January 21, 2019

Goldfish Swim School In Omaha

If you haven’t heard about Goldfish Swim School yet, just you wait. My guess is this place is going to be popular! Goldfish Swim School is opening in West Omaha this spring, and I’m partnering with them to share the details. Keep an eye on the Oh My! Omaha Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages – I’ll have a giveaway coming up AND I’ll be sharing pictures from the new location once my kids start swim lessons.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Goldfish Swim School. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

What to expect at Goldfish Swim School - A look at class size, the tropical decor, and the perks of having a membership #GoldfishSwimSchool #Omaha #swimming

What’s unique about Goldfish Swim School

I had a chat with April Cavender, the general manager at Goldfish Swim School West Omaha, and she shared why this particular swim school is unique: Comfort. She said the environment is comfortable for everyone.

Swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School, with parents in the background.
A view of swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School. You can see the parents sitting on the other side of the glass windows in the background. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

And Cavender knows what a difference it makes with something as simple as being comfortable. Her kids were competitive swimmers, so she spent hours poolside in all sorts of conditions. She recalled how usually she was either really hot and really cold.

That’s not how it is at Goldfish Swim School.

Group of kids splashing water with their feet at Goldfish Swim School pool
Kids splashing water in the pool at Goldfish Swim School. There will be a location in Omaha starting Spring 2019. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

“The setting at Goldfish Swim School is accommodating for parents,” she said. “From my first impression, I thought ‘Wow, it hits every aspect a parent and child needs in a swim environment.’”

Goldfish Swim School lessons

Swim instruction at Goldfish Swim School is for children ages 4 months to 12 years old. Lessons are designed for the busy family, so schedules are flexible. Plus, it’s easy to schedule a makeup session. Lessons are indoors and year-round with highly-trained instructors.

Student and instructor in the pool at Goldfish Swim School
A Goldfish Swim School instructor and a student practicing her kicks. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Here are a few more key things that make Goldfish Swim School stand out:

Small class sizes. At the most, your child will be with three other students for their half-hour class. With the 4:1 ratio, kids advance quickly. Once they achieve specific goals, they progress to the next class. According to
Cavender “We have very specific curriculum that emphasizes the safety aspect of children in the water.”

There are also options for private lessons.

Shiver-free 90-degree pools. It’s all about being comfortable in the water.

Perpetual lessons. Perpetual lessons means families can enroll at any time.

Comfort is king. They think of the parents and keep them comfortable. The viewing gallery for parents is air-conditioned.

Spacious family dressing area with private changing rooms. Plus, there’s a blow dry bar to making it convenient to get kids ready to head home.

Kids drying their hair at the blow dry bar at a Goldfish Swim School
The blow dry bar fits in with Goldfish Swim School’s tropical decor. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Super cute decor. They’ve got a tropical theme going on at Goldfish Swim School. There’s even a snack bar.

Community-minded. Cavendar told me how parents with kids in Goldfish Swim School feel like they’re a part of a community. But in another sense, the swim school maintains community involvement outside of the facility. “The community aspect is extremely important,” said Cavender. Don’t be surprised if you see representatives from Goldfish Swim School at fun runs for kids or involved in other types of events related to health and safety.

How to enroll in swim lessons

Registration is now open! You can enroll for swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School here. Classes will begin in early March.

Parents with their babies at a swim class in a Goldfish Swim School pool
Goldfish Swim School in West Omaha will have swim classes for children ages 4 months to 12 years old. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Enrollment is $84 for lessons per month, perpetual fee plus annual membership fee is $25. Families never pay more than $40 for the membership fee, so if you have two kids, it’s capped at $40.

With your enrollment, your child receives a swim goodie bag that’s age-appropriate. For instance, infants will have a swim diaper in their goodie bag. Each week, swimmers earn a prize following lessons. I can see how that would be totally motivating for my kids.

More things to know about Goldfish Swim School

In addition to swim lessons, has a few more offerings you should know about.

Families playing at Goldfish Swim School during a Family Swim
A view of the pool at Goldfish Swim School during a Family Swim. Photo courtesy Goldfish Swim School

Community Grand Opening – Mark your calendars! The pool will have a FREE Grand Opening event on March 30 from 2 to 5 p.m. 

Golden & Charter Memberships – For the cost of six months of swim lessons (Golden Membership) or one year of swim lessons (Charter Membership), you receive some perks. Golden Membership holders receive 50% off a two-hour private party and a six-month Family Swim pass. Charter Membership holders receive a free private two-hour party, a one-year Family Swim Pass, and a tile on the Charter Membership wall.

The Golden and Charter Memberships are only available for purchase prior to opening and the first three months of business – so don’t wait if one interests you!

Family Swim – The open family swims are usually held in the early afternoon between the morning and afternoon swim lessons. The pool has toys to add to the fun. Family Swims are open to the public. If you have a membership, you’re admitted free on weekdays. Otherwise, it’s $5 per person or $15 per family maximum.

Party packages – You can celebrate a birthday at Goldfish Swim School. Imagine having a tropical party in Omaha!

Related post: Water Fun In Omaha For Every Budget

If you go

Goldfish Swim School West Omaha

Where: 2502 S. 133rd Plaza, Omaha


What to expect at Goldfish Swim School location in Omaha Nebraska - Info on class size, the tropical decor, and the perks of having a membership #GoldfishSwimSchool #Omaha #swimming

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January 18, 2019

Review: Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

I first heard about “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” a few years ago when some colleagues of mine raved about it. They saw the Tony-winning production of it on Broadway, and returned to Omaha thoroughly impressed. So, flash-forward to 2019. When I hear Omaha Community Playhouse is doing a production of it, you know I jumped at the chance to see it myself. The play is on OCP’s mainstage in Omaha Jan. 18 through Feb. 10, 2019.

Here’s my review of OCP’s production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”:

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to review the performance.

What to expect if you see "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" - This Tony-winning play is on stage in Omaha in early 2019 #theater #Omaha #Nebraska

What to expect

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is a dramatic play about Christopher, a 15-year-old boy on the autism spectrum. It begins quite startling with the death of a neighbor’s dog, and spirals into a bit of a mystery to be solved and then it juts off into another direction. It’s simply captivating.

How’s this for the opening scene of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”?

Christopher is portrayed by Dominic Torres, who does an outstanding job in the role managing to bring the audience and making us feel all sorts of emotions for his character. He is on stage the entire performance.

The rest of the cast plays a variety of roles, from the most trusted people in his life (his parents — maybe — and teacher) to strangers Christopher encounters. It’s fascinating to see the world through Christopher’s eyes. Sitting in the dark theater, it’s eye-opening to wonder how I would react if I were in their shoes. I think that’s one of the key things about this play – it’s going challenge you (at least it did for me).

Dominic Torres, the lead actor in the Omaha Community Playhouse production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."
Dominic Torres portrays Christopher in the Omaha Community Playhouse production of the Tony-winning drama “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” The play runs Jan. 18 through Feb. 10, 2019. Photo by Colin Conces Photography

This play is billed as visually-stunning, and I do have to agree that the set is pretty unique. It’s a grid and lights and that’s about it. There are very little props and while the play takes place in a variety of places like a backyard, on the London tube, and in classrooms, the set never changes. Yet, you never lose sense of where the characters are. It’s incredibly well done.

Timing a bathroom break

The play is two acts, each one lasting 60 minutes. There is a 15-intermission.

Is it kid-friendly?

While it is a wonderful play that draws the audience into the world of one boy on the autism spectrum, it is not what I’d consider an all-ages show. Teens will certainly be able to handle it, probably tweens, though. There’s some mild cursing in the play.

I wouldn’t take my kids to it, but my high school-aged nieces? Sure.

Will an adult like this?

Absolutely. This is live theater at its best. The story is great, the acting is great, plus there’s humor in it to lighten things up.

However, if you prefer your live theater to more along the lines of a light-hearted Broadway musical (which I love), this may not appeal to you.

What’s it about again?

Winner of five Tony Awards including Best Play and based on the best-selling mystery novel by Mark Haddon, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” tells the story of Christopher, a 15-year-old boy with an autism spectrum condition, who sets out to solve the mysterious death of a neighbor’s dog.

The 15-year-old character, Christopher, in the play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is portrayed by Dominic Torres. Photo by Colin Conces Photography

Related exhibits

There are two exhibits on display at the Playhouse to view. “The Inner Dialogue Paper Lantern Exhibit” is a collaboration with CHI Health and the CHI Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility. More than 20 patients at the CHI Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility have designed and constructed nearly 60 paper lanterns which represent—in visual form—the voices of the play’s main character, Christopher. These paper lanterns will be on display in the lobby throughout the run of the show. The artists are between the ages of 9 and 18.

“Adventures Art Exhibit” is a collaboration with WhyArts and the Autism Center of Nebraska. Participants at visual art workshops explored themes from “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” through clay, paint and collage creations. The artwork will be on display at the Omaha Community Playhouse throughout the run of the show.

If you go

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

When: Jan. 18 through Feb. 10, 2019; performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Where: Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.

Cost: Tickets start at $24 and may be purchased at the Omaha Community Playhouse Box Office, located at 6915 Cass St., by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

Make a night of it! Here’s my list of favorite places to go for post-show treats in Omaha.

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January 8, 2019

How To Get Free Drinks In Omaha

I’m past the days of bar hopping. I’m more into finding great places for a meal or a drink. There’s a new, local app that totally gets me. The app, called Libate, is designed to get people out exploring neighborhood bars and hip restaurants around Omaha and Council Bluffs. The best thing about Libate? You get free drinks with it.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Libate. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Want to get a free drink the next time you visit a new restaurant in Omaha? There's an app that gets people out exploring new bars and hip restaurants all the while enjoying a free drink. #Libate #partner #Omaha #Nebraska

How To Get Libate

Libate is an app you download to your phone. The app is available to download on iOS and Play stores. You get a free drink just for downloading the app. Then you have two options: Use the free version or become a member.

The Libate app logo and "Drive Adventurously" tagline

The free version gets you one free drink a month. You choose which place to get that free drink from a list of participating establishments.

The member version is $10 a month. As a member, you get one free drink at each of the establishments every month. It’s a steal.

And good news: Oh My! Omaha readers get their first month free! Use promo code OHMYOMAHA after you download the app to claim your free month. Download the app from iOS and Play stores.

How Libate Works

Using the Libate app to get a free drink at Herbe Sainte in Omaha
I used Libate to get a free frozen cocktail at Herbe Sainte. The flavor? Frosé, which is a frozen rosé.

I talked with Mike Roth, the app’s designer, about Libate and what inspired him to launch it. You see, Roth is a firefighter in Council Bluffs, so it’s not like he’s a restaurant owner hoping to bring in customers. Roth saw a similar app in New York, where people could get a free drink, and he thought it could work in this market.

“Libate to encourage people to get out and visit new places and try new drinks,” said Roth. “Drink adventurously.”

That’s my kind of app. I like finding new places, but trying new drinks…I’m always a little reluctant to buy a new drink in case I don’t like it. But, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone, and this has zero risk since that drink is free. It reminds me of the time a bartender at Spirit World proved that I could actually like a drink with gin as an ingredient.

A draft beer on the bar at Stirnella. It's a participating restaurant in the Libate app.
Stirnella, a restaurant in the Blackstone District, allows Libate app users to get a draft beer or tap wine for free, up to a maximum of $8. Photo courtesy Libate

Libate has about 30 restaurants and bars participating so far, plus one brewery. Once you download the app onto your phone, you can check out the list. There are quite a few I’ve been to–and love–around Omaha and Council Bluffs. Here are a few restaurants I can’t wait to return to for that free drink:

Roth sought out a great variety of places right from the start. The places I listed above are a bit more upscale than some of the others on the list, but they all have their charm. Whatever you’re in the mood for, there’s are place for it.

Interior of 712 Eat + Drink in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It's a participating restaurant in the Libate app.
712 Eat + Drink is a participating restaurant in the Libate app and allows users to get a free drink, excluding shots, worth up to $8. It’s my brunch pick for Council Bluffs, in case you were wondering.

In the Old Market? You can get a drink at Brickway Brewery. Seeing a concert at CHI Health Center? You can choose between Nosh Wine Lounge or Moe & Curly’s Pub. Headed to the historic 100 Block in Council Bluffs? You’ve got a free drink waiting at Barley’s Bar.

“We want people to try new things, that’s our mission,” said Roth. “Use this app as an excuse to go to different places.”

Each restaurant and bar experience is going to be different. Some establishments may impose limitations, like limiting the your complimentary drink to costing between $5 or $10.

Other places may limit app users to getting a specific cocktail or a class of cocktails, or maybe just a glass of wine or pint of beer. The app will communicate the limitations. For instance, for Cellar 19 Wine & Deli, their limit is that the drink must be $9 or under, and excludes shots and double pours.

Interior photo of Cellar 19 Wine & Deli in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It's a participating restaurant in the Libate app.
Cellar 19 Wine & Deli is a wine bar and deli in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It’s one of the participating establishments that gives a free drink to Libate app users. Photo courtesy Libate

For obvious reasons, so you can’t go from bar to bar in 20 minutes to claim all your free drinks and then pass out. You need to wait two hours before going to a new place to claim a drink. So chill out and enjoy that cocktail.

Try the Libate app for free

I’m pretty excited that Libate is letting Oh My! Omaha readers try the app’s member level for one month at no cost! All you need to do is download the app (available at iOS and Play stores) and enter in the promo code OHMYOMAHA.

Go out and try something new for me, OK?

Learn how to use the app Libate which allows users to get free drinks at restaurants and bars in Omaha & Council Bluffs. #Libate #partner #Omaha #Nebraska

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January 2, 2019

5 Things To Expect During A Radon Test

I haven’t thought much about radon after we purchased our home…almost a decade ago. It had a mitigation system already, but we tested the radon level in the home, just to be safe. And all was well. So, I forgot about radon.

Since January is National Radon Action Month, I’m partnering with the local business, Thrasher, to let you know why radon testing is important, even for people like me, who think they already have radon under control.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Thrasher. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Never had a radon test in your home? Here are 5 things to expect during and after the test. #AD #homeownership

What is radon?

Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas. It’s a byproduct of uranium decay, and all soils and rocks contain different concentrations of uranium.

Graphic showing the average radon level in Nebraska, which is 6.0 pCi/L

There’s a lot of it in Nebraska and Iowa. On average, the radon level in Nebraska is 6.0 pCi/L and 8.5 pCi/L in Iowa.

Graphic showing the average radon level in Iowa, which is 8.5 pCi/L

As uranium breaks down over time, it releases toxic byproducts that seep up and out of the soil and into the air. You can’t smell it and you can’t see it, but it’s linked to lung cancer.

Graphic explaining how radon causes up to 15% of lunch cancers worldwide

If high levels are detected in your home, you will need to have a Radon Mitigation System installed in your home.

Radon Mitigation System, or a Radon Removal System Gauge
This is part of the Radon Mitigation System inside our home. It was installed before we purchased it and I confess to not knowing how to check the gauge to make sure it was still working.

To learn more about radon, you should read this Radon Homeowner Guide.

What to expect during a home radon test

You can test radon levels in your house on your home with a store-bought kit or you can hire someone like Thrasher, who will send a specialist to test it and read the results for you. It’s cheaper to do the test yourself, but you’re on your own for interpreting the results.

Radon Gas Measurement Specialist from Thrasher reviewing results from the Continuous Radon Monitor
Ben from Thrasher explained the results from the Continuous Radon Monitor, that little yellow box in his hand. This occurred during our second appointment (the first being the one where he simply set up the monitor to read radon levels in our house).

For my partnership with Thrasher, they sent Ben, a Radon Gas Measurement Specialist, to my home to measure the radon with a 48-hour test.

If you’re going with a specialist to measure things, I recommend going through a reputable company. Take Thrasher, for instance, who has been a fixture in the Omaha metro area for more than 40 years. Here’s the process with Thrasher:

  • Set up the monitor drop-off – For radon testing, you’ll need to set up two appointments. The first one is a quick one where you’ll meet your Radon Gas Measurement Specialist and he or she will set up a device called a Continuous Radon Monitor, or CRM, in your home. The CRM measures radon hourly for 48 hours. Thrasher put me in direct contact with Ben, who coordinated a time to drop off the CRM and accommodated my schedule to get the kids dropped off at school first. The test needs to sit undisturbed for 48 hours.
The device that measures radon levels in a home. It's called a Continuous Radon Monitor.
This is a Continuous Radon Monitor from Thrasher. It reads radon levels in a home for 48 hours.
  • Stay away from the CRM – Ben determined the best place to put the CRM was in the basement, near our laundry room. For these kinds of tests, you’re supposed to limit opening windows and such. Since we were doing the test in December, that was no problem (except for the garage door that we kept forgetting to not raise). For good measure, I used it as an excuse to not do laundry for a few days. Ha!
  • Learn more about radon – Ben returned about 48 hours to review the results during our second meeting. We allotted about 60 to 90 minutes for it, since this also involved some informational videos, mostly about radon and the background on Thrasher. While short, the videos are boring. They’re necessary, though, since you really don’t learn this stuff anywhere else (and it’s helpful to know more about who’s taking care of your house). They’re not quite alarmist but do explain concisely why radon is a naturally-occurring toxin that’s not to be ignored.
  • Review test results –   Ben went over our results, and it turned out we still had trace radon in our home. We had a reading of 2.0 piC/L. It was lower than both EPA requirements and WHO requirements, but still concerning for me. If you have a reading that’s above a safe level, at this point, you’d talk with your specialist about your mitigation system options.
A graph on a computer screen showing a graph radon levels for a house
Ben showed us the results from our Continuous Radon Monitor. The graph shows the radon levels read hourly over the course of 48 hours.
  • Ask questions – Even with the videos and Ben explaining our results thoroughly, my husband and I still had questions. We talked to Ben about further steps we could take to drop our radon levels even more. While our levels are considered safe, we felt like we could do better than that. Ben offered a good suggestion about installing a special filter. The filter not only reduces the radon levels in a home, it removes things like allergens that are circulating in our home. We’re definitely going to look into it now. We have Ben’s card should we think of more questions later (lucky him).

Save on testing your home

For more than four decades, Thrasher has been waterproofing basements, fixing home foundations, and repairing concrete in Nebraska. The company is local, though now they’ve expanded into Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

They’re offering a 25% off discount on a Continuous Radon Monitor this month, making January a great time to test your home’s radon levels. The test usually costs $100, but with this discount, you pay $75.

Never had a radon test in your home? Here are 5 things to expect during and after the test. #AD #homeownership

Win a free mitigation system

Thrasher is holding a giveaway for a free mitigation system. To enter the giveaway, visit this gothrasher.com and scroll to the bottom of the page to find the giveaway form. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 or older to enter. Radon system must be installed in Thrasher radon service area. 

I recommend getting your home tested first before entering to be sure you even need one.

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December 26, 2018

8 Great Downtown Omaha Restaurants For Families

Having worked in downtown Omaha for more than five years, and living downtown for about seven years before that, I know my restaurants in the area. And I know which ones are great to take kids to. If you’re looking for a family restaurant in downtown Omaha, here are some of my recommendations:

Family restaurants in downtown Omaha

Short list of recommended family-friendly restaurants in downtown Omaha, including near the Old Market and TD Ameritrade Park


The Blatt Beer & Table North Downtown

By all appearance, this looks like a gastropub where grown-ups want to hang out in peace, but they’re pretty welcoming to families. The kid’s menu is above-average here (try the chicken strips), and the location can’t be beat for games and shows at TD Ameritrade Park and CHI Health Center. Plus, they have a changing table in the bathrooms.

Address: 610 N. 12th St. (North Downtown)

Olsen Bake Shop

Olsen is strictly a carry-out, hole-in-the-wall kind of bakery, but don’t let that deter you. They have, quite arguably, the best best donuts in Omaha. Not only do they taste good, they’re cheap, too. Olsen is on the list of
Best Donuts In Omaha.

Address: 1708 S. 10th St. (downtown, south of the Old Market)

Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria can be found just outside of the Old Market, in a neighborhood that was once a bustling Little Italy.

Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria

It’s Omaha’s longest-running restaurant for a reason. The garlic bread is my favorite, though it hardly makes a meal, so go ahead and order a sheet of pizza. Since I’ve visited last visited Orsi’s, it has expanded to have a dining room (or is planning to), so it has moved beyond being mostly a take-out kind of restaurant.

Address: 621 Pacific St. (Little Italy, southeast of the Old Market)

Plank Seafood Provisions has great outdoor seating – perfect for Old Market people watching.

Plank Seafood + Provisions

My kids are touch and go with seafood, but I can often get them to eat the fish sticks at Plank. The menu for adults and kids is pretty good (try to get there at happy hour for the best deals), and when we went, they gave my kid fun temp tattoos.

Address: 1205 Howard St. (in the Old Market)

Trini’s The Mexican Restaurant

Trini’s is located in my favorite part of the Old Market: The Passageway. It’s a charming indoor space with shops and restaurants. Trini’s is pretty casual and budget-friendly when ordering with kids (though, there is no kid’s menu). Trini’s made the list of best places to Mexican food in Omaha.

Address: 1020 Howard St. (in the Old Market)

Upstream Brewing Co.

I know. A brewery? I’ve gone for brunch, lunch, and dinner and my kids have always been welcomed. There is a kid’s menu (not for brunch, though), and usually some form of entertainment to occupy them while we wait for the food. They also happen to have great beer. The upstairs area will be more of a bar-like atmosphere, so stick to the first floor or the outdoor seating in front.

Address: 514 S 11th St. (in the Old Market)

Zio’s Pizzeria has a location in the heart of the Old Market in downtown Omaha. 

Zio’s Pizzeria

Zio’s is a bit of an institution in Omaha. If you dig New York-style pizza, try it out. There is a kid’s menu, and often, the waiter will bring a ball of dough to the table to keep your kid occupied. Zio’s made the list for best places to get pizza in Omaha.

To be honest, though, if we’re going to have pizza downtown, my kids ask for Old Chicago; and if we’re downtown without the kids, we go to Via Farina. But if you’re looking for local and kid-friendly, Zio’s is a good bet.

Address: 1109 Howard St. (in the Old Market)

11-Worth Cafe

This is classic greasy spoon food at its best. I’ve only been for breakfast, so I can’t vouch for the grill after noon, but beforehand, it’s spot-on. They have a kid’s menu and, usually, will give your kid a balloon before you leave.

Address: 2419 Leavenworth St. (downtown, east of the Old Market)

Related post: 20+ Must-Try Restaurants In Omaha

Recommended restaurants and donut shops in downtown Omaha #familyfriendly #OldMarket #Nebraska

Bonus restaurant for zoo visitors

Headed to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium? You can purchase food there at plenty of dining locations, but they aren’t always satisfying and they’re definitely pricey . If you didn’t pack a lunch, here’ s another option we tried recently:

Louie M.’s Burger Lust, 1718 Vinton St. Located in the historic Vinton neighborhood, this small but charming burger joint is going to please both kids and parents. I brought the kids here after a trip to the zoo recently, and was pleased they had a kid’s menu. Order a burger, obviously.

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September 7, 2017

20+ Things You Must Do This Fall In Nebraska

Here’s everything you could ever want to do in the fall in Nebraska, as well as favorite activities in Iowa for those looking for a day trip.

Fall in the heartland is fun. There’s a bounty of good things to eat, pretty places to visit and awesome sites to see.

I shared my favorite fall activities, and crowdsourced to fill in what I’m missing. Tips came from the Oh My! Omaha Facebook page, Omaha Area Foodies Facebook Group, and Midwest Travel Bloggers. Leave a comment with your favorites!

– Pick apples at the closest apple orchard to Omaha, Ditmars Orchard in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Other places to go include Martin’s Hillside Orchard near Ceresco, Neb., and Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City.

– While you’re at the orchards, you have to try some of their apple specialties. I love Ditmars’ fresh apple cider donuts. You might also like their fried apple pie there. Other items to try: Kimmel’s apple wine and Union Orchard’s caramel apple pie (both located in Nebraska City).

– Spend the afternoon at an Oktoberfest celebration in Omaha. Popular ones are at Crescent Moon, Gerda’s and the German-American Society.

– Go to a “for real” haunted place. One of the closest to Omaha that I know of is that is reportedly haunted is the Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs. Here are five of Iowa’s spookiest, according to Olio in Iowa. If you’re brave, head to Villisca Ax Murder House in Villisca, Iowa. (shared by Mojotraveler).

– Make an Arbor Day Farm family field trip. We pretty much do this every year. We head to the Arbor Day Farms Tree Adventure first for a hike and then order the apple pie a la mode at the restaurant on the property. Arbor Day Farm is in Nebraska City.

– Get a group together to do the hayrack ride and bonfire at Shady Lane in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Having s’mores on the menu is a must.

– Get a new take on the s’more and try B & B Classic Dogs’s dessert: Smore Krispies. They torch the marshmallow right before it leaves the kitchen.

– Head to the pumpkin patch. Some Nebraska and Iowa favorites include Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna, Neb. (shared by The Walking Tourists), where you can also try out this fun scavenger hunt; SkinnyBones Pumpkin Patch in Blair, Neb.; and Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Patch in Bellevue, Neb. Head to Iowa for more day trip destinations like: Bloomsbury Farm and Wilson’s Orchard in Cedar Rapids; Enchanted Acres in Sheffield, Iowa (shared by Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids); or The Pumpkin Patch in Winterset, Iowa (shared by Olio in Iowa). Sioxland Families shared a big list of pumpkin patches around Sioux City, too.

– Navigate a corn maze.

– Attend a fall festival. Recommended ones include the Applejack Festival in Nebraska City and Applefest in Woodbine, Iowa.

– Make soup or buy your favorite from a restaurant. Not a cook? Try to potato soup at Don & Millie’s.

– Go to a U-pick farm.

– Take the kids to a Halloween event. There are no shortage of events in Omaha each year, but some of my favorites include Omaha Symphony’s “Symphony Spooktacular,” Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium’s Spooktacular, and Omaha Children’s Museum’s Cobweb Castle. All are great for my little ones, because they’re low on scares.

– Carve a pumpkin.

– Go to a Husker football game. It’s true: The stadium, when full, becomes Nebraska’s third-most populated “city.” Or you can watch the game at home and make tried-and-true Husker recipes, like Crack Dip (cream cheese, sausage and Rotel).

– Drink apple cider. One of my favorite places to get on-site pressed apple cider is at Arbor Day Farm’s little restaurant in Nebraska City.

– Taking a slow walk or hike. A recommended trail from a reader: Papio Trail. Here are seven of my favorite trails near Omaha.

– Bob for apples.

– If you’re in Omaha and love food, you know fall means Omaha Restaurant Week.

– Take a brewery or winery tour. You could also grape stomp (something I’ve tried, but I actually do not recommend. One word: bees).

– Visit a farmer’s market for the fall bounty of produce. One foodie said she makes zucchini bread with the last of the giant squash everyone avoids.

Your turn: What are your favorite fall activities in Nebraska or Iowa?


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