Search Results for: old school

June 5, 2017

Old School Omaha: NiteNawkes Cafe

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

NiteHawkes Cafe - One of Omaha's oldest restaurants. Here's a look at what breakfast is like there. #Omaha #history #Nebraska

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

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

Exterior of NiteHawkes Cafe in Omaha, Nebraska
A busy parking lot is a good sign for a local restaurant.

My kind of place.

Atmosphere at NiteHawkes

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

Interior fo NiteNawkes Cafe at breakfast time in Omaha, Nebraska
I bet this place gets pretty busy on a weekend morning.

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

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

The food at NiteHawkes

Heaping plate of eggs and hashbrowns at NiteHawkes Cafe, one of the longest-running restaurants in Omaha
You’d better arrive hungry at NiteHawkes Cafe. This is The Scrambler and it comes with either pancakes or toast. Go big or go home.

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

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

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

Kid's pancake at NiteHawkes Cafe in Omaha
M&Ms on my kids’ pancakes because the syrup was just not enough sugar. 🙂

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

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

Mug of coffee at NiteHawkes Cafe, one of Omaha's oldest restaurants
Good coffee elevates a diner to a whole new level.

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

Overall experiences

Kids at the NiteHawkes Cafe counter
Hanging out at the NiteHawkes Cafe counter.

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

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

If you go

Nitehawkes Cafe

Where: 4825 N. 16th St.

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

Website

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May 18, 2017

Old School Omaha: Johnny’s Cafe

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

What's it like dining at one of Omaha's oldest restaurants, Johnny's Cafe? It's an old-school steakhouse with a retro interior to match. #Omaha #steaks

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

Friends rave about Johnny’s

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

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

It wasn’t what I had expected.

Unfortunately.

History of Johnny’s Cafe

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

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

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

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

Johnny’s Cafe Atmosphere

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

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

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

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

Heavy front doors at the entrance of Johnny's Cafe, one of Omaha's oldest restaurants
Johnny’s Cafe may just have the coolest entrance in Omaha. The front doors are so interesting.

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

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

Food at Johnny’s Cafe

A plate of chicken and mashed potatoes at Johnny's Steakhouse
The chicken and mashed potatoes entree at Johnny’s Cafe.

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

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

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

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

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

Related post: Where to get the best steaks in Omaha

One last thing about Johnny’s Cafe

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

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

If you go

Johnny’s Cafe

Where: 4702 S. 27th St.

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

Website

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May 3, 2017

Old School Omaha: Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria

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

Orsi's Italian Bakery is Omaha's oldest restaurant located in Little Italy #eatlocal #Nebraska #Omaha

The longest running restaurant in Omaha is Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria. Orsi’s started in 1919 and added pizza in the 1960s.

Let’s talk about Orsi’s. I’ve never been inside this tiny place in Little Italy until a rainy day this spring.

Exterior of Orsi's Italian Bakery & Pizzeria in Omaha' Little Italy neighborhood
Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria can be found just outside of the Old Market, in a neighborhood that was once a bustling Little Italy.

Orsi’s is a popular pizza to serve at public gatherings, and so I have tasted it before. 

However, I soon learned that eating a slice in a conference room pales in comparison to visiting in person.

Italian Food at Orsi’s

I brought my son with me to try Orsi’s and, so, while there were deli items on the menu, we were there for the pizza. I always figured I was a thin-crust kind of pizza lover, but Orsi’s has proven me wrong. This is good stuff, and so fresh. A medium was more than plenty for the two of us.

Small dining room inside Orsi's in downtown Omaha
Orsi’s is more of a take-out restaurant than dine-in.

We also tried the garlic bread, which Jim, the friendliest guy behind a counter ever, added on to our order on the house. My son could’ve, and would’ve, only eaten that if I let him.

For dessert, there are cookies and cannoli to choose from, plus a lot of sweet stuff on the store shelves. We split a cannoli, half chocolate and vanilla. If you ask me, the vanilla was the best; my son would disagree.

Like anything good, there’s a wait. Order ahead of time if you are in a crunch over the lunch time.

They sell their fresh baked goods, plus meats and cheeses and a ton of imported goods, as well.

Little Italy Atmosphere

The deli counter at Orsi's Italian Bakery & Pizzeria
The deli counter at Orsi’s.

This is a deli and bakery and there is no permanent seating, besides some benches. However, they are prepared for people like me, who’ve never been there.

Jim set up a table for us in front of a bench, and we dined while looking at old photographs on the wall and people-watching as regulars came and went with their take-out.

One of the grocery shelves inside Orsi's Italian Bakery & Pizzeria in Omaha
The deli has imported goods and homemade pastas and baked goods.

Orsi’s maintains a neighborly feel to it, having been a part of Omaha’s Little Italy for decades. It is one of the few remaining establishments from what had been a very lively neighborhood.

It’s a comfortable place, and you feel like you’re stepping into Omaha history when you walk through the doors.

Final Thoughts

Orsi's Italian Bakery & Pizzeria sign

Orsi’s was a pleasant surprise for me. I was unsure about dining in, and as I suspected, there isn’t a technical dining room. But, I enjoyed our makeshift spot and liked the atmosphere of this neighborhood joint.

I’d recommend ordering takeout, for sure, but it’s not a bad thing to sit and watch a neighborhood bakery/pizzeria’s hustle.

If you go

Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria

Where: 621 Pacific St.

Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Website

Let’s keep this old-school Omaha tour going. Where should I go to next?

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April 24, 2017

Old School Omaha: Gorat’s Steakhouse

Kim’s Note: While working on a book about Omaha restaurants that have closed, I started to notice a trend about the more recently shuttered spots. I hadn’t dined at nearly all the ones that were still open in recent years. And I missed out on some gems. So I’ve decided to make it a goal to visit Omaha’s oldest restaurants before any more shut down before I’ve had a chance to sample their best. Please check out the other restaurants in the Old School Omaha series.

A peek inside Gorat's Steakhouse, the restaurant known to be a favorite of Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett. #Omaha #Nebraska #steaks

Gorat’s Steakhouse

The first restaurant I ventured to after I made this pledge to dine at Omaha’s oldest restaurants has become an Omaha institution thanks to our city’s favorite billionaire, Warren Buffett. That’s right, we went to Gorat’s Steakhouse.

Food at Gorat’s

Old Italian steakhouse entrees remained popular at Gorat’s, even after new ownership. Prime rib au jus, chicken parmesan, and good old spaghetti and meatballs are on the menu, as are burgers, sandwiches and small plates.

Chicken picatta at Gorat's Steakhouse in Omaha
What you’d expect for a steakhouse dinner.

I tried the chicken piccata, which was pretty good though oddly served with the sauce on the side. It is a kid-friendly restaurant so there is a kid’s menu. The food, from cheeseburger to steak, on the kid’s menu is between $6 to $8.

There’s a plentiful bread basket brought to the table before your meal arrives. My kids were sure to fill up on that so they wouldn’t eat their dinner. Naturally.

What’s it like inside Gorat’s?

Exterior of Gorat's Steakhouse in Omaha
The exterior of Gorat’s Steakhouse still screams old school steakhouse.

The exterior hints at the bygone days, but once you’re inside that old school steakhouse vibe is gone. The restaurant has been remodeled since it first opened in 1944. It looks more modern farmhouse than old school Italian steakhouse, though the women’s bathroom still had an vintage feel to it. There were some pictures to call to mind older days.

There’s a lounge with live music, which attracted my kids (the live music attract them, that is, not the lounge).

Buffett Sightings at Gorat’s

Kids looking at the children's menu at Gorat's Steakhouse in Omaha
No Warren Buffett sightings at Gorat’s, not that my kids appeared to be noticing anything other than the kid’s menu.

Gorat’s has long been known as a restaurant of choice for Warren Buffett and the Berkshire Hathaway stakeholders who flock to the city each May.

We did not see the billionaire on the night we were there. Has it ever happened to anyone or is that a myth?

Final thoughts on Gorat’s

I can’t speak for how Gorat’s once was, but I can stay there’s a reason people still dine there. I can’t quite put my finger on that reason – is it loyalty or the dream of rubbing elbows with Warren or love of the food?

Neon sign in front of Gorat's Steakhouse in Omaha
The iconic Gorat’s sign.

Dining at Gorat’s was pleasant but it didn’t feel like I was experiencing a bit of Omaha history while being there. It was underwhelming. My 7-year-old, however, was impressed. As we left, he announced “That was one classy joint.”

Where does he learn these things?

If you go

Gorat’s Steakhouse

Where: 4917 Center St.

Website

What has been your experience at Gorat’s? Where should I head to next in this series?

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January 21, 2019

Goldfish Swim School In Omaha

If you haven’t heard about Goldfish Swim School yet, just you wait. My guess is this place is going to be popular! Goldfish Swim School is opening in West Omaha this spring, and I’m partnering with them to share the details. Keep an eye on the Oh My! Omaha Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages – I’ll have a giveaway coming up AND I’ll be sharing pictures from the new location once my kids start swim lessons.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Goldfish Swim School. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What to expect at Goldfish Swim School - A look at class size, the tropical decor, and the perks of having a membership #GoldfishSwimSchool #Omaha #swimming

What’s unique about Goldfish Swim School

I had a chat with April Cavender, the general manager at Goldfish Swim School West Omaha, and she shared why this particular swim school is unique: Comfort. She said the environment is comfortable for everyone.

Swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School, with parents in the background.
A view of swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School. You can see the parents sitting on the other side of the glass windows in the background. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

And Cavender knows what a difference it makes with something as simple as being comfortable. Her kids were competitive swimmers, so she spent hours poolside in all sorts of conditions. She recalled how usually she was either really hot and really cold.

That’s not how it is at Goldfish Swim School.

Group of kids splashing water with their feet at Goldfish Swim School pool
Kids splashing water in the pool at Goldfish Swim School. There will be a location in Omaha starting Spring 2019. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

“The setting at Goldfish Swim School is accommodating for parents,” she said. “From my first impression, I thought ‘Wow, it hits every aspect a parent and child needs in a swim environment.’”

Goldfish Swim School lessons

Swim instruction at Goldfish Swim School is for children ages 4 months to 12 years old. Lessons are designed for the busy family, so schedules are flexible. Plus, it’s easy to schedule a makeup session. Lessons are indoors and year-round with highly-trained instructors.

Student and instructor in the pool at Goldfish Swim School
A Goldfish Swim School instructor and a student practicing her kicks. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Here are a few more key things that make Goldfish Swim School stand out:

Small class sizes. At the most, your child will be with three other students for their half-hour class. With the 4:1 ratio, kids advance quickly. Once they achieve specific goals, they progress to the next class. According to
Cavender “We have very specific curriculum that emphasizes the safety aspect of children in the water.”

There are also options for private lessons.

Shiver-free 90-degree pools. It’s all about being comfortable in the water.

Perpetual lessons. Perpetual lessons means families can enroll at any time.

Comfort is king. They think of the parents and keep them comfortable. The viewing gallery for parents is air-conditioned.

Spacious family dressing area with private changing rooms. Plus, there’s a blow dry bar to making it convenient to get kids ready to head home.

Kids drying their hair at the blow dry bar at a Goldfish Swim School
The blow dry bar fits in with Goldfish Swim School’s tropical decor. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Super cute decor. They’ve got a tropical theme going on at Goldfish Swim School. There’s even a snack bar.

Community-minded. Cavendar told me how parents with kids in Goldfish Swim School feel like they’re a part of a community. But in another sense, the swim school maintains community involvement outside of the facility. “The community aspect is extremely important,” said Cavender. Don’t be surprised if you see representatives from Goldfish Swim School at fun runs for kids or involved in other types of events related to health and safety.

How to enroll in swim lessons

Registration is now open! You can enroll for swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School here. Classes will begin in early March.

Parents with their babies at a swim class in a Goldfish Swim School pool
Goldfish Swim School in West Omaha will have swim classes for children ages 4 months to 12 years old. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Enrollment is $84 for lessons per month, perpetual fee plus annual membership fee is $25. Families never pay more than $40 for the membership fee, so if you have two kids, it’s capped at $40.

With your enrollment, your child receives a swim goodie bag that’s age-appropriate. For instance, infants will have a swim diaper in their goodie bag. Each week, swimmers earn a prize following lessons. I can see how that would be totally motivating for my kids.

More things to know about Goldfish Swim School

In addition to swim lessons, has a few more offerings you should know about.

Families playing at Goldfish Swim School during a Family Swim
A view of the pool at Goldfish Swim School during a Family Swim. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Community Grand Opening – Mark your calendars! The pool will have a FREE Grand Opening event on March 30 from 2 to 5 p.m. 

Golden & Charter Memberships – For the cost of six months of swim lessons (Golden Membership) or one year of swim lessons (Charter Membership), you receive some perks. Golden Membership holders receive 50% off a two-hour private party and a six-month Family Swim pass. Charter Membership holders receive a free private two-hour party, a one-year Family Swim Pass, and a tile on the Charter Membership wall.

The Golden and Charter Memberships are only available for purchase prior to opening and the first three months of business – so don’t wait if one interests you!

Family Swim – The open family swims are usually held in the early afternoon between the morning and afternoon swim lessons. The pool has toys to add to the fun. Family Swims are open to the public. If you have a membership, you’re admitted free on weekdays. Otherwise, it’s $5 per person or $15 per family maximum.

Party packages – You can celebrate a birthday at Goldfish Swim School. Imagine having a tropical party in Omaha!

Related post: Water Fun In Omaha For Every Budget

If you go

Goldfish Swim School West Omaha

Where: 2502 S. 133rd Plaza, Omaha

Website

What to expect at Goldfish Swim School location in Omaha Nebraska - Info on class size, the tropical decor, and the perks of having a membership #GoldfishSwimSchool #Omaha #swimming

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June 26, 2019

Everything You Need To Know About Arnolds Park

Arnolds Park Amusement Park is a nostalgic gem in the heart of Iowa. This historic attraction has played a lead role in memories for many people in Iowa and Nebraska who’ve vacationed in Okoboji. I’ve never been until I became a parent, but now I can finally check it off my list.

Headed to Okoboji? A visit to the Great Lakes of Iowa isn't complete without a day at Arnolds Park Amusement Park. Here's everything you need to know to plan a visit  - prices, best time to visit, and the best tips. #guide #Okoboji #iowa #thisisiowa

Want to plan a visit with your family? Read on for my tips on the park, plus all the important things you need to know about Arnolds Park should you be planning your first visit.

Disclosure: My visit was hosted by Vacation Okoboji and I received complimentary passes. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What is Arnolds Park?

First off, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about Arnolds Park. There is the town of Arnolds Park in north central Iowa and then there’s Arnolds Park Amusement Park. The amusement park is commonly referred to as Arnolds Park, though.

Things to know about Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Iowa, USA - It's home to the 7th oldest wooden roller coaster in the U.S.

The amusement park dates back to its first water slide into West Lake Okoboji in 1889. Its most famous ride, the wooden roller coaster called The Legend, opened in 1930. Still in operation, it’s the seventh oldest wooden roller coast in the U.S. and the 13th oldest in the world.

Today, there are about 24 rides and attractions at Arnolds Park Amusement Park. It’s on the small end of amusement parks but I think that’s what adds to the charm. You’re not exhausted by the visit.

Plus, it’s FREE! Well, technically it’s free, but if you want to ride any rides, you’ll need to get a wristband. More on that below.

Hidden gems of Arnold Park

My kids will tell you everything is a gem there. However, there are some hidden gems you should seek out during your visit.

Right outside the amusement park and right in front of a line of souvenir shops, you’ll find Harmony Park. The park has several musical instruments to play.

Things to do near Arnolds Park Amusement Park - Play the instruments at Harmony Park. It's a free park right next to the amusement park!

If your child has sensory overload from all the rides, this is a nice place to sit and chill out. It’s rather calming to play the xylophone and bells.

You may have seen pictures of the huge Arnolds Park slide. My husband remembers the slide from his childhood. It’s no longer in the amusement park itself, but you can find it nearby.

Historic Arnolds Park wooden slide - The slide is found inside Arnolds Park Museum located near Arnolds Park Amusement Park.

The slide is located inside the Arnolds Park Museum (which I found by going through the Maritime Museum). Because we had day passes to the amusement park, we could ride the slide as much as we wanted.

Both museums are interesting to wander around, but good luck doing that with young kids. Most will be more interested in the slide or going back to the amusement park.

What’s the best age to go to Arnolds Park Amusement Park?

When I visited, my kids were ages 7 and 9 and that was, in my view, the start of ideal ages to go. They were tall enough to go on all of the rides, including the thrill rides.

The height requirement for a few was 48 inches to ride alone. The Legend being the only one that required a ride be 48 inches to ride with or without an adults. My youngest only needed me to ride with her on the bumper cars since she wasn’t tall enough to drive.

Roll-O-Plane thrill ride at Arnolds Park Amusement Park near West Okoboji Lake in Iowa

And they were small enough to not feel too self-conscious if they wanted to go on kiddie rides. It was perfect!

If your children are younger than grade school age, there are fewer rides for them. But, you don’t want to skip some of the non-ride attractions like the Mirror Maze and the Tipsy House.

Tip: For the best views of the West Okoboji Lake, ride either the Ferris wheel or The Legend.

Arnolds Park hours and prices

Being an amusement park in the Midwest, you can imagine that Arnolds Park operates seasonally. Arnolds Park opens in mid-May through September.

The hours vary, with the peek operating hours being in June and July. Starting the Friday before Memorial Day, the park starts opening daily at 10 a.m. The closing time varies between 7 to 10 p.m. Check the calendar to plan your visit.

If you want a tip about timing the visit, let me tell you, we went on the Sunday before Memorial Day and it was great! The summer crowds hadn’t arrived yet, so we had minimal waits for rides.

In fact, for my kids’ two favorite rides, The Legend and the Rock-O-Plane, they were able to stay seated and ride a few times before having to exit.

Rock-O-Plane at Arnolds Park - One of the popular thrill rides at the Okoboji amusement park in Iowa

Like most summer tourist attractions, weekends are going to busier than weekdays.

Admission is offered by day pass and season memberships. Day passes are $29.95 if purchased online and two-day passes are $49.95.

Tip: The Sunset Pass is only $24.95 and is good for rides during the last two hours of the day.

You can choose to get some add-ons to your day pass, such adding a ride on the Queen II boat or get the Ultimate Pass that includes a $10 food voucher and $20 in game tickets.

Tip: From experience, the Queen II boat ride is tough for young kids to sit through. The excitement dies down after 3 minutes and then you have about 57 minutes to spend trying to entertain them.

Tip: Not totally unrelated to the previous tip…the Queen II does have a bar. For the kids. I mean, you can get soda and popcorn or candy for the kids. And maybe something for yourself.

The only thing not included with the day pass or membership are the Raceway rides on the Family Track and Slick Track. The Family Track requires riders to be age 9 and older. The Slick Track has the height minimum of 54 inches tall.

Also, if you don’t have a season pass or a day pass, the slide at the Arnolds Park Museum is $1 per ride.

Food at Arnolds Park

Expect to find the typical amusement park concessions at Arnolds Park Amusement Park. Food available includes hamburgers, hot dogs, and popcorn.

Food in Arnolds Park - The iconic Nutty Bar Ice Cream shop is within walking distance of Arnolds Park Amusement Park.

Since you can come and go from Arnolds Park Amusement Park whenever you feel like it, there is the option to leave the park. We left twice during our day there to get food.

Tip: I recommend getting ice cream at Nutty Bar, an iconic ice cream stand located across the street from Arnolds Park Amusement Park.

Arnolds Park events

My visit was a bit early for all the summer events Arnolds Park Amusement Park has each year, but you can plan your vacation to coincide with some great (and sometimes free) events!

Ferris wheel at Arnolds Park Amusement Park - For a good view of West Okoboji Lake and all the happenings at the amusement park, take a ride on this ride.

Among the events are:

Live at the Lake: A free concert series at Arnolds Park Amusement Park. These are held on select weekend nights all summer long. Concerts start at 7:30 p.m. at Preservation Plaza.

Jazzed Up Big Band: Tuesdays from mid-June to mid-August are nights for swing music at Arnolds Park. Music is performed by a 16-piece band.

Movies at the Park: Every Wednesday night is a different free, family-friendly movie screening. They start at sunset at Preservation Plaza.

Rock The Roof: Thursday nights are set aside for music and dancing, starting at 6 p.m. Cost is $8 or $15 per couple. Season passes are available.

Roof Garden Concert Series: This is a ticketed concert series held inside the iconic Roof Garden concert venue. Concert dates, start times and ticket prices vary.

Guide to planning a family vacation to Arnolds Park, a historic amusement park in Iowa. Get all the details on rides, food, prices and the best time to visit. #Guide #Okoboji #Iowa

Plan your Okoboji trip

Want to plan an Okoboji trip for your family? Start with this guide to Okoboji in the summer (with kids) and get more inspiration from my Iowa Bucket List.

Coming soon! I’ll go into details of some of our favorite things in Okoboji in these posts:

Best Okoboji Restaurants For Families

Where to stay lakeside in Okoboji

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