April 12, 2018

New Family-Friendly Hotel In Lincoln’s Haymarket

When I look for hotels in Lincoln, Neb., I tend to stick to the Haymarket area. I love the cool shops and great restaurants within walking distance from a hotel, and the Haymarket is super close to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus and places like the Lincoln Children’s Museum. There’s a new family-friendly hotel in Lincoln’s Haymarket – Graduate Hotel.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary stay in order to write this review. I was not compensated to write this post. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

If you’ve been to Lincoln, you may recognize the Graduate Hotel has replaced the Holiday Inn that was in the Haymarket. The restaurant inside Graduate Hotel, John J’s Chow Hall, replaces the Red Onion.

What families like about Graduate Hotel

There are few things that stand out for the Graduate Hotel, as far as family-friendly amenities, and a few that work if your kids are older. Let’s start with a pool, which is about No. 1 on any traveling family’s list. There is a pool… but there is a caveat. It’s deep.

The pool at Graduate Lincoln is deeper than typical hotel pools. The pool deck had a foosball table and ping pong, plus access to some rooftop decks for lounging.

The shallowest it gets is still deeper than 4 feet. It’s great for confident swimmers, but not so much for little ones.

There are a few FREE game options that my family took advantage of, particularly the free arcade games in the lobby. Those were a blast from my past and my oldest, in particular, enjoyed playing them. They’re a little challenging for younger kids, though.

The pool area also has foosball and ping pong tables.

I think the older your kids are, the more they’re going to like staying at the Graduate in Lincoln.

What makes this hotel uniquely Nebraskan

Graduate Hotels is a chain that finds locations in college towns across the U.S., and then curates a look and atmosphere that reflects the community each hotel is in. For Lincoln, there’s a blend of Instagram-worthy designs, especially in the lobby, that’s paired with touches inspired by Nebraska’s landscape. There’s vintage-inspired corn print fabric and wallpaper, art inspired by the state’s national history, and more than a few Husker touches.

Simple touches in the room and lobby made it clear that thought went into the decor and tying things to Nebraska history and pop culture.

There is even an homage to Johnny Carson, native of Nebraska. The rooms all have nightstands that look like old-fashioned TVs.

The hotel’s restaurant, John J’s Chow Hall, is in tribute to John J. Pershing, a World War I general with Nebraska ties.

What’s near Graduate Hotel Lincoln

Graduate Lincoln is located in the historic Haymarket of Lincoln, Neb. Photo courtesy Graduate Hotels

You can’t beat the location of Graduate Lincoln! While the Haymarket is appealing for couples or friends on a group getaway, it also has some kid-friendly places.

Locally-owned Indigo Bridge Books & Cafe is a short walk from Graduate Lincoln. The children’s area has a great selection of books.

Indigo Bridge Books & Cafe about a block away from the hotel and has a darling children’s section. The building it’s located in, The Creamery, is also home to a great little ice cream shop called Ivanna Cone.

Art Alley is also nearby, and is possibly my favorite spot in all of Lincoln.

Art Alley is exactly what it sounds like. By day, it’s a simple alley with some sculptures and murals on walls and doors. At night, it transforms with light adding new dimensions.

For kid-friendly restaurants, I recommend Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill, which has an excellent kids’ menu (all entrees include ice cream for dessert). There are some chains that are kid-pleasers, as well, like Old Chicago, Mellow Mushroom, and Hurts Donut.

Hurts Donuts is known for having unique toppings and flavor combinations – from cereal and candy to bacon and maple. For simpler tastes, there’s always cake donuts with sprinkles and long johns.

There isn’t a playground nearby, though there is a small courtyard with a engine. You’re not far from Haymarket Park, for baseball games, or Pinnacle Bank Arena for a mix of sporting events and concerts. In the winter, there is an ice skating rink at the Railyard and in the spring through fall, you’ll find the Lincoln Farmer’s Market is steps away from the hotel.

Lost in Play in Lincoln had a bounce house, jumping pillow, foam pit, and climbing structures. It’s a sure way to tire your kids.

During this 24-hour visit, we went to Morrill Hall at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Lincoln Children’s Museum and Lost at Play. The first two are very near the hotel. Lost at Play is out of the way, for sure, but it is a unique space for a ton of active play. My kids loved it, and I thought the cost was reasonable (if you can stay away from the arcade).

A Novel Idea in Lincoln, Neb., had the best stairwell ever.

One last place to recommend: A Novel Idea, a used bookstore near UNL campus and Lincoln Children’s Museum. I passed time there while the kids and Mr. Wonderful were at the children’s museum.

If you go

Graduate Hotel

Where: 141 N. Ninth St., Lincoln, Neb.

Website

 

Plan a Lincoln getaway

It’s hard to capture all three levels of the Lincoln Children’s Museum in one shot.

You have a hotel recommendation, now you need an itinerary. Start with this 24-hour Lincoln itinerary! There’s a lot packed in there, but it’s all kid-friendly.

By far, my kids’ favorite place to visit in Lincoln is the Lincoln Children’s Museum. If you go, here are some things to do near the museum to round out your day. Another great place for families is the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.

 

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April 17, 2017

Strider Bikes Lincoln Race On June 10

I had a bike coach tell me his kids learned to bike using a balance bike. So I followed his lead and got one for my son.

Here’s how the balance bike works: Little ones learn to balance on a two-wheel balance bike and are able to progress easier to two-wheels with pedals, skipping the whole training wheel headache. That’s how it worked with Farley. We’re working on getting kid No. 2 to master the bike now.

Not a single bike ride with training wheels for these two.

Strider Bikes is a giant in the balance bike industry, selling more than 1.5 million bikes. They’re known for durability and high performance. They reached out to me to tell you about an upcoming balance bike race. I was all for this campaign because I love encouraging bike in Nebraska, and I’ve seen first-hand that balance bikes work…and now know not to settle for anything less than a Strider!

2017 STRIDER Cup Series

strider bike race lincoln

The Strider Cup Series race is in Lincoln, Neb., on June 10, 2017. Photo courtesy Strider Bikes

Do you have a kid who’s 5 years old or younger and a total champ on his or her Strider bike? Sign him or her up for the STRIDER Cup Series race in Lincoln, Neb., on June 10. Sounds totally cute and fun. There will even be an Adventure Zone riding area separate from the race where little ones can test out demo bikes (with helmets). It’s a place for children to try out a Strider Bike if they have one and play “in the zone.”

If you go

When: June 10, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (race start times vary for age groups and a special needs wave)

Where: Tower Square in downtown Lincoln, 1300 P St., Lincoln, Neb.

Cost: $25 (plus service fee), and includes a Strider jersey, number plate, and goodies

Register here (registration closes June 9)

** Be sure to check the race website for packet pick-up details and times

Now here’s Strider Bikes race nitty gritty: Genuine Strider Bikes are the only balance bikes allowed to race. You can find them at quality bike stores and online.

But I have great news for you…you can enter to win a Strider bike right here on the blog!

Strider Bikes Giveaway

One lucky winner is going to win a Strider Sport, just in time for the race! These bikes are easy to adjust so they’re good for both an itty bitty 18-month-old or sturdy 5-year-old. They’re a step up from the basic model, with a padded seat, foot rests, and mini-grips designed for tiny hands to have better control.

It’s really simple to enter. Enter through the Rafflecopter entry form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You must enter by 11:59 p.m. April 30. One winner will be randomly chosen within 48 hours – be on the lookout for an email! The winner will have 48 hours to respond before another entry is drawn. Must be 18 or older to enter and a resident of the United States. Prize is valued at $119.99.

Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this sponsored post by Strider Bikes. Opinions expressed are my own 

October 3, 2016

Nebraska Bloggers Series – Hannah Christensen

I’ve had a lot of fun learning about fellow Omaha bloggers, so I thought it’d be interesting to expand that circle and tell you about some Nebraska bloggers. Today is the first installment of this occasional series!

Lovely Little Lives

 

Nebraska blogger at Lovely Little Lives

Name: Hannah Christensen

Blog: Lovely Little Lives

Find her on: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter 

Home base: Lincoln, Neb.

 

Describe your blog in five words. Motherhood, Loveliness, Family, Faith, Blessings

What are the two most popular posts on your blog? The most popular post is: “To My Little One” where I poured out my grief and my love into a letter the week after I lost my third child to an ectopic pregnancy. I think it resonates with readers because so many people have either lost a baby or experienced grief and because it is a completely raw and genuine letter where I spill my heart on the page.

to-my-little-one

The second most popular post is “One Boot Print at a Time” where I reflect on my younger brother’s wedding and the beautiful cycle of romance, marriage and children. The descriptive imagery and the heartfelt display of family emotions really come out in the post and I think that touches readers and perhaps reminds them of their own wedding or parental experiences.

What social media channel are you on the most and why? Instagram. I found it’s much easier to post little snippets of my story on there than to try to do multiple blog posts a week. I have daily moments of encouragement I share on Instagram and my Facebook page if you want to check that out.

encouraging-moments

You get one hour to spend on writing, where do you go? I love the new little coffee shop we have in Lincoln: Gianna’s Java and Gelato at 2241 O St. They have authentic Italian gelato and it is amazing!

If friends visit from out of town, what three places would you take them to? The Farmers Market on Saturday mornings in Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket.The brand new gorgeous Cathedral that was built for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln students. Any one of the three main college sport complexes for football, basketball and baseball but particularly Memorial Stadium, home of Nebraska Huskers Football. This link shows all the impressive Nebraska Lincoln complexes.

What’s your favorite free thing to do in your city? Visit the lovely Pioneers Park. We have spent memorable summer evenings there grilling out, playing on the playground and playing yard games with friends. There also is a beautiful wooded hiking trails, a great little nature center designed for kids and a children’s ABC garden.

 

More about Hannah

Hannah and her family

Hannah and her family

Hannah Christensen and her husband, David, have been married for five years and have two lively little girls. A stay-at-home mom and medical biller, Hannah loves morning coffee, scrap-booking, themed parties, date nights, play groups, mom friends, creative writing, Husker sports, and all things organized. She manages a personal blog where she explores the little lovely moments of everyday family life: lovelylittlelives.com.

Want to be a featured Nebraska blogger? Email me at ohmyomaha (at) gmail (dot) com to find out how!

April 8, 2016

What’s New In Downtown Lincoln

Have you been to downtown Lincoln, Neb., lately? There are a few new things to see if it’s been awhile:

– Lincoln Children’s Museum new additions

– Nebraska History Museum re-opens

– Centennial Mall’s redesign

I visited with my 6-year-old during a recent day of Spring Break to check things out.

What’s new at Lincoln Children’s Museum

 

The Lincoln Children's Museum

The Lincoln Children’s Museum

 

It’s been two years since we last visited Lincoln Children’s Museum, but two of the biggest updates have only happened at the end of last year: Cuckoo Construction and The Grow Zone. The museum gave my family complimentary admission so I could tell you all about them.

You can’t miss Cuckoo Construction, literally. The three-story exhibit catches your kid’s attention right when you walk in.

The view of Cuckoo Construction from the museum's lowest level. The third level has a wheel chair-accessible entrance.

The view of Cuckoo Construction from the museum’s lowest level. The third level has a wheel chair-accessible entrance.

Farley made a beeline for it even before I could get us into the museum.

Cuckoo Construction, presented by Hausmann Construction, is a clock tower kids can climb, but the fun part is all the construction they can do.

Foam bricks fall every 15 minutes from the Cuckoo Construction tower.

Foam bricks fall every 15 minutes from the Cuckoo Construction tower.

Kids rush to build walls, sending them up a conveyor belt or moving them with a mini wheelbarrow.  Every 15 minutes, the cuckoo comes out and cues the walls of bricks to come tumbling down.

Kids love it and for a second, I thought my son wasn’t ever going to leave that exhibit.

The Grow Zone at Lincoln Children's Museum is a new area for children 3 and younger.

The Grow Zone at Lincoln Children’s Museum is a new area for children 3 and younger.

Farley was too old for the new Grow Zone and determined to play elsewhere, so I only got a peek at it from the outside. This area is separated from the big kids stuff and looks like a little garden. It’s a calm play zone for children younger than 3. It’s a huge upgrade from what was in its place before.

Nebraska History Museum reopens

The Nebraska History Museum exterior was freshened up just as the interior was. "Inside Out" is the name of the artwork on the walls, showing pedestrian and passing cars a hint of what's inside.

The Nebraska History Museum exterior was freshened up just as the interior was. “Inside Out” is the name of the artwork on the walls, showing pedestrian and passing cars a hint of what’s inside.

Confession: I’ve never been to the Nebraska History Museum until last week when it was about to reopen. It’s been around for decades. Anyway, I can’t offer any thoughts on the improvements. But from what I gathered on the preview tour of the museum, the updates were sorely needed and the museum is ready for bigger and better things.

Artifacts on the second floor of the Nebraska History Museum.

Artifacts on the second floor of the Nebraska History Museum.

On two floors, the museum tells Nebraska’s story through displays, photography and audio/visuals. My 6-year-old tagged along on the tour, but I think this is the kind of place that would be enjoyed by multi-generations together. I think it would’ve been fun to have my dad along with us.

The first floor features a quilt display, which signage explaining who made each, why, and where they were made.

The quilts offered a unique glimpse into every day life of Nebraskans from more than 100 years ago. This one was made as a wedding gift and the display included the wedding invitation.

The quilts offered a unique glimpse into every day life of Nebraskans from more than 100 years ago. This one was made as a wedding gift and the display included the wedding invitation.

There’s also a photography exhibit by Barbara and Ralph Fox, which my son enjoyed, especially the photos of a blizzard, flood and the Nebraska State Fair (not in that order), and a gift shop.

Photos in the exhibit "American Dreams in the Cold War: Photos by Barbara and Ralph Fox."

Photos in the exhibit “American Dreams in the Cold War: Photos by Barbara and Ralph Fox.”

The second floor had the really good stuff and will be where most families will spend the most time. For kids, there’s a corner with hands-on activities, clothes for dress up and a teepee to climb in.

Churning butter at the Nebraska History Museum.

Churning butter at the Nebraska History Museum.

The majority of the floor is “Nebraska Unwrapped: Selections from the Collections,” and it takes us through the state’s history via displays of artifacts from colorful beaded sneakers and ball gowns to audio recordings, books and so much more. Some items were more than 1,000 years old. 

Beaded sneakers at the Nebraska History Museum.

Beaded sneakers at the Nebraska History Museum.

There’s also a photography exhibit on that floor called “Photographers and the Plains Indians.” The tour guide had some pretty interesting stories explaining some of the portraits.

Farley was fascinated by some of the stories about the Native Americans in some of the photographs.

Farley was fascinated by some of the stories about the Native Americans in some of the photographs.

The nice thing about this museum is that admission is FREE (donations accepted). They have a free tour every day at 2 p.m. and on the weekends this april, they’ll offer arts and crafts.

The Nebraska History Museum is super close to the children’s museum, and you can easily visit both in a visit. I recommend going to the history museum first, because it’s a struggle to get kids out of a children’s museum.

New look of Centennial Mall

The Centennial Mall was built in 1967 to commemorate the state's 100th anniversary. It's a scenic connection between Nebraska's most important institutions: the State Capitol and the University of Nebraska.

The Centennial Mall was built in 1967 to commemorate the state’s 100th anniversary. It’s a scenic connection between Nebraska’s most important institutions: the State Capitol (pictured, obviously) and the University of Nebraska.

Centennial Mall is undergoing a redesign and it’s going to be a pretty cool thing to check out once it’s all finished – especially the area by the Lincoln Children’s Museum and the Nebraska History Museum.

The mall stretches from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus to the State Capitol Building, from K Street to R Street. Each block will have its own theme.

The plaza by the children’s museum will be “Sparking the Good Life – Imagination to Innovation” (P to R streets), and the highlight will undoubtedly be the sprayground (they call it a “kinetic water feature” but we all know what that means). It will also have an art alcove and an amphitheater-type seating area.

Farley tried to find our county among the tiles lining one block of the mall.

Farley tried to find our county among the tiles lining one block of the mall.

Other themes include:

“We the People” (K to L streets) – There will be a formal, ceremonial plaza with a fountain, and it will recognize “Watchful citizens” and state leaders.

“Our Home Nebraska” (L to M streets) – The hope for this block is that students and visitors will congregate there to learn more about Nebraska. The state’s natural resources will be highlighted here, with a block-wide outline of the state with rivers and eco-regions featured.

“Mosaic of Nebraskans” (M to P streets) – This three-block area highlights the people, cultures, and organizations that have come together over time to create a social quilt of Nebraskans.

 

If you go

Lincoln Children’s Museum

Where: 1420 P St., Lincoln, Neb.

When: Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m.; closed Mondays and some major holidays

Cost: $9.50 (2-61), $9 (62+), $6.50 (1 year old), FREE (under 1)

Website 

 

Nebraska History Museum

Where: 131 Centennial Mall North, Lincoln, Neb.

When: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Cost: FREE (suggested donation is $2)

Website 

Current exhibits

 

Nebraska’s Centennial Mall

Where: Extends north from the State Capitol seven blocks on what would be 15th Street

Website

February 9, 2015

Lincoln Half-Marathon-Bound … With Kids

I’ve signed up to run the Lincoln Half Marathon on May 3 with Mr. Wonderful, so here is the obligatory pre-race post. Training starts this week – yippee?

I run for a lot of selfish reasons, to be honest here. It keeps me sane, and it offsets my chocolate addiction.

I also do it because I think it sets a good example for my kids. Mr. Wonderful and I talk a good talk, but it helps showing our kids that we actually do work out and eat healthy. I’m hoping they see being active as normal, maybe even fun – be it running in ridiculous outfits with their mom (exhibit A and exhibit B) or a different sport of their choosing.

So I want to get them involved in my half-marathon training. How, you ask? (You don’t take them in a jogging stroller during your long runs, that’s for darn sure).

Race training with kids

 

  1. Give your cheering squad some dress rehearsals.

It’s ridiculously cold right now, so my cheering squad waves from the window as I leave on my runs. They then quickly forget about me until I stumble back inside, fire engine red in the face and a little stinky.

But, come spring, I hope to bring the cheer section with me sometimes. For longer runs, I’m thinking I take to the trail like at Lake Zorinski, so the kids can play at a playground. Since Mr. Wonderful is training as well, we’ll have to take turns on our runs. If it’s a nice day, we may just plan a picnic and make it an afternoon.

 

  1. Fit in a fun run and bring the kids along.

Luck of the Irish here: There are some fun St. Patrick’s Day runs near the midway point of training. They’re fun runs, so it’s not really a testing ground to see if you’re on the right track to PR or anything. They’re a lot of fun to do with friends. Friends who are slower than you. (Just kidding)

Here are a few to check out: Shamrock Shuffle 5K (March 14), Blarney Stone 5K (March 14) and not Irish related, but still fun, is the Diva Dash 5K and Lil’ Diva Dash (March 21)

The one I’m familiar with is the Blarney Stone 5K. It has a family-friendly atmosphere (aside from the beer at the end) so it’s not crazy to think you could bring along your kids. Lots of people do it.

The Blarney Stone 5K involves crossing the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The Omaha side is pictured here. Photo courtesy Dan Robinson.

The Blarney Stone 5K involves crossing the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The Omaha side is pictured here. Photo courtesy Dan Robinson.

So, dress your family in crazy green outfits and get a little running in while you’re at it. Don’t want to push a stroller or carry a 40-pound toddler? Ask a relative to cheer on the sidelines while you run – the atmosphere is still a lot of fun, even on the sidelines.

I wrote a recap of Blarney Stone Run on my now-defunct fitness blog if you want to read about it and see more pictures. Read more

  1. Bring them on race day.

I love having people cheer me on from the sidelines. Marathons are killer so if you do one of those, bring like a whole army of cheerleaders and station them throughout the course. With half-marathons, if your family plans it carefully, they can hit you at a couple different points in a race and give you that boost of confidence to keep running.

Your family can help man water stations for nonprofits during a race, or if your children are really young, make a witty sign and have them hold it to entertain runners. (I prefer witty signs, you might like inspirational messages to push the runners forward, whatev).

Me and Farley cheering on runners at the Lincoln Half-Marathon. The funnier the sign you can make, the better. Bonus points if you can get your kid to hold it.

 

With Lincoln’s route, I’d venture to say your little cheerleaders and their handler(s) could catch you at two or three points on the route (depending on your kids’ mosey-speed). A big race like this is exciting and hopefully shows your kids that real people can accomplish amazing things.

 

Your turn: What races are you training for this spring and summer?

 

October 7, 2014

Fun Things To Do Near Lincoln Children’s Zoo

This is the last installment of a series about visiting Lincoln, Neb., with children. We took a whirlwind trip to the city recently – read the recap here.

The Lincoln Children’s Zoo is a fun addition to a trip to Lincoln, but if you’re looking for a few extra ideas on what to do after you check out the zoo, I have a few suggestions.

Sunken CollageWM title 

I was pleasantly surprised by our visit to the Sunken Gardens, which is so close to the zoo, you could throw a rock at it, kinda. OK, not really, but it’s really close.

Taking a break to look over the Sunken Gardens in Lincoln.

Taking a break to look over the Sunken Gardens in Lincoln.

The free public gardens are simply gorgeous. If you’re camera-happy, you’ll be in your element here.

Most of the gardens are not shaded, but we enjoyed this short, shaded trail.

Most of the gardens are not shaded, but we enjoyed this short, shaded trail.

My kids enjoyed the water features, like the waterfall and the two man-made ponds.

There are two man-made ponds and a small man-made waterfall at the Sunken Gardens in Lincoln.

There are two man-made ponds and a small man-made waterfall at the Sunken Gardens in Lincoln.

I was fascinated by all the plants that I had no idea could easily grow in Nebraska.

For parents of young kids, you’ll be happy to know there are public bathrooms there. Always plan for emergencies, amiright?

Across busy 27th Street, and even closer to the zoo, you’ll find smaller gardens and a large water feature. The signs say “don’t play in the water” but the whole things screams “PLAY IN ME!” I had a hard time keeping my kids out, especially with the handful of kids splashing away in there.

Cross 27th Street to find this smaller garden area near the Sunken Gardens.

Cross 27th Street to find this smaller garden area near the Sunken Gardens.

 

The smaller gardens were reminiscent of French-style gardens (on a much smaller scale).

Another great find for our family was Antelope Park. We were leaving the zoo and the kids were still wired. All hopes for them napping on the way home were pinned to finding another outlet for them to run around and let out energy.

Then we saw it. A massive playground.

Antelope Park is located near the Lincoln Children's Zoo. It has wheelchair accessibility and a separate playground for younger children.

Antelope Park is located near the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. It has wheelchair accessibility and a separate playground for younger children.

 

Antelope Park is the biggest playground I’ve ever seen. The kid inside me was jealous of my kids.

I counted 12 slides! The park was also wheelchair accessible, and it had a separate area for children under 5. And there was a sandbox off to the side that is easy to block from your kid’s view.

Find the two places mentioned in this post:



 

Your turn: What’s near the Lincoln Children’s Zoo that your family loves – restaurants, outdoor areas, shops, etc?

 

More About Lincoln, Nebraska:

24 Hours Of Fun In Lincoln With Kids

Lincoln Children’s Museum

Things To Do Near Lincoln Children’s Museum

Lincoln Children’s Zoo

 

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