June 20, 2018

Where To Stay Near Adventureland

Our long weekend in Des Moines, Iowa this summer included a day at Adventureland. Since the theme park was the main reason we were making this trip, it made sense to stay at a place nearby like Fairfield Inn & Suites. If you’re looking for a hotel near Adventureland, here’s what our stay was like.

Disclosure: Our weekend in Des Moines was hosted by Catch Des Moines. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Near Adventureland

This Fairfield Inn & Suites is technically in Altoona, Iowa, but simplicity’s sake, we’ll say it’s in Des Moines, since most of us out-of-towners think Adventureland is in Des Moines. The important thing is that it’s super close to Adventureland, right?

If you’ve stayed at a Fairfield Inn & Suites before, you are familiar with this Marriott brand hotel. It’s comfy and family-friendly and affordable. The bonus with this particular location is that it’s new, so everything is pristine and fresh.

The lobby of the Fairfield Inn and Suite near Adventureland.

The amenities I expect from a Fairfield are consistent the Marriott brand line of hotels: Complimentary hot breakfast, comfortable beds, small pool, and a hip, modern-looking lobby. This location also had a hot tub and a lake view. There’s an outdoor patio by the lake that will be nice eventually, but since this is such a new hotel, there still is some landscaping to do. There’s a door to the patio from the pool area.

This hotel had a nice touch for those who’ve spent a day outdoors in the summer: Cucumber-infused ice water in the lobby. If you’ve sweated your way through Adventureland in June, this is a refreshing and pleasant surprise to arrive to.

What I liked about the hotel

As a parent, I liked the convenience of walking down to the lobby for a hot breakfast, as well as having a variety of food to choose from. Fresh fruit is always a welcomed option at these breakfasts.

The view from the dining area in the Fairfield Inn & Suites.

I also liked the proximity to Adventureland. It wasn’t as near our other destinations that weekend, like Blank Park Zoo or downtown Des Moines, though. We’ve stayed at a hotel in West Des Moines on our last visit, and if you know the area, that’s even further from Adventureland. Anyway, after a long day at Adventureland, it was great to drive just about a mile to get back to our room.

The rooms themselves are great for families, spacious enough for a family of four. We had two queen beds, plus a pull-out couch. The “suite” area of the room consisted of that couch, plus a desk and TV.

This is what happens when your 6-year-old art directs the photo of a hotel room. You can see the suite area with the pull-out bed couch in the background.

There’s a small toiletry and snack store located in the lobby, in case you forgot necessities. I opted to head to the nearby Target, though, for things I had forgotten.

What the kids liked

As usual, the pool was the biggest hit with the kids. It’s not very deep, so it was good for my little ones. The hot tub was their second favorite area.

What’s near the hotel

The Fairfield Inn & Suites is in a new commercial development in Altoona. It includes the Outlets of Des Moines and the Bass Pro Shop, plus a few restaurants. You could feasibly walk to all of them, but we did not. It looked like there could be a walking path constructed down the road, connecting the hotel to the nearest restaurant, Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse.

If you’re wondering about nearby restaurants, I was more satisfied with the variety and unique dining experiences in downtown Des Moines. The restaurants closest to this hotel are all chains, which may or may not be what you’re looking for. We tried to go to Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse one night since they had provided some coupons to hotel guests, but the wait was too long for our kids to stand patiently.

Here are some distances to note:

Outlets of Des Moines – Walkable

Adventureland – Less than 2 miles

Target – Less than 2 miles

Nearest movie theater (Cinemark) – 2 miles

Downtown Des Moines (includes Science Center of Iowa, Fongs Pizza, Des Moines Farmers Market, Pappajohn Sculpture Park, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, state capitol building and more attractions) – About 10 miles

Blank Park Zoo – About 16 miles

Living History Farms – 18 miles

 

If you go

Fairfield Inn & Suites Altoona

 

Where: 460 Bass Pro Drive NW, Altoona, Iowa

Website

 

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June 14, 2018

How To Stay Cool At Adventureland

Adventureland in Iowa is a quintessential summer destination for families. We planned a whole day at the park during a recent weekend in Des Moines. Before we left, I asked Oh My! Omaha readers on Facebook for their cool-off tips (see the post here). Those tips helped when we visited on a 95-degree day!

Disclosure: Our visit to Des Moines was hosted by Catch Des Moines. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Ways to stay cool at Adventureland

Start early – Get there when the park opens, since mornings are going to be the coolest part of the day. You get the added bonus of short lines for the popular rides. Many recommend arriving about half-hour before the park opens to get a good parking spot and get to the front of the line of your favorite ride.

See a magic show – This was, by far, the most useful tip from a reader. The theater is in Sheriff Sam’s Saloon, and the A/C is a hit of relief in the middle of the day. It doesn’t hurt that the kids find this show highly entertaining. Shows were held on the hour starting at noon, and they rotated shows.

The A/C is cranked on high at the magic show venue in Adventureland. It doesn’t hurt that the show itself is very entertaining for kids. The magic show is held in Sheriff Sam’s Saloon.

Coolest bathroom – I’m using cool literally here. Head to the penny arcade for bathrooms with the A/C cranked on.

Browse the stores – Several stores had signs on the door to “Come in and cool off.” Take that as your cue to go in and browse for as long as it takes to lowery our body temperature. My kids were particularly fine with browsing the toy store.

The look says it all – TOYS. The toy store at Adventureland is a great place to cool off, but if you have kids in tow, good luck leaving without a new stuffed animal friend.

Don’t sweat the old time photos – Two readers recommended doing the souvenir old time photo first thing in the morning. Can you imagine how hot it would be putting on one of those Victorian gowns at 3 p.m. on a July afternoon?

Swim up bar – Shanon K. pointed out that there’s a swim up bar for adults in the waterpark area. It’s called the Sand Bar. That sounds like one of the best ways to cool off in the summer. And by the way, they’ve thought of the kids, too – there’s the Pint Sized Pub with a kid-size stools to sit on in the water. They serve icees, smoothies, non-alcoholic cocktails and a variety of food.

Consider a cabana – Reader Sara U. had some great tips regarding cabanas at the Adventureland water park. First off, if you rent one, it comes with a safe to store supplies. The island cabana not only keeps you covered in the sun, but it also comes with towels, a waitress and a $25 food and beverage credit. “Well worth it as the food was very good and delivered right to you,” she said.

A giant bucket of water to cool you off at Adventure Bay at Adventureland. Photo courtesy Catch Des Moines

Ride the water rides – I’ll have to take everyone’s word for this one. We visited on a week day in early summer, so the water park was closed, and unfortunately, so were the few water rides inside Adventureland. I was really looking forward to being splashed on the Raging River, but it was undergoing some maintenance all day during our visit.

Know when to ride the water rides – Timing is everything with water rides, since everyone wants to ride them during the hottest part of the day. Raging River’s line can be longer than an hour. And tip for the family who gets soaked on the Raging River, there are family drivers for $5 at the end.

Bring water bottles – Most outside food and drink are not allowed, but we could bring in water bottles and refill them throughout the day. Look for water bottle stations in the park. We were able to add ice cubes to our bottles at the Oktoberfest tent (might help that the adults in our group also bought beer).

Find the shade – The park has a lot of trees making it very easy to find a shaded spot to sit. Lisa C. recommended heading toward The Dragon rollercoaster or The Outlaw for shady spots.

Find this shade tent near The Monster at Adventureland.

Park & waterpark in one day tip – Since you get two parks for the price of admission, many fit in both in one day. One reader, Sharice S., shared her family’s itinerary: “We usually enter the park and do the rides all along the left side (ferris wheel, swinging pirate ship, Raging River, Dragon, Saw Mill, etc.) of the park and usually reach the waterpark by mid-afternoon. Then we spend a couple hours swimming and cooling off, and then make our way back to the front on the other side of the park (Monster, Tornado, Storm Chaser). We usually eat at River City Food for lunch and smoothies from the pint size pub in the back of the water park in the late afternoon.”

If you go to Adventureland

Where: 3200 Adventureland Drive, Altoona, Iowa

Calendar of hours

Tip: Do some online investigating before you go and you can score tickets at a discount in advance. If you do show up without pre-purchased tickets, you may get a AAA or military discount if you qualify. I’ve also spotted discount coupons at Hy-Vee.

Related post: Get more Des Moines travel ideas on the post My Des Moines Bucket List.

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June 7, 2018

Best Family Getaway To Des Moines

A weekend in Des Moines, Iowa, was the perfect way to start summer for my family this year. Over the course of three days, our getaway to Des Moines included thrill rides, feeding giraffes, and visiting a few downtown attractions. Here’s how you can have an affordable and fun weekend in Des Moines.

Disclosure: Our trip was hosted by Catch Des Moines. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Things to do in Des Moines with kids

Adventureland – We arrived first thing in the morning to Adventureland and enjoyed super short waits for the roller coasters and other rides. It turns out, having near 100-degree weather was a benefit, and meant we had close to no waits all day.

We arrived at Adventureland right when it opened to enjoy no waits for rides like The Dragon. Adventureland is in Altoona, Iowa, and near Des Moines.

We didn’t go to the waterpark attached to Adentureland—it wasn’t open. But, what’s good for you to know is that it’s included with admission and looks like the oasis you need on a crazy hot summer day.

Top rides for the kids were the Galleon and the Dragon. Top show was the magic show. I rather liked the magic show, too, but more because the A/C was full blast.

Blank Park Zoo – This charming zoo isn’t near any of the others on this list, but will be a highlight for your family, especially if you have little ones. It’s easy to fit in a visit under three hours. There is a lot of shade there, and plenty of opportunities to get up close to animals. They also had frequent animal feedings and keeper talks. There are some extras that you can add to make the visit extra special. We fed giraffes and rode a camel.

Feeding giraffes at Blank Park Zoo was an additional fee but definitely a memorable experience.

Science Center of Iowa – In the heart of downtown Des Moines, the Science Center of Iowa is a wonderful, indoor place to explore. It was a rainy morning, making it a perfect spot for us to retreat to. My kids are at the ideal age to really begin to dive into activities at the science center.

The science center is located in downtown Des Moines. Families can easily spend several hours there.

Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market – We timed our visit to the science center to coincide with the Saturday morning farmers market (it’s pretty much right in front of the science center). This is a giant farmers market, and we didn’t see it all. We sampled some food (and wine), as well as tried fresh watermelon.

The Des Moines Farmers Market in downtown Des Moines was the largest I’d ever been to. There were vendors selling produce, clothing, wine and more.

Pappajohn Sculpture Garden – We first visited this sculpture garden during the Des Moines Summer Arts Festival a few years ago. It was nice to return without the crowd. My kids enjoyed the wide open space to run, and I liked seeing some impressive works of art. It’s fairly close to the Science Center of Iowa. We walked it, but it wasn’t without a fair amount of complaining, so I’d recommend driving.

Not far from the sculpture garden are some water features that kids enjoy dipping their feet in. It’s good to know about if you’re there on a hot summer day.

Playing in the water feature in downtown Des Moines is not a bad idea when it’s nearing 100 degrees.

Additional ideas: We visited Des Moines two years ago, and enjoyed visiting Living History Farms. It wasn’t near our hotel this time around. If you’re looking for a FREE option with the kids, the Iowa capitol building is a good one. The law library is impressive, with spiral staircases you’ll want to get a picture of.

An interactive exhibit at Living History Farms in Des Moines.

Kid-friendly restaurants in Des Moines

Fong’s Pizza – This was, by far, the star restaurant for our family. Try their legendary crab rangoon pizza. The kids ordered from the kid’s menu and stuck to the familiar. Parents, there are some tasty mixed drinks served in kitchy glasses.

Fongs Pizza’s most well-known pie is the crab rangoon pizza. It’s delicious and lives up to the hype.

Zombie Burger – This is one we went to on our last visit. The food is also delicious the menu is funny, and you can pretty much expect a wait. The only drawback is that the zombies may not appeal to some younger kids.

I tried the Dead Moines Burger from Zombie Burger in Des Moines, Iowa.

Iowa Tap Room – I wanted to like this place more than I did, but I’m chalking it up to bad timing on a busy Friday night. It is kid-friendly, though, and there was one bartender who was phenomenal with our kids while we waited to be seated.

Drake Diner – On this trip, we enjoyed the hot, complimentary breakfast at our hotel. But on our last visit, the Drake Diner was a great breakfast spot.

Where to stay in Des Moines

Fairfield Inn & Suites – We stayed at a new Fairfield Inn & Suites in Altoona, very near Adventureland and the Des Moines Outlets. It also put us within about 10 minutes of downtown Des Moines.

The view from the dining area in the Fairfield Inn & Suites. The hotel is near Adventureland and Des Moines Outlets, as well as the interstate.

As mentioned earlier, it had a hot, complimentary breakfast each morning, so it’s a good option for families. There’s a pool, workout center, and it’s facing a nice pond. The area is still be developed, and I imagine the pond is going to eventually have a walking path around it.

Des Moines family vacation

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Driving to Des Moines? Plan stops along the way! Here’s my Pinterest board with things to do in Des Moines with kids:

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May 31, 2018

Things To Do In Orange City

Orange City, Iowa landed on my radar after its annual Tulip Festival was mentioned in a conversation earlier this year. The more I looked into the festival — tulip gardens, the Dutch letters, the volksparade — I made up my mind to go see it this spring. So I did (and it was fun). But, there’s more to the town than its tulip festival, so read on for more things to do in Orange City, plus my recommendation on which hotel to stay in.

Disclosure: My stay was hosted by Orange City Chamber of Commerce. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Things to do in Orange City

Landsmeer Golf Course -The 18-hole, prairie-style course sprawls over 160 acres of rolling Iowa hills, and features bent grass greens and bluegrass fairways. It’s a public course and looks beautiful.

Windmill Park – This beautiful little park has a charming garden with a little water feature and, no surprise, a windmill or two. If you’re traveling with young kids, this park has a great playground, too. In the summer, the Orange City Arts Council has free performances in Windmill park every Wednesday, as well as games and a treat.

Windmill City in Orange City has a picturesque walking path, as well as a playground and bandstand.

Shop City Centrum – The local shops around the City Centrum have a lot of good finds. I was too busy scoping out the festival to do much shopping, but I wanted to venture into Craft Central, where they have crafts (obvs) as well as Dutch souvenirs. Additional shops that were recommended to me, and thus, I’m sharing with you: Hands Around The World, handmade items from around the world, and Next Door Boutique.

I spotted wooden clogs (and plush clog slippers) while browsing stores in Orange City.

Walking tour – The free downtown Orange City walking tour is divided into two parts: Windmill Park and the city’s Centrum. Download the walking tour here. The famous tulips you’ll see in Windmill Park, by the way, are replaced by annuals when not in season.

Orange City Municipal Aquatic Facility – Here’s the place to cool off at during the summer. In addition to the pool, there are some water features for kids to play in.

Try Dutch treats – In the Midwest, if a town is known for its Dutch heritage, it’s an almost sure bet that there are some Dutch pastries sold there. Little White Store is the place to find poffertjes, which look like little pancakes. I found Dutch letters at the Dutch Bakery.

Wonder no more why they call these things Dutch letters. I got this one at The Dutch Bakery in Orange City. Photo courtesy Kevin Reiner

Pumpkinland – This seasonal attraction has a pumpkin patch and corn maze.

Windmill visitors center – This is one giant photo opp, as well as serving as a helpful starting point to exploring the city. If you stay at the Hampton Inn, you pass it frequently. If you’re not, it’s good to know that this is not located in the Centrum.

Where to stay in Orange City

I touched upon the Hampton Inn during the Orange City Tulip Festival earlier in May. Here’s why I recommend it:

Comfortable rooms – My family of four slept well during our stay, and my husband and I were able to get some work done in the room. There was a mini fridge in the room, which is helpful for leftovers or if one happens to purchase some local beers to sample.

Hot, complimentary breakfast is served daily in the lobby at the Hampton Inn in Orange City.

Complimentary hot breakfast – I’ve stayed many times at Hampton Inns when traveling, so I’ve come to anticipate the variety of food offered at breakfast. The kids enjoyed the waffle maker, of course, and pastries. I tried an omelet there (not made-to-order), and the healthier, fresh options like fruit. Coffee and tea is available around the clock in the lobby.

Kid-friendly pool – The biggest hit at a hotel for my kids tends to be the pool. At this Orange City hotel, the pool is a rectangle that never gets too deep. I enjoyed the views from the pool – there’s a lake behind the hotel.

Orange City hotel pool

The Hampton Inn & Suites in Orange City pool had a nice view.

Location – Orange City is an easy-to-navigate town, and it took us only minutes to get to the Centrum for the festival. The hotel is also not far from the golf course and is next door to the Prairie Winds Event Center.

Hampton Inn Orange City

Where: 914 Eighth St. SE, Orange City, Iowa

Hotel Website

Distance from Omaha

Orange City is located in Sioux County, Iowa. It’s about 140 miles from Omaha, most of which is via Interstate 29.

Along the way, you’ll pass by LeMars, the Ice Cream Capitol of the World. If you have time to stop, you should visit the Blue Bunny Parlor. It’s on my Iowa Bucket List, but its hours didn’t work into our road trip itinerary.

There’s an easy trail from the nature center to a nature play area at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa. Photo courtesy Kevin Reiner

Coming from Omaha, you also past by Sioux City. I’ve written about things to do in Sioux City for couples, but after our recent pit stop, I think I’m due to write about Stone State Park and its nature center. It’s a kid-friendly learning space and there’s an easy, but lovely hike to a nature playground. If you need to stretch your legs, I recommend here (it’s not right off the interstate, but I promise the detour is worth it).

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May 24, 2018

Orange City Tulip Festival

Orange City Tulip Festival is an annual event occurring on the third weekend in May in Orange City, Iowa. Orange City is a charming small town, I discovered, and it turns out, I’m not the only one who noticed. Orange City has been identified as “where the small town American dream lives on” by The New Yorker and Country Living published a story in 2017 analyzing if Orange City was America’s happiest small town.

Disclosure: Our stay was hosted by the Orange City Visitors Bureau

Orange City Tulip Festival Tips

But let’s talk about the Tulip Festival.The charm of this festival is, obviously, the abundance of tulips, the very “Dutch-ness” of everything, and seeing people dressed in traditional Dutch cost

Held over a few days, there are a number of special events, performances and parades to see. 2018 was the 78th year of this showcase of Dutch traditions. I took the family to it for the first time this year. If you want to plan a trip next year, the next Orange City Tulip Festival will be May 16-18, 2019.

Orange City Tulip Festival Traditions

Having seven decades to establish things, there are many great traditions to see while you’re attending the festival.

The Dutch Dozen performed during the Straatfeest, bringing spectators out onto the street to join in. Photo courtesy Kevin Reiner

The Straatfeest and Street Scrubbing were my favorites. These occur, parade-like, one after another along Central Street. They are twice a day during the festival.

Tip: The paid, reserved bleacher seats are worth it. We sat in the shade and didn’t have to stake out a spot along the route long before it all started.

The Straatfeest is a chance to see and learn about the different traditional costumes from various Dutch villages, as well as a few performances. They invited kids to join in one of the dances. My daughter looked very serious learning the dances, but I suspect she loved it.

Dancers and spectators line Central Street in Orange City, Iowa during the Tulip Festival. Photo courtesy Kevin Reiner

The Street Scrubbing was one-of-a-kind. It was exactly what it sounded like. There were quite a few little boys dumping water on each other, so that was fun to watch. I learned that this tradition comes from Holland when homeowners were required to not only care for their property but for the street in front of their property.

Dozens of families walked along Central Street for the traditional street scrubbing during the Tulip Festival.

The Volksparade follows the Street Scrubbing, and it’s more of a typical Midwest parade, with the added bonus of nifty Dutch-themed floats and beautiful traditional costumes.

If you’re taking young kids, note the festival organizers have added a family comfort station with baby-changing stations, extra diapers, chairs for nursing, and snacks/refreshments.

Since 1948, The Dutch Dozen have been performing during the Tulip Festival. It consists of 12 to 14 girls on stage singing and dancing, while their teenage male counterparts add some humor into the show. My son was a particular fan of the boys’ goofiness.

The Dutch Dozen troupe has performed at the Tulip Festival for 70 years. Photo courtesy Kevin Reiner

What to eat in Orange City

There are typical carnival food vendors at Tulip Festival, but when in Rome–I mean, in Holland?–you eat Dutch treats. I headed to the Dutch Bakery to try Dutch Letters, a flaky pastry.

Dutch letter pastries can be purchased at the Dutch Bakery in Orange City. Photo courtesy Kevin Reiner

And while probably not super traditional, I bought a box of chocolate clogs because, why not? I heard the Little White Store was the place to go for poffertjes, but I didn’t make it to there.

There were plenty of options for fair food at the Tulip Festival, as well as traditional Dutch food options. Photo courtesy Kevin Reiner

I did make it to Nederlander’s Cafe for a little Dutch dinner. The dinner itself wasn’t super special (though, I can now say I had “snert,” or split pea soup). However, the dessert at Nderlander’s was absolutely worth the visit. We tried their famous bread pudding, a huge treat that was enough for four.

Best photo opps at the Tulip Festival

For cute photos of the family with a beautiful backdrop, head to Windmill Park. There are a variety of tulips in the garden, as well as a bridge and windmills for great family photos.

Windmill Park in Orange City is a good spot to snap photos. Photo courtesy Kevin Reiner

There are the silly photo opps, too, like sitting in a huge wooden clog and sticking your head in a cutout.

If you’re interested in photos of people in their traditional costumes, we found people cheerfully gave us permission to snap a photo. Just ask! While we were at Windmill Park, we found several photogenic families.

Photos courtesy Kevin Reiner

The Straatfeest and Street Scrubbing were my favorite events for more action photos that capture the atmosphere of the day. If you’re not bashful, hop out into the street and get a photo of the performers with the carnival rides in the background.

A father and son walk in Orange City during the Tulip Festival. Photo courtesy Kevin Reiner

Can the festival done in a day?

Sure, we did it in a day…and nope, not really.

We spent Saturday afternoon at Tulip Festival and felt like we had as good as an experience as you can with two little kids. In addition to seeing the Straatfeest, Street Scrubbing and part of the Volksparade, petted animals in the petting zoo, tried one of the Dutch games, browsed art vendors, peeked in a store, and watched The Dutch Dozen performance.

Tulip Festival vendors

There were a few tents of vendors at Tulip Festival selling everything from paintings and pottery to jewelry and unique wind chimes. Photo courtesy Kevin Reiner

We also fit in a little time to we played at Windmill Park and jump in a bounce house.

My daughter’s favorite part of the Tulip Festival was the petting zoo.

However, we missed a lot. We had value books of coupons that allowed for things like a free Dutch game, attendance to the Dutch Dozen and carriage rides & pedicab rides). I wanted to do it all, but a mix of rain and tired kids cut our evening short.

My kids will be first to tell you some of the “biggies” we didn’t do, that they wanted to do. We did none of the rides at the Midway and did not take a pedicab nor horse-drawn trolley ride.

horse-drawn trolley Orange City

Horse-drawn trolley rides were an additional cost, but tickets were available in the value books.

The things I had on my to-see list that we missed included: Wooden shoe carving demo, tours of the Vogel Old Mill and the Century Home, and the Fietsen Zangers and puppet show performances. (And if you look at the full schedule, you’ll see even MORE that wasn’t on my list and yes, we missed them all.)

You can purchase clogs or watch clog making demonstrations during the Orange City Tulip Festival.

So, yeah, we missed a lot.

If I could do it again, I think we would attend Friday and Saturday (or maybe just Friday night and the full day Saturday). I think it would be fun to attend the fly-in breakfast held really early on the Saturday morning of the festival.

But I don’t regret just going one day this year.

Where to stay during the Tulip Festival

We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Orange City. While it’s not quite within walking distance of the festivities, Orange City is not a huge city, so it was conveniently near it.

The hotel had the required essentials for traveling families: A pool and a complimentary hot breakfast.

Check back for a review of Hampton Inn & Suites soon, plus details on what families can do in Orange City when it’s not the Tulip Festival.

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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!

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