April 11, 2017

10 Cheap Things To Do In Omaha This Summer

I love a game plan. That’s why I usually have a bucket list of activities and trip ideas to keep things fun and interesting throughout summer.

But, then there’s that pesky budget thing that makes some of the activities improbable.

So I have another list of cheap things to do in Omaha.

cheap things to do in Omaha this summer

My list was published in Omaha Magazine’s Summer Family Guide recently. So check it out and start planning your summer in Omaha now!

Click here to read the story (it starts on page 21 in the digital magazine)

 

Among my favorite things on the list are my family’s favorite places to hike, the metro’s most unique places to enjoy splashing in water, and the names of some of the many kid-friendly festivals you can find in Omaha. I only got to choose 10, but there are so much more – share some of your ideas in the comments!

 

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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?

January 2, 2017

17 Family Events To Look Forward in 2017

2017 is going to be an awesome year for Omaha families. This list of family events will get you through summer (check back for the fall and winter edition later!).

Here are some exciting things to look forward to:

2017 family events

Performing Arts

Whether it’s theatrical, musical or on ice, there are several Omaha venues with some great family shows in the first half of the year. Here are the highlights:

– Broadway touring production of “The Sound of Music,” Jan. 24-29, at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater

– “Disney on Ice: Worlds of Enchantment,” March 16-19, at Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Kim’s note: Previously, the ice show was “Ice Age,” but that is no longer on the arena’s calendar) 

– Omaha Symphony presents “The Music of Star Wars,” May 6, Holland Performing Arts Center

– “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” May 26 through June 25, at Omaha Community Playhouse

– “Peter Pan,” June 2-18, at The Rose

 

Museums & Cultural Attractions

This is a broad category since it’s hard to fit botanical gardens with an arena, but I’ll try. Here are the highlights of some events happening at Omaha museums and other cultural attractions:

– “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO® Bricks,” Jan. 14 through May 15, at Lauritzen Gardens

– FEI World Cup™ Jumping & FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals, March 29 through April 1, at the CenturyLink Center

– “Top Secret License to Spy,” May 20 through Sept. 17, at The Durham Museum

– “Dinosaur Safari,” May 27 through Sept. 3, at Omaha Children’s Museum

 

Road Trip!

Feel like hitting the road for an overnight in another city? Here are some destination events to consider with for the family:

– “A Year With Frog and Toad,” Jan. 14, at Des Moines Civic Center in Iowa

– “Annie,” March 30, at  the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, Iowa

– “One Man Star Wars Trilogy,” April 4-9,  at The Temple Theater in Des Moines, Iowa

– New rides Mustang Runner and Falcon’s Flight unveiled, April 14, at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo.

– “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical,” May 31 through June 3, at Lied Center in Lincoln, Neb.

– “Garfield: The Musical With Cattitude” June 20 through Aug. 5 at The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, Mo.

– “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” In Concert June 21-24 at Kauffman Center in Kansas City, Mo.

– Nebraska State Fair, Aug. 25 through Sept. 4, at the State Fairgrounds in Grand Island (if your kids loved “Pirates and Mermaids: Voyage to Creature Cove” at Omaha Children’s Museum, they can see the sea creatures at the fair)

Your turn! What events are you looking forward to in Omaha & beyond?

October 11, 2016

Omaha Neighborhood Favorites

Whether you’re visiting or lived here for 20 years, there’s a good chance you don’t know about a few of our hidden gems. I’m sharing some of my Omaha neighborhood favorites so that you can get out there and explore the city.

Kids will definitely like anything in blue lettering!

where-to-find-the-best-pizza-in-omaha

Downtown

Includes: Old Market, NoDo

Eat: Plank Seafood Provisions, Blatte Beer & Table (they even have a changing table in the bathroom), Wilson & Washburn, Ted & Wally’s

Drink: Upstream Brewing Co., La Buvette

Caffeinate: Bean Smith Coffee Roasters

Shop: City Limits, Jackson Street Booksellers, True Blue Goods & Gifts, Hollywood Candy

Do: See a show at Bluebarn Theatre or The Rose Theater, walk across The Bob, get creative at Art Works inside Joslyn Art Museum, see the train garden and children’s garden at Lauritzen Gardens 

Play: Try the big slides at Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Children’s Museum

 

Benson

Where: West of downtown

Eat: España, Lot 2 Restaurant & Wine Bar, Ted & Wally’s/Localmotive (Localmotive just announced they would close by Oct. 15, 2016)

Do: See a concert at The Waiting Room

Drink: Krug Park, Benson Brewery, Infusion Brewery

Caffeinate: Aromas Benson

Play: Benson Park

 

Central Omaha

Includes: Midtown Crossing, Blackstone, Aksarben Village

Eat: Mula Mexican Kitchen & Tequileria, Crave (kids eat free on Sundays), The Grey Plume

Drink: Crescent Moon

CaffeinateCrane Coffee, Caffeine Dreams (don’t miss the patio in back)

Shop: The Afternoon

Do: Attend a free movie screen or outdoor concert in the summer like Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing

Play: Aksarben Village’s Stinson Park

 

Dundee

Where: West of downtown

Eat: Marks Bistro (grab a table on their patio), eCreamery, Dundee Dell, Dario’s Brasserie, Great Harvest Bread Co. (get a free slice of bread!)

Do: See a show at Omaha Community Playhouse

Shop: Scout Dry Goods & Trade

Play: Memorial Park

 

South Omaha

Where: South of downtown

Eat: Guaca Maya Mexican Restaurant, Jacobo Grocery, Bakery & Tortilleria (you’re going to want to get the fresh chips and salsa from their deli), Lo Sole Mio

Do: Stroll Historic South 24 Street, visit El Museo Latino

Play: Kroc Center Omaha Family Recreation Pool

 

Northwest Omaha

Eat: Salt 88, Flagship Commons

Do: Visit Heron Haven, try standup paddleboarding at Cunningham Lake

 

West Omaha

Eat: Over Easy, Shucks Fish House and Oyster Bar, Twisted Cork Bistro

Do: Ride the ferris wheel inside Scheels, visit Boys Town 

Shop: Fat Brain Toys

Play: Lake Zorinski, Amazing Pizza Machine, Dave and Buster’s

 

This post was inspired by a recent Kansas City trip I was planning. I’d stumbled across this post and thought I could do something similar for Omaha.

 

Your turn: What are your favorites around the city? Please leave a comment and let me know!

July 14, 2016

Trains & History Fun This Weekend

Get the hats and sunscreen ready, this weekend, I handpicked three fun things to do with the kids and they’re going to have kids activities and areas of interest outdoors.

 

Railroad Days 2016

The mini UP train will have free rides for children at Lauritzen Garden. Photo courtesy Lauritzen Gardens

The mini UP train will have free rides for children at Lauritzen Garden. Photo courtesy Lauritzen Gardens

When: Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Lauritzen Gardens, The Durham Museum, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, the RailsWest Railroad Museum, the Historic General Dodge House and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Why: Someone in your family loves trains and/or history.

Who’d like this: Train lovers; history buffs; deal-seeking parents (admission to all locations included with $15 family pass)

Tip: Get more details on this fun family-friendly event, including all the extra activities at each location here.

 

Mahoney 25th Anniversary Party

NEBRASKA-DNR

When: Saturday, 2 to 7 p.m.

Where: Mahoney State Park, 28500 West Park Highway, Ashland, Neb.

Why: This is your favorite state park and you want to celebrate it with other fans.

Who’d like it: Outdoorsy types

Loom Weaves Joslyn

Photo courtesy loom/Brent Crampton

A dancer interacting with an audience member during a previous loom event at Joslyn Art Museum. Photo courtesy loom/Brent Crampton

When: Saturday, 2 p.m. until midnight

Where: Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.

Why: It’s a FREE kid-friendly event with House of Loom, which rarely does anything geared toward all ages. Think music and dancing, art activities plus you can get discounted admission to the new Sheila Hicks exhibit. See all activities here.

Who’d like this: Artsy types; House of Loom loyalists; families on a budget

Tip: They’re allowing you to bring food into the event, so you can make a day of it and pack a picnic.

 

Need more ideas? Find out about teen lock-ins, character visits at the library and more in the post Big List of Kid-Friendly Events in July!

 

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June 16, 2016

Dory, Pirates & ZOOm Fun This Weekend

I don’t know about your kids, but it’s been “Finding Dory” in this house for days now. But in case you don’t want to just attend a bunch of showings of a movie, here are a few other things going on around Omaha (with a little Dory thrown in there for good measure:

 

ZOOm at the Zoo

zoo logo

When: Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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

Why: You have some speed-loving family members – racing cars or fast animals.

Who’d like this: Car lovers; animal lovers; kids of all ages

 

 

“Finding Dory” Under The Sea Brunch

Finding Dory

When: Saturday, 9 to 10:30 a.m.

Where: Aksarben Cinema, 2110 S. 67th St.

Why: You all loved “Finding Nemo,” so you’re ready to celebrate this franchise with a party.

Who’d like: Disney and Pixar fans; parents who brunch and the kids who love them

Tip: This isn’t the only “Finding Dory” party in town. Head to Nobbies,2500 S. 120th St., on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. and try to find her. If you find Dory, you get to keep her (while supplies last).

 

Nebraska Renaissance Faire & Midlands Pirate Fest

logo_neb_128color

When: Friday, 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Where: Miller’s Landing, 151 Freedom Park Road

Why: You’re kids are always pretending to be knights and/or pirates, now they have an audience.

Who’d like this: Landlubbers and scallywags alike; families who enjoy re-enactments

 

There’s a ton more to do this weekend, including kid-friendly exhibits, Fan Fest and all the festivities surrounding the NCAA College World Series and more! Get all the details in “80+ Fun Things to do in June.”

 

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