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August 17, 2015

Insider’s Guide To The Nebraska State Fair

Updated: August 11, 2017

Kim’s note: The following is a guest post written by my friend, Krynn, who’s been going to the Nebraska State Fair since she was a child and now brings her own family to it each year. If anyone can tell you the ins and outs, the what-to-sees and what-to-eats of this fair, it’s this gal.

State Fair Logo 2

Where do I begin to tell you all about the Nebraska State Fair! The Buffalo County Fair and now the Nebraska State Fair are in my blood thanks to my dad. As a kid, we would haul our silver camper-trailer to the Buffalo County Fair, where my dad would run the Children’s Barnyard. The Children’s Barnyard was just as it sounded – full of baby animals brought by FFA members to show kids. (FFA used to stand for Future Farmers of America. Now they just call it FFA.) I got to help clean the barn, feed the calves, and most importantly play with the puppies and kittens. I also got to roam the fair with my friends and cousins, show some sheep, ride the carnival rides, and eat BLTs and junk food from the 4-H stand. I’m telling you – it runs deep.

So fast forward to the Nebraska State Fair. It is fun and hard work. My husband and I are fortunate to help in the FFA show, again due to my dad, and have for the last eight years.

(My poor husband; I never really told him that he was marrying into the state fair!)

You really have to see it for yourself. These kids work hard, really hard to train and groom their animals. They spend hours upon hours building this relationship. Through all this work, they develop patience, build character, and learn skills for agriculture and for life. And at the end of a long day at the state fair, this is a common sight…

Nebraska State Fair 1

Really, where else can you see kids like this?

So, what to see?

It seems pretty obvious, but one must-see is a youth livestock show.

Hello, you are in Nebraska – animals and agriculture are central to our culture.

Both FFA and 4-H shows are going full-blast on Labor Day weekend.  Check out and for information on how to get involved. They are good stuff!

Also, walk the barns. There are so many awesome animals to see, each representing the best of breeding in their species.

Exploring the barns at the Nebraska State Fair.

Exploring the barns at the Nebraska State Fair.

There is also birthing barn for kids to see brand new babies – literally born at the fair! So, if it is time for the birds and bees talk, there’s no better place to start than the state fair.

And, look at the big pig attraction. I mean look how big he is compared to two adults. Huge!

Ah, nuts. His face is hidden behind that pole.

Ah, nuts. His face is hidden behind that pole.


And, the children’s petting zoo.

The petting zoo at the Nebraska State Fair.

The petting zoo at the Nebraska State Fair.

And, the rides of course.

Even adults want to go.

A state fair isn't complete without midway rides.

A state fair isn’t complete without midway rides.

What to eat?

From what I hear eating should be a top priority, like most state fairs. updated their site so it is interactive. It makes it pretty easy to find what you are looking for.

I hear great things about The Beef Pit and Cactus Jack’s – both worth the walk it takes to get to them.

However as a Pescaterian, recommending food at the state fair seems awkward. Salads are rare and even those feature meat. So I hired two experts in this area. Rachael recommends the Hot Beef Sundae, and compliments to her on taking this photo.  Yes, it’s like i

Behold, the mashed potato sundae, with gravy, cheese, and mashed potatoes.

Behold, the Hot Beef Sundae, with gravy, cheese, and mashed potatoes… and a tomato on top. Photo courtesy Rachael Carlson.

(That is a tomato on top, by the way, and that’s the only way to get one at the fair.)

I think just mentioning the idea of eating at the state fair had her salivating. I think she described this as her “favorite part, because it is sooooo good.”

And my husband, friend Matt, and Dad all highly recommend the Turkey Leg from Hardenbrook vendors. And as you can tell turkey legs are no small feat.

Turkey legs at the Nebraska State Fair come highly recommended.

Turkey legs at the Nebraska State Fair come highly recommended.


Or checkout Mannys Sweet Corn on a Stick; Southwestern, Maple-Chipotle Glazed, Yang (coconut), and Sweet Mexican. This seems like a must in Nebraska.

They have even added a menu for the Health Conscious. Check this out.

This counts as getting a serving of vegetables, right? Photo courtesy

This counts as getting a serving of vegetables, right? Photo courtesy

Looks good to me!

Don’t forget to get dessert at the Heartland Lutheran High School Concessions in the Five Points Livestock Arena Event Center.

See, it sounds amazing.

And the list goes on and on. What does Nebraska have that you have to see. Really, all of it. It isn’t just the activities, concerts, flattest marathon, sky tram, or food. It is tradition since 1868, before Nebraska was even a state. Now that is truly awesome. Go Nebraska!

Come and enjoy – Let me know what you think!



If you go

All of the following information can be found here.

Nebraska State Fair 2017

When: Aug. 25 through Sept. 4, 2017

Where: Fonner Park Road, Grand Island, Neb.

Admission/Discounts: Adults, $9 (in advance; then it goes up to $13), and children, $3; under age 5, FREE. Do not purchase full-priced admission tickets if you are attending the Fair on Aug. 28-31. Reduced price adult tickets will be available AT THE GATE for Aug. 28-31.

Parking: It is free and they have shuttles. The west parking lot and mail entrance on State Fair Boulevard can be accessed from South Locust Street. The east parking lot can be accessed from Stuhr Road. Bus parking will be available on the North side of the grounds, off of Fonner Park Road.

There are four off-site parking locations throughout Grand Island, along with shuttle service (Arrow Stage Lines) to and from the fairgrounds, buses load and unload at the north gate into the Family Fun zone. At the off-site shuttle locations, NSF signage will designate the pickup location.


Note: There is a shuttle, and you get get all the details here.

July 28, 2014

Insider’s Guide To The Iowa State Fair

UPDATED: Aug. 9, 2018

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by the funny Bolton Carley, a blogger out of Bellevue, Neb., who’s made the trip to the Iowa State Fair more times than she’ll admit. She even has her own guide on her blog for the 2018 Iowa State Fair.

Day trip alert!  Day trip alert!

Where do you need to go?  Only one of the 1,000 places you should see before you die:  the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa!  


school and state fair 480

If there was ever a place to see, and a place that offered something for everyone, it would be the Iowa State Fair.  I don’t know another place that provides carnival rides, different flower hybrids, parades, giant sand sculptures, 2,000-pound bulls, gorgeous photography in tribute of Ansel Adams, a sky jack ride, free concerts, fried Snickers, and massaging chairs all in the same place! So where should you be August 9-19?  The Iowa State Fair.

Why? Because as the theme for this year states:  Nothing Compares!


Okay, so maybe I’m bias, but I love the Iowa State Fair and I kinda consider myself an expert.  My parents started taking me when I was born, and although we’ll not mention how many years ago that was, sufficed to say, I know my way around the fairgrounds especially after years of showing cattle there.  So here’s what I can tell you:

*Go hungry!  Actually, go starving, but not so much that you pass out before you make it in the gates!  Also, it might be best to take a break from your diet, too.  The Iowa State Fair is legendary for its corn dogs.  Needless to say, you don’t want to miss out on a footlong!  Yum.  Of course, there are also turkey legs, funnel cakes, snow cones, fresh lemonade shake-ups, fried pickles, malts made from dairy cows milked on the fairgrounds, and my personal fave, fried Oreos.

This is a fried Oreo. You know you want to try it.

This is a fried Oreo. You know you want to try it. Photo courtesy BC Productions

Crazy, huh?  I never thought I’d like them, but O. M. G!  To. Die. For!  The fair prides itself on adding new stuff every year.  Among the newbies this year:  bacon mac ‘n cheese, caprese salad on a stick, and funnel cake sticks.  Eat up, my friends!  And don’t forget to swing by the barrel stands for root beer, a long-standing tradition at the fair.  (But if you’re looking for adult beverages, no worries.  They have a craft beer booth for you to try all Iowa’s new flavors or if you want to chat with the local livestock crowd, find your way to Stockman’s Bar!)

*Okay, it’s hard to top the food, but you also have to see something made of food:  butter!  You must, and I mean MUST, see the butter cow while you’re there.  If you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably already know that’s a major hot spot. Plus, in addition to the butter cow, there will also be a tribute to the “Field of Dreams” this year made solely of butter!  And while you’re in the building, check out the amazing flowers and produce Iowa farmers grow.

Photo courtesy BC Productions

Photo courtesy BC Productions

Let’s just say you’ll be proud to be from the Midwest.

*Need another can’t-miss spot?  The Ye Old Mill.

Behold, Ye Old Mill.

Behold, Ye Old Mill. Photo courtesy BC Productions

It was actually the original water ride at the fairgrounds.  There may, or may not have been, a LOT of first kisses in the darkly lit, canoe ride. Lol.  You might want to hit the big slide, too.  But for those seeking a little more adventure, pack your cash and get shot up in the air like a rocket as seen below.


The thrill-seeker’s kind of ride. Photo courtesy BC Productions


*Who’s not up for free stuff?  You’ll have enough pens, pencils, magnets, and rulers to start school off if you head to the varied industries and the Iowa tourism buildings.  Oh, and they give away great stuff under the grandstand, too.  You can be temporarily-tattooed up in no time at all!

*Of course, if you’re a person after my own heart, you can’t go to the fair without seeing some livestock!  You’ve gotta see the big bull (and yes, all parts of him are big)!  Every year, cattlemen bring in their bulls to fight for the title of largest bull.

Photo courtesy BC Productions

Can’t go to the state fair without seeing livestock. Photo courtesy BC Productions

They do the same with hogs or as we call it The Big Pig. Plus, 4-Hers show farm animals from rabbits to broilers to horses to llamas over the course of the 10-day fair.  And speaking of 4-Hers, you need to check out the 4-H Exhibit building, it’s like real-life Pinterest!  Thousands of great ideas on display to get your creativity going!  (And if you see a pretty girl with a sash that says East Pottawattamie Fair Queen – say “hi” to my niece for me!)

Truthfully, I could go on and on about what you need to see while you visit the fair, but that’s really up to you.  Be sure to check out the Iowa State Fair website for the schedule of events that most interest you and ways to get discount entry into the fair.


Beyond that, my best tip is to park outside the gates.  If you go back off the main streets, you can get cheaper parking in people’s yards and it’s much easier to get out at the end of the day (you can ride the Dart, too, but I’ve never done that).  Also, go early.  It gets crowded later in the day.  I love to people-watch so that’s okay by me, but it will be chaotic and possibly hot!  Finally, take your camera!  You never know when you’ll see that ostrich on a tricycle or the bearded yak lady!

Happy Fair, y’all!

– As a self-proclaimed herder of cattle, kids, and words, Bolton Carley is a blogger, writer, photographer, and farmer’s daughter living in Bellevue, Neb.  Check out her humorous life lessons blog, follow her on Twitter, enjoy her photography, or for all things funny, go to her Facebook page. 


If you go

Iowa State Fair

When: Aug. 9-19, 2018; grounds open 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., buildings from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Midway from 10 a.m. to midnight

Where: 3000 East Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa Map

Admission: Adults, $12; children (6-11), $6; children 5 and younger, FREE

Discounts: Enter between 5 and 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and adults are $6 and children (6-11) are $3. On opening day, tickets are  $6 adult and $3 child from 5 a.m. to noon with a coupon from the Aug. 3 Des Moines Sunday RegisterOn Aug. 11, active and retired members of the military and their spouses are admitted for $8 at the gate (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) with a military ID. On Aug. 12, get $3 off regular admission (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) with a donation of at least two canned food items. Limit one discount per donation. On Aug. 13, fairgoers ages 60 and up get in for $8 at the gate until 5 p.m. On Aug. 17, get $5 off regular adult admission and $2 off admission for children (6-11) until 9 p.m.

Guide to things to do, food to eat, and what not to miss at the Iowa State Fair #thisisiowa #desmoines #statefair #ISF
April 6, 2015

Insider’s Family Guide: Tampa

Editor’s note: Insider’s Family Guide is a guest blogger series that runs occasionally on Oh My! Omaha. In advance of family trips, I like to seek a local’s advice on what to do in their hometowns. Now that Allegiant Air flies directly to Tampa, Fla., from Omaha, it’s pretty easy for an Omaha family to make a trip to this sunny destination, so check out what Marisa Langford (aka TampaMama) recommends for Tampa:

Tampa Like a Local

TampaMama shares her favorite things to do with kids in Tampa. Here, her children pose for a picture while playing at Sail Pavilion. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford

TampaMama, AKA Marisa Langford, shares her favorite things to do with kids in Tampa. Here, her children pose for a picture while playing at Sail Pavilion. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford

I love Tampa. Period. I love everything about my city and living so close to the epic center allows my family to experience it to the fullest everyday. From city park hopping, to concerts in the park, museums, the River and knowing the secrets to the city, here’s my take on Tampa if I only had three days with kids in tow.

Where To Stay

Tampa has many pockets and plenty of places to stay that will put you close to the action and a short drive away from other attractions. I would stay in Downtown Tampa at The Tampa Marriott Waterside or the Embassy Suites Downtown Tampa.

Marriott Waterside. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford.

Marriott Waterside in Downtown Tampa. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford.

Both hotels have TECO Streetcar access to get you to a number of places and are also close to I-275 in case you are heading to Busch Gardens or the beach (Clearwater and St.Petersburg are only a 45 minute drive away.) The airport is about 20 minutes from downtown and both hotels also have shuttles. My recommendation would be to rent a car and we love Alamo!

Where To Play

Once you get settled in (and of course hop in the pool) you’ll want to go explore a few of our best family attractions! If you have a half-day to explore (or a nap time to adhere to), I’d recommend visiting Lowry Park Zoo, The Florida Aquarium or the Glazer Children’s Museum.

Getting up close to a giraffe at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford.

Getting up close to a giraffe at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford.

The Glazer Children’s Museum is geared towards kids 0-5. Fun indoor hands-on activities and you’ll love playing in Curtis Hixon Park afterwards. The Florida Aquarium is downtown in Channelside and has newly been remodeled. Pet stingrays and explore Madagascar’s animals up close! The Explore-A-Shore is fun to cool off with spraying water and a splash pad. The tropical music sets a fun island-like vibe that will have you relaxing while the kids play.

Curtis Hixon Park, located near Glazier Children's Museum, is one of many places to play in Downtown Tampa. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford

Curtis Hixon Park, located near Glazier Children’s Museum, is one of many places to play in Downtown Tampa.
Photo courtesy Marisa Langford

Tampa Insider Tip: Bring swimsuits everywhere because there are usually splash pads and water to cool down and play in while visiting most places and parks.

If you’ve got a full day, and maybe some older children, visit Busch Gardens or Adventure Island. Busch Gardens also has water play areas in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun area, where you’ll also find live character shows and kid-friendly rides for kids under 3 feet! Lots of animals to see and you’ll definitely want to grab a spot on a spacious open-air tour across the wide and wild African Plain on the unforgettable Serengeti Safari. Adventure Island is a full-day of water fun where you can relax in a cabana (available for rent) along with riding some awesome thrill water rides too, or relaxing in the lazy river!

Where to Eat

A fun experience for kids is seeing the Flamenco dancers perform during dinner in historic Ybor City at the Columbia Restaurant. Since 1905, the Gonzmart Family has made its mark on the Tampa food scene with its delicious traditional Cuban food. You can’t leave the Columbia without having the 1905 salad, Cuban coffee or the flan. (Take home a cookbook as a souvenir!)

Datz Deli and Datz Dough in South Tampa are fun to experience and their food is amazing! You’ll love Ulele on the Hillsborough River for a sunset dinner and the kids will love Water Works Park too! Ducky’s is also a fun place to hit with kids (for duck pin bowling with the kids) or Ella’s in Seminole Heights has a great brunch or on Sunday, Soul Food Sunday.

Additional Places I Would Squeeze In

– Curtis Hixon Park is located on the brand new Tampa Riverwalk, along which is home to the Tampa Museum of Art, the Straz Center and the Glazer Children’s Museum. Take a stroll along this new addition to downtown Tampa and dine at Sono Café for a light afternoon lunch with a view.

– If time allows, I’d head over to the Pink Palace, the Lowes Don CeSar and stay one night. A historic hotel known for it’s “pink castle-like” appearance and a very family friendly hotel is a perfect beach stay. Seeing the sun set on St.Pete, a beach over the gulf, is one thing you should definitely make time for.

– The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter and Hope from the hit movie “Dolphin Tale.” If your children love the movie, they will love to see them in person and learn all about how the aquarium helps and rescues other marine life too! Take a Sea Life Safari, which is a 90-minute tour into the beautiful intra-coastal waters. You will search for dolphins, sea birds and other marine life too!

Visiting with dolphins at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford.

A trainer with dolphins at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford.

– Take a ride on an eBOATs on the Hillsborough River. Start at The Sail Pavilion, right outside the Tampa Convention Center on the water, for a late afternoon snack and venture out for a tour of Tampa from the water!

A unique way to see the city - eBoat. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford

A unique way to see the city – eBOAT. Photo courtesy Marisa Langford

– If you are looking for a place to walk around and grab a bit to eat, I would head to Hyde Park Village, where on the first Sunday of every month is an awesome Fresh Market too!


Have an amazing time in my city! While you are here, feel free to tweet me for last minute suggestions @TampaMama or check out all my “Tampa Tips” on


– Marisa Langford (aka TampaMama) is Trekaroo’s Destination Guroo for the state of Florida and the founder of Fit Kids Playground, a website dedicated to helping families push away the screen, eat healthier and move more. She is an active member of Tampa Bay Bloggers too. She is a busy Mom to 4 young kids and loves living in Tampa where the weather is always beautiful and a vacation is only 30 minutes away. On a constant search for adventures with kids, she can be found out and about with her 4 kids (and husband) in tow, enjoying family time together. Find her on Google+ or visit her personal blog at Adventures of Tampa Mama.

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July 7, 2014

Insider’s Family Guide: Lincoln

Insider’s Family Guide is a guest blogger series that runs occasionally on Oh My! Omaha. See previous Insider Family Guides to St. Louis, Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs. Today’s post on Lincoln, Nebraska, is written by Gretchen, the blogger behind Odyssey Through Nebraska. I think you’ll be surprised at all the Lincoln has to offer, especially if you haven’t visited in a while. Enjoy!

I like to keep my options open.  Because of this, I am a big fan of buffets.  Not that I eat enough to make the price worth it, but because I get excited about all of the choices.  My husband is the opposite.  He prefers cut-and-dried, ordering off the menu.  In fact, I often order for him for that very reason.  (No, Waitress, I am really not that bossy!)

When I was asked to write a “Local’s Guide to Lincoln” post for Oh My! Omaha, I was honored.  Struggling to narrow down my favorites was a bit hard, but maybe for a girl who does like possibilities, this makes sense.  Therefore, I made a decision.  By including links to a bunch of places, these varied options are for those of you who like to write your own adventures.  For those of you who like to be guided along, I will include lengthier information about my “favorite” places to go around Nebraska’s Capital City.

What To Do

If I were bringing the children along, stops at the Lincoln Children’s Museum and at the Lincoln Zoo would be high on my list.  If just my girl were along, I would stop by the Nebraska Governor’s Residence, so that she could see all of the inaugural ball gowns and the First Lady dolls.  My three sons always enjoy a visit to the UNL Tractor Test & Power Museum.

Among the places in Lincoln to visit with kids is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Tractor Test Museum. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Among the places in Lincoln to visit with kids is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Tractor Test Museum. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Catching a Saltdogs baseball game, a Lincoln Stars hockey match or any Huskers sporting event is always fun for our family.  We particularly love taking a scheduled tour of Memorial Stadium.  Our football facilities are amazing to see!

For those art aficionados, I would recommend The Sheldon Museum of Art and also Kiechel Fine Art Gallery because seeing an original Andy Warhol in person is just cool.  Another one of our favorite creative places to visit is the International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

To pick only ONE place to take guests in Lincoln, the choice is an obvious one for me.  Viewable across the city, the Nebraska Capitol is my favorite Lincoln location to visit.  Featuring exquisite architecture, detailed mosaics, storied tapestries and so many spaces to explore, the Capitol is a feast for the eyes.

The state capitol building is the a must-visit. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

The state Capitol building is the a must-visit. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

By taking a tour, you will learn the significance of all of the components that were brought together to tell Nebraska’s story.  Wandering through the Hall of Fame gives you a glimpse into the lives of some of the men and women that have made our state what it is today.  While you can walk around on your own, you will miss the insider perspective and will also not get to see quite as much as the judicial chambers are typically locked up and the legislative chamber can only been seen through the glass panels.

The Nebraska State Capitol. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

The Nebraska State Capitol. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

What do my four children love the most about the Capitol?  Riding the elevator to the very top and looking out across Lincoln.  On days where the weather cooperates, the exterior balcony doors are propped open for you to go out and take a peak.  Picking out buildings and locations across the Lincoln skyline is a fun challenge.

Where To Eat

For being a smaller city, Lincoln has many, many delicious and unique locations to dine.  Being known for Nebraska beef, Misty’s Steakhouse and Brewery and Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill provide great options.  We also have several original renowned ethnic eateries: The Oven (Indian cuisine), The Blue Orchid (Thai cuisine), Sebastian’s Table (Spanish tapas) and The Normandy (casual French cuisine). These are all places that I would go on date nights.

Getting pizza from Valentinos or from Isles Pizza and Pub in Havelock are also great food options.  If I were to eat out with my family across Lincoln for one day, these are the locations that I would pick. Maybe we will have to have a stay-cation soon!


The Doughnut Hole in Lincoln’s new Railyard District. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

The Doughnut Hole in Lincoln’s new Railyard District. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.


Wanting to start your day with a sugar rush of deliciousness?  Look no further than The Doughnut Hole (350 Canopy Street) in Lincoln’s new Railyard District.  Their selections change daily and even seasonally, with a few standard options such as vanilla-bean glaze and their popular maple-bacon are always available. Featuring Stumptown Coffee, starting your day here provides a great beginning.


On my to-try list is A Cafe by ChefauChef which is a new downtown Lincoln bistro that just opened in June.  If I were looking for a sit-down week-end restaurant, I would visit

The Green Gateau at 330 S. 10th. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

The Green Gateau at 330 S. 10th. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

.  Having been to many a bridal shower here, we often picked brunch as our time.  My favorite is definitely the French Toast!

Lunch: The Burger Wars

Enjoying a great burger for lunch always sounds like a winning option to me.  We have two favorite places to grab a burger, and they happen to be on opposite sides of Lincoln.  We tend to frequent the northeast one more often since it is closer to home, but when we are eating out in southwest Lincoln, we do enjoy the other place as well.


My husband and I enjoy date nights at Honest Abe's, but we cannot tell the kids our destination, or they would BEG to tag along!  Both of the framed pictures describe my husband! Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

My husband and I enjoy date nights at Honest Abe’s, but we cannot tell the kids our destination, or they would BEG to tag along!  Both of the framed pictures describe my husband! Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Honest Abe’s Burgers & Freedom is located at 854 N. 70th St.  The actual restaurant space is rather small, so if you want to dine in, I suggest not arriving at 6 p.m. Thankfully, you can get burgers to go any time. While they do have a few standards that always remain on the menu, they are also known for having a rotating menu. I really like the 1809 featuring a 6 oz. patty, smoked gouda, applewood bacon, pickled apples and smoky honey mayo. While I could order that any visit and be perfectly happy, often their featured “temporary” burgers sound so intriguing that I go that direction  as well since they are around for a limited time. Paying the extra $1 for the Parmesan Truffle fries is a great idea!

Getting their menu updates are possible if you sign up for their Honest Abe’s Facebook page.  One important detail to note: they are CLOSED on Sundays.

HF Crave at 2801 Pine Lake Road. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

HF Crave at 2801 Pine Lake Road. Photo courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

HF Crave can found at 2801 Pine Lake Road in the SouthPointe shopping complex area. This is a farm-to-table restaurant in the purest sense. JR & Marcy Hollenbeck and family raise the beef that is served in their restaurant. They have “Build It How You Crave It” where you pick the type of bun, type of meat and your desired toppings. A whole line of signature burgers is also available where they pick the toppings for you. I really like the PB & B featuring peanut butter and bacon especially with their sweet potato fries!  Yum!

Dinner: A Nebraska Original

Parker's Smokehouse 64th and O. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Parker’s Smokehouse 64th and O. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Located at 64th and O, near Gateway Mall, Parker’s Smokehouse now has expanded to have locations in both Ashland and Nebraska City. This is often our family’s pick for birthday celebrations. As far as menu options, their tagline, “Barbecue with Soul” says it all. Featuring their slowly-smoked meats such as Georgia pulled-pork, Texas beef brisket and St. Louis-style BBQ spare ribs, the barbecue options are amazing. Deciding from the options may be challenging as they are all delicious and determining which of their four sauces to top your chosen meat with may also cause you some thought. On the weekends, they make the choices even harder when they add smoked prime rib to the menu. Not into barbecue? Having signature salads and sandwiches are also always options. Whatever you choose, you will leave satisfied.

Food at Parker's Smokehouse. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Food at Parker’s Smokehouse. Photo collage courtesy Odyssey Through Nebraska.

Did I give you enough options to provide you with a great day in Lincoln? I hope so. The people here are friendly, and often Lincoln has been called a “small town” city. We hope you come to visit us soon! If you want to learn about additional Lincoln adventures, I often feature my hometown, as well as other Nebraska places on my blog, Odyssey Through Nebraska.

 – Gretchen Garrison has been married to her best friend for 14+ years.  Together they are raising their four children, and she is attempting to homeschool them.  (All four will be in school officially this year!)  By blogging at, she is inspired to take her kids places rather than just planning to go there “someday.”  

Posts you may like:

My Nebraska Bucket List

Adventures At Morrill Hall

What’s Kid-Friendly In Lincoln’s Haymarket

November 11, 2013

Insider’s Family Guide: St. Louis

Insider’s Family Guide is a new series that will run occasionally on Oh My! Omaha. When my family has a trip on the horizon, I’m going to seek out tips on where to go, where to eat and where to stay. This is the first in the series and I could not have found a better source than Adam Sommer over at Visit Flyover Country. This dad knows all about traveling with kids and he shares my appreciation of a good breakfast.
* * * * *

I have always been spoiled living in St. Louis, where I was born, raised, and enjoyed some of the nation’s best attractions – all for free! “Forever free” is actually part of the mission of a group of my hometown’s world-class attractions including one of the nation’s top ranked zoos, our just expanded art museum, the #5 science center in the nation, and our history museum. Of course St. Louis, Missouri is also home to many other attractions which charge admission, plus plenty of family friendly dining and countless high-quality lodging.

Although I have not taken a “staycation” in St. Louis I do regularly visit many of our attractions on a regular basis with the family. Here are a few of the highlights, perfect for a weekend family getaway to The Gateway City:

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What I’d do

The Saint Louis Zoo, the most visited zoo in the world, is not only free, ranked in the top 3 zoo’s in the nation (Parent’s Magazine), but its also our best family attraction. A full day could be happily spent here enjoying the children’s zoo, Zooline Railroad, and plethora of new exhibits. Open 9-5 daily; free.

The Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the world’s finest botanical research centers, is also home to an incredible children’s garden. My family typically visits every weekend enjoying the children’s play areas, the Climatron, feeding fish in the largest Japanese garden outside of Japan, and simply taking in the gorgeous gardens. Admission is $8 for anyone over 12; $4 for the children’s garden (12 and under only, adults free). Open 9 to 4 daily; children’s garden April – October only.

City Museum is probably our most unique attraction for kids. Difficult to describe other than to say its part children’s museum, part science center, part aquarium all built with an eccentric twist. Admission is $12; open 9-5 Wednesday – Sunday.

Additional awesome family attractions include The Magic House, Museum of Transportation, Grant’s Farm (free), St. Louis Science Center (free), and because its St. Louis, a Cardinals baseball game.

Of course no visit to STL would be complete with taking the journey to the top of the Gateway Arch!

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Where I’d eat

For a healthy start to the day, I’d recommend breakfast at Local Harvest Cafe, home to mostly locally grown & organic ingredients. Ideally located next to Tower Grove Park, home to our best farmer’s market (on Saturdays) and near the Missouri Botanical Garden. Another great option is the Benton Park Cafe, located across from Gus’ Pretzels (order freshly made pretzels) and next to the AB Brewery offering free family-friendly tours including the popular Clydesdales.

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Lunch is a step back in time at Jennifer’s Pharmacy and Soda Shoppe in Clayton where diners sit on stools and order hand-made burgers, soups, pies and cookies from the friendliest staff in town all set within an ole fashioned gift shop. And you can’t go wrong with the famous Crown Candy Kitchen known for its BLT (containing 1 lb of bacon) and shake challenge.

The Fountain on Locust offers a fun, unique, and quality dinner experience. This nostalgic eatery is known for its locally-sourced ingredients, incredible shakes, hand-painted ceiling, and even won a national award for the country’s best bathroom!

Where I’d stay

Blessed with an abundance of hotels, St. Louis lodging is affordable and varied among its offerings. I’d recommend staying either downtown (note you will pay to park) or better yet in the county where parking will be free (a car is required to explore St. Louis). Drury Hotels are plentiful (20 locations in STL) and popular, as “all the extras are free” including breakfast and a light dinner (including hotdogs for kids), plus most are suites, offering more space for families.

– Adam Sommer regularly blogs about family travel in the Midwest at Visit Flyover Country. Follow Adam on Twitter,Facebook or visit his blog

Your turn: Where do you recommend we go while in St. Louis? What’s your favorite kid-friendly attraction?

June 11, 2013

Insider’s Family Guide: Council Bluffs

Some of you know that I used to work in Council Bluffs, Iowa, for years. I grew to feel protective of the city and the quirky people who call it home. It’s a neat place once you drive past the casinos and steer clear of the west end of West Broadway (the 100 block, I dig). I invited a friend to provide an insider’s look at the family-friendly scene Council Bluffs offers. Go out and explore it sometime.

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Living and loving the CB life

Council Bluffs has been known to get a bad rap. You may have heard the old familiar “Counciltucky.”  But no matter what you hear you will never know the true gem Council Bluffs is until you get out and explore all it has to offer.

I am a mother of a 10-month-old son. Taking him places isn’t always an easy feat (will it ever be?) and finding places that spark his interest and keep him occupied is always on my to do list. One place we love to go visit is Bass Pro Shops. Yes, you read that right; I know, I know … it’s a hunting and fishing store. However, they have a lot more to offer than just kayaks and duck calls for sale.  Bass Pro has an 18,000-gallon fish tank that is sure to mesmerize your little ones. There are all kinds of wildlife animals on display throughout the store and even a carnival like shooting range upstairs for the bigger kids. One of the best things about Bass Pro is all the free family events they hold throughout the year.  They have a Santa’s workshop, visits with the Easter Bunny, Family Summer Camp and many more.  Not only are these events free, but they often include free take home projects for the kiddos and free holiday pictures.  A quick trip to the BP can be a fun learning experience for the whole family!

Ditmars Orchard is another great, quick day visit for the family. Take the kids out for some fruit picking, corn-digging and tractor pull rides. Ditmars also hosts numerous events throughout the year. From their fall time pumpkin patch to live music performances and a hot air balloon festival – it’s always worth it to see what they have to offer!

Tiffany, a Council Bluffs, Iowa, native and mother of an adorable boy, shares tips on where to go in Council Bluffs with little ones in tow.

Tiffany, a Council Bluffs, Iowa, native and mother of an adorable boy, shares tips on where to go in Council Bluffs with little ones in tow.

Council Bluffs has many other amazing locations to check out. If you want to explore history, I suggest the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, Historic General Dodge House, Squirrel Cage Jail or the Lewis and Clark Monument. These locations would make for great learning scavenger hunts if you have older children.

If you want to take in some fresh air and nature, visit one of our amazing parks.  Big Lake is an excellent park to visit – you can fish, have a picnic and play on the kid friendly playground!

Council Bluffs has a lot to offer if you give it a chance and it’s a wonderful place for a family adventure!

– Tiffany is a crafter, diaper changer and recipe maker out to change the world one Pinterest project at a time. Read more by this 30-something first-time mom at