January 2, 2017

17 Family Events To Look Forward in 2017

2017 is going to be an awesome year for Omaha families. This list of family events will get you through summer (check back for the fall and winter edition later!).

Here are some exciting things to look forward to:

2017 family events

Performing Arts

Whether it’s theatrical, musical or on ice, there are several Omaha venues with some great family shows in the first half of the year. Here are the highlights:

– Broadway touring production of “The Sound of Music,” Jan. 24-29, at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater

– “Disney on Ice: Worlds of Enchantment,” March 16-19, at Mid-America Center, 1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Kim’s note: Previously, the ice show was “Ice Age,” but that is no longer on the arena’s calendar) 

– Omaha Symphony presents “The Music of Star Wars,” May 6, Holland Performing Arts Center

– “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” May 26 through June 25, at Omaha Community Playhouse

– “Peter Pan,” June 2-18, at The Rose


Museums & Cultural Attractions

This is a broad category since it’s hard to fit botanical gardens with an arena, but I’ll try. Here are the highlights of some events happening at Omaha museums and other cultural attractions:

– “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO® Bricks,” Jan. 14 through May 15, at Lauritzen Gardens

– FEI World Cup™ Jumping & FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals, March 29 through April 1, at the CenturyLink Center

– “Top Secret License to Spy,” May 20 through Sept. 17, at The Durham Museum

– “Dinosaur Safari,” May 27 through Sept. 3, at Omaha Children’s Museum


Road Trip!

Feel like hitting the road for an overnight in another city? Here are some destination events to consider with for the family:

– “A Year With Frog and Toad,” Jan. 14, at Des Moines Civic Center in Iowa

– “Annie,” March 30, at  the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, Iowa

– “One Man Star Wars Trilogy,” April 4-9,  at The Temple Theater in Des Moines, Iowa

– New rides Mustang Runner and Falcon’s Flight unveiled, April 14, at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo.

– “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical,” May 31 through June 3, at Lied Center in Lincoln, Neb.

– “Garfield: The Musical With Cattitude” June 20 through Aug. 5 at The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, Mo.

– “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” In Concert June 21-24 at Kauffman Center in Kansas City, Mo.

– Nebraska State Fair, Aug. 25 through Sept. 4, at the State Fairgrounds in Grand Island (if your kids loved “Pirates and Mermaids: Voyage to Creature Cove” at Omaha Children’s Museum, they can see the sea creatures at the fair)

Your turn! What events are you looking forward to in Omaha & beyond?

August 28, 2014

Fun Things To Do In Omaha Aug. 29-Sept. 1

I’m ready to take full advantage of this holiday weekend by getting out and having fun with the kids…and avoiding housework. Who’s with me?

Here are three fun things to do in Omaha (and nearby) this weekend, and none of them involve cleaning or organizing. Score!


Septemberfest Omaha: A Salute To Labor

septemberfestWhen: Friday through Monday, events are at various times but everything ends at midnight each day (parade starts at 10 a.m. downtown, but get there way early for parking and finding a good viewing spot) septemberfestomaha.com

Where: CenturyLink Center Omaha, Lot D, 455 N. 10th St.

Why: It’s a huge festival for the family featuring the biggest parade in Omaha on Saturday, lots of children’s activities, rides, a car show, BBQ and rib eye steak competition, and plenty more.

Who’d like this: Fair goers; fans of live music paired with barbecue; parade lovers; kids 2 and older

Tip: Children 5 and younger are admitted FREE; everyone else pays $4. The parade is always FREE.


Lauritzen Gardens’ Free Admission Weekend

Admission is free this weekend at Lauritzen Garden. Bringing kids? Definitely plan a long visit to the train garden.

Admission is free this weekend at Lauritzen Garden. Bringing kids? Definitely plan a long visit to the train garden.

When: Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (dogs welcome 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday!)

Where: Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St.

Why: It’s FREE this weekend! You’ll need to bring a print out of the coupon below!


Who’d like this: Families on a budget; future horticulturists; outdoorsy folks


Applegrass Bluegrass & Oldtime Music Festival

Young Farley at the Applejack Festival. I'm pretty sure he had fun, he just has a good poker face.

Young Farley with his grandpa at the Applerass festival.

When: Saturday and Sunday, music starts at 5 p.m. (it gets dark out there, so a flashlight is a good idea)

Where: Ditmars Orchard, 19475 225th St., Council Bluffs

Why: It’s an incredibly family-friendly live music festival held in a beautiful apple orchard…why not? As with most outdoor concerts, you’ll want to bring your own seating. Unlike other outdoor concerts, if you’re feeling musical yourself, bring an acoustic instrument to join in jam sessions. http://ditmarsorchard.com/events.html

Who’d like this: Fans of live music; kids of all ages; your kids’ grandparents

Tip: The orchard has a playground that will attract your kids – they will be filthy by the end of the day so don’t dress them in their finest duds.

Tip #2: Kids 12 and younger are admitted FREE! Adults pay $10 for a day or $15 for both days.


Want to really pack in your weekend with a lot of events? You’re crazy, but I’ll indulge you. Head over to Out With Sprout and see all the other fun things going on in Omaha this weekend.


More From Oh My! Omaha:

Lauritzen Gardens With Kids

Top 10 Fall Events In Omaha (Outdoor)

Apple Picking Near Omaha


March 17, 2014

My Nebraska Bucket List

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Good ol’ Nebraska. It’s my home state, I’m pretty protective of it. Fly over it if you must, but you’re missing out.

I’ve done my fair share of exploring but there is a lot in Nebraska I have yet to see. So here it is, things I need to see in Nebraska before I die, My Nebraska Bucket List:

Nebraska Bucket List - The most iconic things to see and do in Nebraska

1. See Nebraska’s Ultimate Landmark. Chimney Rock is Nebraska’ ultimate icon, our claim-to-fame in pioneer history. It’s probably time I see it in real life.

Chimney Rock, one of Nebraska's most recognizable landmarks. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Chimney Rock, one of Nebraska’s most recognizable landmarks. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

2. Go Western. I’d like to do the whole Fort Robinson experience thing.

A trail ride near Fort Robinson.
A trail ride near Fort Robinson.

Ride the Fort Robinson Express stagecoach, maybe go on a horseback trail ride, see the buffalo and longhorn cattle herds and take part in a campfire singalong.

UPDATE: We visited! Here’s my review of the state park including one thing I didn’t know about: Off-road jeep tours!

The Fort Robinson Express. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
The Fort Robinson Express. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

3. Stay at a ranch, maybe do some ranch things. I’m not sure what that would be – probably ride a horse and herd cattle. I should watch “City Slickers” again to refresh my memory. Here are a few guest ranches that I could see myself channeling my inner cowgirl: Ponderosa Ranch and Rowse’s 1 Plus 1 Ranch. And by channel, I mean, I do about 10 minutes of hard work and then relax the rest of my stay.

4. See a Native American pow wow. Long ago, I was an exchange student in Spain and my host family thought it was all pow wows in Nebraska. Not so much. But, I feel like I owe it to my host sister and her obsession with Native Americans and go to one of these finally.

Fort Robinson holds the Inter Tribal Pow Wow every year. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Fort Robinson holds the Interyribal Gathering and Pow Wow every year. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Fort Robinson is known for a big one, the Intertribal Gathering and Pow Wow, in June. There’s one in north Omaha held each September, the FFort Omaha Intertribal Powow, on the same grounds here Ponca Chief Standing Bear was once imprisoned.

5. Walk along strange land. Ever since I saw a picture of Toadstool Geologic Park (the Oglala National Grassland), I’ve been fascinated by the strange rock formations. People say they look like toadstool mushrooms or the lunar surface. I should see for myself.

Toadstool rock formations. This does not look like a place in Nebraska, right?! Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Toadstool Geologic Park. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

UPDATE: We did it! You can see a picture of our visit in this Western Nebraska/South Dakota road trip recap post.

6. Watch paleontologists at work at Ashfalls Fossil Bed State Historical Park. This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Ashall Fossil Beds in Nebraska. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Ashfalls Fossil Beds in Nebraska. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

7. See Nebraska’s archaeological hidden gem. Toadstool isn’t too far from the Hudson-Meng Research and Education Center where there’s an excavation of a 10,000-year-old bison bone bed going on.

8. Take an airboat tour. I’ve seen airboats glide along the Platte River and it just looks fun. I’ve seen that river countless time from a car and the lookout tower at Mahoney State Park, so I want to see it from a different view now.

Sunset on the Platte River. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Sunset on the Platte River. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

9. See the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island. I haven’t been to the state fair since I was child – back when it was in Lincoln. I don’t even remember it. It’s probably time I go back. And I suppose I ought to bring the kids.

The Nebraska State Fair in 2011. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
The Nebraska State Fair in 2011. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

10. See the Scottsbluffs National Monument so I can check off a Top 10 list.

Scotts Bluffs National Monument. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Scotts Bluffs National Monument. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

The Nebraska Tourism Commision released a list of 10 of the state’s top attractions and events and this was one of two I haven’t been to (see #1 on this list for the other). So I must go there. I’m a completist.

11. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Omaha style. South Omaha has a large celebration every year, and every year I think I ought to check it out (former exchange student sense of duty).

Cinco de Mayo festivities in South Omaha. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
Cinco de Mayo festivities in South Omaha. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

12. Enjoy a dinner paired with the right wine at the Boiler Room in Omaha’s Old Market. While this isn’t the new darling on the Omaha dining scene anymore, it’s one of those restaurants that I’ve been meaning to check out and never do. I’ve heard the wine list is divine.

13. See one of the College World Series championship games in its new home, TD Ameritrade Park. I’ve been to many CWS games at Rosenblatt Stadium, never one of the championship ones, though.

The College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism
The College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

For more ideas on where to go in Nebraska, consider a quirky book like Nebraska Off the Beaten Path®: A Guide To Unique Places or Nebraska Curiosities: Quirkly Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff .

Your turn: What’s on your Nebraska bucket list? And what’s missing from this list?

February 15, 2014

“Poseidon” at Joslyn Art Museum

I had the opportunity to check out the new temporary exhibit “Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult and Daily Life” at Joslyn Art Museum. While I’m not the biggest mythology fan out there – I know you’re surprised – I was intrigued by the thought of seeing art produced between 800 B.C. and 400 A.D.

Plus its national premiere is here in Omaha, and having worked for a newspaper for many yaers, I live for seeing things first. I just had to go.

Scroll down for a list of kid-friendly events you will want to check out!

What’s the big deal?

Denarius Goddess coin at Joslyn Art Museum

Denarius: Goddess (Amphitrite or Salacia?) (O), Neptune driving two hippocamps (R), Roman, Republican, 72 BC, silver, American Numismatic Society, Bequest of E. T. Newell, 1944.100.2049; photo courtesy of the American Numismatic Society

We’re talking 100+ works of well preserved Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art that’s more than 2000 years old. Think about that for a second. Some of the pieces are striking – particularly the high contrast of colors seen in the red-figure pottery. It’s art and it’s artifacts of everyday life, giving you an interesting picture of what life was like back then.

What to look for

Instantly recognizable by his trident and accompanied by fish and dolphins, Poseidon - like his Roman counterpart Neptune - is characterized by his sturdy build, thick wavy hair, and full beard.

Statue of Poseidon/Neptune alongside dolphin, Roman, 1st century AD (after Classical Greek original), marble, Tampa Museum of Art, Joseph Veach Noble Collection 1986.135; photo courtesy of Tampa Museum of Art

You’re greeted by a remarkable statue of Poseidon which will give you pause, but for me, the most impressive piece in the exhibit was the 14-foot trident.

Trident, Greek, Etruscan, or Roman, 6th century BC or later, bronze, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California 79.AC.115

Trident, Greek, Etruscan, or Roman, 6th century BC or later, bronze, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California 79.AC.115

It wasn’t the most intricate piece there (if you love detail, you’ll want to look at the pots and mosaics), but just imagine how big the statue of the god had to be to hold a trident like that.

Is this interesting for kids?

I wouldn’t bring my kids to it – they’re 2 and 4 and live for hands-on stuff – but I can see school agers and children who have to study mythology appreciating it.

One thing about the exhibit is that most of it is encased in displays too tall for young kids to see. So, you’ll be holding kids up so they can get a good look at things. That’s my main excuse for not bringing my kids next time – they’re heavy.

Having said that, young kids are welcome (and they’re FREE). The museum does a fantastic job of making art accessible to children, and it has a Myths & Monsters Art Pack with activities for kids. Art Packs are FREE to check out.

How long does it take to see?

That’s totally up to you. They have FREE wi-fi and a mobile tour you could listen to, or if you’re a reader, you may spend a lot of time reading every placard. Mr. Wonderful and I visited during a lunch break from work and had time for a little snack at the museum’s Durham Cafe afterward. Side note: I recommend a lunch at the museum for a little change of pace and setting.

I had a Valentine lunch date at Joslyn Art Museum, enough time to check out "Poseidon and the Sea" and have a brownie. Or two.

I had a Valentine lunch date at Joslyn Art Museum, enough time to check out “Poseidon and the Sea” and have a brownie. Or two.

If you go

Open through May 11 during museum hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays.

Cost: Admission is FREE for the rest of the museum, but this exhibit is special. Adults, $10 (Special Thursdays, 4 to 8 p.m., $5); youth ages 17 and younger and college students with ID, FREE; Joslyn members, FREE.

Family-Friendly Events

Story Adventures is a FREE drop-in gallery reading program at the museum. Next one is Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 10:30 a.m.

Stop by on Wednesday, Feb. 19, for a stroller tour at 9:15 a.m. This program for adults with small children requires advance registration online and payment at the door. Free for members and infants/toddlers; $10 for adults.

Saturday Surprise! is a FREE drop-in art-making program held on select Saturdays. Visit the museum on March 8 and 22, from 10 a.m. to noon. Activity hint: Smells fishy.

Family Fun Day is Sunday, April 13, from 1 to 4 p.m. I love Family Fun Days at Joslyn, and recommend braving the crowd to take advatage of the programming. This event is a kid-friendly foray into the ancient world, including seeing a real wood-fueled kiln firing pottery as it was done thousands of years ago. Admission is FREE for the event, though if you want to check out “Poseidon and the Sea,” you’ll need to pay a reduced fee of $5 for each adult (as always, it’s FREE for Joslyn members, youth ages 17 and younger, and college students with ID).

Ballet Nebraska’s “Momentum” is Friday, May 2, at 8 p.m. I’ve attended this mixed repertory program in the past and enjoyed short snippits of dance in different styles. This year, it will include a new work inspired by “Poseidon and the Sea.” Details and ticket information TBA.

Rise & Shine Mother’s Day Breakfast is Sunday, May 11, at 10 a.m. It’s the last day of the exhibit, and the price for breakfast includes a ticket into the exhibition. Advance reservations required by May 5. Call (402) 661-3864 or register online at joslyn.org.

Thank you to Joslyn Art Museum for providing complimentary passes to the exhibit “Poseidon and the Sea.” All opinions in this post are my own.

February 1, 2014

My Daughter’s First Show At The Orpheum Theater

The Orpheum Theater’s splendor never gets old for me. I go there often for my job, and each time I walk in, I feel inspired. Awed. How cool is it that I work here (OK, I really work at the Holland Center, but some nights, it’s my job to be at the Orpheum).

Seeing the building through a child’s eyes, though, is an even more impressive experience.

On Thursday, Mr. Wonderful and I took the kids to see “Sid the Science Kid Live!” presented by Omaha Performing Arts at the Orpheum.  It was Mooch’s first time at the theater. I think she liked it.

My 2-year-old's first show at Omaha's Orpheum Theater.

My 2-year-old’s first show at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater.

We arrived about a half-hour before the show so we could take part in the activities in the KIDS ZONE. Alas, 900 other people thought the same thing.

So, we colored a little and then waited in line for balloon animals.

Mooch can't resist a chance to color. Luckily, no wait here.

Mooch can’t resist a chance to color. Luckily, no wait here.

Then it was show time.

Farley was transfixed the entire time. The songs, the colors, the characters, even the way they talked, everything about “Sid” spoke to him. Mooch sat for most of it, but she’s still young enough to be interested in the treats we ate than the story. Mr. Wonderful zoned out while the kid seated behind him repeatedly waved his light up toy in his face.

At intermission, we explored the theater. Up and down the grand stairs we went, Mooch having to do it herself, carrying her half-deflated balloon dog with her.

Mr. Wonderful, the kids and the lone surviving balloon animal.

Mr. Wonderful, the kids and the lone surviving balloon animal.

The second half of the show rolled along quickly, but not quick enough for little Mooch. Mr. Wonderful left early with her to get the car while Farley and I watched and danced to the end of the show.

“Sid the Science Kid Live!” entertained the preschool to grade school crowd; not really the adults. That’s pretty much what I expected. As parents, it was enough to see our kids’ excited reactions to it all – and I’ll admit, it was a relief to make it through without any meltdowns.

January 7, 2014

5 Things To Do At The Omaha Zoo In Winter

Sometimes you feel like you get the zoo all to yourself in the winter.

Sometimes you feel like you get the zoo all to yourself in the winter.

The best time to visit Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is in the winter.


Do you really enjoy trudging through the zoo on a 96-degree day in the summer, melting as you carry one of your kids (usually the one with who sweats the most), battling a crowd of people to catch a momentary glimpse of an animal before moving on to the next exhibit to catch an even briefer peek at an animal? No, but you have to do it because your kids love the zoo no matter the season.

I love the Omaha zoo this time of year because fewer people want to visit it right now. But, those who bundle up are rewarded with a great zoo experience. It’s peaceful in the off-season, there are no crowds to battle for the best view and the animals are more active.

Here’s what to do on  your blissful winter day at the zoo:

Head for the tropics: An obvious stop is the Lied Rainforest. Pretend you’re somewhere else on a jungle adventure with the kids, especially when you walk through the lower level. When you’re there in the winter, you notice things – like the free-flying bats. Moving on.

Tip: There's a coat rack near the entrance to the restaurant that's connected to the rain forest. Ditch your heavy coats there before entering the jungle.

Tip: There’s a coat rack near the entrance to the restaurant that’s connected to the rain forest. Ditch your heavy coats there before entering the jungle.

Turn up the heat: If the humidity of the jungle isn’t your thing (as if your winter hat wasn’t giving you a bad enough hair day), head to the Desert Dome. This place is best viewed when there isn’t a packed line of people snaking through there. Take your time and have your kids count the animals they can spot in each exhibit.

Night Crawlers: While you’re at the Desert Dome, you’d better visit the lower level and see all the creatures of the night. It’s extra fun (and mysterious) to explore this exhibit when it feels like your family is the only one down there.

On the Waterfront: Sing with me now, “Under the sea/ Under the sea/ Darling it’s better/ Down where it’s wetter/ Take it from me.” Or not. Anyway, now that that song is in your head, let’s talk about why I love, love, love the aquarium in the winter. It’s surreal to walk through there without a horde of people. You hear the New Age-y music piped overhead mixed with sounds of the ocean.  And your kids don’t have to fight with 20 others to play on the interactive water projection mat or wait their turn to sit in the bubble by the penguins.

  • The bubble that juts into the penguin's tank is a popular one. Visit in the winter and your little guy won't have to wait too long to get up close.

    The bubble that juts into the penguin’s tank is a popular one. Visit in the winter and your little guy won’t have to wait too long to get up close.

  • It’s Lemur Time: It’s a bit more of a trek than the other indoor exhibits mentioned above, but the Madagascar building is full of exotic animals to check out. Since it’s a further walk than the others, you can bet fewer people will be there.

There are a lot of exhibits open in the winter that I didn’t mention – if you’re sticking close to the main entrance, you can check out the Mutual of Omaha Pavilion – and they’re well worth checking out if you want to make the most of your visit. In my opinion, though, the above are the best in the winter. The butterfly pavilion, in the past, didn’t have as many butterflies fluttering about in the winter and the gorrilla building was always a little too cold for my liking.

Need healthy eating tips for the zoo? Visit my post Healthy Eating At The Omaha Zoo.

Also check out Free Activities To Do At Omaha’s Zoo.