8 Amazing BBQ Joints To Try In The Omaha Metro

Long known as a steak town, Omaha’s barbecue scene has stepped up its game with some new joints opening, as well as veteran favorites. From Hartland BBQ in Benson to new West Omaha fave Porky Butt’s, pitmasters are really working to outdo one another. The question is no longer, does Omaha have good barbecue, but where should we eat? Here’s a fun look at some of the best local BBQ joints calling the Metro home.

Plate a ribs at Porky Butts in West Omaha
Photo courtesy Porky Butts

Porky Butts

Where: 15475 Ruggles St., Omaha

Blaine Hunter earned his barbecue stripes as a youngster, growing up in the world of Texas pit barbecue. Having competed in more than 130 competitions, Hunter has earned 85 Top 10 finishes, including 22 grand championships. Bringing a championship resume to the Omaha barbecue scene, Porky Butts was an instant hit with Omaha foodies when they opened their doors in 2019.

Your mouth will water as soon as you pull up into the West Omaha eatery’s parking lot. The smell of smoked meat and all the fixings is more than enough to make you want to throw on a bib and go to town on ribs, brisket and pulled pork, among other menu items.

A favorite with diners, the rib plate features mouthwatering smoked ribs along with two sides, such as smoked beans, mac and cheese, loaded grits, and more, plus cornbread. 

A plate of food at Smoking Jay's BBQ in downtown Omaha
Photo courtesy Smoking Jay’s BBQ

Smoking Jay’s BBQ

Where: 2524 S. 13th St., Omaha

Family-owned, Smoking Jay’s has called Omaha home since 2015. Not far from Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Lauritzen Gardens, and downtown Omaha, Smoking Jay’s BBQ thrives on its smoked pork and beef ribs, as well as brisket and gizzards.

Enjoy unique sides, such as Jay’s fried potatoes, pan-fried with garlic peppers, onions, and topped with cheddar jack cheese, as well as baked beans, potato salad, and honey corn bread.

You can combine the best of barbecue with Omaha’s love for beef by ordering the Heart Attack Burger, a cheeseburger topped with pulled pork, a slathering of barbecue sauce, and homemade onion rings. Check out their smoked chicken wings as an appetizer. 

Close-up of a meal at Hartland Bar-b-Que in Omaha
Photo courtesy a.d.e.photography

Hartland Bar-b-Que

Where: 5402 NW Radial Highway, Omaha

One of Omaha’s older barbecue joints, Hartland Bar-b-Que is a Benson staple. Located in a small building, Hartland BBQ is known for its smoked ribs. Its barbecue sauce is tangy without a lot of sweetness.

It’s been a family favorite for a few years, and continues to be one of the go-to barbecue restaurants in the Metro.

Joining the ribs are pork, brisket, and sausage, which can be enjoyed as part of a two-meat dinner. Sides include baked beans, coleslaw, and creamy cucumber salad. 

Assortment of food at Omaha barbecue restaurant Tired Texan BBQ
Photo courtesy Tired Texan

Tired Texan BBQ

Where: 4702 S. 108th St., Omaha

Fire. Smoke. Time. Passion. That’s the credo at Tired Texan BBQ.

Taking over vacant restaurant space at the Best Western hotel in southwest Omaha in 2017, Tired Texan BBQ quickly established itself as a player among Omaha’s barbecue scene, often running out of meat before closing time.

How does an Alabama native choose the name Tired Texan BBQ, and especially in Omaha? The original Texan joint called Birmingham home. The owners honored the original Tired Texan after he passed by choosing the name for the Omaha eatery.

With smoked meats, such as St. Louis spare ribs, pork, and brisket, you’ll want to order a two-meat combination (though single meats and build your own plate options are available). Add sides such as baked mac and cheese, smoked potato salad, creamed corn, and coleslaw that is dressed to your preference (creamy, tangy vinegar, peppercorn, or poppyseed). 

Burnt ends plate at Swine Dining
Photo courtesy Swine Dining

Swine Dining BBQ

Where: 204 E. Mission Ave., Bellevue, Neb., and 12120 W. Dodge St., Omaha

Taking over an award-winning barbecue restaurant, a group of friends decided it would be fun to own their own restaurant. With the original Swine Dining BBQ location on Mission Avenue, they serve up excellent barbecue, including smoked ribs and chicken, as well as sandwiches such as pulled pork, brisket, and smoked sausage.

Try their All in the Pool sandwich, consisting of pulled pork, smoked sausage, and brisket. Add a side of smoked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, and corn of the day – corn mixed with peppers, onion, and sausage or cream corn with jalapeno – and you’re set for a delicious BBQ outing.

With the success of the Bellevue location, Swine Dining opened a second location near 120th and Dodge. 

Ribs and sides at Elkhorn barbecue joint Boyd and Charlies.
Photo courtesy Boyd and Charlie’s

Boyd and Charlie’s

Where: 2706 Main St., Elkhorn, Neb.

Open for more than 15 years, Boyd and Charlie’s has been a stalwart in downtown Elkhorn. Serving up barbecue that keeps people coming back, the family-owned restaurant features a tasty menu, including chopped pork, hickory-smoked sausage, mesquite-smoked ribs, brisket, and honey-smoked turkey.

You can also grab an order of burnt ends, as well as sandwiches with all the smoked favorites, including homemade chicken salad. With sides such as beans featuring smoked meat and sauce, corn casserole, and creamy coleslaw, you’re set for a great meal.

Jim’s Rib Haven

Where: 3801 Ames Ave., Omaha

A North Omaha staple since 1967, Jim’s Rib Haven has been a local favorite for great barbecue.

Fans can enjoy beef ribs, spare ribs, and rib tips among other favorites, such as link sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, and the ultimate sandwich combo of beef, pork, and turkey. Jim’s serves the standard sides, including baked beans and coleslaw.

Try an appetizer, such as poppers, saucy fries, or chili fries.

BBQ nachos from Boxer Barbecue, a restaurant in Council Bluffs, Iowa
Photo courtesy Boxer Barbecue

Boxer Barbecue

Where: 513 S. Main St., Council Bluffs, Iowa

When you’ve been in business for nearly 15 years, you must be doing something right. At Boxer Barbecue in Council Bluffs, that involves making everything from scratch. From BBQ nachos as an appetizer to barbecue spare ribs, baby back ribs, and pork shanks, you’re in for a real down-home treat when you visit Boxer Barbecue.

Combine any of their meats in a two- or three-meat combination plate and add two delicious sides. The sides seemingly could be a meal themselves, with the baked beans including an ample serving of pork, Carolina-style creamy coleslaw, and potato salad that starts with a creamy sour cream base and adds skin-on red potatoes and smoky bacon.

Omaha may not be Kansas City when it comes to barbecue, but our culinary landscape has improved with some new BBQ joints joining the veterans. So, tie on a bib or bring plenty of hand wipes, because you’ll want to get messy enjoying some Omaha barbecue.

Looking for good barbecue in the Omaha metro area? Here's a list of popular BBQ joint from Elkhorn to Council Bluffs, North Omaha to West Omaha, and everywhere in between.

Locals’ favorite barbecue in Omaha

I polled readers recently on which is their preferred barbecue joint in the Omaha area and the results were not too surprising given this list:

  • Porky Butts was the run-away winner.
  • Tied for second were Hartland Bar-B-Que, Jim’s Rib Haven, and Tired Texan.
  • In third was We’ll Smoke You Barbecue.
  • And a write-in entry was Papio Pit BBQ, which I think I ought to go check out!

If you know of a great barbecue restaurant in the Omaha area that wasn’t mentioned in this post (for example, barbecue food trucks), please leave a comment and let all of us know about it!

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Omaha’s barbecue scene has stepped up its game with some new BBQ joints opening, as well as veteran favorite restaurants. Here's a list of popular Omaha restaurants to try for saucy, smokey barbecue.

What You Can Expect At The Omaha Zoo This Summer (Phased Reopening)

Like everything else in the world, summer 2020 at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is going to look a lot different than normal. Reopening June 1 with several measures in place, I asked the zoo to share what’s different so you know what to expect:

Zoo areas that are currently closed

The zoo is reopening in phases. Phase 1 is pretty cautious with the following closures and restrictions in place:

  • All buildings are closed, including exhibits like the aquarium, Desert Dome, and the indoor rainforest. Other buildings that house restaurants and the gift shop are closed, too.
  • The Lozier Giant Screen Theater will be closed.
  • Outdoor areas that are closed include the Bay Family Children’s Adventure Trails or Scott Alaskan Adventure Splash Park.
  • Animal feeding opportunities will not be available.
  • There are no behind-the-scenes tours.
Children's Adventure Trails at Omaha's zoo will not be open during Phase 1 of the zoo's reopening.

Things to know about admission to the zoo

Don’t expect to waltz in with a wave of your membership this summer.

  • Reservation for a time to enter the Zoo must be made online before visiting. Make a reservation here. IDs and online reservation receipts will be checked. Members will not be able to transfer their membership to non-members.
  • Reservations can be made up to two days in advance of visit. There don’t seem to be any exceptions.
  • Admission tickets are discounted at $20.95 for guests ages 12 and over, $13.95 for children ages 3 to 11, and $19.95 for seniors ages 65 and over.
  • AZA reciprocal zoo admission program is suspended at this time.
  • Timeslots are available every half hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. Good news for members: From June 1-7, there is a Members Only hour from 8 to 9 a.m.
  • There is a separate entrance for entering the zoo and exiting the zoo. Park accordingly. The Main Gate is for entrance to the zoo. The North Gate for exiting the zoo.
Lagoon at the zoo

What it’s going to be like at the zoo in Phase 1

  • With buildings closed and a single entrance point and a single exit point, the zoo has created a walking path that’s about 1.8 miles.
  • The walking path is one-way traffic only. No backtracking is permitted.
  • You have to be prepared to walk it, as there is no tram service available. You can rent strollers, wagons, ECVs, and wheelchairs, though (limited supply).
  • Drinking fountains and water refill stations will not be available. Bring your own water.
Map of Omaha Zoo during Phase 1 of reopening in 2020
Map courtesy Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

Things you can do at the zoo during Phase 1

  • You can purchase tickets to ride Sue’s Carousel (with appropriate spacing and sanitizing).
  • You can buy concessions, but menu offerings will be limited to expedite lines. The Souvenir Cup refill service will not be available.
  • There will also be vending machines available, which will be cleaned hourly.
  • There will be retail items available for purchase at outside venues.
  • You have access to outside restrooms.
  • There is an outdoor nursing area.
  • Know that there will be signs throughout as reminders and help keep 6 feet between groups in lines.
Tusker Grill at Omaha Zoo.

Precautions you can take while at the zoo this summer

  • This goes without saying: Wash your hands frequently. This wasn’t on the zoo’s list.
  • Face mask usage by guests is strongly encouraged.
  • Guests are strongly encouraged to remain in their vehicles until their reservation time. Officials request guests not stand at the entrance plaza to meet others.

My thoughts on Phase 1

I was disheartened to read so many negative comments to their social media announcement on reopening. It is what it is, friends.

Have patience. These are strange and uncertain times.

I’m glad they’re able to open in a responsible manner. It’s not going to be business-as-usual for many months.

The view in front of the Desert Dome in the winter

Will I be going any time soon? Maybe not right away. Many of my favorite places, and certainly my kids’ favorite places, will not be open. Nor should they be – they’re popular for a reason (and therefore draw a crowd).

But I miss the zoo. I want the zoo to continue to grow and succeed. So I will be back.

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Complete Guide To TreeRush Adventures Ropes Course Near Omaha

There’s nothing like a ropes course to change your mood and confidence level while giving you a good workout. I recently spent a few hours at TreeRush Adventures, a ropes course near Omaha, where you climb, swing, and zipline. Read on to learn about it!

Side note: I hesitated to write this post right now. There are turmoil and heartache in our country and city. I believe this break from screens and news updates was what my family needed. I’m guessing some of you need a little break, too.

TreeRush Adventures at Fontenelle Forest
Photo courtesy TreeRush Adventures

Disclosure: I received complimentary passes to TreeRush Adventures in order to write about my experience. This post contains affiliate links. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

COVID-19 Update: TreeRush Adventures has adopted some additional operational guidelines in response to the pandemic.

What you need to know:

  • Bring a mask, even for kids. They’ll provide a mask if you don’t have one. Wear it when you’re on the ground. Some people continue to wear it on the course, but that is optional since social distancing is pretty easy up high. If you don’t have a reusable homemade one, buy a bulk supply of disposable face masks ahead of time.
  • Bring your own protective gloves. They will not provide the “community gloves” like before. The kids and I used Mud Gloves, which were purchased originally for gardening, but they worked well on the course.
  • Bring your own water. There is a cooler of bottled water for free, but I’d just recommend bringing your own.
  • A lot of the TreeRush’s safety measures already create social distancing. They require one person on an element or obstacle and only three people on a platform (and all three must be in the same group, not strangers).

You can read more details about TreeRush’s cleaning and safety procedures here.

Where is this ropes course in Omaha?

TreeRush Adventures is located at Fontenelle Forest, which isn’t actually in Omaha (we like to refer to it as “Omaha area”). It’s located at 1111 Bellevue Blvd. N, in Bellevue, Neb.

For those unfamiliar with the Omaha metro area, Bellevue is just south of Omaha. For those of you familiar with Omaha, it’s close enough, right?

The entrance to TreeRush Adventures is separate from Fontenelle Forest’s entrance.

Who can go to TreeRush Adventure?

Here’s the cool part: I was there with my two kids, ages 10 and 8. At the same time, I spotted a couple on a date, a group of women together, and a solo man.

Smiling boy on ropes course in Nebraska

So, pretty much everyone goes to TreeRush Adventures: Families, friends, couples, solo explorers.

For kids ages 4-6, there’s KidRush Adventure Park, a low-to-the-ground ropes course that’s just challenging enough for kiddos to feel a part of the action.

TreeRush Adventure Park is for ages 7 and older. We started on the easiest course with my kids, the Meadowlark yellow course, which was still challenging for my youngest.

By the time we finished that course, she was eager to try the next skill level up. It was the most incredible experience watching her confidence level increase as we went along that green course.

How long does it take?

Your reservation allows for two hours on the course, whether it is TreeRush Adventure or KidRush.

The whole experience is longer, though, since you’ll be fitted for a harness and go through safety training, and practice. In all, it’s about three hours.

Tip: Regulars at TreeRush can test out of the safety training.

You go at your own pace, so you can take as many breaks as you need to just keep plowing through the courses. Most courses take less than 30 minutes.

Girl on a TreeRush Adventures obstacle
Photo courtesy TreeRush Adventures

I liked TreeRush Adventures because of the variety. We’ve been on other courses that were one long series of challenges, not divided by skill level, and those were exhausting.

TreeRush’s design eases you into things and motivates you to return to try harder courses. My 8-year-old has already requested we return when she’s 10 so she can do the blue courses. (Right now, she’s only allowed on yellow and green courses, the least challenging ones).

Two hours was long enough for me and my 10-year-old. My youngest probably could’ve gone another hour, she was loving it so much.

Hours are seasonal, naturally. Who wants to zipline in sub-zero temperatures?

What should you bring or wear for a ropes course?

You want to be comfortable out there, so dress for the weather. However, if it’s hot, short shorts are not advisable because…harnesses, man.

Kim going through a triangle obstacle at TreeRush Adventures
Photo courtesy TreeRush Adventures

Make sure your shirt is long because moving and climbing with those harnesses on make shirts ride up easily.

Wear close-toed shoes. You’ll climb a lot and sandals just aren’t practical or safe.

Other key things to bring:

  • Bug spray. Lots and lots of bug spray.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Your own gloves.
  • Water. You can wear a Camelback backpack. Otherwise, you’ll have to leave your water bottles on the ground.

What’s the staff like?

They’re incredibly helpful and great with kids, for the most part (isn’t that the case everywhere?). Everyone was alert and attentive, so I felt pretty safe the entire time.

The staff doing the harness fitting and safety training were incredible with my kids. They were patient and funny.

Safety training and practice at TreeRush Adventures at Fontenelle Forest

Kenny, who taught our practice course, was one of the summer camp teachers my daughter had last year. I rank summer camp teachers up with my kids’ regular teachers. They’re heroes. How they have the patience, energy, and kindness to be with so many kids all day is beyond me.

Another super friendly staff was Christy, who invited my family to TreeRush Adventures. She went around the course with us, offering tips and encouragement. While my experience wasn’t the norm, you can just yell “Staff!” when you’re stuck, and they’ll come over and talk you through things (or climb up and rescue you).

How much does it cost?

General admission is $46 for ages 12 and older, $39 for ages 7 to 11, and $12 for ages 4 to 6.

You do not have to pay if you’re just going to watch your friends or family.

There are some discounts.

  • 10% off for military (active or retired), seniors, and Fontenelle Forest members.

Do you get into Fontenelle Forest if you have a ticket for TreeRush Adventures?

The short answer is no. TreeRush Adventure is separate from Fontenelle Forest (same parking lot, though).

Kim and her son on the TreeRush Adventures course

You are fully immersed in the forest, though, as you’re climbing, crawling, and zipping around. We had one of the last reservations of the day, and the peaceful calm of dusk at the forest was awe-inspiring.

I had to pause to take it all in. I highly recommend that evening experience.

Right now, only members have access to Fontenelle Forest trails, so if you are a member, you can tack on time on the trails before or after your zipline, operating hours permitting.

Tip: If you are a Fontenelle Forest member, you get a 10% off discount on TreeRush Adventure general admission tickets!

We arrived at Fontenelle Forest about an hour before our TreeRush reservation to get a little trail time in. I really wanted to check out Fontenelle’s new nature backpack (I’ll be writing about that soon!).

One hour at Fontenelle wasn’t enough time, though.

Boy on the swing obstacle at TreeRush Adventures
Photo courtesy TreeRush Adventures

Next time, I won’t try to do both in one outing. The forest and ropes course are both worthy of an individual trip.

Tip: If you only have a limited number of days in Omaha, and want to do both, I’d allow one to two hours for a hike. You’ll be sore the next day because that’s a lot of activity.

Looking for adventures near Omaha Nebraska? Check out TreeRush Adventures at Fontenelle Forest! This ropes course (with ziplines) has multiple courses for different ages and skill levels. It's a fun family activity!
The ultimate family outing near Omaha Nebraska - try a ropes course! Here's what to expect if you go to TreeRush Adventures at Fontenelle Forest. #FamilyTravel #Nebraska #Outdoors #Midwest

While you’re in Bellevue

Hungry? You can grab a meal at one of these great restaurants in Bellevue, Neb.

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Most Popular Posts In 2020

We’re almost halfway through 2020 and what a year it has been! Here’s a roundup of the year’s most popular posts. The takeaway from this post: Readers love Omaha restaurants and they love daydreaming of bucket list type trips!

Top Posts Of 2020

Here are the most-visited posts on Oh My! Omaha in 2020.

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The Hidden Petting Zoo In The City: Scatter Joy Acres

There’s a 26-acre ranch that has long been Omaha’s best-kept secret. Scatter Joy Acres is a working farm and petting zoo tucked among trees in the middle of Omaha. I’ve only recently “discovered” it, but it turns out, many of my friends have already known about it and loved it.

Petting emus at Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha Nebraska

What is Scatter Joy Acres

Joy Bartling started Scatter Joy Acres in 2005/2006 as a rescue for abused and neglected animals. Its original name was Soby Ranch Ministries. It grew and relocated to its current location in north Omaha.

Scatter Joy Acres is now a working ranch with more than 100 animals including pigs, horses, goats, alpacas, peafowl, cows, emu, sheep, and a pretty interesting camel. Animals are kept in pins that visitors are allowed to let themselves into (except for a few areas that are well-marked).

While you’ll encounter most of those animals at the petting zoo, some are involved in therapy sessions for developmentally-disabled, seniors, at-risk children, and veterans.

Porcupine at Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, Neb.

We talked with a volunteer at the farm who introduced us to the porcupine who is often used in teaching kids. The porcupine looked pretty intimidating, but it turns out, she’s rather friendly. She might even crawl into your lap!

I didn’t cuddle a porcupine during our visit, alas. But she did eat a turnip out of my hand, so that was a win.

Why go to Scatter Joy Acres?

The last few months have been stressful for everyone, so the idea of visiting a farm, with its wide open spaces and cute baby animals, really really appealed to me. It turned out, it was the prescription my whole family needed.

A donkey eats at Scatter Joy Acres

We finally felt at ease. There was room to roam. There were animals to pet.

I can think of many reasons to go to Scatter Joy on top of just needing a break from pandemic hysteria:

  • It’s educational. Think of it as a field trip.
  • It’s therapeutic. Just try not to smile back when a camel grins at you.
  • It’s supporting a good cause. Many of these animals are rescue animals that get a new life now as therapy animals.

Is there food available at the farm?

The main reason my family left before we felt totally ready to leave was that we were hungry (OK, the main reason was they were closing for the day and ready to kick us out, but the second reason was that we were hungry).

This place is more farm than attraction, so you won’t find a snack shack or concession stand. There is a vending machine.

We were pretty thirsty by the end of our visit and the water fountain wasn’t working, so I’d suggest bringing a bottle of water or being prepared to buy one.

A barn at Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, Nebraska

The farm during COVID-19

Here’s is Scatter Joy’s statement in regards to the pandemic:

“Scatter Joy Acres is proactively working to protect the health of our guests and our animals. We remain open and events are continuing as scheduled. SJA will modify our response to the situation as needed. Our plan regarding Coronavirus includes closely monitoring national, state, and local health authorities for recommendations regarding safe operations.

Donkeys at Scatter Joy Acres

“SJA will follow the recommendations regarding safety and precautionary measures issued by the CDC, Douglas County Health Department, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. All volunteers have been asked to help prevent the spread of disease by taking steps to reduce the transmission of infectious disease in the workplace.

  • “The best strategy remains common sense; frequent hand washing with warm, soapy water for a minimum of 30 seconds; covering your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough; and discarding used tissues in wastebaskets.
  • “SJA has always provided hand sanitizer for volunteers and guests and will continue that practice.”
  • “SJA volunteers are asked not report to work while they are ill.

“Guests are asked not to come while they are ill.”

A volunteer at Scatter Joy Acres holds a baby emu

Volunteers do not wear masks at Scatter Joy, so if that concerns you, it would be best to wait to visit.

The acreage is spacious so it’s pretty easy to practice social-distancing, as long as you are patient entering and leaving a pen. A few spaces are narrow, especially in the barn near the rabbits, so it’s harder to practice social distancing if someone is already in that space.

Just have patience.

Hours and admission

For the general public, you’ll want to keep tabs on tithe petting zoo hours. For the spring and summer (March 1 to Aug. 31), the hours are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

Goats at Scatter Joy Acres, a petting zoo in Omaha

Tip: Spring is a good time to visit because of all the baby animals. When we were there, we saw baby emu and puppies.

The fall petting zoo hours (Sept. 1 to Oct. 31) are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

Winter Hours (Nov. 1 to Feb. 28 or 29) and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We went on a Sunday and had no problem seeing all of the animals in about two hours. Of course, we could’ve spent more time there, so I’d recommend planning to spend three or four hours there.

We left only because we were hungry and had missed lunch…and well, they were trying to close.

An up-close look at a tortoise at Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, Nebraska

Admission is $7 per person on weekdays and $10 per person on the weekend. Children younger than 2 are admitted FREE.

Where is Scatter Joy?

Interestingly enough, I lived fairly near Scatter Joy Acres for years without knowing it. I moved this spring and only after I moved further away from it did I finally visit. You don’t have to be like me.

Address: 4966 Newport Ave., Omaha

There’s plenty of parking, though I imagine once the secret gets out, that might not always be the case.

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Where to find more animals in Nebraska

Can’t get enough of animals with a single visit to a farm? Here are more places to find animals throughout Nebraska:

OmahaOmaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. While there isn’t a petting zoo per se, there are places with animal encounters, including goats at the Children’s Adventure Trails, sting rays at Sting Ray Bay, and starfish and other sea creatures at the aquarium.

Ashland – The Nebraska Wildlife Safari is primarily a drive-through safari, but there is a chance to stop and visit a petting zoo with goats and chickens (though, it is temporarily closed due to COVID-19).

LincolnLincoln Children’s Zoo has many opportunities to see animals up-close. This zoo is made with kids in mind.

You don't have to venture too far in Nebraska to find a working farm! Here's a guide to Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, Nebraska. Learn about the animals, mission, and when to visit this unique petting zoo at a ranch. #Nebraska #FamilyTravel #Farm #PettingZoo #Animals

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Looking for an off-the-beaten-path fun outing in Omaha? Scatter Joy Acres may be Omaha's best-kept secret. Learn about this petting zoo and working ranch and the rescue animals that live there. #Omaha #Nebraska #FamilyTime #FamilyTravel #FarmLife

17 Omaha Craft Breweries You Should Try

In a few short years (or so it seems), Omaha has grown into a booming craft brewery scene. I’ve had a few years to explore the industry (ahem, perhaps a more than a few years), so I thought I’d share my favorite brews from all of the breweries.

Beer on the patio of Upstream Brewing Co. in Downtown Omaha

Be sure to comment with your favorites! If I missed a brewery (or another one opened up), let me know.

Background on Kim’s beer picks

I’m by no means a beer snob or connoisseur. In fact, if you look over the list, you’ll see I tend to just favor a few kinds of beers (brown ales, saisons). However, I do love trying new beers. So, that’s why I made this post.

A flight of beers at Benson Brewery

I started learning about the Nebraska microbrewery scene in 2008, when my then-fiance and I held a beer tasting fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Back then, there weren’t many Omaha breweries, so we sought brewers throughout the state.

It was a fun and successful fundraiser, and we got to know the friendly and generous people behind some of the state’s longest-running breweries.

A saison at Farnam House Brewing Co. in Midtown Omaha

It’s awesome to see the brewers grow over the past 10+ years! Some of those early brewers eventually opened a taproom in Omaha, like Thunderhead and Empyrean.

Omaha Craft Breweries

Benson Brewery

Found on the main drag of the Benson neighborhood, Benson Brewery is a great spot for food and drinks before a night out. The brewery opened in 2013.

This is one of the few brewpubs that are family-friendly, and even has a kid's menu with things like burgers and mac and cheese.

COVID-19 Update: The brewery offers curbside pickup, online ordering and delivery, with operating hours being Monday through Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m. (you can start calling in orders at 3 p.m.). The dining room is closed for the foreseeable future.

Try: The Blonde Bunny is a good, light ale.

Where: 6059 Maple St.

Brickway Brewery and Distillery

With a taproom in the Old Market, Brickway Brewery and Distillery is a prime spot to grab a beer and people-watch the afternoon away.

Brickway is also a distillery, so if you're thirsty for something a little stronger, they distill their own gin, whiskey, vodka, bourbon and rum.

COVID-19 Update: Beer and spirits are available to-go. The creative guys at Brickway also started making hand-sanitizer and now have made enough to offer it for free. Every Friday, you can get 64oz (BYOB). The rest of the week, you can get a free 10-oz bottle, one per person.

Try: I'm partial to their Red Lager.

Where: 1116 Jackstom St.

Farnam House Brewing Company

This spacious brewery in Midtown Omaha offers both food and beers. The basement is where the brewing magic happens. Farnam House's typical lineup on tap includes farmhouse ales, German Lager, Bock, Stout, and sours, as well as some pretty creative brews.

COVID-19 Update: They offer delivery through GrubHub. Beer is available in cans and growlers.

Try: Give the Rye Peppercorn Saison a try.

Where: 3558 Farnam St.

Infusion Brewing Co. 

Infusion is steadily becoming a favorite of mine, especially since our pool carries my favorite beer on tap. The original location in Benson is in the former Olson's Meat Market, and has an awesome restored, vintage look to it. The brewery has opened additional taprooms in West Omaha and in Little Bohemia in downtown Omaha.

COVID-19 Update: All taprooms are open for to-go orders only.

Try: You'll want to try the Vanilla Bean Blonde.

Where: 6115 Maple St.; 6271 S. 118th St.; and 1406 S. 13th St.

Jaipur Brewing Company and Restaurant

Jaipur is first and foremost a restaurant serving delicious Indin food. However, they also brew their own beer.

COVID-19 Update: Jaipur offers carry-out and delivery for the food menu only.

Try: The Jalapeno Ale is delicious but has a kick to it.

Where: 10922 Elm St. in Rockbrook Village

Jukes Ale Works

One of the newer breweries in the metro area, Jukes Ale House opened in the fall of 2019.

COVID-19 Update: Jukes offers food and crowlers curbside to-go.

Try: Jukes is a brewery I have yet to visit, so looking over their menu, I'd go with the Little Lady Grisette, one of their core beers. The beer is made with a simple grain bill of pilsner and wheat and a blend of French Strisselspalt and German Perle hops. What sells me on it, though, is that it's made with a special strain of saison yeast. I love Saisons.

Where: 20560 Elkhorn Drive, Elkhorn, Neb.

Kros Strain Brewing Co.

The interestingly named Kros Strain Brewing Co. is a La Vista brewery formed by two beer lovers, Bobby Kros and Scott Strain. Their style of brewing is to always tinker with flavors, so you'll always find something wholly unique on tap there.

COVID-19 Update: Kros Strain beers are avaialble for pick-up only at the brewery. It's 20% off for now and can be ordered online.

Try: Fairy Nectar London Double Dry Hop, my husband's favorite local beer. It's a tad too hoppy for me, but the beer did earn second place at that 2018 Juicy Hazy IPA category at the Great American Beer Festival.

Where: 10411 Portal Road, La Vista, Neb.

Lazlo's Brewery and Grill and Empryrean Brewing Co.

The first location of Lazlo's Brewery and Grill, Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket District, opened in 1991, making it Nebraska's first brewpub. There are now three locations, including one in West Omaha.

Their in-house brewery is called Empyrean Brewing Co.

COVID-19 Update: Lazlo's offers curbside pick-up and delivery of food as well as beer, wine, cocktails and gift cards.

Try: My favorite Empyrean beer is Third Stone Brown Ale.

Where: 2425 S. 192nd Ave.

Lucky Bucket Brewing Co.

My first introduction to Lucky Bucket was right after the brewery opened in 2008. Raising money for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training, my then-fiance and I decided to have a beer tasting fundraiser and Lucky Bucket was the first enthusiastic brewery to donate beer for it. I've been grateful to them ever since.

They've branched out and added a distillery (Cut Spike), but the beer is what we're talking about here. Lucky Bucket offers brewery tours once a month.

COVID-19 Update: The brewery offers pick-up on its beers, as well as discounted growler refills. The distillery recently started making hand sanitizer for first responders but may have it available to the public later in April.

Try: You've got to try the brewery's first beer, Lucky Bucket Pre-Prohibition Lager.

Where: 11941 Centennial Rd, La Vista, Neb.

Nebraska Brewing Co.

Nebraska Brewing Co. formed in 1997, is the state's most award-winning brewer. I've rarely encountered a dud there.

I haven't been to the new taproom, but they say it's kid-friendly, just like their old the old brewpub used to be.

They offer brewery tours.

COVID-19 Update: Nebraska Brewing Co. offers custom can ordering for pickup, plus some nifty mixed drinks in a can, like margaritas.

Try: Brunette Nut Ale, an English-style beer that's not too hoppy, but just right.

Where: 6950 S. 108th St., La Vista, Neb.

Pint Nine Brewing Co.

One of the newer breweries in the Omaha area, Pint Nine has a devoted following. Popular Omaha food trucks are often parked in front of the brewery.

This brewery offers tours.

COVID-19 Update: They offer to-go orders via email, phone or text.

Try: Give the Session Red a try.

Where: 10411 Portal Road, suite 104, La Vista, Neb.

Scriptown Brewing Co.

The Scriptown brewery is located in the trendy Blackstone District. Scriptown does a great job partnering with other Omaha small businesses, offering Noli's pizza deals, a Kathmandu Momo Station, and they've been known to do beer floats using Coneflower Creamery ice cream.

COVID-19 Update: You can order online for pick-up.

Try: Nut Job Brown Ale is a smooth beer to try.

Where: 3922 Farnam St.

Soaring Wings Vineyard & Brewery

Yes, Soaring Wings is a winery and vineyard, first and foremost. And while the whites there are pretty nice on a warm summer day, I've taken to their beers even more.

While it's a bit more of a drive to Soaring Wings versus others on this list, it's worth it to enjoy the view.

COVID-19 Update: They offer takeout and local deliveries.

Try: Pegasus Pilsner, a German-style pilsner.

Where: 17111 S. 138th St., Springfield, Neb.

Thunderhead Brewing

Thunderhead Brewing started in Kearney, Neb., but they've opened three more locations, including two in Omaha. The West Omaha location is beer-only, but you can bring your own food and kids are welcome. The downtown Omaha location is also beer-only, and kids and fur babies are welcome.

In April 2020, the folks behind Thunderhead opened Nebraska's largest liquor store in Omaha, Wine, Beer, and Spirits.

COVID-19 Update: Omaha taprooms are closed. They offered carry-out in March.

Try: I'm partial to the wheat beer, Golden Frau.

Where: 1037 Jones St. (downtown) and 13304 West Center Road, suite 126 (West Omaha)

Upstream Brewing Co.

Omaha's oldest brewpub, Upstream has been around since 1996. The large restaurant/brewery in the Old Market is surprisingly kid-friendly - every Tuesday there's a hilarious roving magician.

COVID-19 Update: Upstream Brewing Co. announced plans to reopen with a socially-distant floor plan sometime in mid-May.

Try: I usually order the Dundee Export Scotch Ale.

Where: 514 S. 11th St.

Vis Major Brewing Co.

Consider Vis Major your friendly, Omaha neighborhood brewery. They offer food along with beer and cocktails, including the pretty interesting specialty pizza, The Goonie.

Free tours are available on select days.

COVID-19 Update: You can order food and beers online for carryout or curbside pick-up.

Try: Taste the Highland Brown Ale.

Where: 3501 Center St.

Zipline Brewing Co.

Zipline Brewing has grown over the years, expanding from Lincoln into Omaha with two locations, a NoDo taproom in downtown Omaha (conveniently by Film Streams and The Slowdown), and a lounge in West Omaha.

COVID-19 Update: Zipline offers no-contact pick-up of its beers at both Omaha locations. You must place your order online.

Zipline started Workforce Wednesday, where every Wednesday in May, furloughed members of the restaurant and bar industry can get a free glass growler. You must purchase the growler to be filled with the beer of your choice or bring a Zipline growler you've already purchased. *must be pre-ordered online!

Try: Copper Alt is a must-try.

Where: 721 N. 14th St. (downtown) and 3808 S. 203rd Plaza (West Omaha)

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A guide to the best microbreweries in Omaha, Nebraska - Including which brewpubs welcome pets and families. #Omaha #beers #Nebraska #brewery #Midwest