May 24, 2019

First-timer’s Guide To HIITZone Classes At Crunch

I’ve been in a rut with workouts lately. I ended 2018 with a motivation and beach vacations booked (plus, I had the cute workout clothes from H2W Apparel). But, that drive tapered off. Enter Crunch. The Omaha Crunch location has a new HIITZone training area. They asked me if I’d give an Advanced HIITZone class a try. It sounded like it just might be the kick in the butt I needed to get back into a gym. Some of you may be in the same boat as me–perhaps you’ve fallen off the New Year’s resolution bandwagon, too. If you need a kick in the butt, too, here’s a guide to The HIITZone at Crunch and what you can expect at your first class. I’ll explain what The HIITZone is, what equipment you’ll find there, and what a class is like. And I’ll try my best to assure you that you will not throw up or die during your first class.

First timer's guide to HIITZone classes - Crunch locations around the world, including Omaha, are getting HIITZones.  Find out what The HIITZone is and what you can expect in your first class. #sponsored #fitness #crunchfitness #guide

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

What is The HIITZone

If you’re not familiar with Crunch, it’s a worldwide gym chain that believes in making fitness fun. They’re all about inclusivity and positivity. So, right away, I walked into the gym and felt welcomed. I wasn’t quite at ease, to be honest, since I knew I was in for a killer workout in a few minutes. But, I still felt comfortable.

I toured the gym and, like typical gyms, there were free weights and machines, cardio machines, and a group class room. It’s incredibly clean, and bright. But, what Crunch had that I’ve never seen before is The HIITZone.

First-timer's guide to The HIITZone at Crunch - What to expect if you take a class in The HIITZone. There's a turf area in The HIITZone.

The HIITZone is for group classes led by a trainer. It’s one-of-a-kind and designed just for Crunch. In the class, you do short intervals of exercises and then move to the next station. (FYI: HIIT stands for “high intensity interval training.”)

Here’s what you’ll find in The HIITZone:

•  – 20 Yards of Functional Training Turf

•  – Tire Flips

•  – Battle Ropes

•  – Marpo Rope Pulls

•  – Agility Ladder

•  – Power Rowers

•  – Target Throws

•  – Landmines

•  – Plyo Boxes

•  – Heavy Bags

•  – Power Sleds

•  – Kettle Bells

•  – Free Weights

What HIITZone classes are like

There are three types of Advanced HIIT classes to attend in The HIITZone: PunchHIIT, AccelerateHIIT and StrongHIIT. There’s a fourth one at some locations called ExtremeHIIT, but I didn’t see it on the spring calendar at Deerfield.

I attended an AccelerateHIIT, which had 10 stations. Class is about 45 minutes long, and that includes warm-up, stations, turf work, ab work and cool down.

First-timer's guide to The HIITZone - What to expect in your first class. AccelerateHIIT had stations like this where you squatted and lifted into a press.

We had three reps at each station. The first rep was the longest, followed by a short rest, then the next rep began. You ended with a rep lasting 20 seconds where you do the station’s activity at as high intensity as you can manage…and then move to the next station.

Those more fit than me could, obviously, sustain high intensity for those three short bursts of time. Luckily, just when I was about to give up at a station, the timer was up and we moved on. The variety kept me motivated and time flew. I usually watch the clocks during a workout class (even my yoga class), and I didn’t do that here.

First-timer's guide to The HIITZone at Crunch - Participants do short and intense movements at each station, like this rope pull station.

My stations involved the gamut of movements, from pulling rope and whipping rope (is that what you call it?), to rowing, jumping, high knees, and ladder lunges. It is tough, but only as tough as you want it to be.

Tip: It starts out feeling super easy, but don’t get overly confident and do too much too quickly. At my first station, I was all smiles and feeling like “Bring on the heavier weights.” By second station, I realized I needed to slow down.

First-timer's guide to The HIITZone at Crunch - Participants do short and intense movements at each station. The trainer will give you modifications, if needed.

You’d think class is over after doing 10 stations, but no. After the stations, we moved over to the turf area for some short obstacles and sprints. You’d think we’d be done after that, too, but no. Next, we had a few minutes of ab work to do.

Finally, we cooled down. The trainer high-fived everyone and the class was over.

Who attends The HIITZone classes

I was a little nervous going to my first class at Crunch. Who else feels worried walking into your first fitness class and wondering how you’d compare to everyone? Wondering if you’re too old, too out of shape, too weak, etc.?

Classes can be up to 16 people, and in my first class, there were 12 of us. What a relief to see there was every body type there and a wide age range. I fit right in. And, they were all friendly to me!

Before the workouts began, we were split into groups of four, so I had my tribe that night. They showed me where to go next and offered lighter weights when it looked like I needed them.

Since it was announced I was a first-timer, my group mates made sure I didn’t wander into a different station. And even though the trainer went through all the stations and explained the moves, my group mates were quick to remind me what to do at each station.

When class was over, several people told me I did a good job. And I believed them.

The gym seems to be pretty adamant about the place being a “no judgement zone” and I saw it in action that night.

First-timer's guide to The HIITZone at Crunch - Expect to be sweaty and tired after class.
I survived my first Advanced HIIT class at Crunch!

Who teaches The HIITZone classes

The Crunch Omaha Deerfield location has a couple trainers leading Advanced HIIT classes. During class, the trainer wears a microphone so you can hear him/her no matter where you are in The HIITZone.

My class was led by Cristina and she was awesome. She had just the right amount of energy and was super friendly. She didn’t yell like a drill sergeant, nor was she a cheerleader. She was my kind of instructor.

Cristina offered modifications to those who needed them (like me). About midway through the stations, I was fading quickly and rather than let me half-ass it or rest, she suggested a different way of doing things to still get a good workout.

First-timer's guide to The HIITZone classes at Crunch - There are three levels of membership, and Peak Results memberships include unlimited Advanced HIIT classes.

Memberships at Crunch

So, want to try Crunch? Membership comes in three levels:

Base: Includes access to the Workout Essentials (cardio machines, weights) and things like the Power Half Hour Circuit Training. It’s incredibly inexpensive. Advanced HIIT classes can be added on to this membership.

Peak: Includes all of the Base perks, plus things like group class access, use of the tanning beds, and, my favorite, use of the HydroMassage® chair (seriously, go check this thing out). It also allows you to use any of the 260+ gyms around the world. Advanced HIIT classes can be added on to this membership.

Peak Results: This one has all the perks of Peak with the addition of unlimited Advanced HIIT classes.

What to expect at Crunch - Memberships at Peak and Peak Results levels can have access to the HyrdroMassage chairs at Crunch. They're a great reward after a workout.

Monthly membership fees are $9.95, $21.95, and 29.95 respectively. If you enroll in May, the enrollment fee is only $10. I only shared just a few of the perks of membership, though, so you’ll want to do a little research before picking one.

If you want to go

Crunch Omaha Deerfield

Where: 5218 S. 136th St. (FYI: There are 260+ locations around the world)

Try it out an Advanced HIIT class for FREE! Visit crunch.com to get your pass.

Guide to HIITZone classes at Crunch - What you can expect in your first Advanced HIIT Class in The HIITZone at Crunch. Get details on the equipment and exercises, plus what the trainer is like. #sponsored #guide #fitness #crunchfitness

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May 19, 2019

College World Series Guide To Omaha Hotels & Dining

You’ve got your College World Series™ tickets, you know when you need to be at TD Ameritrade Park… now what? This College World Series guide is designed to help you plan a trip to Omaha for the games. If you don’t have hotel reservations, read on for suggested places to stay. If you don’t have a restaurant plan for dining before or after the game, read on. Feel free to comment with any specific questions – I’m happy to help!

Related post: Essential Guide To The College World Series

Headed to Omaha for the College World Series? Here are locals' tips on where to eat, where to drink, and where to stay near the ballpark. #guide #Omaha #Nebraska #tips

Hotels for College World Series fans

Omaha has plenty of hotels, but if you’re looking for a room within walking distance of TD Ameritrade Park, you’d better book early. The closest hotels will be full when the College World Series start in June.

If you want some hotel recommendations, here are my top picks for CWS hotels:

– If you want to be within walking distance to TD Ameritrade Park, look at Holiday Inn Omaha Downtown, Hampton Inn & Suites, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, and Cambria Hotel. I can vouch for Holiday Inn being a great location for families, especially with its small indoor waterpark.

Tips for College Works Series Fans - Hotels near College World Series Games Cambria Downtown Omaha, which has some rooms with views of the ballpark
Cambria Downtown Omaha is one of the city’s newest hotels. Some of the rooms have a view of TD Ameritrade Park. Request a top floor room with an even number and you may luck out with this view.

– The Old Market has several hotel options as well, and they could be within walking distance if you’re willing (and don’t mind the heat!). Many will likely have some sort of shuttle  service, too. My family’s favorite is Embassy Suites because the rooms are large, the manager’s happy hour is great, and it has possibly the best complimentary hot breakfast in town.

Tips for College Works Series Fans - Hotels near College World Series include an Old Market favorite, Embassy Suites. The size of the rooms, complimentary breakfast and happy hour make it popular with out of town visitors.
All rooms at the Embassy Suites in the Old Market of Omaha face the large atrium of the hotel. Strolling along the bottom floor, you’ll find water features, as well as a lot of seating for the complimentary happy hour and breakfast.

– If North Downtown and Old Market hotels are booked (or out of your price range), look further afield. Consider looking at hotels that are near the airport, on the outskirts of downtown or in Midtown Omaha. DoubleTree is a great option, and for a more chic historic stay, check out Magnolia. While Magnolia doesn’t have a pool, Pickles Travel stayed there with her family and wrote a good review of the Magnolia family experience. At Midtown Crossing, you’ll find Element, known for its eco-friendly practices.

Restaurants & bars suggestions for CWS fans

This is my favorite topic: Eating. Omaha has a lot of great restaurants, so you’re in for a treat when you visit during the College World Series! I’ve written about the 20+ must-try restaurants in Omaha, so it’s a good post to start with.

Tip: If you’ve brought kids with you to the CWS, start with this list of downtown Omaha restaurants that are great for families.

Where to eat near the College World Series games - Blatt Beer and Table is one of the closest restaurants to TD Ameritrade Park. It's home to the delicious Dirty Bird sandwich.
My favorite guilty pleasure: The Dirty Bird sandwich at Blatt Beer and Table. Blatt has several locations, including one next to TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha.

I asked my Facebook fans to share some of their restaurants recommendations, and they mentioned a few great places to eat near TD Ameritrade Park. Near the stadium, Emily K. recommended Blatt Beer and Table. I’d have to second this recommendation – there’s a reason why it shows up on all of my “best of” restaurant lists for Omaha. However, due to its proximity to the stadium, be ready for a wait. But, hey, if you snag a seat on the rooftop, it’s worth it, right?

Like parties? If you’re looking for a restaurant or bar scene that’s going on the nutty side, insiders tell me that Capitol District and Mattress Factory will have the largest parties.  There are several other bars outside the stadium that are a blast to be at pre- and post-game.

Recommended downtown Omaha restaurants and bars for CWS fans - Lighthouse Pizza & Fries in the Capitol District has great pizza, plus if you enjoy beer, you'll have to check out the self serve taps.
Lighthouse Pizza & Fries has a location in the Capitol District with self serve taps.

Not looking for a party? I’d recommend getting out of the NoDo area around the stadium. Head to neighborhoods like Benson and Blackstone for a variety of local restaurants and bars without the rowdiness (usually).

In the Old Market area, bars to head to include Barry O’s or the Stadium Club. Several bars around Omaha become specific spots for teams. Barrett’s on Leavenworth Street, for instance, is definitely big for LSU fans. Dannel T. recommends you try Big Mama’s Kitchen And Catering, which was featured on “Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives.” You’ll get your fix of Southern good eats there.

Another recommendation was in Midtown Omaha, Ann D. suggested Spezia. Spezia is an Italian restaurant with a pretty big steak selection. There are a ton of places to get steaks in Omaha (and who comes to Omaha and doesn’t seek out the best steak??!).

Want some more food ideas?

The following lists will include restaurants in downtown Omaha, but also many that are a few miles away from TD Ameritrade Park. Note the address, especially if you’re relying on public transportation or Lyft.

So, let’s see, what are you hungry for?

For the best pizzerias in Omaha, read this post.

Need breakfast inspiration, check out these 19 places to get breakfast in Omaha. If you just want donuts, read this post instead.

Want to cool off with ice cream? Here are 8 great places to get ice cream in Omaha.

College World Series fans' guide to restaurants, bars & hotels. Here are some tips on where to stay near the baseball stadium, plus tips on nearby restaurants and bars you can go to between games. Find kid-friendly suggestions, too. #Omaha #Nebraska #Guide

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May 10, 2019

The Inspiration Behind ‘She Rocks’

There’s usually a great music-based show at Omaha Community Playhouse each summer. The music is familiar, the local performers is phenomenal (Example A: Last year’s “Rock Twist” with Billy McGuigan). This year, the show is “She Rocks: The Women of Rock” and the star is Tara Vaughan. Vaughan has been in McGuigan’s band for six years and this is first time having a summer residency at OCP! “She Rocks” runs June 13-30, 2019 and tickets are available now.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by “She Rocks: The Women of Rock” and Rave On Productions. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Tara Vaughan performs "She Rocks: The Women of Rock" at the Omaha Community Playhouse June 13-30, 2019. She says her mother is the inspiration behind the show.

To Vaughan, “She Rocks: The Women of Rock” is more than simply a show celebrating female singers and songwriters from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Vaughn’s inspiration for “She Rocks” comes from her Mom, LeeAnn. LeeAnn not only helped share the show, but she also remains a constant source of encouragement as Vaughan prepares for her first residency at the Omaha Community Playhouse before taking the show on its maiden tour across North America in the fall.

Vaughan shared with me her thoughts on her mother just in time for Mother’s Day. Enjoy!

A Mother’s Day Note From Tara Vaughan

As a little girl growing up in 1960s South Omaha, my mom would wrap herself in a bath towel, pretending it was an opulent evening gown, and sang the hits of Diana Ross and Petula Clark to the dolls and stuffed animals she’d lined up on her front porch. Did she see a little of that child in me 30 years later as I’d clomp around the living room in her high heels, singing Paula Abdul for her and my dad? Now another 30 years behind us, does she feel a twinge of that child again as she watches me onstage? She’s my biggest cheerleader, so it’s very easy for me to conjure up a mental image of her in the audience; nervously biting her lip, silently mouthing along the words to each song and probably internally praying I won’t make a joke
too awkward for this crowd.

Tara Vaughan and her mother, LeeAnn, the inspiration behind Tara's show "She Rocks: The Women of Rock"
Tara and her mother, LeAnne. Photo courtesy Tara Vaughan

As I developed my stage show “She Rocks,” I knew that I wanted to pay tribute to the women who have inspired me. I wanted to play the songs that have been the soundtrack to my life, and tell stories of the women who performed and wrote those songs, overcoming odds and adversity to be voices for women everywhere in a male-dominated industry. So sure, “She Rocks” is about Carole and Aretha and Stevie. But for me, it’s also about the original rock goddess in my life. She may not have the gold records or Grammys of some of the other women I pay tribute to, but LeeAnn Vaughan is a total and complete badass.

In addition to raising four of us kids (no easy feat; somewhere in the Omaha World Herald archives is a photo of the three oldest of us proudly sporting synchronous broken right arms), my mom is a science teacher for Omaha’s public schools. After going to college in her 30s when she felt a calling to education, she became a pioneer in the field, developing Nebraska’s first biotechnology program for high schoolers at Omaha North and the Air and Space Academy at Burke. She’s been recognized nationally for her teaching,
earning the Christa McAuliffe Prize for Courage and Excellence twice, receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence, and even being invited to join a NASA flight to observe infrared astronomy.

Tara Vaughan, her siblings and their mother, LeeAnn. Tara credits her mom for inspiring the show "She Rocks: The Women of Rock"
Tara Vaughan and her three siblings with their mom, LeeAnn. Tara credits her mom for inspiring the show “She Rocks: The Women of Rock.” Photo courtesy Tara Vaughan

I haven’t gotten to learn physics or rocketry from my mom like some students, but she’s taught me so much. She’s shown me by her example that each day brings a series of rich moments to relish, each set of challenges a set of lessons worth learning, and each stranger in line at the grocery store, a new potential friend. She’s shown me to be at once fierce and vulnerable, in love with all the beauty that this world has to offer and angry at its injustices, bold and defiant but ferociously loving. She’s shown me that all of these things, all these gloriously vexing parts and pieces, are what it means to be a woman.

Tara Vaughan and her parents. Tara credits her mom for inspiring the show "She Rocks: The Women of Rock"
Tara Vaughan and her parents. Tara will perform “She Rocks: The Women of Rock” June 13-30 at Omaha Community Playhouse. She credits her mom for inspiring the show. Photo courtesy Tara Vaughan

My mom has had a big hand in “She Rocks,” planting the seeds of its set list as she cranked KGOR in our family minivan, and putting the final touches on it as I modeled different hats options for her, asking “Is this one too hipster?” She has shaped and inspired me immeasurably, and I hope that when she sings along with me to “Downtown,” she’s taken back to that little girl on the front porch, wrapped in a towel. Happy Mother’s Day, Marm.

About ‘She Rocks’ & Tara Vaughan

“She Rocks: The Women of Rock” celebrates women artists and songwriters of the 1960s to the 1980s, woven together with songs and stories. Backed by an all-star band, Tara Vaughan performs music from artists like Janis Joplin, Linda Ronstadt, Aretha Franklin, Blondie, Heart, and many more. In this unique review, Vaughan masterfully presents an evening of classic rock and roll with the focus on female artists and songwriters.

Vaughan’s influences can be heard throughout the show. In her vocal style, you can hear echoes and influence of legends like Patsy Cline and Sam Cooke. Her abilities on the piano are strongly influenced by rock icons like Carole King and Elton John.

A graduate of Tufts University, Vaughan is a singer-songwriter who has independently released three albums, the most recent of which, “Dandelion Wine,” was nominated for several Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. Vaughan’s extensive touring history has lead her to open for such artists as Lifehouse, Ben Kweller, and James McCartney. Most recently, she has been touring internationally with “Billy McGuigan’s: Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience,” “Rave On! The Buddy Holly Experience” and “Rock Twist.”

"She Rocks: The Women of Rock" begins its North American tour soon. It starts with a run at Omaha Community Playhouse in June 2019.  Tara Vaughan says her mother is the inspiration for the show. Read her words about her mother's influence on her.

If you go

“She Rocks: The Women of Rock”

When: June 13-30, 2019; performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.

Cost: $30. Tickets are available online at TicketOmaha.com or calling the box office at 402-552-0800.

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April 25, 2019

Essential Guide To The College World Series Omaha

Every June, the NCAA Men’s College World Series sweeps into Omaha. If you’ve never been to a game, it’s a whirlwind. Here’s the most comprehensive guide to going to a CWS came, with everything you need to know before you go, including tips for tailgating and getting game tickets, plus what to do in the event of bad weather.

I’ve interviewed a few College World Series regulars, the “pros” that have been going to games for years. Some of their tips are included in this post.

Planning to go to the College World Series held each June in Omaha, Nebraska? Here's a guide to all the need-to-know information: How to get tickets, where to park, how to get to the game, and where to tailgate. Plus, read locals' tips on CWS activities from parking to where to sit.

When is the CWS this year?

In 2019, games will be held June 15 through June 25/26, depending on how the championship game series goes.

The teams playing this year are Texas Tech, Michigan, Arkansas, Florida State, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Mississippi State and Auburn. Get a printable bracket here.

2019 CWS schedule with CST times:

Game 1: Saturday, June 15 at 1 p.m. (Texas Tech vs. Michigan)

Game 2: Saturday, June 15 at 6 p.m. (Arkansas vs. Florida State)

Game 3: Sunday, June 16 at 1 p.m. (Vanderbilt vs. Louisville)

Game 4: Sunday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. (Mississippi State vs. Auburn)

Game 5: Monday, June 17 at 1 p.m. (Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2)

Game 6: Monday, June 17 at 6 p.m. (Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2)

Game 7: Tuesday, June 18 at 1 p.m. (Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4)

Game 8: Tuesday, June 18 at 6 p.m. (Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4)

Game 9: Wednesday, June 19 at 6 p.m. (Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6)

Game 10: Thursday, June 20 at 7 p.m. (Winner Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8)

Game 11: Friday, June 21 at 1 p.m. (Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 9)

Game 12: Friday, June 21 at 6 p.m. (Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 10)

Games 13 and 14 (if necessary): Saturday, June 22 at 1 and 6 p.m.

Finals Game 1: Monday, June 24 at 6 p.m.

Finals Game 2: Tuesday, June 25 at 6 p.m.

Finals Game 3 (if necessary): Wednesday, June 26 at 6 p.m.

Where can you get tickets?

Guide to the College World Series - Tips on tickets, tailgating and eating at the NCAA CWS in Omaha, Nebraska
The College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

General admission ticket books, which contain 10 general admission tickets for the 2019 NCAA Men’s College World Series, are available through TicketMaster. They are already available. In April, you should start seeing these ticket books sold at local grocery stores like Hy-Vee and Bakers, as well as service clubs and the CHI Health Center Omaha’s box office (near TD Ameritrade Park Omaha). Individual General Admission tickets are sold at the box office for $15 each.

Reserved seats went on sale April 13, 2019.

One step up from reserved seats is the NCAA Experience, with packages that include hospitality extras like pre-game tented lounge with food and cash bar (among many other nice perks).

There are season tickets to the CWS, and those become available in mid-January. Some people hold onto their season tickets for decades.

Here’s the NCAA ticketing page for more information and links to buy tickets. This is also the page to people to sell their unneeded tickets.

Pro Tip: Want to attend an evening game? Make sure your seats aren’t facing the sun. Most of the General Admission seats will be facing the sun. – Jamie H.

Things to know about CWS General Admission tickets

General Admission tickets are the most affordable way to see a College World Series game.

The audience tends to be younger.

It’s important to note that General Admission tickets don’t guarantee a seat! Most games won’t be a problem, but big games like the opening weekend or finals, things could be tight. When it is at capacity, they admit people in a “one in, one out” basis. General Admission seats about 5, 500 fans, with about 1,500 extra spots for standing room people.

If you’re determined to snag a seat in General Admission, get in line early. At the very least, arrive when gates open (two hours before game time). Some say to get there even earlier for big games.

The queue begins on the sidewalk adjacent to 10th Street. There will be stadium staff at the front of the line and at the end of the line. You’ll most likely enter the stadium through Gate 3, though occasionally you may be directed to enter through Gate 4.

On two-game days, if you have General Admission tickets to the second game, keep in mind the first game could go long. If that’s the case, expect the line to be longer and the gates to less than two hours before the game.

And speaking of two-game days, you cannot go to the first game and stick around in General Admission for the second game. The stadium is cleared out after each game. You’ll have to get back in line.

You may be able to upgrade your general admission. Available Reserved Seats open up when the box office opens at 10 a.m. Get in line before 9 a.m. on game day and cross your fingers – they will do a random drawing to set the order fans line up.

Tip: Be patient. Even the most popular games, you will get in eventually, if only after a few innings.

Tip 2: General Admission is less stressful during games held on weekdays.  

Getting to a CWS game

Expect traffic (for Omaha standards) and some drivers getting confused by one-way streets in some parts of downtown Omaha. Parking is sparse and expensive, so I’d recommend finding alternative ways to get to a game.

The CWS Stadium Circulator is a popular choice and it’s only 25 cents a ride. Pickup locations include: Some downtown hotels, the ballpark, Fan Fest, and spots in the Old Market. Here’s what the 2018 route looked like.

Additionally, the Omaha bus service has standard routes that pass by TD Ameritrade Park. Look up that information here.

Omaha has a bike-share program, just look for the blue bikes at a B-station throughout downtown Omaha.

Omaha also has ride-share options like Lyft and Uber.

Where to park for the College World Series

I get it. You’re planning on driving (and maybe tailgating, right?). You’ll find parking for nearly 4,000 cars near TD Ameritrade Park, though some will be for season ticket and pass-holders. Public parking Lot A and the CHI Health Center garage are one of the closest options, and that will set you back about $10-$12 a car.  You’ll find ADA parking there, and additional ADA parking stalls in Lot B. Tailgating is permitted in TD Amertrade Park and CHI Health Center lots. Lots open at 8 a.m. and close about 90 minutes after the event.

Additional parking that also allows tailgating can be found at Creighton University.

Motor homes or RVs are not allowed in most of the parking lots. You can find parking for RVs around the Omaha metro including, Haworth Park, Lake Cunningham, N.P. Dodge Park and West Omaha KOA. Outside of Omaha, there are spots at Horseshoe RV Park, Lake Manawa, Mahoney State Park,Riverwest Park, Walnut Creek Lake and Wilds RV and Golf Resort.

The City of Omaha has surface parking and parkings lots, as well as metered spots. Pricing varies. I recommend downloading the Park Omaha app and paying for your metered parking by phone.

Tailgating at the College World Series

You’ll find no shortage of tailgating opportunities in the blocks near the stadium. Be sure to know the rules or you can get into trouble (ie. open containers are prohibited and you will get ticketed).

Another thing to know is that the MECA-controlled lots near TD Ameritrade Park open two hours before CWS events start. (MECA is an acronym for Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority, which manages the stadium).

The MECA parking lots are located:

– The closest lots to TD Ameritrade Park are Lot C, 10th and Mike Fahey streets, and Lot B, located along 10th Street between Mike Fahey and Cass streets.

– The other two lots are Lot A, just south of CHI Health Center and accessible by Riverfront Drive (by CHI Health Center), and Lot D, just north of CHI Health Center and accessible only by Abbott Drive.

– The MECA-controlled parking garage is just south of CHI Health Center on 10th Street.

The cost of parking in a CHI Health parking lot is $8 and garage parking is $12. You cannot do in-and-out parking.

Pro Tip: “Tailgating is pretty much in every direction from the stadium. You can also reserve a tailgating spot online.”  – Madonna B.

Tips for going to the College World Series - Get information about tailgating before CWS games in Omaha, Nebraska
Madonna and a friend tailgating before a game during the College World Series in downtown Omaha. Photo courtesy Madonna B.

What to bring to a CWS game

Things you can bring to the game:

  • – Cameras are permitted, but the need to have a lense shorter than 1 inch and you can’t bring additional, detachable lenses.
  • – You can bring one clear plastic bottle for water, per guest. And it has to be 20 oz. or smaller.
  • – You bring must everything in a clear bag.
  • – If you bring a stroller, it has to be small enough to fit under your seat.

Things you can’t bring:

  • – Any purse or clutch larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches is not allowed. Absolutely no large purses, backpacks or fanny packs are allowed.
  • – Carrying a concealed weapon is prohibited at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, even lawfully concealed firearms.
  • – Seat cushions with pockets
  • – Bubbles or bubble making machines
  • – Bottles or cans; Food or Drink coolers, Yeti cups or coolers
  • – Outside food or drink
  • – Frisbees or beach balls
  • – Large umbrellas
  • – Laser pointers
  • – Noise making devices of any kind (i.e. bells, whistles, horns, etc.)
  • – Fireworks
  • – Drones, anywhere on MECA campus
  • – Selfie sticks
  • – Hover boards
  • – Illegal drugs and alcohol
  • – Commercial signs or banners without the prior approval of TD Ameritrade Park Omaha
  • – Any item deemed to challenge public safety

Pro Tip: Don’t carry a big or heavy purse to the game. Most clear bags aren’t going to be heavy to begin with, but don’t overpack them. – Jamie H.

Pro Tip 2: Pack sunscreen or put it on before you go to the game. “A hat and sunglasses are essential.” – Jamie H.

Things to know about rain delays at the CWS

It never fails, there will be bad weather at some point during the run of the College World Series. If you have a rain delay, here’s what you should know:

  • – If you’re sitting in General Admission, talk to a staff member before – leaving the ballpark.
  • – Tickets are good for the game only. If that game gets a new time or day, your ticket is still only good for that game. If your game has started and then is delayed, your ticket will be marked and/or scanned for use during the new start time. Hold on to that ticket!
  • – No game is skipped. So if the game you’re attending is affected by bad weather, and the date is changed, the rescheduled game will still occur before any future games.  
  • – Because all parking passes are by day, if a game is moved to a new day, they also will be accepted. If a lot becomes full due to the change in date, an alternate lot will be made available upon your arrival at that gate.
  • – Stay in the know: Follow #CollegeWorldSeries or visit the CWS News page on NCAA.com/CWS for weather updates.

Eating and drinking at the game

You cannot bring in outside food and drinks to the College World Series. So, you’ll have to get your food there. There’s the usual hot dogs, burgers and pizza options, of course. Here’s a list of what food was available during College World Series games in 2018 (I’ll update it as soon as they have 2019 items).

Evening game at TD Ameritrade Park. Every June, the NCAA Men's College World Series is held at the ballpark in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Here's a guide to attending the College World Series.
Photo courtesy Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau

If you’re wondering where to eat or drink between games, check out this post with details on recommended restaurants and bars are near the stadium.

Things to know about Opening Weekend of CWS

Many people think Opening Weekend is THE time to go to a game at the College World Series. Every team and their fans are hopeful. It’s one of the busiest weekends in the Old Market. It’s fun…unless you don’t like crowds.

There’s usually a great free concert near the stadium on Opening Night.

Pro tip: “Opening Weekend!! It is the best because all teams and fans are in town and everyone is very excited. The tailgating is the best opening weekend.” – Madonna B.

Fan Fest Information

Fan Fest starts on Opening Weekend, too. Fan Fest is a free zone with games, merchandise and photo opportunities. This is a great place to visit with kids, even if you don’t have tickets to a game.

The Fan Fest schedule:

Opening Day – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

June 15-18 – 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

June 19 – 3:30 to 6 p.m.

June 20 – 4:30 to 7 p.m.

June 21 – 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

June 22 – TBD

June 24 & 25 (and 26, if needed – 3:30 to 6 p.m.

Things to know about TD Ameritrade Park

TD Amertriade Park Omaha, 1200 Mike Fahey St., has been the home to the NCAA Men’s College World Series since 2011. The ballpark seats 24,000. If you want to see a layout of the ballpark, click here.

Is TD Ameritrade Park ADA accessible?

Yes. There are three accessible entrances. For an elevator, use Gate 2 near the ticket windows, or the Suite/Club entrance located south of Gate 1 on 13th Street. The Gate 3 is accessible by ramp and is located on the east side of the stadium.

Guide dogs are permitted in the park. It’s recommended that you bring proof of certification or a license for service animals. Notify your ticket seller at the time of purchase so you can get an aisle seat.

Guide to the College World Series in Omaha Nebraska | Essential information for attending CWS games | How to get tickets to the College World Series | Tailgating at the College World Series | Things you should know about visiting Omaha during the College World Series #baseball #Nebraska #sports

More College World Series Information

Need a hotel for your trip to the College World Series? Read this post of recommended hotels near the stadium.

If you want to start planning food options because you’re going to be traveling with your kiddos, begin with this post about family-friendly restaurants in downtown Omaha. For a more general overview of the best restaurants near the baseball stadium, visit this post.

Stay In The Know!

Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.

April 14, 2019

10 Things Your Daycare Provider Wishes You’d Ask

Earlier this year, I shared insight into the world of local daycares, thanks to a partnership with Premier Academy Child Enrichment Center. I remember far too well how stressful it was to find a good daycare, and I hope it’s been a helpful series for you! If you missed earlier posts, check out these tips for things to look for when searching for a daycare provider and then discover how kids are learning through play.

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

Looking for a daycare center and wondering if you're asking the right questions? Read what a real daycare director wishes you'd ask! #sponsored #daycare #premieracademy

Ever wonder what daycare providers wished you knew…if only you knew what questions to ask? I asked Jewelyn McKercher, the Center Director at Premier Academy, to share some things daycare workers wished you’d ask.

Are background checks completed on your employees?

According to McKercher, daycares should follow the minimum requirements for the state of Nebraska, so ask about them. Requirements include: Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Central Registry Check; Nebraska State Sex Offender Registry; and the Nebraska State Patrol Criminal History.

What training are the teachers required to have?

You’re curious about teacher training, right? (I was) So, McKercher said you should ask about it. The training she said is important for providers to have includes training for: Pediatric CPR; Pediatric First Aid; Child Abuse Prevention (ie. being able to recognize the signs of child abuse and knowing how to report it); Safe With You training (required by the State of Nebraska); and Continuing Education in the field of Early Childhood Education.

How is your employee turnover?

This was one of the few questions I remember asking when searching for daycare. McKercher said “Consistency is extremely important to children and the environment in which they learn best. Getting used to new teachers takes time and energy that could be spent learning.”

Things daycares wished you'd ask - "How do teachers communicate with parents?" When looking into a daycare, ask how they tell parents about their kid's day!
Photo courtesy Premier Academy Child Enrichment Center

How do teachers communicate with parents?

Do you like a full write up or do you like to just talk about your kid’s day? It’s a good thing to ask potential daycares how they communicate with parents.

“Each day you should receive a daily report of your child’s day,” said McKercher. “It should include highlights of that day, what they ate/drank, lessons/curriculum, and if the children are younger diaper changes.”

What is the teacher to child ratio?

Ask how many children there are for each teacher. McKercher said the fewer the children to a teacher the better.

“You want your child to get plenty of attention and care,” said McKercher. “The younger your child, the more important this is. Babies need a teacher to child ratio of 1:4 (one teacher to four infants), while 4-year olds can do well with a ratio of  1:12 (one teacher for 12 children).”

Is the program licensed or regulated?

Licensure ensures that the center is registered and has met or exceeded the state’s local requirements.

“It also advisable to contact the state to see if they have any outstanding complaints filed against them,” said McKercher.

Things daycares wished you'd ask - "How healthy are the meals?"
Photo courtesy Premier Academy Child Enrichment Center

How is the food prepared and how healthy are the meals served?

In addition to asking about the food, go ahead and ask to see a menu. Additionally, you can ask if they serve a variety of fruits and vegetables. McKercher said serving a variety will “encourage the children to expand their taste for different types of foods.”

Is there a fenced-in outdoor play area with safe equipment?

I didn’t realize how important this was to me until I started looking around daycare and seeing how drastically different outdoor spaces were. Additional questions to ask in this area, include

  • Can the caregivers see the entire playground and all of the children playing?
  • How often do the children go outside?
Things daycares wished you'd ask - "Do you have a curriculum?"
Photo courtesy Premier Academy Child Enrichment Center

Do you have a curriculum?

Yes, even childcare centers have curriculum! McKercher encourages prospect parents to ask about it when touring and to ask if the center incorporate the Nebraska Early Learning Guidelines.

She suggested a couple other curriculum questions to ask: What is your Kindergarten readiness rate? How prepared or advanced are your students when beginning Kindergarten?

What are your hours of operation?

Seems like a pretty important question, right? But go beyond the weekday hours, and ask about holidays and bad weather, too.

About the post sponsor

I hope this post helps you if you’re looking for a daycare provider. If you thought McKercher was helpful, and you happen to be in the market for childcare, I encourage you to check out her employer, Premier Academy. There are locations in West Omaha and Elkhorn.

Exterior of Premier Academy Child Enrichment Center, which has locations in Omaha and Elkhorn, Nebraska
Photo courtesy Premier Academy Child Enrichment Center

Stay In The Know!

Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.

April 5, 2019

Discount Tickets To ‘School Of Rock’ In Omaha

My favorite thing about the Omaha Performing Arts Broadway Series (OK, one of my favorite things), is that there’s one show each season picked to be a part of Kids’ Night On Broadway. The 2018-2019 Season show is “School of Rock,” which will be at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha April 23-28, 2019. What’s special about Kids’ Night On Broadway is that you can get BOGO tickets to the show that select night. So, buying one ticket for you, the adult, to “School of Rock” Kids’ Night On Broadway (which is April 24), you get one FREE ticket for your kid!

(Be sure to read to the end of this post – I have a ticket giveaway for readers!)

Omaha Performing Arts presents the Broadway touring production of “School Of Rock” April 23-28, 2019 at the Orpheum Theater. Kids’ Night On Broadway is Wednesday, April 24. Photos courtesy Matthew Murphy

Disclosure: The tickets for the giveaway are provided by Omaha Performing Arts. I was provided complimentary tickets for this post. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Kids’ Night On Broadway In Omaha

Kids’ Night On Broadway is a tradition across the country that celebrates Broadway musicals and makes it easy for you to bring a kid aged 18 or younger to a show.

What’s extras special about Kids’ Night On Broadway is that before the show, there will be kid-friendly activities and photo opportunities at the Orpheum Theater. Doors open early — at 6 p.m. — exclusively for kids and their guardians to enjoy the pre-show lobby activities. Additionally, the first 150 kids to the theater will receive a swag bag of goodies!

Photo courtesy Matthew Murphy

The performance of “School Of Rock” begins at 7:30 p.m. on April 24. If you aren’t familiar with Broadway musicals, they tend to be lengthy (maybe 2 hours or longer), so keep that in mind for kids.

How to get the KNOB tickets: There is a limited number of buy one, get one free tickets for one adult and one child for the April 24 performance of “School of Rock” using the code SORKIDS at checkout at TicketOmaha.com. Don’t wait if you want to get this discount!

If you read nothing else about this special deal, read this paragraph: Kids’ Night On Broadway tickets are limited, so to take advantage if the BOGO offer, you should buy them soon. The promo code SORKIDS is valid for the buy one, get one tickets in all price levels for the April 24 performance while supplies last.

About ‘School Of Rock’

Based on the hit film, “School Of Rock” follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star who turns a class of straight-A students into grade-A rockers. The movie was funny, so you can bet the Broadway musical of it is, too (plus it has the added feature of including musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band). Plus, it has new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber, in addition to the original songs from the movie.

As Vanity Fair puts it: “Fists of all ages shall be pumping!”

How to get tickets to ‘School Of Rock’ in Omaha

“School Of Rock” is performed at the Orpheum Theater, 4109 S. 16th St., in Omaha April 23-28, 2019. Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m. The Kids’ Night On Broadway performance is on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., with pre-show activities in the lobbies starting at 6 p.m.

Rob Colletti and Phoenix Schuman in the “School of Rock” Tour. Photo courtesy Matthew Murphy

Tickets are available through Ticket Omaha, the official ticket seller for shows at the Orpheum Theater. Tickets range from $32-$92. The buy one, get one Kids’ Night On Broadway ticket offer is only available for the Wednesday night performance, and you must use the ticket promo code SORKIDS when purchasing your tickets. This is good for the purchase of one adult ticket and one ticket for a child age 18 or younger. The promo code works for any price level, and there are limited tickets available.

Ticket tip: If you want to avoid ticket fees, buy your tickets at Ticket Omaha in person. The Ticket Omaha box office is located inside the Holland Performing Arts Center at 1200 Douglas St.

What's Kids' Night On Broadway? Learn about this program and how families in Omaha can save money on one Broadway touring show a year - and enjoy kids' activities in the lobby. The 2019 Kids' Night On Broadway show is "School of Rock"!

Giveaway!

I’ve teamed up with Omaha Performing Arts to give one lucky reader FOUR tickets to see “School Of Rock”! Tickets are for the Wednesday performance of the Broadway musical, which starts at 7:30 p.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If unusable to see the giveaway form, the giveaway is also found here.

No ticket purchase is necessary. Must be 18 or older to enter. The deadline to enter is April 18 at 11:59 p.m. CST; a winner will be contact on April 19 via email and will have 48 hours to respond before another entry is drawn. Tickets valid only for the April 24 performance and may not be exchanged for another show date. Ticket package valued at $300.

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