Our virtual journey around the world continues today in the My City (with kids!) guest post series. Today I’m interviewing LeAnna from WellTraveledNebraskan who shares more about her home town, Omaha, along with all the very best things to do in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
Most frequent travelers are well aware and have been a part of the following question on endless occasions,
“So, where are you from?”
It’s a simple question and one that most nomads get from anyone from the chatty cab driver to a fellow family you encounter at a park while on a mid-day city-break to let your kid run out some energy.
But my answer almost always baffles people. It’s not that there is nothing to do in my hometown. It’s just that it’s such an overlooked destination that rarely gets the tourist attention it truly deserves.
“Omaha, Nebraska” I respond.
Quickly, I add, “It’s right, smack dab in the middle of the US” (as to give a slight reference for those who have no idea what I’m talking about).
But as I continue to boast about my “Homaha” (as us locals fondly like to call it), people quickly see why Omaha is actually a US Midwest destination that should be on everyone’s list, instead of just another “Fly Over State.”
Here’s just a little insight into why I love letting others know about my beloved hometown and all that it has to offer travelers and tourists alike and why it Omaha, Nebraska is the ideal stop for families.
My husband and I were both born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. We went through University here and started our careers in Omaha. We moved to Germany for 6 years in an attempt to get the travel bug out of our system (unsuccessfully!), but we knew that we’d always call Omaha “home” and that one day, we’d come back. That day came after our son was 6 months and we wanted to be around both of our families, all of whom are also in Omaha.
Lil B is two and a half and we’ve got a brand new nugget who is just a few weeks old! Lil B already has his “Pro Traveler” card so we are excited to get the baby into travel life as well as show him “The Good Life” (our state motto).
Thing to do in Omaha, Nebraska (with kids!)
My Kids Favorite Outing in Omaha is…
Lil B would also say he loves to “Go to the forest.” Living in a big city means not a ton of green space sadly. However, we have the enchanting Fontanelle Forest along the river’s edge with almost 20 miles of beautiful hiking and Lil B just loves to get out into the crisp air and woods (as do I!), even if just for a quick walk.
Bonus Family Tip: Every Monday- Thursday morning, Fontanelle Forest has a program for kids (typically babies through pre-school) that focuses on a new nature-based theme each week. Kids get to create crafts, have hands-on learning and then go outside to bring the lesson into real life. I have yet to see a kid who doesn’t love it!)
Omaha’s Top Tourist Attraction
It is really pretty difficult to choose, seeing as Omaha has so many family-friendly attractions. However, Omaha’s “Can’t Miss” tourist spot would be the Omaha Zoo.
Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is comes in as the number 1 zoo in the world often!!! (Ok, this year I think we are at #2, but we are coming for you #1 next year!)
This place is seriously insane. It has the US’s largest indoor rainforest (complete with swinging monkeys right over your head) and giant waterfalls with bats swooping in and out. Another giant exhibit is the world’s largest indoor desert, where lizards, meerkats and more roam about practically right within reach!!
Often the kids’ favorite indoor attraction at the zoo is arguably the Aquarium and it’s underwater tunnel, where you feel like you are completely immersed under a tropical ocean where sharks, rays and giant sea turtles swim all around you!
Of course, there are the phenomenal outdoor attractions as well, like the African Grasslands, where lions roam about freely on acres of prairie or a where a herd of elephants play together in the watering holes.
Our Family Favorite Bad Weather Outing in Omaha, Nebraska
Nebraska is no stranger to horrible weather in the winter. If there weren’t great places to go in the blustery months, we’d all go stir crazy! Lucky for us, we have so many great indoor activities to keep us sane!
The Children’s Museum is a blast for kids of all ages. With classic activities like hands-on, real-life-like, “grocery shopping” as well as build-it projects, the kids always have a favorite to go to in addition to the rotating exhibits that change every few months, keeping their excitement high for every trip to the museum!
For the active kiddos, nearby Mahoney State Park has an absolutely insane indoor park and climbing gym that makes even the adults a little jealous of how much fun it is!
The Best Free Outing in Omaha for Families
I absolutely adore Omaha in the summer. There are so many free activities going on DAILY throughout the city. One of the classics is a weekly concert series called, “Jazz on the Green” where just you and a couple thousand of other Omahan’s get together on a huge green space, bring a picnic dinner and enjoy a phenomenal free concert under the summer sky.
Another free activity that most Omahan’s love is the multitude of farmer’s markets that can be found throughout the city in the summer and fall months. With Nebraska being such an agricultural state, you can find just about any kind of produce and even craft at these weekly events. I just love getting my fresh, local produce, homemade cheeses, and specialty items, like kombucha at the markets. Plus, it’s a great place for kids to have fun and try new foods!
Our Insider Tip For Visiting Omaha
Nebraska is known for the amazingly nice people. My biggest advice for people coming to Omaha is to not only come here with an open mind because we have SO much to offer travelers and families but to also try to get to know the locals. We are always happy to give advice on the best place to eat and what to do.
Bonus Insider Tip: Try to stay close to “Downtown.” Most of the major things to do are in this location, as is the airport.
Did you know that Nebraska is known as “The Beef State?” We take our steaks seriously!
While you can always go to a classic steakhouse (Johnny’s, Anthony’s, Gorat’s…the list goes on), they are not always kid friendly. If you are staying at a home rental, like AirBnB, go to a local grocery store and buy a Nebraskan steak and cook it up yourself for a cheaper (but still equally as delicious!) version of the steakhouse!
Getting Around Omaha, Nebraska
Sadly, Omaha is NOT known for it’s fantastic public transportation. It’s a big city and is really spread out. Even if just spending the weekend in the Downtown area, it is hard to get around without a car.
Other Top Things To Do in Omaha With Kids
Gene Lehey Mall is Not a MALL at all, this park in the middle of Downtown is a local favorite spot to feed fish, watch swans swim in a lagoon and take a stroll.
Stand In Two States At Once at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, you can actually place your feet in two states at once. Kids LOVE this Instagram worthy photo spot!
The Rose Theater is specifically made JUST for kids! There is always a production going on that is geared towards children, instilling a love of theater early on. Anything from plays to musicals to interactive performances, all with children’s interests (and attention spans!) in mind!
When traveling in the US, the midwestern states are often easily overlooked, which is a shame, considering how much there is to do in these central states.
While Omaha may not have the biggest skyline or weeks worth of itineraries, it is still an absolutely weekend worthy location.
In fact, many travelers love to see the US via a road trip, even with their kids, and often you have to pass right through the Midwest, so why not add Omaha to your itinerary and get your own taste of “The Good Life”!
Born for adventure, LeAnna has travel in her blood and has enjoyed experiencing cultures around the entire globe. Now with a family, travel looks a bit different but is still a top priority for the Brown’s. That includes “settling” back down in their hometown in the state of Nebraska. But the travel hasn’t stopped just because they have kids and no longer live abroad. LeAnna loves inspiring her fellow Nebraskan’s at WellTraveledNebraskan.com to stay and travel their own backyard and make experiences and memories no matter where they are in the world; near or far from home.