March 18, 2014

The Ultimate Nebraska Adventure This Summer

Maybe you don’t have the time to sit down and think of a whole Nebraska bucket list like the one I did yesterday.

No biggie.

Turns out, others have made a check list for you this year.

Great Park Pursuit

First up is the Great Park Pursuit – A Nebraska Outdoor Adventure. Get the rules here.Great Park Pursuit

Basically, you get a team together (AKA, your family). You pick a park. You print the Park Page and take it with you. Following some clues, you find the GPP post in the park and then put your Park Page over the post and make a tracing of the impression (so you’ll want to bring a crayon or pencil – and being a mom, I’m pretty sure I already have one of those in my purse).

It begins May 1. Send all of your completed nature impressions in by Sept. 17 in order to be entered in for the prize drawings.

This would be a load of fun to do with kids – maybe combine it with some camping or hiking?

Nebraska Passport Program

PrintThe Nebraska Tourism Commission recently the 80 stops in the 2014 Nebraska Passport Program. This one goes beyond parks and into towns, businesses and – a little mom and dad high five here – breweries.

The gist of this great hunt is that you go to the participating attractions, collect stamps and then you earn prizes. This year, they divided the 80 stops into 10 themed tours: Sips and Suds, Patchwork Passion, Rare Finds, Home Grown Nebraska, Fork in the Road, Hit the Snooze, Without Walls, Stars and Stripes, How We Move and Can’t Get Enough.

Now this could be a fun family activity all summer long, or I could see it as a great list to check off with your mate. I’m particularly eyeing the Sips & Suds list as something I could see me and Mr. Wonderful taking care of without the kids (of the breweries and wineries listed, we’ve only been to one so it’s almost all new to me).

This fun program runs from May 1 through Sept. 30. For each completed tour, participants win a Nebraska Passport T-shirt. Travelers also can receive 20 $1 Nebraska Lottery Scratch coupons (for 20 stamps) and a digital picture frame (for 40 stamps) and a Pebble Smartwatch (for all 80 stamps). The grand prize is a TV. If you turn in a passport with at least one stamp (and you’re 19 or older), you qualify for a drawing for 300 $1 Nebraska Lottery Scratch tickets.

Passports will be available at participating stops in May or can be pre-ordered by emailing info@NebraskaPassport.com.

Combine Them For The Ultimate Nebraska Summer?

Lucky me, some destinations on my bucket list are part of these two programs, or near them. If I were a planning woman – and I am – I could see checking off several stops from both the  Great Park Pursuit and Nebraska Passport Program in one outing.

Your Turn: Do you plan on doing either of these programs this summer? Where do you want to go?

January 21, 2014

Strategic Air & Space Museum With Children

Until recently, I figured the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska, just wasn’t my thing. I didn’t think aviation was my thing, and while space travel sounds exciting, I never felt motivated to visit the museum. Then I had kids. And it turns out that this museum is for people like me. It impresses me, actually.

But more importantly for this post – my kids enjoyed it there. A lot. As in, take off like they’ve been launched into space as soon as we get into the museum.

What to check out with kids?

Your first stop will likely be the Science Zone right by the entrance – or if your kids are especially wound up from the car ride, head to the hangers so they can run. And run. And run.

Our last visit was this winter and the Science Zone featured several activities, some more suited to my under-4 crowd than others.

Didn’t matter, they enjoyed watching big kids play, too.

Dominoes were tough for my littles to figure out but they liked watching the big kids make an elaborate path.

Dominoes were tough for my littles to figure out but they liked watching the big kids make an elaborate path.

The hit was the over-sized building blocks, though the kids also liked the weather map and rocket launcher. I think I disappointed the kids since I have very little mechanical ability – the rocket I helped them construct was a dud.

Launching - or at least trying to launch - their handmade rocket in the Science Zone.

Launching – or at least trying to launch – their handmade rocket in the Science Zone.

The museum features two large areas of full of aircraft, displays on uniforms and a lot of history. There’s an exhibit on astronaut Clayton Anderson that at least made my kids pause on their sprint around the museum. Enhance your visit by sharing some fun facts on the SAS website.

Strategic Air and Space 6

However, if yours are like mine, my kids were only interested in the planes they could climb in (can you blame them?). I’m pretty sure the kids didn’t even notice any signs.

"Roger that, Houston."

“Roger that, Houston.”

And the ride-on toys. And the bounce houses.

Naturally.

Bigger kids will like the simulation ride. That’s extra (as is the ride on toys and bounce houses. Naturally).

Many people like to pair a visit to the SAC Museum with some of the attractions nearby – Mahoney State Park and the Gene Simmons Safari. That’s fine, especially if you’re traveling from far. However, the museum itself is worth the trip by itself.

Kids love the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Nebraska.

Kids love the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Nebraska.

If you go

Address: Strategic Air & Space Museum, 28210 West Park Highway, Ashland, Nebraska

Hours: Open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission: $12 for adults; $11 for 65+ and active/retired military; $6 for kids (4-12); free for kids 3 and younger and members

Food: There is a cafe on-site offering mini pizzas, hotdogs, chips, pretzels, that sort of thing

Thank you to the Strategic Air & Space Museum for providing two complimentary passes. All opinions expressed were my own.