16 Charming Pumpkin Patches Near Omaha

Fall in the Midwest means one thing – time to pack up the family and head off to the nearest pumpkin patch. The Omaha area is blessed with several outstanding pumpkin patches where you can spend an entire day. Here’s a look at a few of the best patches in the area.

COVID-19 update: Before heading out, please ensure you check each pumpkin patch’s website or Facebook page for their requirements and restrictions.

1. Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard

Where: 12102 S. 180th St., Gretna, Neb.

Dubbed by some as Nebraska’s “Disney World,” a trip to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard is a visit to pumpkin paradise. From the food, including giant turkey legs, sandwiches, soup, and all kinds of pie, to children’s rides, entertaining shows, and scary haunted houses, it may be challenging to decide what to do first.

Vala’s is home to a petting zoo, where you can also purchase feed for animals, such as goats and a camel. Take a trip through a giant corn maze, as well as try your luck at the pumpkin cannon, and more.

Oh, you’re here for the pumpkins, right? Hop aboard and enjoy a hayride to the pumpkin patch, where you can search acres upon acres for the perfect pumpkin.

A wagon full of mini pumpkins at Vala's Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard in Nebraska

You do know you’ll need a pumpkin for each person in your party, right? Otherwise, how will you make scary jack-o-lanterns, as well as pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread? On your way out of the park, don’t forget to pick up a few treats, including caramel apples, freshly popped kettle corn, and so much more!

Vala’s Pumpkin Patch opens for its 35th season Sept. 18 (as well as open for the special weekend-only Apple Festival from Sept. 4-7) and will be open through Nov. 1.

Related post: Vala’s Scavenger Hunt

2. Bellevue Berry and Pumpkin Ranch

Where: 11001 S. 48th St., Papillion, Neb.

You’re never quite sure what to expect when visiting Bellevue Berry and Pumpkin Ranch. With an old western town, you feel like you may encounter a gunslinger looking for a shootout. But, then, you find the pirate ship, so the pirates are going to take on the cowboys?

While your imaginary characters figure out what to do, you can enjoy a wagon ride around 20 acres of farmland, including a trip through a wooded area.

Children can have fun playing at the How the West was Won area, including slides, ziplines, and a climbing net. They can also play on a bounce pad and pirates swing, as well as ride a kid’s train and explore a haunted walk.

Then, it’s time to head to the pumpkin patch, in search of the gourd that tops all other gourds. Bellevue Berry Farm and Pumpkin Ranch also offers hot food and drinks, including barbecue and turkey legs. On weekends, the Pirates Pub serves alcohol.

Open weekends, the pumpkin patch season runs from Sept. 12 through Oct. 31.

3. Wenninghoff’s Farm

Where: 6707 Wenninghoff Road, Omaha

You won’t find a haunted house at Wenninghoff’s. Instead, the north-central Omaha pumpkin patch encourages everyone to become a kid again and get a little dirty playing on a combine slide and a corn play area, as well as playing tug of war and painting a pumpkin.

Enjoy a walk through the corn maze, and an old-fashioned hayrack ride before venturing off to select your pumpkin.

Open weekends Sept. 26-Oct. 31, Wenninghoff’s also offers weekday school field trips.

4. Skinny Bones Pumpkin Patch

Where: 3936 State Highway 133, Blair, Neb.

Realizing a longtime dream, Skinny Bones Pumpkin Patch opened in 2008 between Omaha and Blair. With more than 30 attractions on the farm, you’ll want to plan to spend the day.

From the nation’s largest tornado simulator at Tornado Alley to a giant slide, as well as a corn pool and gigantic bounce pillows, your children will be challenged NOT to have a good time. With one of the best corn mazes in the Metro area, enjoy an adventure through 10 acres of cornfield fun.

While at Skinny Bones, enjoy a large turkey leg and pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, or a hot dog, among other items on the full-service menu.

Of course, the main reason for the visit is to find a great pumpkin, so climb aboard for a hayride to the pumpkin patch, which is open daily Sept. 11 through Oct. 31.

Welch's Pumpkin Patch in Council Bluffs, Iowa
Photo courtesy Welch’s Pumpkin Patch

5. Welch’s Pumpkin Patch

Where: 17676 Sunnydale Road, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Welch’s foregoes the games and activities. Instead, they want to help you pick out the best pumpkin you can find, so the farm features wooden toys, such as a fort. Open daily, Welch’s season starts Sept. 12 and runs through October.

More pumpkin patches in Nebraska and Iowa

If you want even more ideas for pumpkin patch outings, here are a few more to consider. All of these are about an hour or less from Omaha, with the first ones being the closest:

  • 6. Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard, 19475 225th St., Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • 7. Pioneer Trail Orchard & Pumpkin Patch, 21534 Chestnut Road, Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • 8. Nelson Produce Farm, 10505 N. 234th St., Valley, Neb.
  • 9. Bloom Where You’re Planted Farm, 911-108th St., Avoca, Neb.
  • 10. Camp Fontenelle, 9677 County Road 3, Fontanelle, Neb.
  • 11. Martin’s Hillside Orchard, 2024 Ashland Road, Ceresco, Neb.
  • 12. Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure, 2611 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, Neb.
  • 13. Harvest Moon Farm, 1410 Highway 77, Oakland, Neb.
  • 14. Roca Berry Farm, 16531 S. 38th St., Roca, Neb.
  • 15. 3 Bees Farms, 14922 535th St., Griswold, Iowa
  • 16. McCurdy’s Pumpkins, at Highway 71 and Highway 6, Atlantic, Iowa

With impressive pumpkin patches in the area, you may find it difficult to choose just one to visit. Since the pumpkin season runs about six weeks, that should be enough time to maybe, I don’t know, visit each of them.

Just imagine how many jack-o-lanterns you and the young ones can make. And how many pies and pumpkin bread you can make. And pumpkin cookies. And pumpkin bars. And…

Like this post?

Subscribe to the FREE e-newsletter sharing family travel ideas, giveaways and more! Subscribe here.

12 Sweet Apple Orchards Near Omaha

‘Tis the season for everything apple — pie, cider, and, even, caramel. And nothing is more fun than a family adventure to the apple orchard. You can find the perfect apple orchard in the Omaha area, which is more than just picking out a bag of apples.

Covid-19 alert: Before heading out, please check your orchard’s website or Facebook page for any requirements or restrictions.

Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard

Where: 12102 S. 180th St., Gretna, Neb.

It seems natural that Nebraska’s largest pumpkin patch should add an apple orchard, right? Well, that’s what the Vala family thought, too, so, in 2014, they planted their first group of apple trees.

Then, in 2017, Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard started offering pick-your-own apple orchard visits. With about 30 acres, the orchard is home to 45 varieties of apples, including favorites such as Gala, Honeycrisp, and Golden Delicious, as well as unique flavors, including Smokehouse, Shizuka, and Pixie Crunch.

Silly picture at Vala's Pumpkin Patch and Orchard.

A trip to the Vala’s apple orchard is a new tradition for families, couples, and friends. And don’t forget to grab some apple cider (even hard apple cider), or their handmade caramel apples at the patch’s store.

Super Bee Orchard

Where: 4571 US Highway 75, Fort Calhoun, Neb.

Located on a hillside, just off Highway 75 south of Fort Calhoun, the family-owned apple orchard has called the area home for more than 50 years. With a variety of apples ready to be picked, Super Bee Orchard’s season runs from September through mid-November.

You’ll have a blast heading out to the trees to find the best apples for your plans, but don’t forget to pick up some homemade apple cider, jelly, or other goodies before heading home.

Green apples on a tree

Trees, Shrubs, and More

Where: 3803 Cornhusker Road, Bellevue, Neb.

An apple orchard on the site of a landscaping company? Oh yeah, and what an orchard! With about 3,000 dwarf trees –- they’re small, but, boy, do they produce full-size apples –- yielding more than a dozen varieties, you’ll have a fun time picking your own apples, such as Gala, Jonathan, Fuji, and MacIntosh.

With nearly 5 miles of trees, Trees, Shrubs, and More knows you’ll find an apple to your liking. With the pick-your-own season underway in September, the season runs until all the trees have been picked clean, so it’s better to get there as soon as possible.

Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard

Where: 19475 225th St., Council Bluffs, Iowa

For more than 25 years, Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard has grown and changed, adapting to their customers’ wants and desires. Today, the orchard features more than two dozen varieties of apples, including Mutsu, Granny Smith, and Crimson crisp.

Just-picked red apple at Ditmars Orchard in Iowa

With its pick-your-own season a smash with visitors, they’re ready to help you find the right apple for your needs. The on-site store also sells each apple variety, as well as other goodies.

With its season starting in September, apple harvest usually runs
through late October or early November.

Related post: 10 Things You Must Do In Council Bluffs In The Fall

Wostrel Family’s Union Orchard

Where: 2405 S. Highway 75, Union, Neb.

You may want to reach for an apple donut as soon as you arrive at Wostrel Family’s Union Orchard, but pace yourself. You’ll want to first explore the apple orchard, where you pick your own apples, ranging from red delicious and Honeycrisp to Arkansas Black and Candycrisp.

Once, your group has finished filling your bags with sweet, delicious apples, head to the country store, where you can purchase apple butter, caramel apples, and apple cider.

Barrel of red apples

Oh, now buy a dozen or so of the apple donuts, as you’ll want one for
the drive home, and for later.

More orchards in Nebraska and Iowa

There are, of course, more orchards around Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa! These orchards would make a great fall road trip:

  • Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure (Nebraska City, Neb.; 42 miles from Omaha). If you plan a trip to the Tree Adventure, read this post first to find more fun things to do in Nebraska City.
  • Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard (Nebraska City, Neb.; 42 miles from Omaha)
  • Small’s Fruit Farm (Mondamin, Iowa; 43 miles from Omaha)
  • Martin’s Hillside Orchard (Ceresco, Neb; 45 miles from Omaha)
  • Fontenelle Orchard (Nickerson, Neb.; 50 miles from Omaha)
  • 3 Bee Farm (Griswold, Iowa; 51 miles from Omaha)
  • DeGroots Orchard (Madison, Neb.; 113 miles from Omaha)
Subscribe to the fall e-newsletter

With apple picking season, comes great responsibility. That is, to choose wisely on the apples you want to take home, for eating, making pies, homemade caramel apples, and, for the adventurous, your own
apple cider. Regardless of which orchard you visit and apples you choose, you know you’ll have a fun time venturing out.

Fall in Nebraska and Iowa means apple picking time! Here are the beautiful apple orchards near Omaha, and the fun activities and tasty food offered at each of them.

Like this post?

Subscribe to the FREE e-newsletter sharing family travel ideas, giveaways and more! Subscribe here.

7 Awesome Outdoor Things To Do In Kearney

Snuggled right up next to Interstate 80, smack-dab in the middle of Nebraska, you’ll find Kearney, a city of about 34,000 people. If you’ve driven through the state a number of times, you might know it better by the giant, sunset-colored Archway that sprawls over the interstate lanes, connecting the city to the Platte River. 

While I’d highly recommend a trip to the Archway (it’s actually a fantastic historical museum in addition to something fun to drive under), this article is focused on stiff breezes, open air, and fun activities spent outdoors! Kearney is home to many well-maintained, diverse parks, an epic hike-and-bike trail, and a few surprising local gems — enough to keep the whole family busy for a quick day trip or a weekend away! 

Cottonmill Park

Although there are many great parks in Kearney, Cottonmill Park is by far my family’s favorite. With a beautiful, 43-acre lake at the center, you can enjoy plenty of water-centric activities like fishing and no-wake boating, or you can simply have a lakeside lunch at one of the picnic tables by the water.

There are paddle boats available for rental during the summer season, and if you’ve got a paddleboard (and a good sense of balance!) the small lake is perfect for floating leisurely. 

Fountain at Cottonmill Park in Kearney Nebraska
Photo courtesy Kearney Parks and Recreation

Our family’s favorite feature is the 18-hole disc golf course that sprawls across a good chunk of the park — it’s a challenging course and a good hike, and is a great 2- to 3-hour family activity. 

In addition to the disc golf course, the park sports hiking trails, a swimming hole, nature barn, outdoor amphitheater, playground equipment, and sand volleyball courts.

Cottonmill is also the trailhead of Kearney’s 13.1-mile hike-and-bike trail, so it’s an awesome place to start the weekend!

Nielsen Kids U-Pick Pumpkin Patch

When the air cools down and fall starts whispering in everyone’s ears, a pumpkin patch is the perfect way to celebrate! Located just southwest of Minden — about a 45-minute drive from Kearney and very near Pioneer Village — the Nielsen Kids U-Pick Pumpkin Patch is a great option for a fall family frolic. 

With popcorn, themed activities, and an extensive corn maze, this pumpkin patch is a great mix of affordable, no-frills pumpkin hunting and a whimsical, seasonal getaway for everyone. 

Rowe Sanctuary

One of the things Kearney is most famous for is the annual Sandhill Crane migration. Thousands of people, er, flock here every spring to see the incredible numbers of Sandhill Cranes as they rest and feed on the Platte River.

A pair of Sandhill Cranes at Rowe Sanctuary in Kearney, Nebraska.
Photo by Richard Derevan

The epicenter of this travel phenomenon is Rowe Sanctuary, a center “dedicated to the conservation of Sandhill Cranes, Whooping Cranes and other migratory birds, and their habitat along the Platte River in south-central Nebraska.”

Rowe Sanctuary isn’t just a spring hot spot, it’s open year-round and is a wonderful place to hike the trails, learn about ecosystems, and experience the beauty of the Platte River in conjunction with the local wildlife. 

The World Theatre Drive In

The World Theatre is a beloved Kearney gem that continues to showcase community spirit and a devotion to the arts, even during a global pandemic. Once a Vaudeville theater in the ‘20s, the World was renovated and reopened in 2012 through a community-driven fundraising campaign spearheaded by Kearney native and NBC’s “The Blacklist” creator Jon Bokenkamp. 

Cars parked at The World Theatre Drive In located in Kearney, Nebraska
Photo courtesy Bryce Jensen

When theaters across the nation were forced to close their doors in the spring of 2020, The World went to work, trying to figure out how to navigate the new normal. In early summer, The World Theatre Drive In was debuted at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds, and has been showing beloved classics like “Back to the Future,” “The Goonies,” and “Footloose” (and providing concessions) every weekend since. 

The World plans to show movies into mid-October of 2020, and is hoping to bring it back in the summer of 2021. 

Yanney Heritage Park

Kearney really does have some unforgettable parks, and Yanney Heritage Park is one that will keep your whole family busy for hours. With attractions ranging from multiple splash grounds to a well-stocked fishing lake, rentable swan-shaped paddle boats, a gorgeous labyrinth, and a lookout tower that gives you a sprawling view of the entire city, there’s something for everyone. 

Swan-shaped paddle boat at Yanney Heritage Park in Kearney, Nebraska
Photo courtesy Kearney Parks and Recreation

At certain times throughout the year, the outdoor stage hosts a variety of different performances, including theatre and concerts. It’s also a stop on the hike-and-bike trail, providing a beautiful halfway point for a quick lunch or a place to stretch your legs. 

Apple Acres Orchard

Looking for the perfect fall photo op for your family? This small, family-owned orchard 8 miles west of Kearney is just the ticket for fresh, local produce and a fantastic place to snap a few Instagram-worthy pictures of the kids with pink noses and fluffy fall scarves. 

With a small orchard store on the property, you can also bring home local honey, caramel-drizzled apples, and fresh cider, pressed onsite with hand-picked apples.

Apple Acres Orchard is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. 

Fort Kearny State Historical Park

Fort Kearny is another local gem with many different features! Originally built as a protection/resting place for travelers on the Oregon and California trails, this historical site has been reconstructed for recreational and education purposes.

Historic market at Fort Kearny with the fort in the background.

With rebuilt historical structures and an interpretive center, Fort Kearny is a great place to have fun and learn some local history! 

One of the biggest draws to Fort Kearny, though, is the State Recreation Area attached to it. Located at the east end of the Kearney hike-and-bike trail, it’s a popular haven for camping, RV-ing, fishing, and swimming in both the Platte River and the recreation area’s swimming hole. 

Button to post about Kearney restaurants

About the guest blogger

Lauren Bonk, owner of the Curtain and Pen, hails from Kearney, Neb., where she works as a freelance copywriter for small businesses, startups, and even larger corporate entities in need of professionally-written marketing content for their businesses and organizations.

With a background in both Theatre and English, Lauren loves to help companies find a voice, fine-tune it, and authentically utilize it in written collateral like blog posts, website copy, and social media content.

You can typically find Lauren drinking coffee, listening to music that’s probably a little too loud, and daydreaming about drinking more coffee the next morning.

Like this post?

Subscribe to the FREE e-newsletter sharing family travel ideas, giveaways and more! Subscribe here.

Headed to Kearney, Nebraska and looking for things to do? Here's a great list of fun outdoor activities and places to visit!

5 Delightful Corn Mazes Near Omaha

As the weather starts to turn cooler and days become a little shorter, you know it’s beginning to look a lot like corn maze season. Test your navigation skills as you work your way through mazes – both easy and challenging – and enjoy a day on the farm with friends or family. The Omaha area has several
excellent places to explore corn mazes.

COVID-19 Update: Please check each attraction’s website or Facebook page for its restrictions and requirements in regards to Covid-19.

Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard

Where: 12102 S. 180th St., Gretna, Neb.

Known for its gigantic pumpkin patch and all the fun and games that make the pumpkin patch among the most popular in Nebraska, Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard has a corn maze that is both fun and challenging to explore.

Family using the lookout platform to find a way out of Vala's corn maze

Included with your admission to Nebraska’s largest pumpkin patch, the
4-acre corn maze features a new design each year, to increase the challenge of finding your way through it. It’s best to visit the corn maze early into the season, which starts Sept. 18 and runs through Nov. 1.

The maze tends to get beaten down toward the end of the pumpkin patch season. Vala’s also features other corn activities, including corn wagons and corn playbox.

Related post: 5 Must-Try Food At Vala’s Pumpkin Patch

Bellevue Berry and Pumpkin Ranch

Where: 11001 S. 48th St., Papillion, Neb.

Entering its fourth decade, Bellevue Berry and Pumpkin Ranch will challenge your inner GPS as you find your way through its corn maze. The attraction, included with your admission, is family-friendly and a safe venture for everyone.

As you walk down the rows of corn taller than six feet, you’ll have fun as you
run into a dead-end, or anticipate clearing the maze, only to find you took a wrong turn a dozen stalks earlier.

Bellevue Berry Farm and Pumpkin Ranch, which runs from mid-September until the end of October, also offers several rides and games, including hayrides and haunted forest excursions.

In the middle of a corn maze in Nebraska

Skinny Bones Pumpkin Patch

Where: 3935 State Highway 133, Blair, Neb.

Kicking off its 13th season, between Omaha and Blair, Skinny Bones Pumpkin Patch offers more than just pumpkins. Among the attractions, its corn maze annually scores as a favorite.

Located on 10 acres, the corn maze will challenge your skills as you search for the exit. Take a punch card along on your adventure and find uncover the hidden punch stations. Complete the card and you’ll score a prize.

Skinny Bones also has a corn maze for younger children. While at the patch, check out other corn fun and games, including a corn pool. Skinny Bones is open Sept. 11 through Oct. 31.

Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard

Where: 19475 225th St., Council Bluffs, Iowa

The challenge, if accepted, will be to find the bell and ring it loudly for the other corn maze enthusiasts. Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard’s 5-acre corn maze ranks as one of its most popular attractions. With a new design each year, you’ll face one of the most fun activities at Ditmars.

While the corn maze is a fun activity for the entire family, younger children are encouraged to have an adult with them.

While at Ditmars, try some of their apple treats and a cup of apple cider.

Boy walking through corn maze at Ditmars Orchard in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Camp Fontanelle Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze

Where: 9677 County Road 3, Fontanelle, Neb.

Located in rural Dodge County, about 42 miles north of Omaha, Camp Fontanelle Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze is worth the drive. Not only do you take in Nebraska’s attractive farm country, but the corn maze will also blow you away.

With a themed design, each year – 2019’s design honored Nebraska’s first responders for their handling of the Nebraska floods -you’ll find yourself working to navigate your way through the 10 acres oof tall corn stalks.

Additional activities at Camp Fontenelle include rope climbing trees, a zipline, and a petting zoo.

Camp Fontenelle, open mid-September through late October, also has hiking trails you can explore.

From custom-designed corn mazes to ones aimed for younger children, the Omaha area is ripe for some fun exploration. While some corn mazes offer a payoff, such as ringing a bell or winning prizes, each one provides a fun outing for families, friends, and couples. And, of course, you know that each attraction will have plenty of seasonal treats and drinks available.

Safe travels and good luck finding your way through the maze.

Button to read more Nebraska stories

Like this post?

Subscribe to the FREE e-newsletter sharing family travel ideas, giveaways and more! Subscribe here.

A classic family-friendly fall activity is visiting a corn maze. Here are five favorite corn mazes near Omaha Nebraska to explore this season!

4 Things to Know About Homeschooling in Nebraska

Homeschooling in Nebraska, whether you’re new to the community or a seasoned home education pro, offers fantastic educational opportunities beyond a purchased curriculum. Nebraska communities provide engaging experiences for kids to try out something new, learn with other youth in their area, as well as follow their own educational curiosities.

Here are four things to know about homeschooling in Nebraska to help enhance your child’s home education.

1. Experts are everywhere

While the education of your child is ultimately your responsibility, it doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers. Part of the beauty of homeschooling is getting out in the world and letting your kids meet people in their community.

Glass blowing demonstration at Hot Shops in Omaha, Nebraska.

Hot Shops is a wonderful place in Omaha to talk to artists and see hot shop demonstrations. Both UNO and UNL at Morrill Hall frequently provide educational opportunities for the community.

Seek out tours at places like banks, bakeries, and farms. Think about what you want to teach and see if there is a supplemental field trip you can plan with a local business or expert.

While in the checkout line at Walmart I met the owner of a local apiary near us in southwest Nebraska.

2. Join groups and clubs

Nebraska has several homeschool groups, especially in eastern Nebraska. Groups offer playdates, learning co-ops, or even field trips together.

Girl Scouts, Scouting and 4H are all alive and well in all areas of Nebraska and give kids a chance to learn new skills while having fun.

Child holding a chick on a farm in Valley, Nebraska.

Look for clubs that might interest your kids, such as Boys and Girls Club, a running club, or even the YMCA. Astronomy, archery and geology clubs are also out there.

Do an online search for your club or group type of choice to see if it exists, reach out to friends, and/or start your own club or group if you can’t find what you’re looking for. Chances are, there are other people looking for the same thing.

3. Take day trips

Visiting museums, other towns or cities, state parks, national monuments, and so many other things is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling.

Learning about heirloom apples at the Arbor Farms Tree Adventure in Nebraska City.

Here are a few of our favorite outings:

Related post: 20+ Awesome Road Trips From Omaha

4. Attend events and festivals

Annual events are easy to keep on the schedule and get excited about. NESCIFest, Kool-Aid Days, Shakespeare on the Green, and Jazz on the Green are all things our family look forward to every year.  

Historic reenactors at Fort Atkinson in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. These ladies in the kitchen at Fort Atkinson will be the first to tell visitors women weren't allowed in the fort back in the day, though. They're part of the re-enactments to give insight to what life was like outside of the fort.

Keep up cultural and social education by attending local PowWows, historical reenactments, or ethnic/heritage festivals in your area.

Visit Nebraska has a listing of events and festivals across Nebraska. Festivals and events celebrating food, culture, arts, sports, science, and more.

Check out the Things to Do tab on Visit Nebraska site for some ideas that will either give you some family fun when you need a break from the schooling, or some things to do to enhance the topics you’re learning about at home.

Humanities Nebraska is another place to find educational programs for the whole family.

No matter how you choose to homeschool your child, if you’re in Nebraska don’t forget to include some of these fun educational additions to your curriculum.

Please share more of your favorite Nebraska experts, groups, day trips, or events in the comments. Our knowledgeable, helpful community is the best part of being a homeschooler in Nebraska!

Button to more Nebraska stories
Button to read more Nebraska stories

About our guest blogger

Mary Juett has been homeschooling her two girls in Nebraska for the past decade. She spent 23 years in central Nebraska before moving to Omaha and starting a family with her husband. After 15 years in eastern Nebraska her family moved to southwest Nebraska, where they currently reside. Mary loves learning, cooking and creating recipes, crocheting, and exploring Nebraska. She writes at homeschoolantic.com.

New to homeschooling in Nebraska or looking for new ideas on things to do? A local mom shares tips and what she's learned after homeschooling for more than a decade.

31 Awesome Farm And Food Experiences Near Omaha

Picture yourself in a place with wide open spaces, fresh air, and perhaps, adorable animals. That, my friends, is what I’ve been seeking lately: Outdoor farm experiences near Omaha. There’s a term for it. Agritourism. If you’re interested in some farm experiences (and maybe a little food or drink), read on!

What Is Agritourism

Agritourism is a growing type of travel that combines agriculture and tourism. That’s simple enough, right? But, what does it mean? Let’s use the National Agricultural Law Center for a better definition:

Sign at Nelson Family Farm in Nebraska

“Simply stated, agritourism could be thought of as the crossroads of tourism and agriculture. Stated more technically, agritourism can be defined as a form of commercial enterprise that links agricultural production and/or processing with tourism in order to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch, or other agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining and/or educating the visitors and generating income for the farm, ranch, or business owner.

“Regardless of the exact definition or terminology, any definition of agritourism should include the following four factors:

• combines the essential elements of the tourism and agriculture industries;

• attracts members of the public to visit agricultural operations;

• is designed to increase farm income; and

• provides recreation, entertainment, and/or educational experiences to visitors.”

Farms Near Omaha

If a farm has animals, it’s a hit with my family. Here are a few of our favorites! The listings are based on proximity to Omaha, starting with the closest.

Milking a goat near Honey Creek Creamery in Iowa.
  • Scatter Joy Acres (4966 Newport Ave., Omaha) – Scatter Joy Acres is all about animal encounters, from goats, cows and horses to more exotic species like peacocks and a porcupine.
  • Alpacas of the Heartland (7016 County Road 39, Fort Calhoun, Neb.) – Make a reservation to visit this small non-profit one morning, as you’ll get a bag of carrots to feed more than 30 alpacas. Hours are limited.
  • Nelson Produce Farm (10505 N. 234th St., Valley, Neb.) – Pick produce off the plants (or buy from their farmstead), plus check out adorable animals at Nelson Produce Farm. You can buy food to feed some of them. This farm has a small cafe where you can buy lunch, or treat yourself to a large watermelon slice or a tasty strawberry shortcake.
  • Honey Creek Creamery (25593 Old Lincoln Highway, Honey Creek, Iowa) – My first introduction to Honey Creek Creamery was early spring one year when they started hosting goat yoga sessions. It was more cuddle time with the babies than serious stretches, and I loved it. It’s located next door to Stanley’s Snack Shack, where you can buy ice cream made with goat’s milk. If you’re lucky, they may show you how to milk one of the goats!
  • Other farms – Gifford Farm (700 Camp Gifford Road, Bellevue, Neb.); Hansen’s Dairy (8461 Lincoln Road, Hudson, Iowa)
A selfie with an alpaca at Alpacas of the Heartland in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska.

Farm-To-Table Experiences

Another sub-group in the farm category are the ones that involve eating good food or wine straight from the farm. While having fresh watermelon at or goat’s milk ice cream is one thing, the following take the food experience to the next level.

Luna Valley Farm in Decorah, Iowa.
  • Weekends at Slattery Vintage Estates (8925 Adams St.,  Nehawka, Neb.) – Come for the wine tasting (during non-COVID times) and wood-fire pizza, stay for the live music outdoors. The setting is absolutely charming (though, technically, the ingredients for the pizza weren’t grown there). We spent a night in one of their glamping tents, making it an easy walk to dinner and entertainment that night.
  • Farm to Table (Nelson Produce Farm at 10505 N. 234th St., Valley, Neb.) – One weekend a month, the farm hosts a dinner on Friday and Saturday nights with a fresh menu. Dates are up for August and September, with October to be determined still.
  • Farm to Fork (Central Avenue in Nebraska City, Neb.) – I’ve been eyeing this annual event in Nebraska City and have never been able to snag tickets. They go on sale in March/April and sell out long before the event in August. Each year, the multi-course, family-style dining experience features “dishes created by regional restaurateurs utilizing locally-sourced products complemented with regional wine.” Sounds amazing.
  • Luna Valley Farm (3012 Middle Sattre Road, Decorah, Iowa) – This is the farm that started an obsession for me. I had wood-fire pizza at a farm one weekend in Decorah and I’ve never forgotten it. The ingredients were grown and raised on the farm. And they had live music and beer to pair with it. Heaven. Note: I’ll be the first to confirm this is not close to Omaha. But if you’re in that part of Iowa, make an effort to go!
  • More options: Pizza on the Prairie at Wallace Centers of Iowa (2773 290th St., Orient, Iowa)

Living History Farms

See what life was like on a farm a century (or longer) ago at these living history farms.

Family walking around Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa
  • Living History Farms (11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale, Iowa) – This giant, open-air museum is probably the most well known living history farm for Iowans and Nebraskans. It’s so well done, and covers several Midwestern eras of farming. My kids loved the hands-on nature of it and the knowledgable staff.
  • Other living history farms: Wessels Living History Farm (5520 S. Lincoln Ave., York, Neb.); Carstens 1880 Farmstead (32409 380th St., Shelby, Iowa)

Orchards Near Omaha

Whether you choose to pick your own apples or berries, or buy them straight from the farmer who grew them, these are the orchards to visit in Nebraska and Iowa. The listings are based on proximity to Omaha, starting with the closest.

Apple picking at Ditmars Orchard in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
  • Ditmars Orchard (19475 225th St., Council Bluffs, Iowa) – I’ve loved this charming little orchard for years now. It’s never crowded, it’s a super close orchard to Omaha, there’s a good variety of apples and they have a fun play area for kids. Oh, and they have the most delicious apple cider donuts. And wine. Don’t forget their wine.
  • Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure (2611 Arbor Ave, Nebraska City, Neb.) – Picking apples is just a small part of the fun activities at the Tree Adventure. However, one of the unique things about this orchard is the chance to pick and taste heirloom apples.
  • Other orchards – Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Patch (11001 S. 48th St., Papillion, Neb.); Trees, Shrubs & More (3803 Cornhusker Road, Bellevue, Neb.); Small’s Fruit Farm (1844 194th St., Mondamin, Iowa); Union Orchard (2405 S. Highway 75, Union, Neb.); Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard (5995 G Road, Nebraska City, Neb.)

Pumpkin Patches Near Omaha

Pumpkin patches have grown to be more than strolling through a field of pumpkins. The whole-day experiences. The listings are based on proximity to Omaha, starting with the closest.

Vala's Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard in Gretna, Neb.
  • Vala’s Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard (12102 S. 180th St., Gretna, Neb.) – It’s not fall until my family has been to Vala’s. Some people (myself included) refer to it as the “Disney of Pumpkin Patches” because there is so much to do there, it takes an entire day. The apple orchard is fairly new. Don’t leave without trying a slice of pie.
  • Other pumpkin patches – Welch’s Pumpkin Patch (17676 Sunnydale Road, Council Bluffs, Iowa); Pioneer Trail Orchard & Pumpkin Patch (21534 Chestnut Road, Council Bluffs, Iowa); Skinny Bones Pumpkin Patch (3935 NE-133, Blair, Neb.); Bloom Where You’re Planted Farm & Pumpkin Patch (911 108th St., Avoca, Neb.); McCurdy’s Pumpkins (intersection of Highway 71 and Highway 6 on the east edge of Atlantic, Iowa); Poppy’s Pumpkin Patch (55275 837th Road, Norfolk, Neb.); Uncle Bill’s Farm (244 400th Ave., Grinnell, Iowa) 

Flower Maze

There are gardens and botanical gardens, and then there’s something called a flower maze.

Picking out flowers for a make-your-own bouquet at A-Mazing Flowers & Studio in Prague, Nebraska.
  • A-Mazing Flowers & Studio (103 W. Center Ave., Prague, Neb.) – This small-town attraction is gaining a lot of attention for its unique claim to fame: The world’s only cut flower maze. You’ll learn a lot about flowers as you make your way through the maze, pointing to the flowers you want to add to your very own bouquet. You’ll want to book your tour far in advance. (And if time allows, add a flower-press experience to your visit)

Hay Rides Near Omaha

While many farms and orchards have a variation of a hay ride, if the ride itself is what you seek, rather than picking fruit or petting an animal, then read on.

Tractors lined up for hay rides at Shady Lane Ranch in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
  • Shady Lane Ranch (17744 Shady Lane, Council Bluffs, Iowa) – A great place to combine a hayrack ride with a bonfire, a trip to Shady Lane is a fall favorite of mine. Fun warning: Hay rides usually involve hay fights between passing tractors.
Button for more stories on Nebraska destinations

Tours Near Omaha

Find out where your food and drink comes from, and how things get made, on these tours.

Passport for the Living Loess tour in Iowa.
  • Living Loess tour (various destinations around western Iowa) – This monthly (and seasonal), self-guided tour highlights various destinations in the Loess Hills of western Iowa. Each month, a different destination is featured and hosts activities. On one outing, we went to Harvest Studio, where botanical artist Cynthia Gehrie, works. With her guidance, my family painted nature art. As you visit a destination, be sure to get the stamp on your passport for a chance to win a prize.
  • Other tours – Tassel Ridge Winery Tour (1681 220th St., Leighton, Iowa; see the steps “from vine to bottle”)

Like this post?

Subscribe to the FREE e-newsletter sharing family travel ideas, giveaways and more! Subscribe here.

Explore agritourism in Nebraska and Iowa with these farm destinations near Omaha. Farm experiences include farm-to-table dinner, petting zoos, goat yoga, living history farms, u-pick fruits, and more!