Hotel RL – A Fun Place To Stay In Omaha

Update: Things have gone downhill since our visit. Coco Key Water Resort’s license was suspended on July 11, 2018. 

Love a good makeover story? The new Hotel RL Omaha is in the process of remodeling the Midtown Omaha hotel connected to CoCo Key Water Resort, and the result (so far) is beautiful.

I was invited to enjoy a stay there with my family to get a feel for the new place and share it with you. Hotel RL is part of the Red Lion brand.

Hotel RL Lobby & Living Space

Hotel RL Omaha lobby
Hotel RL Omaha has a lobby straight out of a design magazine.

The lobby and vast open space in the hotel is where you’ll see the most impressive updates. The lobby is a study in Instagrammable space. It’s so stylish.

Move on and you’ll find a coffee shop, bar, and The Living Stage. The Living Stage is a performance space for variety of styles. The night we were there, a band performed. See a calendar of upcoming performances here.

Kids and adults love to play the huge chess game in Hotel RL’s Living Stage area.

The thing families will want to note is that The Living Stage is a strictly-enforced 18 and older space in the evening. Look for posted signs to see when that curfew is the night you’re there.

But the rest of the day, the kids will enjoy the over-sized chess board and climbing the pyramid-like stairs.

Once you venture toward the conference room area (especially, when you’re making your way to CoCo Key), you’ll see some areas that haven’t been remodeled yet.

The Rooms at Hotel RL

When renovations are complete at Hotel RL Omaha, rooms will look like this stylish model room I visited during our stay.

The remodel process isn’t complete, and so, you’re not going to see much change to the rooms, yet. But check out what’s to come.

The sliding door to the bathroom is pretty cool, but I also want to point out that the rooms will be decorated with Nebraska-inspired artwork. Nice touch.

The room we stayed in was a suite, providing a lot of space for my hotel-crazed kids. We had two queen-sized beds, plus a sofa bed. The tub is large.

We had a room facing the large open space, so we didn’t have the benefit of outside light brightening up the room.

The kids had to test out the beds immediately upon entering our hotel room.

Our room also had a mini fridge and microwave, which is handy if you’re staying for a few days.

Dining at Hotel RL

The Castaways dining room at Hotel RL Omaha.

There’s one restaurants in the huge Hotel RL called Castaways. The name and comical sign doesn’t do the restaurant any service. It was a surprisingly good hotel restaurant, with reasonably priced dinners (especially the kids meals). I tried fish and chips, and sampled a bit of Mr. Wonderful’s pulled pork sandwich. Everything was seasoned well, and the fries were spot on.

Breakfast buffet fresh picks. Kids under 5 eat free for the breakfast buffet.

Breakfast was buffet-only, but here’s a good deal: Kids under 5 eat free. Adults are $12. There weren’t any surprises there, your usual spread of hot food likes eggs and bacon. However, I loved the abundant fresh fruit. The kids, naturally, loved the variety of donuts. The coffee was disappointing.

About CoCo Key Water Resort

CoCo Key Water Resort is the best indoor water park in Omaha, in my opinion.

If you’re staying at the hotel and you have kids with you, you can’t skip the indoor water park, CoCo Key. It’s pretty fantastic. You get a pretty good deal if you get a room and add tickets to it.

We were staying only one night, but fit in two trips to the water park. 

We spent most of our time in the lazy river, and trying out the single and double-tube water slides. The huge play area with the giant bucket of water dumping out occasionally overwhelmed the kids at first, but they eventually found a way to avoid the bucket and enjoy all the water slides in that area.

Relaxing on a lazy river at CoCo Key in Omaha.

 

Tip: It’s a bit of a walk bit from the hotel rooms to the water park, but definitely manageable. You can also drive over to the entrance. No need to bring towels from your room.

You don’t have to be a hotel guest to go to CoCo Key, and in fact, I bet a lot of people there were day visitors. If you’re a day visitor, bring a towel.

There is a restaurant and bar at CoCo Key, but the service was so slow to get food, I didn’t last long waiting before we left to eat elsewhere. 

There’s an arcade between the water park and the hotel. Good luck walking through there without stopping.

If you walk from your hotel room to CoCo Key, you’ll have to pass through the danger zone: An arcade.

What’s Near Hotel RL Omaha

Aksarben Village is pretty near Hotel RL Omaha. This park at Aksarben Village (called Stinson Park) has a sandless playground, a small sprayground and amphitheater, plus it’s near several stores and restaurants.

Hotel RL is just off Interstate 80, making it ideal for family vacationers who want to get places like Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Lauritzen Gardens, and further afield to the Old Market. It’s also makes a trip out west to Strategic Air & Space Museum a little more manageable. 

Close to the hotel, families have a few options for fun. It’s not far from Aksarben Village with its shops, playground, movie theater, and frequent fun events on the weekends. Cupcake fans will like that Jones Bros. Cupcakes is in that area. It’s also close to Baxter Arena, where if you time a visit well, you can catch a hockey game or sweet concert.

If you go

Hotel RL Omaha

Where: 3321 S. 72nd St.

Cost: You can book room-only, or look into family-friendly packages that include water park passes for four (starting at $189/night) or a zoo package. Definitely look around the packages offered because there are some incredibly low rates to introduce you to the hotel, well below $100! Add 4 CoCo Key passes to your hotel stay for $60 if you don’t have a water park package (this $60 bundle is only good for one day of admission).

Book a room

 

Disclosure: My stay at Hotel RL Omaha was hosted by the hotel. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

The 35 Adventure

I turned 35 this month.

Aging never really bothered me before, the number itself is no big deal. My 30s have been good to me, actually.

Still, I have this nagging thought: More is out there. There’s more to see. More to do.

Traveling abroad with the family is a big dream of mine, but if I’m being practical, I know it’s not going to happen within the next 12 months. So I’ve decided to create my own adventure much closer to home.

The 35 Adventure

 

The 35 Adventure

The 35 Adventure is a mix of things that are adventurous (for me, at least) and things that have sat on my to-do list for a while, often places close to home I’ve meant to visit for this blog.

What would your Adventure look like?

I’ve got one year to check these things off. Check back on the blog frequently to hear how some of these adventures went!

 

1. SUP yoga

2. Zip line at Mt. Crescent

3. Airboat down Platte River

4. Climb a rock wall (it’s been about 25 years…)

5. Ride a gondola at Heartland of America Park

6. Behind-the-scenes tour of zoo

7. Visit Modern Arts Midtown

8. Try Dim Sum

9. Explore the Mystery Bookstore/A Stitch in Crime in Omaha

10. Try wind surfing

11. Camp at the zoo

12. Ride the ferris wheel at Scheels (not adventurous, by any means, just haven’t done it yet)

13. Try geocacheing

14. Ride in a hot air balloon

15. Take a helicopter ride

16. Tour Joslyn Castle

17. See Snake Falls

18. Try glamping at Slattery Vintage Estates

19. Try parasailing at Lake McConaughy

20. Stomp grapes

Edited July 23 

21. Try an escape room adventure 

22. Try soccer golf

23. Try bubble soccer

 

 

I’d like to check off 35 “adventures” after 365 days are over. Who knows, though. Could be more. What do you suggest be added to the list?

‘A Wrinkle In Time’ Comes To The Rose

This season, it’s like The Rose is staging a theatrical versions of many books of my childhood: The recent “Cat in the Hat”; this spring’s “Charlotte’s Web”; and starting Saturday, “A Wrinkle in Time.”

"A Wrinkle In Time" opens Nov. 1 at The Rose. Photo courtesy MJB Photography.
“A Wrinkle In Time” opens Nov. 1 at The Rose. Photo courtesy MJB Photography.

Anyone else remember that Madeline L’Engle book?

If your kids thought the first productions of The Rose season were more for younger crowds, then this is the show for them. First off it’s an intricate plot with sophisticated scientific concepts about time and space.

And second, it’s got some dark imagery and scary moments. According to the director, Kit McKay, “This is definitely a show that is darker and skewed to older children.”

Got it. The other-worldly science fiction adventure is not for the 5 and under crowd I roll with lately.

But maybe it is for your crowd… you’ll want to get to the end of this post for a giveaway!

“A Wrinkle in Time” opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 16 at The Rose. As with all shows at The Rose, the opening night features some special activities: There is a pre-show presentation by The Rose Brigade, a video about space presented by the Mueller Planetarium and a special goodie after the show.

 

If you go

“A Wrinkle in Time”

When: Runs Nov. 1-16, with performances Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 5 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. An additional performance will be held Sunday, Nov. 2, at 5 p.m. Run time is 60 minutes. Arrive early, since about 10 minutes before the show, there is a video about space that may interest your kids.

Where: The Rose, 2001 Farnam St.

Synopsis: “A Wrinkle in Time” tells the story of Meg, a quintessential square peg who must find her inner courage and strength to save her father from a mysterious intergalactic villain determined to eradicate the world of individuality. With the help of some rather unique characters, Meg teams up with her younger sibling, Charlie Wallace, and her friend Calvin to travel through the universe to try toput her family back together again.

Tickets: Tickets are $18 per person. Discount ticket vouchers are available at all area Hy-Vee stores for $14 each. Members of The Rose receive four free tickets to the production.

Recommended for ages 7 and up.

 

Giveaway!

The Rose would like one Oh My! Omaha reader to attend the show with his or her family! Enter to win four vouchers to see “A Wrinkle in Time” – the vouchers are good for four tickets to any show date (valued at $72). Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. The contest ends Friday, so don’t wait to enter! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The Rose provided the vouchers for this giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are mine. I was not compensated for this post.

What’s New At Omaha Attractions

My kids don’t need a reason to visit any of the Omaha attractions – they beg to go whenever they sense a lull in conversation. But in case you’ve gone to them 1,000,000 times already, here’s what new at four downtown Omaha destinations to get you motivated to go back for the 1,000,001th time:

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

The zoo now offers camel rides. Head toward Red Barn Park between Durham’s Bear Canyon and Sue’s Carousel. Rides are from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $5 per person for each camel ride.

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Sting Ray Beach is scheduled to open this summer by Red Barn Park from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Labor Day. The exhibit will be $4 for the general public and $3 for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium members. Guests will be able to hand feed the rays for a small additional charge.

Omaha Children’s Museum

There's a pint-sized X-ray machine for kids to play with at the new Children's Hospital exhibit at Omaha Children's Museum.
There’s a pint-sized X-ray machine for kids to play with at the new Children’s Hospital exhibit at Omaha Children’s Museum.

There are two new permanent additions to the museum – the kid-sized First National Bank Branch and Children’s Hospital and Medical Center where kids can pretend to bank, or doctors, nurses and patients.

Just for this summer – “Dinos: The Big Dig” is on the top floor of the museum and full of interactive areas. A little tip, if it’s pretty busy up there, there are two tents with quiet activities. I retreated to the one with books and dolls with my toddler when she started to get overwhelmed by all the commotion. Exhibit runs through Sept. 7.

Tied in with the dino exhibit is a mini train ride Dino-Train, which is an additional cost to museum admission. Train is also on the top floor.

Also check out Fairytale Land if you have a fan of princesses (and princes) in your house.

If singing and dancing to Disney princess songs is a regular occurrence, your family will be right at home at Fairytale Land.
If singing and dancing to Disney princess songs is a regular occurrence, your family will be right at home at Fairytale Land.

I’ll just warn you, it’s a big sugary dose of song and dance. And magical “snow fall.” It was a bit much for my 4-year-old son and husband. My daughter loved it.

Lauritzen Gardens

The Children's Garden at Lauritzen Gardens has reopened.
The Children’s Garden at Lauritzen Gardens has reopened.

The Children’s Garden is back open. It’s been closed for more than a year. The later in the summer you go see it, the more there will be to see (gardens work like that, ya know?). Check back in the late summer to really get the full corn maze experience.

Durham Museum

DZ_EmailGraphic-600x300Just this summer – “Design Zone” is a creative way to get kids and adults excited about math and science. The colorful exhibit includes a videogame design area and a recording studio. Exhibit runs through Sept. 24.

Your turn: What are you looking forward to visiting this summer?

Dad-Approved Outings in Omaha

My husband sometimes pokes fun at me because he suspects I may be an 80-year-old stuck in a 30-something’s body. On more than one occasion, I’ve planned dates to places where we were the youngest in the building by 40 years.

So I question my judgement on things sometimes.

Omaha dad Aaron checks out the butterfly pavilion at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.
Omaha dad Aaron checks out the butterfly pavilion at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.

When it comes to this blog, I wonder if dads read it or find it helpful. In case I don’t “speak” to that male demographic, I’ve enlisted some Omaha dads to help me out. They provided a lot of ideas that suit all budgets and all ages.

Here are dad-approved outings in Omaha:

“Our son loves trains, cars and planes, usually in that order. We recommend:

– Kennefick Park (next to Lauritzen Gardens)

– Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs

– Durham Museum

– The car show at the CenturyLink Center

– SAC Museum

Also, and this is our most regular stop when the weather cooperates, we love hiking at Hitchcock Nature Center, about 20 minutes northeast of Omaha on the Iowa side of the river.

What else… We eat on South 24th Street … shop the Old Market when we need to get mommy a gift … go sledding at Memorial Park.” – Shane, father of one boy, age 2 (and another boy on the way)

* * * * *

“We like going camping at Two Rivers and Platte River State Park … going to the zoo, walking through Cabela’s (never buy anything, just look at the fish and gear), and sitting on the berm at Storm Chasers games.” – Matt, father of two boys, ages 4 and 2

* * * * *

One dad asked his 4-year-old daughter for her favorite daddy-daughter outing.

“Some of her favorite memories were me taking her to the ferris wheel inside of Scheel’s (that she had been waiting to get tall enough to ride – ever since she first laid eyes on it.)…

“Other than that, we have taken her to the children’s museum, Fontenelle Forest, the zoo and the Rose Theater a couple times, all of which I know she really enjoyed. And really not too expensive.

“Ultimately, most of our outings are just close to home, though – like trips to the park inside our neighborhood development, or along the trails that span along the tree lines.” – Aaron, father of two girls, ages 4 and 1

* * * * *

Rob with future Creighton sports stars.
Rob with future Creighton sports stars.

“We liked walking around the farmer’s market downtown last year.

“These aren’t free but they are this dad-approved: Stormchaser games, Creighton basketball games, the zoo and the children’s museum.” – Rob, father of two boys and a girl, ages 7, 4 and 6 months

* * * * *

“When it’s just me and the girls, we mainly go to the Amazing Pizza Machine,” said one dad, whose daughter in the background also suggested she enjoyed going to the Olive Garden with him. “Yes, if we’re not at the movies, we’re at the Amazing Pizza Machine.” – Dan, father of two girls, ages 11 and 8

* * * * *

“Now that they’re 16, it’s tough to get my kids out of their bedrooms, but before that we liked hiking at Neal Woods; we enjoyed monthly trips to Joslyn Art Museum, HotShops and of course the zoo, which they never seem to outgrow. Now, at 16, they like exploring the Old Market, Benson, South 24th Street and the Slowdown area. As teens, it’s more about unique shopping experiences.” – Fred, father of two boys and a girl, all 16