4 Picnic Spots in Omaha

Most families have a favorite go-to spot for picnics. Looking for a new one to try? Here are four Omaha parks that are great for picnics.

Elmwood CollageWMElmwood Park

Where: 58th and Happy Hollow Boulevard

What makes it fun: There is a great sandy playground area and lots of green space, but the uniqueness of this park is the grotto and the short wooded trails that are fun to explore.

Where to sit: There are lot of picnic tables, though one cluster has the option of being reserved (FYI – great for reunions and birthday parties). A few picnic tables near the tree line make it more likely to find some shade.ZorinskyWM

Lake Zorinsky

Where: Main entrance to park is at 156th and F streets

What makes it fun: The trail around the lake is a huge draw to active families, so bring along a bike or walking shoes for everybody. There are two playgrounds, I prefer the bigger of the two, so enter the park at 156th and F and head west, you can’t miss it. This playground has one area for smaller kids that I appreciate in addition to the huge play area for all ages.

Where to sit: There are picnic tables under a shelter (both playgrounds, actually have tables under shelters).

Heartland of America Park is a downtown Omaha park with a nice trail and plenty of ducks and geese to feed. This winter picture doesn't do it justice, just trust me.
Heartland of America Park is a downtown Omaha park with a nice trail and plenty of ducks and geese to feed. This winter picture doesn’t do it justice, just trust me.

Heartland of America Park

Where: Eighth and Douglas streets

What makes it fun: It’s an anomaly for parks, since there’s no playground yet kids enjoy themselves here. There’s a fountain to watch (complete with light show) and lots of ducks and geese. Bring old bread to feed the feathered mob that will surely check you out if you have food.

Where to sit: There are some picnic tables but they aren’t really shaded well. If it’s a blazing hot day, you’ll want to bring a blanket to dine under a tree.

In case you were wondering, you can get into the fountain at Joslyn Art Museum. Mooch is crying not because she's in water, but because she was told not to run. She's not a Gremlin ,or anything.
In case you were wondering, you can get into the fountain at Joslyn Art Museum. Mooch is crying not because she’s in water, but because she was told not to run. She’s not a Gremlin ,or anything.

Joslyn Art Museum, children’s sculpture garden

Where: 2200 Dodge St.

What makes it fun: There is a lot of colorful art to touch and explore for little ones – children are encouraged to explore the fanciful sculptures with hands. The stick hut you might remember is no longer there (bummer, Farley loved that), but a new piece has been added since we last visited, Fletcher Benton’s “Folded Square Alphabet O.”

Where to sit: Bring a blanket and find a flat patch of green to set up shop.

Picnic Without Sippy Cups

Need a little romance? I spotted a couple having a picnic in the rose garden at Memorial Park recently (not-so-hidden bottle of wine and everything). Didn’t know there was a rose garden there? Exactly. It’s a quiet place with beautiful scenery, and best of all, very little foot traffic to disturb you.

Surely, you all have some favorites. (I do, and don’t call me Shirley.)

Please comment and share with the rest of us!

Fine Dining With Kids – Is There A Worse Idea?

Grammy and Grampy love their grandkids so much, it clouds their judgement. Take, for example, going out to eat with our kids.

Few restaurants can handle Mooch.
Few restaurants can handle Mooch.

Grammy thinks Farley and Mooch are not only geniuses (they are), but also great dinner companions. So, she invites us out to dinner. She picks places she knows I’d like – yummy! – but these places aren’t, shall we say, on par with Chuck E. Cheese in the kid entertainment department.

I present you a list of restaurants in Omaha that are worth checking out – without your kids. I speak from experience. No one sneered at us when we walked in,

We never got looks like this. We also never tried to pass Farley off as the Sausage King of Omaha.
We never got looks like this. We also never tried to pass Farley off as the Sausage King of Omaha.

but it was not a comfortable experience for me. I knew going in each and every time that it was not a good idea bringing two balls of energy to a restaurant right around bed time, but Grammy insisted.

  1. España – This one’s the freshest in my memory. It was a last-minute invite, and it had been years since I’d had the yummy tapas and sangria here. No babysitter could be secured so I went against my gut instinct and brought the kids. If you haven’t been here, España is a small restaurant in Benson offering Spanish cuisine (ie., food my kids won’t eat). It’s a date place, somewhere you linger and swirl your wine and talk about grown up things. It’s not a place to nurse your screaming child. It’s not a place you’d expect a 2 ½ year old to sit still for two hours, either.

  2. Sage Bistro – We walked in and I saw two couple with kids acting nicely so I felt maybe this wasn’t too bad of an idea (OK, they were infants and they were asleep). It was. It was a bad idea. Sage Bistro is upscale dining at ridiculously low prices, and it’s an awesome place to bring friends to impress them. Located on the Fort Omaha Metro Community College campus, students train to be chefs here. The front of the house is also a training ground, so everyone is very proper and precise and know they’re being graded (diners fill out comment cards). The food’s incredible, and in season (be sure to check the menus in advance to find the best time to make a reservation). However, fine dining experience means the pace is slow and I could not throw enough crusty bread and toys at the kids to keep them occupied. We had to let Mooch run the hall outside the restaurant or she’d start knocking over tables.

  3. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar – The name scream’s “Leave the kids home!” Maybe it just does to me. We had dinner here once because Grammy and Grampy had been out of town, and they really wanted to see the grandkids – and as a bonus there was a good deal on prime steak, so Fleming’s was picked. To be fair, the waiter was very patient with us. And it was this place where we learned Farley eats salads. But, overall, it’s definitely not a kid restaurant. Once again, I found myself nursing a screaming baby and Mr. Wonderful found himself chasing a toddler around a wine bar. And how unfair is it to go to a wine bar and not be able to indulge? Am I right?

  4. Charlie’s On The Lake – This was an ill-fated excursion I had forgotten about, but Mr. Wonderful reminded me. Farley was just a little scamp back then. He has grown to like fish and he sits still on command (well, not “still,” he vibrates with energy), but back in the day, a trip to this nice fish house in West Omaha was a mess. This place is more kid-friendly than the others (it even has a kids menu), but bring a toddler at your discretion.

I’ll likely forget about these past experiences and let my stomach make the decisions … when’s the dinner reservation, Mom?

So, have you brought your kids to a nice restaurant and had a good experience? Keep that to yourself – I want you to share stories about the bad experiences!