April 22, 2018

8 Great Parks In Omaha

There was a great Facebook conversation going on about parks in Omaha recently. Everyone has an opinion about parks and what makes them the best: Sand vs. non-sand, themes, variety, location, crowd levels. So I’ll chime in below with my favorite parks.

This “8 Great” list is the first in the series I’ll be doing on the blog with reader input on what to include. Check back for future ones on breweries, restaurant patios, and more! If you’re bored with your neighborhood park, here are some of my family’s favorite parks in Omaha. If you’re looking for parks with hiking trails, here’s a list of seven great trails for families near Omaha.

Omaha parks

Benson Park & spray ground

Where: 7002 Military Ave.

Size: 217.3 acres

Why: This park’s playground is outstanding–and a no-sand playground to boot–and it’s next to a fun (and popular) splash pad. The small lake is nice for a stroll and fishing is allowed.

Sand: No

Summer time at Benson @omahaparks!

A post shared by Kim Reiner (@ohmyomaha) on

 

Elmwood Park

Where: 802 S. 60th St.

Size: 216.4 acres

Why: This park’s playground was recently updated, with some nice climbing areas added to it. Elmwood is one of my favorite parks because of the open space and the trails surrounding it. Take a short walk through the woods to imagine a little escape from the city. And if you’re so inclined, there is a fitness area right next to the playground where you can sneak in some weight-bearing exercises in while the kids play (I’m never so inclined).

Sand: Yes

 

Hanscom Park

Where: 3201 Woolworth Ave.

Size: 58 acres

Why: Omaha’s oldest park often gets overlooked by shinier new parks. However, its playground was updated in 2017, and it’s a great one. This park also has the perk of lots of gorgeous trees, a nice little lake, a pool, and a dog park.

Sand: Yes

 

Hummel Park

Where: 3033 Hummel Park Road

Size: 202 acres

Why: This is our favorite city park for hike! It also has the best special events (so check the city’s calendar from time to time). The playground consists of rather large metal slides. They look cool, and my kids love them, but if you’re a nervous parent, I’d stay clear until your kids are steady climbers.

Sand: No

 

Lawrence Youngman Park

Where: 192nd Street and West Dodge Road

Why: This lakeside park has a pretty sizeable playground, a boat ramp, and fishing is allowed. And the covered picnic area is a nice bonus.

Sand: Yes

 

Standing Bear Lake

Artist rendering of the new Standing Bear Lake playground.

Where: 6404 N. 132nd St.

Size: 685 acres

Why: I like Standing Bear Lake for the lovely trail, but soon, it’s getting a new playground with a Native American them. The good news is: It won’t have sand.

Sand: No

 

 

Zorinsky Lake Park

Where: 3808 S. 156th St.

Size: 1,023 acres

Why: This is my absolute favorite park to run the trails, and they’re good for bike rides, too. The trail to the west of 168th Street is so wooded, you’ll feel removed from the city. The main playground near the boat ramp is huge and a hit with kids.

Sand: Yes

 

Plus one beyond Omaha

If you look beyond the Omaha metro, you’ll encounter more fun parks to visit. One to keep on your radar is in Council Bluffs:

Dreamland Park

Where: Lake Manawa State Park, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Why: This large, wooden park located in Lake Manawa State Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was originally designed by kids’ submissions of what the perfect playground would look like. It’s pretty cool, though a bit rundown. The good news is that Dream Playground Reimagined is in the works and it may, someday, get a makeover. Until then, it’s still fun to visit (just look out for splinters). Lake Manawa State Park also has trails and a small beach.

Sand: Yes

 

I’d love to know your favorite parks in Omaha! Please leave a comment with your favorites.

 

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April 16, 2018

How To Start A Hefty® EnergyBag™ Program Routine In Your Home

Earlier this month, I shared details on the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program. At the same time, I started using them in my own home. Since then, I learned a few things about teaching the whole family what goes in the orange bags.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hefty®. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

 

 

Want to start using Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bags in your home? Here are my tips for getting started:

Buy the bags

Seems obvious, but you have to know where to buy these special orange bags in Omaha. Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bags are available at all Omaha Hy-Vee grocery stores. I shared a list of the locations here.

Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bags are available at area Hy-Vee stores.

I recommend calling customer service before your visit to make sure your closest Hy-Vee has the orange bags in stock.

Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bags are available in packs of 20. I estimate my family of four fills almost two bags a week.

Keep the Hefty® EnergyBag™ Non-Recycled Plastics list visible

A lot of plastics can be placed in the orange Hefty® bags. To remember what you can put in the bags, think of this: “If you don’t bin it, bag it.”

– Potato chip bags and other snack bags
– Candy wrappers
– Granola bar and energy bar wrappers
– Plastic and foam cups, plates and bowls
– Shredded cheese packages
– Salad bags
– Plastic pet food bags
– Frozen fruit & vegetable bags
– Pudding cups
– Stand-up pouches
– Squeezable baby food pouches
– Foam to-go boxes
– Packing peanuts
– Plastic utensils
– Plastic straws and stirrers
– Cake mix liners and other dry powder mix liners
– Plastic toothpaste tubes
– Condiment packets
– All other non-recycled plastic bags

There was a list inside the Hefty® EnergyBag™ pack I purchased, so I taped it on the wall near our recycling bin so everyone can refer to it.

If you have a family command center, wall calendar, or some other space in your home where you keep important family information and dates handy, I recommend adding this list to reference.

Remind everyone regularly

My family was used to throwing a lot of plastics away, so it wasn’t easy to change that habit. Straws, wrappers, salad bags always went in the trash because we knew they couldn’t be recycled. Now these items can go in the orange bags.

I put the non-recyclable plastic items like a frozen veggie bag or straws in the orange Hefty® bag.

What works best for my family is gentle and frequent reminders of what can be put in the bag. I’m pretty specific about it, too, suggesting what should be placed in the Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bags and what should be thrown away or put in the sink.

Put the full bags out with the recycling

The full orange bags are picked up along with your regularly scheduled recycling pick-ups.

The Hefty® EnergyBag™ program was easy to integrate into our weekly trash day routine, because it is picked up along with our recyclables. You can put the full Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bags into your recycling bin; it will then be picked up as part of normal service and schedule. If you’re wondering what happens to those plastics next, read this post.

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April 15, 2018

What’s TAGG & How Can A Family Use It?

If you’ve been following me on social media, you may have noticed a post or tweet (or two) about Together A Great Good, or simply, TAGG. TAGG is a local app that helps you easily raise money for causes you support. It’s super simple.

Here’s How TAGG Works:

Step One: Download the TAGG app.

Step Two: Visit participating businesses and snap a photo of your receipt.

Step Three: Choose which cause to support. The business will donate to your cause.

Step Four: Share your good deed with others (ie. tweet or post about it).

Super simple. And it’s been around for a while and keeps growing (I wrote about it two years ago), so if you aren’t already, it’s time you started TAGGing.

And there really isn’t a catch to it. If you shop or dine in Omaha, there’s a good chance that you’re frequenting businesses that participate in TAGG. There are even services like insurance, chiropractic care and roofing that are on the list. See the current list here.

A night out at V. Mertz makes a great date night and it’s a participating TAGG business, so V. Mertz will donate a portion of your bill to a cause of your choice.

 

Plan a nice night out – like a date night to V. Mertz – and you can donate a nice chunk of change to your favorite nonprofit.

Things Families Might TAGG

My kids and I joined fellow bloggers at The Makery recently for a TAGG event to make succulents. Even making succulents at The Makery is a TAGG-able thing.

My kids and I made our own succulents at The Makery. When you go to The Makery, you TAGG your purchase and The Makery will donate a percentage of your bill to the cause of your choice.

I think families will likely TAGG a lot of restaurant outings. Some of my family’s favorite restaurants are TAGG businesses, including Blatte Beer & Table, eCreamery, and Varsity Sports Cafe & Roman Coin Pizza (49th and Dodge location only).

That’s just the food stuff, though. You can also TAGG your outings to Aksarben Cinema (concessions & bar only), Boulder Creek, BounceU, Dave & Buster’s, Maplewood Lanes, Papio Bowl, Papio Fun Park, Pump It Up, Sempeck’s Bowling and Entertainment, The Escape Omaha, and Tregaron Golf Course… for example.

And because we’re all forgetful (or is it just me?), you have some leeway on TAGGing things. We went on a trip to Lincoln and I forgot to TAGG our afternoon at Lost in Fun. You have a week to TAGG your receipt, so even if you forget the day you made your purchase, you can still TAGG it.

What Can You Support With TAGG

The app allows you to create a list of charities, teams and organizations you want to support. When you’re ready to TAGG a purchase, choose from them for each purchase. Or just pick one and funnel all of your donations to it. Your call.

For families, this may mean choosing a sports team, a school PTA, or church. My current causes include my kids’ school, some local theaters, the rescue groups that saved our family dogs, and American Cancer Society.

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April 9, 2018

What To Do In Omaha With Non-Recyclable Plastics

With Earth Day this month, reducing our waste is high on my mind. We finally started recycling our glass this year, but I know there’s more my household can do. Last year, I told you all about the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program. It’s time to revisit it since they’re now even more convenient to purchase and begin using.

Hefty Energy Bag

Since the program started in 2016, it’s grown, and now it’s at Hy-Vee stores near me. So, stay tuned for me sharing our experience trying the program later this month!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hefty®. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

Let’s dive into the program.

What is the Hefty® EnergyBag™ program

You’re probably already familiar with Hefty’s® strong, dependable waste bags, but Hefty’s® is also a leader in slider bags, foam plates, and plastic cups. The cool thing about the >Hefty® EnergyBag™ program, is that it offers a solution for the plastics around your house that typically can’t be recycled mechanically.

Consumers can buy the orange Hefty® EnergyBags™, fill them with plastics, and then have that bag picked up curbside. The plastics are then sorted and converted into energy to produce cement.

This isn’t a recycling program, so keep on gathering your recyclables. This is a solution for collecting plastics that cannot be recycled.

How the Hefty® EnergyBag™ Program works

The Hefty® EnergyBag™ is picked up along with your regular recyclables and trash. The non-recyclable plastics you wouldn’t place in your regular recycling bin can typically go into the Hefty® EnergyBag™.

– You collect your non-recycled plastics in the bright orange bag.

– Once you fill a bag, you place it curbside with your other recyclables and trash for pick up as part of normal service and schedule.

– The non-recyclable plastics are then taken to a local materials recovery facilities and sorted.

– The non-recyclable plastics then sent to a local energy recovery facility, where plastics are converted into valuable energy resources.

What can be collected in a Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bag

A lot! This is what I’m thrilled about. As a family with young kids, we have more than our fair share of plastic wrappers and waste that previously we just threw away.

Here’s what can be put in a Hefty® EnergyBag™ orange bag:

– Potato chip bags and other snack bags
– Candy wrappers
– Granola bar and energy bar wrappers
– Plastic and foam cups, plates and bowls
– Shredded cheese packages
– Salad bags
– Plastic pet food bags
– Frozen fruit & vegetable bags
– Pudding cups
– Stand-up pouches
– Squeezable baby food pouches
– Foam to-go boxes
– Packing peanuts
– Plastic utensils
– Plastic straws and stirrers
– Cake mix liners and other dry powder mix liners
– Plastic toothpaste tubes
– Condiment packets
– All other non-recycled plastic bags

Why use a Hefty® EnergyBag™?

– The big thing for me is that this program reduces landfill waste – by the tons. I’ve been throwing all of this stuff away.

– It also creates more local energy resources and less fossil energy dependence.

– It converts non-recycled plastics into alternative energy, which can be used to power businesses, cars and homes.

– It makes things super easy for you. The non-recycled plastics are collected at curbside along with your normal hauler pick up.

– It improves the quality of other recycling streams/channels.

Where can you find these bags?

That was a big question on my blog last year. The program began just in Omaha, and now it’s grown to Louisville, Ralston, Papillion and La Vista, Neb. In May, it should start in Bellevue. Currently, the bags can be purchased locally at participating Hy-Vee stores:

– 5150 Center St.

– 14591 Stony Brook Blvd.

– 8809 W. Center Road

– 7910 Cass St.

– 9707 Q St.

– 747 N. 132nd St.

– 17810 Welch Plaza

– 1000 S. 178th St.

– 11650 S. 73rd St.

– 10808 Fort St.

– 3410 N. 156th St.

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April 8, 2018

100 Things To Do In Omaha Challenge

When my friends, Tim and Lisa, published their first book “100 Things To Do In Omaha Before You Die,” Lisa asked how many I’ve done. As bloggers at The Walking Tourists, they write a lot about Omaha, as do I (obvs). So, I too wondered how many I could check off. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking the link, at no extra cost to you, I receive a small compensation for recommending it. Thanks for supporting this blog!

things to do in Omaha

Answer: I’ve done about 75 things in the book. Being a completionist, there are some half-finished sections that I don’t want to count, like the coffee shop list that has just one place left to visit (The Bike Union/The Coffee Union) and the classic steakhouses (I’m missing The Drover and Cascio’s).

So I’ve got about 25 things to check off from “100 Things To Do In Omaha Before You Die.” Rather than list all of them, here are the 10 I’ve set up as a mini challenge for me to visit before summer ends. As you’ll see in my list, the book covers a good variety of things to do in Omaha, from dining and sports to arts and history.

If it ever begins. Will winter ever end in Nebraska?!

100 Things To Do In Omaha Mini Challenge

1. Alpine Inn

I know you’re shocked to hear I haven’t gone to this quirky restaurant, where the main draw is watching wild raccoons pick through chicken bones out on the patio. Tim and Lisa promise Alpine Inn’s fried chicken is worth the wait. If you go, snag seats by the large windows for the “big dinner show.” Alpine Inn, 10405 Calhoun Road

2. College World Series at Ameritrade Park

It’s been a few years now that Ameritrade Park became the new home of the NCAA College World Series. Maybe I ought to see a game there? Technically, I have been to the park, at least. I’ve been to Fan Fest. Should I count that? Should I say I’ve checked 76 things off the list? Ameritrade Park, 1200 Mike Fahey St.

3. Microbreweries

Omaha’s craft brewery scene is growing, and I can’t keep up. I can only check off half the list in the book “100 Things To Do In Omaha Before You Die.” Here are the breweries I have yet to visit: Lucky Bucket Brewery, 11941 Centennial Road, La Vista, Neb.; Farnam House Brewing Co., 3558 Farnam St.; Brickway Brewing & Distillery, 1116 Jackson St.; Kros Strain Brewery, 10411 Portal Road, suite 102, La Vista, Neb.; Scriptown Brewing Co., 3922 Farnam St.

4. Bryson’s Airboat Tours

Though technically not an Omaha thing, these boat tours on the Platte River are close enough. If you’re not from around here, you might be surprised to know the Platte River in Nebraska is pretty shallow – like inches deep. So it makes sense that airboats are about the only way to really cruise the river. Bryson’s Airboat Tours, 879 Co. Road 19, Fremont, Neb.

5. Florence Bank and Florence Mill

Florence is one of those historic neighborhoods of Omaha that I haven’t explore much of. Two museums included in the Florence section are on my list to visit: Historic Florence Bank and Florence Mill. Find them at 8502 N. 30th St. and 9102 N. 30th St.

6. Film Streams at Dundee Theater

Here’s another one where I can say I could check it off the list, as I’ve been to Dundee Theater back in the day (anyone remember Midnight Movies?). But, I haven’t revisited it since it’s been renovated by the nonprofit Film Streams. The plan is to have a meal at Kitchen Table first and then see a movie. Film Streams at Dundee Theater, 4952 Dodge St.

7. Diventures

I haven’t been to Diventures, but mainly because I’ve never had a good reason to. I don’t plan trips that off good scuba diving opportunities, so I haven’t had a reason to learn it. Yet. Side note for those with kids: They also offer mermaid and shark classes with fin bodysuits. Or forget the kids, maybe you want to learn to be mermaid? Diventures, 4303 W. 121st Plaza

8. Horsemen’s Park

One obvious reason that I haven’t been to Horsemen’s Park is that I don’t know a thing about horse racing. But, I’ve heard on the few nights a year that they have live horse racing, it’s quite a party at Horsemen’s Park. Maybe I should once just for the experience? The 2018 live racing schedule is: May 12 (Opening Day), May 18 & 19 (Preakness), May 26 & 27 (Family Day), June 1 & 2, and June 8 & 9 (Belmont). Horsemen’s Park, 6303 Q St.

9. General Crook House Museum

Here’s a landmark I have yet to truly explore. Built in 1879, it’s been lovingly restored and is now on National Register of Historic Places. I was thinking I’d time it with a special event, or when it’s decorated for the holidays in November and December…but then I discovered they offer Afternoon Tea events there. I think I need to round up a group for that. General Crook House Museum, 5730 N. 30th St., Building 11B

10. Alpacas of the Heartland

My kids can say they’ve been to the Alpacas of the Heartland farm during the annual open house, but I can’t. The pictures are stinking cute though. Who can resist alpacas? Incidentally, I just stumbled across an event coming up: Yoga Humm – Yoga in the Fields With the Alpacas on April 28. I think I know when I’ll be going there. Alpacas of the Heartland, 7016 County Road 39, Fort Calhoun, Neb.

 

If you’ve bought the book, I’m curious to know how many you’ve checked off. Leave a comment!

 

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April 6, 2018

‘American Adventure’ Guide For Families

The description of “American Adventure,” the temporary exhibit at The Durham Museum,” reads like it would go over the heads of most kids: Minotaur Mazes’ ‘American Adventure’ takes visitors on an immersive, educational roleplay adventure that asks people to conquer one great challenge: survive the year as one of the original
Jamestown colonists.”

I tried out this maze with my two kids, ages 6 an 8, and here’s how what we thought of the experience. If you want to visit “American Adventure,” the exhibit runs through July 29, 2018. Be sure to check out the rest of the museum while there! Here’s my guide to taking children to The Durham MuseumDisclosure: I was provided complimentary passes to experience the exhibit so I could write about it.

What to expect during “American Adventure”

An overhead view of “American Adventure.” The traveling exhibit is at The Durham Museum in Omaha through July 29, 2018. Photo courtesy Durham Museum

Like a typical maze, there is only one way to enter. At the entrance, we each received our unique identity of one the Jamestown colonists. These were real colonists (all men) and at the end of the maze, we could check if they survived that first year or not.

Each colonist has a life chart, and as we move through the maze, we each track a series of life choices on an it. You can earn (or lose) points for health, wealth, food and morale at each turn of the maze. Watch out for the Wheel of Misfortune!

The goal is to make it past more than two-dozen tests spread out over four seasons. Tests range from trying to rope a sturgeon and guessing whether or not you can eat an animal, to more historically significant questions, like if you’re a gentleman, do you really help with manual labor or not. Keep all four life chart categories above the life line and you “survive.” Choose poorly and you have to exit the maze.

What kids think of “American Adventure”

The physical challenges in the “American Adventure” were my kids’ favorites.

There are plenty of things for my kids to like about the exhibit, “American Adventure,” and a few things that they didn’t. The physical challenges, pretending to climb was high up there and getting a Food point just for scraping a turtle shell were fun things for them.

What’s difficult, especially for my 6-year-old, was that most challenges required some reading. If your child isn’t patient, you may have to skip reading most of the things and go right to the challenge. It misses the educational component of the exhibit, but keeps the fun going for the kid.

Also note that the younger the kid, the more help they’ll need tracking their life chart.

Some challenges required reading, which my youngest didn’t have patience for, though most were self-explanatory. Photo courtesy Durham Museum

If your kids are competitive, they may also get frustrated with how easy it is to fail at “American Adventure.” The odds of survival are stacked against you. One accidental snakebite or bad food choice, and you’re dead.

Tips for “American Adventure”

Not many exhibits have mini ziplines, but “American Adventure” does. Photo courtesy Durham Museum

Visit during non-peak hours. This is a popular exhibit and since it’s a maze, you may have groups in front of you or behind you. If you don’t feel like rushing through your reading, I recommend going during the week instead of on the weekend.

Go to the bathroom before starting the maze. Self-explanatory, especially if you’re visiting with kids.

See the rest of the exhibit. It’s tempting to finish the maze, get your “I survived” sticker, and then head out. However, there’s more to “American Adventure” than the maze. There are displays of items found at the original James Fort of Historic Jamestown as well as original documents. There’s also a building activity table and a fun photo opp.

Plan about an hour for the exhibit. You can rush through it quicker, sure, but if you’re there to learn about about what it took to start a colony in the New World, read some of the displays. Also, realize if your colonist dies early and you have to exit the maze, you can start all over again.

Learn more. There are three lectures scheduled tied to the exhibit: “Surviving Jamestown: The Harrowing First Years of a Founding American Community,” April 17 at 6:30 p.m.; “The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America,” May 8 at 6:30 p.m. (book-signing to follow); and “Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma,” July 24 at 6:30 p.m. (book-signing to follow). Registration is required. Regular museum admission applies; free for members.

If you go

“American Adventure”

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

When: Now through July 29, 2018

Cost: Included with museum admission

 

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