June 4, 2018

Everything To Know About Railroad Days 2018

Railroad Days 2018 celebrates trains and the railroad history of Omaha and Council Bluffs. Held on July 14 and 15, you have two days to explore each of the five venues participating in the event. I’ve taken the kids to Railroad Days in the past, so I can vouch for it being it being an affordable event for families. Keep reading – there’s a giveaway ahead!

guide to Railroad Days Omaha

Railroad Days 2018 venues

This event is definitely one for train aficionados, but even if trains aren’t your thing, you’ve got plenty to see and do. I always think of Railroad Days as a great staycation option to see Omaha and Council Bluffs attractions for one price.

Each location is open as usual, so in addition to the special activities planned for the weekend, this is a good time to explore their permanent exhibits, gardens, and historic artifacts.

Families can get up close to real trains during Railroad Days. Photo courtesy The Durham Museum

The Durham Museum (801 S. 10th St., Omaha) – New this year is The Durham Museum‘s largest model railroad display ever in the Swanson Galley featuring actual locations in the Midwest. There will also be music by “Freight Train” Frank and the chance to talk with model railroad experts by the House of Trains on Track Level. Behind the museum, you can get up-close to Union Pacific’s Chicago and North Western Heritage locomotive. While there, don’t skip the special exhibit American Adventure.”

Lauritzen Gardens (100 Bancroft St., Omaha) – The activities at Lauritzen Gardens are always a hit with my kids, especially the free mini train rides. Things to see:Centennial No. 6900 and Big Boy No. 4023 locomotives at Kenefick Park, model train railroad garden, LEGO brick rail yard, and Paul Siebert performing railroad ditties.

RailsWest Railroad Museum (1512 S. Main St., Council Bluffs) – Don’t miss the chance to visit the train yard, climbing aboard old steam engines, cabooses and cars. Indoors, there’s a large H.O. scale model train layout operated by the Carter Lake Model Railroad Youth Club.

Union Pacific Railroad Museum (200 Pearl St., Council Bluffs) – Head to the “Wheels of War” exhibit to learn about the history between the military and the railroads in every American conflict since the U.S. Civil War in the “Wheels of War,” exhibit. Another exhibit to check out is “Working on the Railroad,” an up close and personal experience with modern Union Pacific operations. My kids also like pretend to “detonate” explosives – go look for it in one of the permanent inside the museum.

Historic General Dodge House (605 Third St., Council Bluffs) – Here’s the chance to walk through the house of the man called “the greatest railroad builder of all time.” The 1869 Victorian home is on a National Historic Landmark.

Food at Railroad Days

Each location has food/snacks and beverages available for purchase. I’ve only dined at Lauritzen Gardens and The Durham Museum. If you’re looking to cool off, the Durham soda fountain sells a delicious root beer float.

Food and beverages are not included in the ticket price.

Railroad Days Family Passes

Family passes are quite the deal. Family Passes are $15, and available for purchase at any participating venue during the event. The Family Pass for Railroad Days gets two adults and their dependents (or grandchildren) under the age of 18 in to the venues as well as admission to the trolley/bus transportation between the locations.

Climb aboard train cars and engines at the RailsWest Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs. Admission is included with the Family Pass during Railroad Days. Photo courtesy RailsWest Railroad Museum

Even if you’re just purchasing the pass for yourself, you save money on admission to each place – the regular price of admission for a single adult to visit all five venues is $35.

A $5 pass is also available for one adult with the purchase of a Family Pass (limit one). Keep the wristbands on and they will be valid both days.

Railroad Days 2018 Giveaway!

Want to go to Railroad Days 2018? I’m giving away TWO (2) Family Passes on the blog. It’s easy to enter, just use the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends Sunday, June 17, at 11:59 p.m. I’ll contact the winners within 48 hours via email. Winners have 48 hours to respond before another winner is drawn. Must be 18 or older to enter. Family Passes have no cash value.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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May 24, 2018

What’s At Omaha Zoo’s Asian Highlands

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium newest exhibit, Asian Highlands, adds to an already impressive collection of new exhibits added in the last year.

 

Read about African Grasslands here and watch a video of Children’s Adventure Trails. African Grasslands opened in 2016, and Children’s Adventure Trail opened in 2017.

What to expect at Omaha Zoo’s Asian Highlands

Asian Highlands is opening in two phases, so with Phase I, you will encounter only a handful of animals that will be a part of the complete exhibit (which is slated to open in spring 2019).

A rhino roams in the Asian Highlands, a new exhibit at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.

You’ll see two red pandas named Tofu and Wasabi, as well as white-naped cranes, two Indian rhinos, tufted deer and Pere David’s deer.

The two red pandas are the first animals to spot at the entrance of Asian Highlands. Photo courtesy Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

They’re well adapted to live in cold environments so this will be a year-round exhibit.

Part of the charm of Asian Highlands is the story line that is incorporated into the exhibit, one where guests feel like they’re on an immersive journey through Northern India and the Himalayan Mountains.

Tip: The train passes by Asian Highlands, giving passengers a peek at what’s open in the Asian Highlands, as well as the areas that are under construction.

The entryway, a replica of a temple ruin, is a nice to touch to it all.

A replica of a temple ruin serves as the entrance to Asian Highlands. Photo courtesy Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

What else should you know? First, there are no restrooms in the exhibit nor food service (yet). Those are to come in 2019.

Also, this exhibit isn’t quite complete, because it’s rolling out in phases. So if you visit now, expect the trail to be a short out-and-back. There are barricades blocking entry into the areas under construction. But, what’s to come is going to be worth the wait!

A bridge in the Asian Highlands exhibit at Omaha’s zoo.

What’s coming to Asia Highlands in 2019

I’m especially looking forward to Phase II of Asian Highlands, which should open in the spring of 2019. The expected animals that will be included in Phase II will be sloth bears, tigers, snow leopards, takin and Chinese goral. I think all families are going to love the Kid’s Discovery Trail, which was described to me as a place with rocks to climb and misters to cool people off.

Omaha Zoo Asian Highlands

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May 22, 2018

Fan Tips For Storm Chasers Baseball Games

Omaha Storm Chasers baseball games are great for families, couples (could totally be a cheap date night), and friends. I’ve asked fans to share their tips for Storm Chasers baseball games, including where the best seats are, parking tips, how to get autographs, and more insider knowledge. I’m sharing the tips I thought were most helpful below. You can see the original post and tweet, too, to see all answers.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by the Omaha Storm Chasers. All tips, though, are provided by Oh My! Omaha readers. Any typos are probably mine. 

Good things to know about Omaha Storm Chasers games

Tips For Taking Kids To Games

“Taking kids is a must to fully enjoy the atmosphere. Get berm tickets, bring a blanket, let the kids run around, lay back and enjoy the game,” said Scott R. “All seasons are good to go, outside of the first couple of weeks. With small children, weekday night games leave plenty of room for your kids to roam.”

“Always check the schedule for any fun nights (Princess, Star Wars or Super Hero nights),” said April S.

“Kids will love Friday fireworks or Sundays kids day. The kids will love the family fun zone or mini golf. Berm seats are great if you have little ones who might need to runaround,” said Tiffany N.

“The Family Fun Zone is free if you are a member of Centris.” said Kaila W., who also said the berm is a good option for those with kids. She packs “a picnic blanket and toys/ bubbles to keep them occupied.” Show your Centris card to get the free wristbands, said Jeanne D.

“Kids have the Centris Family Fun zone with carousel, playground, putt-putt. Wristbands are $6 a piece. Basketball hoop and a mini baseball field for games in center/right center field. Fireworks nights are pretty nice,” said Jaima N.

Laura C. recommends getting the Little Storm Chasers membership. “Get $10 off thru Parent Savvy. It’s good for Sunday games which are often Hy-Vee Can Good Sundays.” Tiffany N. thought she’d seen the Little Storm Chasers membership half-off through Parent Savvy, so you just might to double check things.

Ready to take the kids to a game this year? Here are 10 Things Families Will Love About The Storm Chasers’ 2018 Season.

Storm Chasers Parking Tips

“Carpool if you can! And don’t park too close for out park balls can hit the car,” said Ash H.

“If just going to game, always go to the free lot. Plenty of spots. If tailgating, paying the $5 is worth it,” said Scott R.

Storm Chasers Game Seating Tips

“For places to sit, early season get first base side, they have the most sun. For summer get third base seats behind the dugout, they get the most shade,” said Scott R.

“We like seats to keep both (kids) contained. I feel more stressed in the berm,” said Ash H.

“We’ve sat behind home plate before when we were able to score those tickets and they were second to NONE (we were right up at the fence!).” said April S.

Going to sit on the berm? Cameron W. recommended standing or sitting by right field and bring a blanket to sit on.

Food & Drink Tips For Storm Chasers Games

“You can bring water bottles empty with no labels for free water,” said Ash H.

“They have gluten free options at some of the food stands!” shared Kaila W.

“Food wise we love the nachos from LeMesa or just getting a good old fashioned hot dog or pretzel,” suggested Tiffany N.

“Tuesdays are 50-cent nights on a lot of the food and Wednesday are Wiener Wednesdays for cheap hot dogs,” said Natalie J.

“If you go to last game of year, alcohol drinks are cheap!” said Jaima N.

Discount Ticket Tips

“I got tickets before the season when they had their promotion for the cold weather. $2/ticket was a steal.” said Danell T. from Small Guy Promotions

Tips For Storm Chasers Autographs

Fans in the know suggest heading to the bridge area by left field if you want to get autographs, and get there early.

“Come early enough to get autographs on the bridge (see who is going to be there by looking on their website),” suggested April S.

“Getting autographs is a lot of luck & perseverance. Always try to use the players name when asking. ‘Mr. O’Hearn would you sign my card please?’ Always be courteous by saying ‘Thank You’ afterwards. Players never have to sign, they do it out of their own kindness & on their time,” said @RoyalsCollector. “If a player does not sign. Don’t be rude to them. They have a job to do and sometimes they just don’t have the time to stop. Try again the next day or the next game your at. Always have a pen or sharpie ready for them use and the item you want signed. Always be kind and courteous to the other fans around you trying to get autographs too. Don’t push, shove, crowd others around. If you get the autograph you want let somebody else get in for a chance too.”

“Be polite. Call players by name (Mr. Gore) not number (Hey 0). Bring a pen (ball point pen for baseballs a sharpie for anything else). Have something for them to sign (I recommend a ball, program, or usually you can get a team card set for souvenir shop),” said Jeff E. “Some players won’t sign and don’t be frustrated because many others will. Often starting pitchers or catchers won’t sign because they need the longest amount of time to get ready. Before game is usually better than after.”

Giveaway Tips

“Always check the schedule and go on giveaway nights! All kinds of fun stuff,” said Tiffany N. Tim T. with The Walking Tourists said the Bobblehead games are his favorite – check this post to see when the next 2018 bobble head giveaway is scheduled.

Your turn! What tips do you have for Omaha Storm Chasers games?

 

fans share 20+ tips for Storm Chasers games

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May 11, 2018

8 Great Places For Pancakes In Omaha

Every so often, you just need a huge pancake, right? There are dozens of places to get pancakes in Omaha, and as expected, when I asked my readers on Facebook where to go, they had MANY suggestions. I’ve narrowed down their favorites and added mine to create this list. Here are eight great places for pancakes in Omaha:

 

Amato’s Cafe & Catering

Where: 6405 Center St.

What to order: They’re known for their ricotta pancakes, which occasionally has added ingredients like peaches or pumpkin.

Claim to fame: Amato’s has been featured on the “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” and “Man Vs Food.”

 

Lisa’s Radial Cafe

Where: 817 N. 40th St.

What to order: Their Killer Cakes come with add-ins like chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter, or seasonal fruit. My kids will tell you the chocolate chips are the best, I’m old-fashioned and go for plain ol’ pancakes, though.

Note: They only accept cash at Lisa’s Radial. It’s inexpensive, but still something to note.

 

Vidlak’s Brookside Cafe

Where: 15668 W. Center Road

What to order: If buttermilk pancakes are too tame for you, try the bacon stuffed pancakes or the German potato pancakes.

 

11-Worth Cafe

Where: 2419 Leavenworth St.

What to order: Like all Caniglia family restaurants of yore, 11-Worth Cafe serves heaping portions. It’s no different with pancakes. Pancakes are pretty straight-forward here, and you can opt to add in only three things: Strawberries, blueberries or peaches.

Note: They often hand out balloons to kids. It’s the highlight of my kids’ day when it happens.

 

Farmhouse Cafe & Bakery

Where: 3461 S. 84th St.

What to order: I prefer the Golden Griddle Cakes with blueberries added, but if you feel like branching out, there are German potato pancakes that come with applesauce.

Note: If there’s a wait, not big deal. Go browse Mangelsen’s, the craft store connected to the restaurant.

 

Harold’s Koffee House

Where: 8327 N. 30th St.

What to order: Harold’s has been around since 1958 and has that perfectly homey feel to it. They have fluffy buttermilk pancakes, but if you want to get crazy, try the berry and granola pancake. And always, always, ask for one of their homemade donuts. Totally over-indulgent if you’re already eating a pancake, but trust me on this.

 

Early Bird

Where: 3824 Farnam St.

What to order: The pancake options are abundant here, good luck deciding. Cereal Killer Pancakes are pretty Instagrammable (Fruity Pebbles or Coco Puffs on a pancake?!). If you can’t decide, you can always get the pancake flight, where you choose any three from the following: Plain, blueberry, chocolate chip, Cereal Killer, pineapple upside down, cinnamon roll, and PB&J.

Note: This is the newest restaurant on the list in one of the trendiest neighborhoods, Blackstone District. Expect a wait if you don’t get there early.

 

Leo’s Diner

Where: 6055 Maple St.

What to order: I usually check the specials board for pancake specials (lucky you if you arrive on Pancake Weekend). Regular options on the menu are the short-stack and blueberry pancakes.

Note: Leo’s is known for its “islands,” which start with hashbrowns, topped with a biscuit, gravy and eggs…and then they’ll add to it for different varieties. Not for the faint of heart.

 

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May 8, 2018

Girls Night Out Event At Omaha Children’s Museum

This blog has been overdue sharing a girl’s night out information. The last official roundup of Girl’s Night Out suggestions was in 2013 (eek!). More recently, I shared tips on painting and drinking, making Knotty Nail art, and going to the theater. Most involved wine. I have one more girls night out idea that will likely involve a glass of wine: A night out at Omaha Children’s Museum.

What?! I know. The museum is having its first-ever Mom’s Night Out on June 9 and I’m here to share the details.

Stick around because I have a promo code for Buy One, Get One tickets!

Full disclosure: I work at Omaha Children’s Museum. Plus, I’m receiving complimentary tickets for writing about the event.

What’s Mom’s Night Out

Mom’s Night Out at Omaha Children’s Museum is a night for women ages 21 and older. If you want to be pampered, and you’re 21 or older, this is for you. You don’t have to be a mom to attend, by the way. All ladies of legal drinking age are welcomed.

As you guessed, since it’s a 21 and older event, there will be alcohol, and your admission fee covers one drink. There will also be food, shopping, and a place to chill with your friends and watch John Hughes movies. Sounds great, right?

BOGO Ticket Deal

Tickets are $15 each. Oh My! Omaha readers can use the promo code happymothersday to buy one, get one ticket FREE! Because really, you’ll want to bring a friend along. Or you know, make it a Mother’s Day present and buy one for your mom. You can purchase tickets online at here.

If you go

Mom’s Night Out

When: June 9, 8 to 11 p.m.

Where: Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.

Cost: Tickets are $15 each. Use promo code happymothersday to get a second ticket FREE. Purchase tickets online here.

 

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May 7, 2018

New ‘BODY’ Exhibit In Omaha + Giveaways

The touring exhibit “OUR BODY: The Universe Within” is in Omaha for a few months, and I was invited to tour it recently. I brought my 8-year-old so I could get his thoughts on the exhibit and gauge how other kids might react to it.

Our Body Exhibit On Tour

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by “OUR BODY: The Universe Within.” All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. 

You can see “OUR BODY: The Universe Within” in The Capitol District through Aug. 26, 2018 (with the possibility of extension). Keep reading to find out how you can win tickets!

What in the exhibit ‘OUR BODY’

The exhibit “OUR BODY: The Universe Within” exposes the inner workings of human anatomy by presenting actual human specimens, anatomical displays, reproductions of historic anatomical artwork and much more. It’s considered appropriate for all ages.

The touring exhibition, “OUR BODY: The Universe Within” includes 15 whole body specimens, like this guy playing chess. The exhibit is open in Omaha through July 31, 2018.

Basically, this “BODY” exhibit is literally an inside look at the body using real human bodies. The exhibit includes approximately 15 whole body specimens and 49 display cases containing more than 110 organs and specimens.

Everything in the “OUR BODY” exhibit has been preserved through a process called polymer impregnation or “plastination” – a process that replaces the body’s water and fat with reactive plastics. If you want to learn more about how they create the exhibit “OUR BODY,” read this.

The exhibit includes the opportunity to touch a real liver, brain, kidney and/or heart. When we were there, we touched a diseased lung, a heart and half a brain. Due to the “plastination” process used to preserve them, they felt unreal and not all that squishy.

What to expect at ‘OUR BODY’

The exhibit is divided into different sections exploring the six primary systems of the human body: Musculoskeletal system, head and nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system, urinary and reproductive system, and the cardiovascular system.

A look at the blood supply of the kidney. The exhibit “OUR BODY: The Universe Within” explores the six primary systems of the human body.

I like that visitors are eased into the experience, starting first with something familiar to me, skeletal displays.

You can probably expect some giggling if you’re bringing children. Most of the bodies in the exhibit are male, and, so, you’re going to see everything male, if you know what I mean: The male body playing basketball and the male body sitting down to a chess game, for example.

I’ve been to a different touring “BODY” exhibit, and like that one, “OUT BODY” has a section with fetuses. It is separated from other areas and there are signs stating that some people may find it disturbing. There are preserved fetuses at different months of growth as well as a full-term baby. It is easy to bypass, if it makes you uncomfortable.

Prepping kids to go to a “BODY” exhibit

“OUR BODY: The Universe Within,” as mentioned earlier, is appropriate for all ages, but you should be the judge on whether your child is ready for it or not. It’s wonderful for children curious about science. It can also be unsettling, though, for a child who realizes that every body on display was once a living person.

“OUR BODY: The Universe Within” is considered appropriate for all ages, and there’s a downloadable guide to prep kids before their visit.

When I asked my son how the exhibit effected him, he was reluctant to say. (It’s like prying teeth getting him to expand upon ideas, so this isn’t surprising) Eventually, he told me he thought it was amazing. However, I’ll add that more than once while we were there, he loudly exclaimed somethings were gross. So, that’s an 8-year-old in a nutshell.

There are helpful guides available to prep your child before you go and to unpack what you saw following a visit. The guides for older children are for class visits, but parents may find them helpful, especially the section with terms. Here are the guides:

For families – This has fun facts and a very basic explanations for each area in the exhibit.

For kids in grades 6-8

For kids in grades 9-12

Is it “gross”?

I’ve been asked by friends and on social media if the exhibit is “gross.” To answer that, I guess it depends on what grosses you out. To me, it was more like a textbook brought to life. So, it was fascinating.

What I found most fascinating was seeing arteries and veins of different organs. But, teeth and fingernails? Those to me are “gross” to me.

As far as comfort level, I can see how this exhibit could make some people squeamish. There are some dissections that, to me, were both fascinating to examine and a little unsettling. The continuous horizontal dissection of a male body is one such dissection.

If you go

“OUR BODY: The Universe Within”

Where: The Capitol District, 225 N. 12th Street

When: May 5 to Aug. 26, 2018

Cost: Adult tickets start at $15; seniors (65+), military & family, students $12; children ages 5 to 14, $10; and Children age 4 and younger, FREE. An adult must accompany all children under the age of 12.

 

Giveaways!

One reader is going to win FOUR passes to see “OUR BODY: The Universe Within” while it’s here in Omaha. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below. Must be 18 or older to enter. Passes have no cash value. Giveaway ends May 20 at 11:59 p.m. CST. Winner will be contacted via email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are THREE more ways to win!

1. Be sure you follow Oh My! Omaha on Facebook. I’ll have a giveaway for four passes on May 20.

2. Follow Fun Things To Do In Omaha & Beyond. There’s a flash giveaway for four passes on May 7. Winner will be drawn on May 8.

3. Subscribe to Oh My! Omaha. One random subscriber will be drawn on May 20 to receive four passes. It’s FREE to subscribe, and e-newsletters are sent out twice monthly sharing things to do in Omaha, travel inspiration, and details on giveaways like this.