home.

In the visitor’s center, you can also learn more about the role of trees by playing some of the interactive exhibits and watching a short movie. We often skip that area when we visit, but if it’s your first time, check it out.

You can take an hour-long discovery ride to learn even more. It’s $5 extra per person.

Food at Arbor Day Farm

There is no restaurant on property of the Tree Adventure, though occasionally we’ve bought lunch from a vendor who’d set up shop outside the Tree Adventure visitor’s center. You can purchase food next door at the restaurant inside the Arbor Day Farm winery/orchard shop. I recommend getting the apple pie a la mode if you go that route.

And sample the wine, if you’re of age.

Usually, though, we pack a lunch and enjoy it on the trail. You’ll find some benches in the forest and at the outdoor education center, as well as picnic tables near the visitor’s center.

If you go

Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure

Where: 2611 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, Neb.

Cost: $8, adults; $6, children ages 3-12; FREE, children 2 and younger; the All-Access Day Pass also includes admission to Arbor Lodge State Historical Park mansion, and costs $15 for adults, $11, children ages 3-12, and FREE for children 2 and younger.

Website

 

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March 30, 2017

Watching The Total Solar Eclipse In Nebraska

Unless you’ve been on a social media break or you live under a rock, you’ve heard about the total solar eclipse this summer (Aug. 21, 2017). And the bigger news for Nebraska is that the path of this eclipse passes through it.

 

Why is a total solar eclipse big news?

A solar eclipse is a type of eclipse that occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun. When it’s a total solar eclipse, the Moon fully blocks the Sun, and then a shadow is cast on Earth – it’s almost as dark as night.

Edgerton Explorit Center educator, Dan Glomski, explained the significance in Nebraska well (read full text here): “Total solar eclipses are extremely rare events. The last visible from the Grand Island area occurred in the year 1194, and the next won’t be until the year 2744. In fact, there hasn’t been a total solar eclipse witnessed in the continental United States since 1979 and won’t be another until 2024.”

Where To See The Total Eclipse In Nebraska

So, now you want to be somewhere that falls along the path of the total eclipse, don’t you? I’ve been geeking out about this for months, and already booked my hotel room in Grand Island. Should you go there? Should you go somewhere else? Don’t ponder it for too long, lodging is filling up.

Here’s a list of some of the activities I thought sounded the most promising for families. 

Alliance

There’s a weekend of events in Alliance, as they bill it: “Food, Bands, Arts, Games along with educational and fun events to make your visit to Alliance memorable, educational, and fun for the entire family.” What stood out to me were the motocross races that weekend. There’s also the music fest, Toadstock: Party on the Prairie, Aug. 18-22. Carhenge also happens to be one of the viewing places for the eclipse, so there’s that.

Beatrice

One of the closest cities to Omaha that’s falls into the path of the total eclipse is Beatrice. The main viewing site is Homestead National Monument of America, which was named by USA Today as one of the top 10 places to view the solar eclipse. The PBS animated show, “Ready Jet Go,” will be part of the events Aug. 20 and 21, with all-ages programming, including demonstrations by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory astrophysicist Dr. Amy Mainzer and live music by the Ready Jet Go Band. Around town, find Stock Car Racing on Aug. 18, as well as special screenings of ‘50s horror movies . It also coincides with Village of Adams Community Days.

Cortland

There will be country music and a life-sized board game in the park, and following the eclipse, the town plans on having a brief fireworks display and a watermelon feed and ice cream social.

Grand Island

There’s free viewing at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, which sounds like a cool venue for it. The Crane Trust has some amazing activities included with its two-day packages, including kayaking, fat biking and hiking (price includes overnight stay). The city has also partnered with nearby towns for a complete weekend of activities, includingThe partnership is working to create viewing opportunities and educational programs surrounding the eclipse, including Eclipse Extravaganza at the Edgerton Center, a portable planetarium that will travel throughout the state, a nighttime star party, and more.

Hastings

Hastings is holdings its first ever SolFest from Aug. 18-21, that looks like it’s going to mix art, music, and science.

Kearney

Kearney will have several viewing sites, including the Arch. Some of the weekend festivities include live music and an astronomer chat.

Lincoln

Our state capitol is on the north end of the totality path. Head to the Saltdogs baseball field, Haymarket Park, for viewing. There is a special noon game that day, which will go into eclipse delay, so fans and players can enjoy the rare phenomenon.

North Platte

Sitting on the edge of the totality path, North Platte has some great activities for all ages in the works, including historical presentations of Native American and early settlers’ reaction to past eclipses; make and take art workshops; astronomy education for all ages; and area historical and cultural presentations.

Pawnee County

There are a couple sites to view the total eclipse. In Table Rock, one location includes a farm with a view of the valley and the entrance fee covers lunch. Organizers point out that the farm is neighbors with Amish, so there’s an interesting twist to your viewing.

Ravenna

Details aren’t out yet for Ravenna, but organizers have indicated that festivities will include speakers, concerts, vendors, games, and many more exciting opportunities.

Stapleton

Activities start Aug. 17 here, with a rodeo that runs through Aug. 20. There’s also a 5K race and parade on Aug. 19. There’s a lot planned actually. There are two dedicated viewing sites:  Logan County Fairgrounds or August Wind Golf Course.

Sutherland

Morgan Birdwood Ranch in Sutherland has a couple packages for those looking for an unordinary way to experience the eclipse: From a secluded ranch. The price point is out of my range, but maybe you’d like it.

Tryon

A lot of activities on the schedule for Aug. 20 and 21, in addition to viewing the eclipse, but the ones that sound fun to me include a prairie tour/trail ride for $35/family, a working cow dog exhibition, sod house tour, and a petting zoo. 

More things to know about the solar eclipse

Where did I get this information and where can you find updated details? You’re going to want to go to this site first. Several cities or counties have their own pages, as well. 

Before you go: Some of these viewing sites charge a fee, so be sure to make a reservation to be sure you get in on the day of the eclipse. And as noted earlier in this post, hotels are filling up. My first choice destination for the weekend had ZERO hotel rooms left, so don’t procrastinate on booking.

Are you planning on traveling to see the total solar eclipse? Where and why did you pick it?

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January 19, 2017

10 Places You Must See In Nebraska

Celebrate Nebraska’s 150th birthday in 2017 by exploring the state. I’ve been lucky to explore our state with my kids, though there are still some Nebraska attractions on my bucket list left like Chimney Rock and Lake McConaughy.

Want to get out there and explore Nebraska? Here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):

Nebraska attractions

10 Nebraska attractions you must see

1. Fort Robinson State Park (Harrison, Neb.)

Checking out the view from the stagecoach at Fort Robinson.

Western Nebraska’s biggest attraction is one of my favorites, Fort Robinson. A few family favorite adventures were the off-road jeep ride, the carriage ride, and since both kids were so little, the guided horse rides.

2. Holland Performing Arts Center (Omaha)

The concert hall inside the Holland Performing Arts Center. Photo courtesy Nick Allen on Flikr

The best venue, hands down, in all of Nebraska to hear a concert is the main concert hall inside the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha. It’s a beautiful building and the sound is incredible. If your favorite performer ever plays there, you must go.

3. Fort Atkinson (Fort Calhoun, Neb.)

Don’t miss the blacksmith during the re-enactment weekends at Fort Atkinson, located in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska.

Located in Fort Calhoun (so pretty close to Omaha), you should time a visit to coincide with an historical re-enactment. I brought the kids to one and it was a lot of fun.

4. Smith Falls State Park (Wood Lake, Neb.)

A view of Smith Falls on a sunny day.

We used to canoe the Niobrara River with friends and family every year, and Smith Falls was always a must-stop destination. It’s the highest waterfall in Nebraska. I dare you to stick your head into the water there.

To get to the Niobrara River, if you’re coming from Omaha at least, will mean passing through the Sandhills, which is another pretty sight to see.

5. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (Omaha)

On hot days, the aquarium at Omaha’s zoo is a great place to escape the heat.

The most popular Nebraska attraction, by far, is Omaha’s zoo. It’s huge, it’s beautiful, and it keeps getting better. Some of the newest additions include African Grasslands and Alaskan Adventure sprayground. Here are some experts’ tips on visiting the zoo.

6. Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure (Nebraska City, Neb.)

Happy and mud-covered children at Arbor Day Tree Adventure.

This Nebraska City attraction is so cool, we try to visit every season each year. The forest trail, the treehouse, the inviting natural play areas…I love it. I might also love the fact that it’s next door to a place that serves fabulous apple pie and has a wine tasting room.

7. Toadstool Geological Park (Oglala National Grasslands)

Let’s play “Spot the trail” in this picture at Toadstool.

This is off the beaten path, but definitely worth a visit to see this place and hike around. They’re pretty much Nebraska’s own Badlands. Careful hiking around there with little ones, though.

8. Brownville, Neb.

In the center of Brownville on Main Street, you’ll find this old cabin.

So much art and culture packed into a little Nebraska town. Browse bookstores, art galleries, or check out a winery.

The town is also near Indian Cave State Park. I recommend combining a visit to both for a complete day.

9. Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)

A sea of red at Memorial Stadium. Photo courtesy Asten on Flikr

It’s something to experience at least once: The football stadium becomes the third most populated “city” in Nebraska on Husker game day. Wear red or else.

10. Nebraska Wildlife Safari (Ashland, Neb.)

You have to beware of animals crossing the road at the Nebraska Wildlife Safari.

I’m a sucker for driving among bison, I guess. This is a great attraction that showcases Nebraska’s wildlife. Get out of the car to see the bears, wolves, bald eagles and other critters out there.

Honorable mentions Nebraska attractions

A few more favorite places in Nebraska that didn’t make the Top 10 cut: Omaha’s Old Market, Plattsmouth’s Sisters Thai and German Cafe, and Chadron State Park.

* * * * *

There are a lot of exhibits and events planned to celebrate the 150th. Check out the calendar of events here.

 

Your turn: What is on your must-see list for Nebraska?

August 15, 2016

Kids & The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum

The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum has created a space for children of all ages to explore STEM ideas (that’s science, technology, engineering, and math).

 

The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum opened the new Children's Learning Center in early August 2016.

The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum opened the new Children’s Learning Center in early August 2016.

 

The new Children’s Learning Center opened last weekend. It consists of 10 interactive stations designed as an out-of-classroom experience for children to experiment and learn about science, technology, engineering, and math and the physics, forces, and technology of flight. Families can easily spend an hour here, especially if the children get into building structures at a couple of the stations.

One engineering station asks kids to build a building or bridge the can stand up to an earthquake.

One engineering station asks kids to build a building or bridge the can stand up to an earthquake.

I explored with my preschooler and first-grader and they had as much fun as the older kids there. Some activities were better suited for the limited patience of little ones than others, but with the help of an adult, they could build and experiment alongside the big kids. 

Thank you to the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum for the complimentary passes so I can visit and get some great pictures. It was a fun day!

What you’ll find at the Children’s Learning Center

The Bernouli Blower was a beacon for little ones with the the colorful beach balls.

The Bernouli Blower was a beacon for little ones with the the colorful beach balls.

Bernoulli Blower: Discover the principles of airflow and how air speed and pressure effects objects, like beach balls.

KEVA Planks: Create structures and gain first-hand experience with balance, leverage, geometry and the principles of physics.

Children build structures that can stand up to the shaking earthquake table.

Children build structures that can stand up to the shaking earthquake table.

Make-it-Tables: Experience the engineering design process by building machines or structures using materials provided.

Interactive Kiosk Station: Explore the four forces of flight.

Kids race their LEGO cars on a test track at the Children's Learning Center.

Kids race their LEGO cars on a test track at the Children’s Learning Center.

Wind Trainer: Learn about the science and technology of flight in terms of aircraft roll, pitch and yaw.

Dual Test Track: Learn how friction, drag, weight distribution, and gravity affect the design and operation of aircraft and other vehicles.

The area with the large blue foam blocks was like a free-play engineering playground.

The area with the large blue foam blocks was like a free-play engineering playground.

Innovation Station: Create inventions, environments, and activities with large scale foam blocks that encourage teamwork and imagination.  

Quake Table: Design structures and explore the phenomena of earthquakes and their effects.

The tennis ball launcher almost always had a wait on opening day. There's something making things airborne that draws a crowd.

The tennis ball launcher almost always had a wait on opening day. There’s something making things airborne that draws a crowd.

Tennis Ball Launcher: Explore the effects of gravity on different sized and massed objects.

Twin Air Blaster: Experience how airflow impacts aircraft design.

 

What else is for kids at the museum?

The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in Ashland, Neb., is a must-visit if your kids are fascinated by airplanes and spacecraft.

The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in Ashland, Neb., is a must-visit if your kids are fascinated by airplanes and spacecraft.

If your kid loves planes, you’re set. This place has a ton of them, and many that you can peek inside. There’s also an area dedicated to Nebraska’s astronaut, Clayton Anderson, who’s from Ashland, Neb.

There are a few items that are an additional cost to admission, but can be a big hit with kids. My kids can’t resist a bounce house, so that one is always a stop for us.

There’s also a planetarium, small 50-cent rides, and flight simulators.

If you go

Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum

Where: 28210 West Park Highway, Ashland, Neb. (about 30 miles west of Omaha)

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve; closed: New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas

Cost: Adults, $12; senior citizens, military, $11; children (ages 4-12), $6; FREE for children aged 3 and younger

Extras: Planetarium shows, $3 for adults and $2 for children ages 4-12 (free for members); all-day bounce house, $5 per child; flight simulators, 2D rides are $9 for members $10 for non-members, and 3D rides are $12 for members $13 for non-members.

Website 

 

Upcoming 2016 events for families

Here are a few of the upcoming events and programs offered at Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum. Find more events here, and explore the educational offerings here.

Second Tuesday of every month – Pint-Sized Play Dates. Children ages 3-5 can participate in an hour-long themed activity.

Oct. 22 and 23, 2016 – Planes, Trains & Autos. Come dressed in costumes to trick or treat at different stations

Dec. 3, 2016 – Santa Goes to Space. Meet Santa, see Imperial Stormtroopers from 501st Legion, and enjoy free planetarium shows.

 

June 24, 2016

Living History At Fort Atkinson In Nebraska

Fort Atkinson is a Nebraska State Historical Park in Fort Calhoun, which is a short drive north of Omaha. Considering how close it is to Omaha, it’s been a major oversight that I’ve never visited, especially since there are monthly events that are incredibly interesting for families.

Mooch learns a little sewing technique from a seamstress during a living history weekend event at Fort Atkinson in Nebraska.

Mooch learns a little sewing technique from a seamstress during a living history weekend event at Fort Atkinson in Nebraska.

You can visit any time of year to explore the fort, but for I cannot recommend enough that you try to time a visit for a historical re-enactment.

Historic re-enactments

Actresses walking along the north side of Fort Atkinson, located in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska.

Actresses walking along the north side of Fort Atkinson, located in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska.

I never thought of myself as being into re-enactments, but my opinion has evolved, especially after attending the June historic re-enactment of fort life in the 1820s at Fort Atkinson. I was impressed and could not believe more people don’t know about it.

Don't miss the blacksmith during the re-enactment weekends at Fort Atkinson, located in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska.

Don’t miss the blacksmith during the re-enactment weekends at Fort Atkinson, located in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska.

On the first Saturday and Sunday of the month, May through October, Friends of Fort Atkinson recreate life 200 years ago. Their attention to detail and characters they create is great, and made the whole experience fascinating.

A peek inside one of the rooms at Fort Atkinson.

A peek inside one of the rooms at Fort Atkinson.

Rooms throughout the fort are recreated with the typical items of the time and characters describing what their life would’ve been like.

One of the first rooms you'll likely enter when you first get there is the Colonel's office.

One of the first rooms you’ll likely enter when you first get there is the Colonel’s office.

The blacksmith shop looked as real as it gets. You could also watch ladies weave, men make barrels or talk to soldiers getting ready for battle.

And for the serious history buffs, it was acknowledged that there wouldn’t be any women found inside the fort back in its hay day. The actresses explained why that some recreations were done just to give a better idea of life at the time – whether it was cooking, sewing or selling goods.

Ladies in the kitchen at Fort Atkinson. They'll be the first to tell visitors women weren't allowed in the fort back in the day, though. They're part of the re-enactments to give insight to what life was like outside of the fort.

Ladies in the kitchen at Fort Atkinson. They’ll be the first to tell visitors women weren’t allowed in the fort back in the day, though. They’re part of the re-enactments to give insight to what life was like outside of the fort.

What kids will like about Fort Atkinson

When you arrive at the fort, stop at the info table to grab a scavenger hunt.

The outside of Fort Atkinson doesn't really indicate much of what's waiting for your family inside, does it?

The outside of Fort Atkinson doesn’t really indicate much of what’s waiting for your family inside, does it?

Kids need to ask the re-enactors questions in order to successfully finish the hunt. This provides shy kids with talking points to interact with the actors. It was a handy way to learn about things you wouldn’t think to ask about.

Kids can take their finished scavenger hunt to the general store and receive a free piece of rock candy.

The general store at Fort Atkinson is a working store where you can buy gifts, treats and, apparently, barrels.

The general store at Fort Atkinson is a working store where you can buy gifts, treats and, apparently, barrels.

Speaking of that store, this is another kid-favorite if only because they have candy, lemonade and toys. Good luck leaving it without a treat.

Mooch and my dad enjoying an afternoon snack and lemonade on the porch of the general store.

Mooch and my dad enjoying an afternoon snack and lemonade on the porch of the general store.

You don’t have to do the scavenger hunt, of course. We didn’t. The kids still found ways to interact, helping sew a quilt and trying on the colonel’s hat, for instance.

One thing to note: They fire a cannon during the re-enactments. Some kids are going to love the loud boom and others won’t (cover their ears regardless). My kids were not fans.

The cannon is prepped to be fired at Fort Atkinson.

The cannon is prepped to be fired at Fort Atkinson.

If you go

Historical Re-enactments at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park

Where: 201 S. Seventh St., Fort Calhoun, Neb.

When: First Saturday and Sunday of the month through October. The first weekend in July has a focus on the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence will be read aloud. Park is open year-round 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: Valid state park permit is required. Visitor Center is $2 for adults, $1 for children under 13, and FREE for children under 3.

Friends of Fort Atkinson Website

April 12, 2016

Lewis & Clark Trail National Parks Service Headquarters In Omaha

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

If you’ve spent any time in Omaha, there’s a good chance you’ve walked along the Lewis & Clark Landing – that riverfront development along the Missouri River. You’ve attended festivals to gorge on roasted corn on the cob and listen to music and you’ve crossed the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge so you can take that Nebraska-Iowa state line photo opp.

Photo opp on The Bob, as the pedestrian bridge over the Missouri River is affectionately called.

Photo opp on The Bob, as the pedestrian bridge over the Missouri River is affectionately called.

And there’s a good chance you’re like me and totally missed the fact that right there on the river front is some National Parks Service property.

Omaha’s right on the Lewis & Clark Trail.

At the foot of the Omaha side of the pedestrian bridge is the Midwest headquarters of the Lewis & Clark Trail, a national historic trail managed by the National Parks Service that meanders 3,700 miles through 11 states.

The Corps of Discovery, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, traveled the Midwest up to the northwest coast in search of the Northwest Passage from May 1804 and September 1806. Much of that journey was spent going against the current on the Missouri River.

The Missouri River played an integral role in the journey of Lewis & Clark, so it’s not surprising that a visitors center was built along its shores. It was just surprising to me.

The headquarters is housed in a building that’s, quite frankly, forgettable in an office building sort of way, despite of the National Park Service signs and the visitors center stands encouraging you to come in.

The National Parks Service's Midwest Region headquarters to the Lewis & Clark Trail is in Omaha.

The National Parks Service’s Midwest Region headquarters to the Lewis & Clark Trail is in Omaha.

My family has walked through the outdoor area, ignoring the signs explaining the significance. I’ve ran by and, in passing, wondered what was inside and then dismissed the thought. Since the National Parks Service is celebrating its 100th birthday, I decided to remedy the situation.

It was time to look inside.

If you’re thinking the same thing, here’s what you’ll find if you venture into the visitors center:

What to expect at Lewis & Clark Visitors Center

The Lewis & Clark Trail Headquarters Visitors Center in Omaha is contained to a lobby.

The Lewis & Clark Trail Headquarters Visitors Center in Omaha is contained to a lobby.

The visitors center is small, and you can figure 20 or so minutes to look at each display. The displays are themed based on some of the discoveries Lewis & Clark noted throughout their journey – biology, indigenous cultures, etc.

Replicas of artifacts collected during the Corps of Discovery's journey are on display in Omaha.

Replicas of artifacts collected during the Corps of Discovery’s journey are on display in Omaha.

While there, you can view a shortened version of the documentary “Ken Burns: Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery DVD.” It’s about 20 minutes and a great condensed history of the trail.

Or you can buy the 2- disc DVD documentary by Ken Burns and watch all 240 minutes of it. Whatever floats your boat.

What kids will like

If your kids have to touch everything they come across, they're in luck. Some displays have animal furs and replicas of artifacts for them to touch.

If your kids have to touch everything they come across, they’re in luck. Some displays have animal furs and replicas of artifacts for them to touch.

There are several hands-on displays that make a stop here worth it for families.

I tried my hand at writing – poorly – with a quill feather.

Kids will most likely enjoy the animal display and the dress up center.

Children can imagine themselves as a member of the Corps of Discovery as they sort through the costume trunk.

Children can imagine themselves as a member of the Corps of Discovery as they sort through the costume trunk.

The outdoor area, especially in the spring and summer, is a nice place to explore with children, as well.

(And by explore, I mean “climb on the sculptures” and then wander over to the sprayground.)

There's a short trail to walk on the north lawn of the headquarters, and it features informative signs.

There’s a short trail to walk on the north lawn of the headquarters, and it features informative signs your kids will ignore.

If you go

Lewis & Clark Trail National Parks Service Headquarters

Where: 601 Riverfront Drive

When: Summer hours, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday & Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Winter hours (Nov. 13 – April 15),Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday & Sunday, closed; closed some major holidays

Tip: Keep the Lewis & Clark theme going during your visit to Omaha and head to the Henry Doorly Zoo where they’re showing “National Parks Adventure 3D” on the IMAX screen right now.

Other Lewis & Clark Trail points of interest in Nebraska:

Niobrara State Park (Niobrara)

Ponca State Park Visitor Center (Ponca)

Blackbird Hill (Omaha Reservation, just north of Decatur)

Fort Atkinson State Historical Park (Ft. Calhoun)

Lewis & Clark Missouri River Basin Visitor Center (Nebraska City)

Steamboat Trace Trail (southeastern Nebraska)

Indian Cave State Park (Shubert)