May 16, 2018

5 Things For Kids To Do At Loessfest 2018 {Giveaway}

When they announce Loessfest events each year, I listen. You should too, because events at Loessfest are FREE and most are kid-friendly. With everything planned, I can tell this year is going to be a great for families, so read on to find out what all kids can do at Loessfest 2018.

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

Loessfest 2018

What is Loessfest 2018?

 

There’s a fireworks show at Loessfest following the Omaha Symphony concert on May 28, 2018. Photo courtesy Loessfest

Loessfest 2018 is four days of events held on the Council Bluffs side of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. It’s an annual festival, and this year, it’s held May 25-28. In addition to nightly activities, a new, permanent water feature will unveiled.

Keep reading because I’ve got a giveaway for kids who are fans of the May 25 headliner!

Things For Kids To Do At Loessfest 2018

 

River's Edge Park water feature

Kids can play in the new water feature at River’s Edge Park. It opens on May 25, 2018.

Like everything at Loessfest 2018, everything listed below is FREE thanks to sponsors.

Disney Junior’s Choo Choo Soul Concert 

When: Friday, May 25

What: Friday is going to be the big night for families. It starts off with a free performance by Disney Junior’s Choo Choo Soul with Jeff and Paige opening the show. Kids will have seen Choo Choo Soul on Disney Junior. It’s an entertainment act featuring singer Genevieve Goings as a hip-hop train conductor and her partner, Constantine “DC” Abramson, a breakdancer and beatboxer, as her railroad engineer.

 

“The Incredibles” Screening

When: Friday, May 25

What: Settle the kiddos down on the grass to watch the popular Disney animated movie, “The Incredibles.” Bring some snacks or purchase items from vendors at the park. You can come early for the concert and let the kids dance out their energy before settling down for the movie.

 

Water feature 

When: Opens Friday, May 25, on-going after that

What: Think water splash garden that looks beautiful, with jets, bubbling water, a flooding wading basin, a cool 10-foot-tall water wall, and a fog feature that’s totally new to the metro area.

 

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

When: Saturday, May 26, 7:30 p.m.

What: Frankie Valli is the original Jersey Boy, and some of his hits include “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Grease,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Sherry” and “Walk Like a Man.” It’s the kind of music kids will want to dance to. Keep in mind there is an opener, though, so Frankie Valli will be taking the stage at around 9 p.m.

 

Omaha Symphony Concert & Fireworks

When: Monday, May 28, 8 p.m.

What: Omaha Symphony is going to perform some classics while you sprawl out on the lawn. The song list includes Gershwin’s “Strike Up the Band,” Lowe’s “My Fair Lady,” Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” Williams’ “Marion’s Theme and Raider’s March” from Indiana Jones, Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” It’s going to be impressive. Best part? The concert ends with a fireworks show.

 

There are even more events at Loessfest that your family may love. Check out the full schedule here.

Tips for families going to Loessfest

 

Loessfest is an annual weekend of concerts, movies, bike rides and more held at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park in Council Bluffs. It is held May 25-28, 2018. Photo courtesy Loessfest

Seating: This is a large grassy space, and it’s recommended you bring your own chairs or blankets to sit on.

Waiting with kids: You’ll want to arrive early to allow time for parking and walking to the park…which means you will be waiting for the event to start. For events like these, I always pack a bag of toys, books, and maybe a card game to entertain the kids while we wait.

Bring a towel: While you wait for events to begin, kids will want to check out the new water feature at the park, so bring a towel. I recommend the kids wear a swimsuit, or at least, have a change of clothes.

Food & beverages: You may bring a cooler of food and drinks, but no alcohol is permitted to be brought in. Also, leave glass containers at home. Alcohol may be sold at some events, but not all. There will be vendors at Loessfest and patronizing them helps keep the events free.

Inclement weather: They may delay an event, but make every effort to keep everything on schedule, so bring an umbrella if it looks like a rainy night. Things will be canceled if the weather is severe. Updates will be posted on Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park’s Facebook page and the Loessfest Twitter account.

What to leave at home: Tents, shade awnings, glass, alcoholic beverages, tarps, unruly dogs

Loessfest Giveaway!

Disney Junior’s Choo-Choo Soul performs at Loessfest on May 25. Disney Junior’s “Choo Choo Soul” stars D.C. Abramson and Genevieve Goings. Photo courtesy Disney Junior/Craig Sjodin

Loessfest has provided a giveaway for one lucky reader (or more likely, one lucky reader’s child). I’m giving away a Choo Choo Soul CD and autographed picture! The giveaway runs through Sunday, May 20, at 11:59 p.m. CST. Must be 18 or older to enter. I’ll email the winner via email within 48 hours of the giveaway ending, and the winner has 48 hours to respond before another winner is drawn. 

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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May 13, 2018

8 Great Places To Get Breakfast In Council Bluffs

Council Bluffs, Iowa is beginning to grow a thriving dining scene and, lucky for me, my favorite meal of the day has some shining stars. There are several locally-owned restaurants serving delicious breakfast in Council Bluffs. I asked readers on Facebook what’s new in Council Bluffs and what old favorites are still serving great food (good news, Duncan’s is). There were several that I can’t wait to check out.

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

restaurants in Council Bluffs

Ready for pancakes, donuts and heaping servings of hash browns? Here are eight great places to get breakfast in Council Bluffs:

712 Eat + Drink

One of the newest restaurants in Council Bluffs, 712 Eat + Drink, is the go-to place for brunch on Sunday.

Where: 1851 Madison Ave.

Why: “712 was so good! I went this AM for the first time,” said Katy J. Another reader, Jenna G. let me know that it was toddler-friendly, too, so while my kids are older, I know I’m good to take them there. Note that 712 only serves Sunday brunch; the rest of the time, it’s lunch and dinner.

Learn more about 712 Eat + Drink here

 

Duncan’s Cafe

The Council Bluffs breakfast staple, Duncan’s Cafe, has been serving huge portions since the 1970s.

Where: 501 S. Main St.

Why: “Duncan’s has awesome breakfast food. Love their cinnamon rolls and breakfast sandwiches,” said Courtney C. My first experience at Duncan’s involved a plate of hash browns that, I swear, was as large as a hubcap. And it was awesome.

Learn more about Duncan’s here

 

Main Street Cafe

Main Street Cafe is located in downtown Council Bluffs near Bayliss Park.

Where: 102 S. Main St.

Why: This is a traditional cafe with down home comfort food. And… “The pancakes are huge,” said Katie B.

Learn more about Main Street Cafe here

 

Stay Sweet Nicola’s

Stay Sweet Nicola’s is a good spot for coffee drinks and baked goods in downtown Council Bluffs.

Where: 805 S. Main St.

Why: Stay Sweet Nicola’s is a charming, small cafe on the south side of downtown Council Bluffs. I can only vouch for the coffee being delicious. Lucky, I have readers to share tips on the food: “Stay Sweet Nicola’s has some amazing cinnamon rolls and coffee!” said John S.

Learn more about Stay Sweet Nicola’s here

 

Sugar’s Diner

Sugar’s Diner is open seven days a week and, rumor has it, serves a mean Bloody Mary.

Where: 2725 E. Kanesville Blvd.

Why: Sugar’s Diner has a loyal fan base, not just consisting of breakfast lovers. But, I’m sharing breakfast spots, so let’s focus on that, shall we? “Sugar’s has amazing blueberry pancakes and omelets!” said Nicole L.

Learn more about Sugar’s here

 

Mad Ox Bakery

Go in to Mad Ox for the superhero decor, stay for the cronuts.

Where: 215 W. Broadway

Why: Get your sweet fix here. Mad Ox bakery has gourmet donuts with flavors ranging from Red Velvet Glazed and Pink Champaign, and apparently has a pretty tasty fried croissant (AKA cronut) with optional fillings.

Learn more about Mad Ox here

 

Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard

donut in Council Bluffs

Where: 19475 225th St.

Why: Their apple cider doughnuts, especially when you get them freshly made, are addictive. They are so good. While the orchard doesn’t serve breakfast (they’re not even open that early), doughnuts are a classic breakfast item, so I’m counting it, folks.

Tip: This is a seasonal place, so check their hours before going. Make an afternoon of it – here’s a list of other things to do at Ditmars besides eating a ton of doughnuts.

 

Fresh Market Square Buffet

Fresh Market Square Buffet is located inside Harrah’s Casino, and offers kid’s prices to the buffet. Photo courtesy Caesars Entertainment

Where: Inside Harrah’s Casino, 1 Harrahs Blvd.

Why: I’ve got to include a buffet, right? There are three casinos in Council Bluffs, and this is the only with a weekend brunch buffet that includes children’s prices for meals. Come hungry!

Learn more about Fresh Market Square Buffet here

 

Want more ideas? Unleash CB has a full list of Council Bluffs restaurants.

 

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April 2, 2017

Visiting The Western Historic Trails Center

The Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs is one of those notable historic landmarks within a few miles of Omaha that you know you ought to visit at least once, but you probably haven’t.

The Western Historic Trails Center is located in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

At least, that was my family’s case until recently.

 

One unseasonably warm winter day, we decided we wanted to get outdoors, but we were tired of going to the same park, the same trails. And then I remembered the paved trails on the Council Bluffs side of the Missouri River. Why not do something new that combined a hike with a bit of local history?

About Western Historic Trails Center

Some exhibit pieces at the trails center were interactive, making it more engaging for children and adults.

This small center is dedicated to teaching us about four historic trails that passed through this area: the Lewis and Clark, Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. You can learn about the pioneers who traveled the trails, as well. The National Park Service designed and built the center and admission is free.

The exhibit space includes photos, maps, some interactive pieces sculptures, and my kids’ favorite, audio records (must be the thrill of holding a phone? I dunno). There’s also a small theater space to watch a film. If you want to learn more about the area’s significance, read this.

What is it about phones? This might have been my kids’ favorite exhibit just because they could listen to people on this audio device.

We didn’t spend a whole lot of time here. Only one child could read, for one thing; for another, they still have a rough concept of time. Everything “old” to my preschooler is 99 years old, no matter what.

Outside the Western Historic Trails Center, you’ll find paved and unpaved trails, as well as interpretive sculptures.

Still, it’s worth peeking in before going on to my favorite part of the area: The trails.

Trails By The Western History Trails Center

Flat terrain make it easy to keep an eye on speedy kids.

The paved trails will take you toward the Missouri River for a nice walk, or if you’re on bike, you can take the trails further along north toward two casinos and the Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park, or further south toward Lake Manawa State Park. Part of the trail is unpaved if you’re going to try to get a view of the river.

We weren’t expecting to find a pond along the way to the Missouri River. The kids loved drawing in the sand.

We were on foot and with our dog, so we opted for the easy walk to the river. We passed by a small pond, which was a nice diversion to explore. It was disappointing to see how much trash has been left in the area.

That’s the eastern side of Omaha across the river.

In short order, we made it to the river and got a fairly plain view of Omaha (it was winter, after all). Still, your kids should be able to spot some landmarks, including the zoo and the train engines at Kenefick Park near Lauritzen Gardens.

Events at Western Historic Trails Center

Inside the Western Historic Trails Center.

This year, the center is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and the theme is Wild West. Events will be held throughout the year, though I don’t have much details on them. So far, I’ve heard of some documentaries screened there as a part of that celebration. The next screening coming up is on April 30 showing the film “American Experience Documentary: Annie Oakley.”

In the past, there have been music jams, live re-enactments along the trail, and holiday events. I recommend following WHTC on Facebook to keep up to date.

If you go

Western Historic Trails Center

Where: 3434 Richard Downing Ave., Council Bluffs, Iowa

When: Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed official state holidays

Cost: FREE

Website

 

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September 2, 2016

10 Things You Must Do In Council Bluffs In The Fall

Updated: Jan. 10, 2018

Fall is an ideal time to visit Council Bluffs, Iowa. A gorgeous time.

I was recently asked by the Council Bluffs Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to write about the city which inspired this sponsored post. I’m not exactly a local expert but the city has a special place in my heart. I spent about 10 years working in Council Bluffs, and even though my daily commute doesn’t bring me down West Broadway anymore, I return with my family to revisit my favorites.

If you haven’t visited in a while, here’s a list of fun things you must do in the fall in Council Bluffs.

10

Shady Lanes Ranch

Hayrack ride time at Shady Lanes in #CouncilBluffs!

A post shared by Kim Reiner (@ohmyomaha) on

 

Shady Lanes Ranch Inc. has fun hayrack rides that end with your group being dropped off at your own bonfire. We brought friends last year for the first time and had so much fun. The kids enjoyed the hay fights between with passing hayracks.

Ditmars Orchard

 

It’ll be tough to find a closer apple orchard than Ditmars. My family enjoys the relaxed pace of the orchard, which is perfect for younger children. You can walk out to the orchard or hop on a hayrack to go further into the orchard (if you’re going with little kids, this hayrack ride is a hit). They also have a pumpkin patch for later fall activities. While there, kids will enjoy the playground and corn maze. Before you leave, do not skip the concession stand. You must get the fresh apple donuts. You’ll thank me.

Ditmars is a hot spot in the fall for events. In September alone, there’s the AppleGrass Festival, Fields of Flight hot air balloon weekend, and a kite-flying weekend.

Bayliss Park

Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs is pretty visit any time of day, but the modern fountain lit up at night is a sight to see. The park has a splash ground that’s great for kids on hot summer days, too. The park also has free concerts and movies throughout the summer.

Union Pacific Railroad Museum

So many buttons to push in this place

A post shared by Kim Reiner (@ohmyomaha) on

 

If you have a train-loving kid in your house, you need to visit Union Pacific Railroad Museum in downtown Council Bluffs. This FREE museum features some interactive displays, and lots and lots of memorabilia.

If you’re kids are really into trains, plan for a second train stop in C.B. at RailsWest Railroad Museum.

 

Wabash Trace Trail

This long, crushed limestone trail is great for cycling (not with your road bike, mind you) and running. Wabash Trace Trail starts in Council Bluffs and takes a scenic route southward through the Loess Hills and tree-lined fields for 63 miles. It’s an old railroad route so the slopes are never steep. On Thursday nights, hundreds of bike riders take the famous Taco Ride from Council Bluffs to Mineola for food and drinks, and then ride back. It’s a ton of fun! If you try it, make sure your bike lights are working – it gets very dark on the trail.

 

Dixie Quicks

 

Few restaurants in the metro area can compare to the creativity and taste of Dixie Quicks and for that alone, you should visit. The cool setting, quirky shop and gallery connected to the restaurant, and the dinosaurs kids can play with while you wait are icing on the cake. Brunch is my favorite time to dine there. Find Dixie Quicks on the historic 100th block of Council Bluffs, a pretty part of the city not to be missed. Update: Dixie Quicks closed in 2018.

Arts Center at IWCC

The Arts Center at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs has two performance spaces where you can see student performances and touring productions. There’s a full season of shows, so it’s not just a fall thing to do. Occasionally a kid-centric show will be presented there, so keep an eye on the schedule.

Lake Manawa State Park

 

Lake Manawa is definitely busy in the summer with boaters, fishers and swimmers enjoying the beach. In the fall, take advantage of the cooler weather to bike the paved trails or if you’re the adventurous sort, the 8 miles of mountain bike trails. If’ you’re there with younger children, don’t skip Dream Land Park.

 

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

 

Probably one of the top 5 photographed attraction in the metro area, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge spans the Missouri River, connecting Iowa to Nebraska. The photo opp of all photo opps is straddling the state line. Summer on Council Bluffs’ side can be pretty busy, especially on the green space of the park that’s right near the bridge, Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park. There are concerts and outdoor movie screenings there, especially during Loessfest.

 

Stir Outdoor Concert Cove

OK, this is more of a summer place to be for live music, but the Stir Concert Cove schedule stretches into the fall so I’m including it. The outdoor music venue at Harrah’s Casino and Hotel brings in some of the best touring bands that come to the metro area. While they are all-ages shows, I usually find a sitter when I get tickets to a show.

 

Bonus!

Where to eat in Council Bluffs

I can’t limit myself to just 10 great things about Council Bluffs, at least, not if it means I have to cut out some food talk. Dixie Quicks is great, but it’s not the only restaurant in town. If you’re hungry for pizza, head to the local favorite, Pizza King. If you’re at Bayliss Park, my favorite spot for a treat afterward is Ellie’s Deli & Ice Cream Shoppe. Christy Creme is another ice cream place to visit in the summer; we usually stop there after a trip to nearby Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek.

For a filling breakfast a cozy diner, head to Duncan’s Cafe on Main Street. I dare you to tackle the serving of hashbrowns – I swear the plate is the size of a hub cab.

If you’re in Council Bluffs without kids, my favorite spots I recommend visiting is 1892 German Bier House, 360 Steakhouse at Harrah’s (the best view!), and Cellar 19, and wine bar and deli.

 

Places Still On My To-Visit List

For all the years I’ve worked in Council Bluffs, I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve never been to two of its biggest historical attractions: Squirrel Cage Jail and the Gen. Dodge House. The Dodge House often has events with actors dressed in period costumes and at Christmas time, they have special nights for families. (drips), a new-to-me coffee shop on Main Street, is also a place on my list.

 

Your turn: What are some of your favorite Council Bluffs attractions and restaurants?

May 15, 2016

Imagination Movers At Loessfest + Giveaway

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post sponsored by Emspace to promote the Imagination Movers’ concert. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Loessfest is back in Council Bluffs, and its opening night festivities are going to be a lot of fun for families!

Imagination Movers at Loessfest

Imagination Movers playing at Loessfest in 2015. They’re back for the opening night concert on May 28, 2016! Photo courtesy Emspace

The Riverfront Block Party Saturday, May 28, includes live music, a movie, bounce houses, train rides and a lot more at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park (on the Bluffs’ side of the pedestrian bridge). Admission is FREE!

Loessfest Block Party schedule:

5 p.m. – Festivities start with bounce houses, food, train ride, face painting and more

7 p.m. – The Imagination Movers perform

9 p.m. (or dusk) – “Inside Out” plays on the big screen

 

Did you catch the Imagination Movers when they played last year? I interviewed one of the band members last year – hear what Rich Collins has to say about the band whose music The New York Times described as evoking “the Beastie Boys or Red Hot Chili Peppers.”

imagination movers - blue

These four guys from New Orleans are a lot of fun for families and their concerts are high-energy. My kids and I had a dance party watching their live concert DVD that came with “Licensed to Move” last year.

We haven’t been to a concert of theirs yet, but I can only imagine how much fun they are!

 

Imagination Movers Giveaway

Imagination Movers giveaway

Are your kids fans of the Imagination Movers?

I’ve got a prize pack to give to one lucky reader! The pack contains an autographed poster, mouse ears, stickers and a CD. It’s easy to enter!

1. Leave a comment: Make up a name for your kid’s signature dance move.

2. Bonus entry: Check out the Loessfest event schedule – which runs May 28 through June 5 – and leave a comment with which event you’re most looking forward to.

Deadline to leave a comment is Sunday, May 22, at 11:59 p.m. One winner will be randomly selected through random.org. I’ll contact the winner via email within 48 hours and he or she will have 48 hours to respond. Must be 18 to enter.

September 5, 2014

Your Local Kids Quest + Giveaway

We all aren’t blessed with babysitters at the ready. I’m lucky to live in the same city as most of my immediate relatives and even I sometimes need to scramble to find a babysitter.

Enter Kids Quest.

KQLogo [Converted] (1)

Never heard of it? It’s the nation’s largest hourly child care provider, but it’s more than what you envision “child care” to be. Think arcade, floor-to-ceiling maze and karaoke. It’s a supervised children’s entertainment center, basically.

 

Play Time for Kids, Free Time for You!

Our local Kids Quest is located inside Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs. It’s open seven days a week. For hours and rates – check at www.kidsquest.com.


Spoiler alert: There’s a giveaway at the end of the post!

 

So, if you’re like me, you get a little uptight thinking with your preconceived ideas of an hourly day care center (in a casino, even). Relax.

Kids quest has CPR and first aid certified staff. Safety is a priority, so a photo ID is required at check-in and check out (there’s a nice video about the process check-in here).

TIP: Speed up your first check-in by pre-registering online

They care for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old. Socks are required, which reminds me of the policy in my kids’ daycare’s infant room.

Let’s talk fun stuff

Check out all the activities inside Kids Quest:

Creative Play

Special areas offer creative crafts, construction and transportation toys, cozy lounges, home living imagination play, colorful costumes and realistic props to set the stage for big adventures.

Indoor Play Piece

Plenty of twists and turns in this floor-to-ceiling maze challenge kids’ bodies and minds while providing vital entertainment and exercise for hours on end.

Arcade Alley

Kids get their game on with the latest engaging (yet non-violent) arcade games where they can compete for high scores!

Quest Café

Your child’s taste buds are tantalized as the simple act of eating is changed into a super savory adventure. Meals and snacks available for purchase.

Tiny Tots

A safe-play environment with soft climbing zones for youngsters that encourage sensory stimulation, interactive play, and toddler-friendly snacks!

Karaoke Star Stage

Here’s a spotlight where kids shine, whether they want a solo song or to sing along with their friends!

iPad® Stations

Over 100 kids games and apps give the perfect tech platform to explore and play on their own or in friendly competition.

Wii® Arena

Wii®, Nintendo® Kinect, and PS3 games get kids moving with the latest in virtual spors, exploration, races, and more!

Arts and Crafts

Kids tap into their deepest creative impulses, which then come to life through drawing, molding, painting, and whatever other colorful crafts they devise!

 

What else is there at Kids Quest?

BIRTHDAY PARTIES AT KIDS QUEST

From start to finish, our birthday parties create wonderful memories as your child celebrates being one year older. Your child’s birthday party rules Kids Quest, gaining unlimited access to the indoor play piece, creative play activities, video and arcade games, and more!

BOOK YOUR NEXT PARTY AT KIDS QUEST!

Time to Play

It’s amazing how so much fun can be packed into 2 hours!

Family-Friendly Staff

No stress setup or teardown.

Designed for You

Design the party theme and activities around your child’s unique interests.

Giveaway!

Think your kids would have fun at Kids Quest while you enjoy some free time? We’re giving away two free hours at Kids Quest for two children, two snacks and two beverages! That’s a $40 prize (though the free time you’ll have is priceless, right?)!

It’s easy to enter using the Rafflecopter entry form below. If you have trouble using the entry form, go directly to Rafflecopter.com to enter. Giveaway ends Sept. 21 at 11:59 p.m. I will contact the winner via email; winner needs to reply within 48 hours or another name will be drawn.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!