It’s no secret I love Omaha, and I like telling people all about it. It’s been a blast raising my kids here, and discovering (or rather rediscovering) all the things to do in Omaha with kids. We’ve got more than a fantastic zoo!
Join me as I unveil a handpicked list of 30 family-friendly activities, each promising not just fun, but a chance to create cherished memories and learn something new. From the hidden gems tucked away in quiet corners to the well-loved bustling attractions, this guide is your ticket to navigating the city’s best spots as a family. Ready to dive in? Let’s create some magical family moments together!
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Top kid-friendly outdoor activities in Omaha
1. Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Address: 3701 S. 10th St., Omaha
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is regularly ranked among the Top 5 zoos IN THE WORLD, and it just keeps getting better with each new exhibit update. Yes, it lives up to the hype.
Visiting in the winter? Visit the world’s largest indoor desert and the huge Kingdoms of the Night exhibit underneath it. Then head over to one of the largest indoor rainforests before venturing a short distance to the impressive aquarium, where the shark tunnel will mesmerize you.
In the summer, visit the African Grasslands to see elephants, lions, and giraffes roam. Don’t forget to pack towels and a change of clothes for kids, because they will get wet playing in the popular seasonal attractions, Children’s Adventure Trails and Alaskan Adventure waterpark.
2. Lauritzen Gardens
Address: 100 Bancroft St., Omaha
Lauritzen Gardens is a colorful place to visit any time of year. In the summer, take the kids outside to see the railroad garden and children’s garden. They have big plans to update the children’s garden, and I can’t wait for them!
Year-round, visit the conservatory. It’s a refreshing place to explore and there’s even a waterfall there. Lauritzen Gardens regularly has special events that appeal to families, from Halloween trick-or-treating to holiday light displays at Christmas.
3. The RiverFront
Address: From about 14th Street between Douglas and Farnam streets, eastward, and then once at the riverfront, park spaces extend north and south.
I might be one of the biggest fans of the new RiverFront. The project redesigned three parks – Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park, and Lewis & Clark Landing – into legit destinations for locals and visitors alike. Paved paths and bridges connect all three parks, so you can park once and explore for hours.
My favorite highlights for each park:
- Gene Leahy Mall – Fantastic playground and slides, outdoor theater space, the Cascades for kids and dogs to play in and cool off, and a small dog park. There always seems to be some event, concert, or games planned each week.
- Heartland of America Park – The big draw is the all-season Skate Ribbon, where it’s inexpensive to rent skates or ice skates and start moving. There’s a lake with fountains, plenty of seating and chairs, and the highly-photographed Farnam Pier.
- Lewis & Clark Landing – Yet another, even larger playground is at the Landing, plus an urban beach, and sand volleyball courts. The city’s new science center, Kiewit Luminarium, is also there!
4. Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
Address: 705 Riverfront Drive, Omaha
While you’re down at the RiverFront anyway, don’t skip your chance to go “Bobbing.” The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge spans the Missouri River and it goes by the name “Bob” or, “The Bob,” and thus, the term “Bobbing” was coined when you cross it.
The bridge has a popular photo opp in the middle – the Iowa-Nebraska state line is right in the middle of the river. My kids and I usually ride our bikes across it, as there are trails on both sides of the river and a cute park. You can easily rent bikes at the B-Bike station at the base of the bridge on the Omaha side.
5. Heron Haven
Address: 11809 Old Maple Road, Omaha
Heron Haven Nature Center is a hidden gem in the city. The small sanctuary has dirt trails and a wooden walkway over a pond. It truly feels like a secret place. Kids will love the butterfly garden and all the little bugs and critters they’ll see along the easy hiking trails.
6. Fun Plex
Address: 7003 Q St., Omaha
Omaha’s very own amusement park is called Fun-Plex Waterpark & Rides. You can easily spend a summer day in the waterpark area, splashing in the wave pool, flying down waterslides or floating along the Lazy River. But, there’s a whole other side to Fun-Plex you’d miss out on. A personal favorite is the cart racing, but there is also a small rollercoaster, bumper boats, putt putt and an indoor arcade.
More fun outdoor places near Omaha
- Fontenelle Forest and TreeRush Adventure, 1111 Bellevue Blvd. N, Bellevue, Neb.
- Gifford Farm, 700 Camp Gifford Road, Bellevue, Neb.
- Alpacas of the Heartland, 7016 County Road 39, Fort Calhoun, Neb. (requires reservations)
- Tank ‘N’ Tube River Rides, 4647 N. 230th St., Elkhorn, Neb.
- Wildlife Safari Park, 16406 292nd St., Ashland, Neb.
- Nelson Farm + Produce, 10505 N. 234th St., Valley, Neb.
- Vala’s Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard, 12102 S. 180th St., Gretna, Neb.
- Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Patch, 11001 S. 48th St., Papillion, Neb.
- Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard, 19475 225th St., Council Bluffs, Iowa
Omaha’s museums and science centers kids will love
7. Kiewit Luminarium
Address: 345 Riverfront Drive, Omaha, Neb.
The newest attraction to open in Omaha is the Kiewit Luminarium. It’s like a science center crossed with a children’s museum crossed with a multicultural art exhibit. It describes itself as “A new place to play and learn.” It’s hand-on fun for all ages.
8. Omaha Children’s Museum
Address: 500 S. 20th St., Omaha
If you have a child who’s 8 or younger, you cannot go wrong taking him or her to Omaha Children’s Museum. Definitely visit the Imagination Playground with the huge water table and mini grocery store, as well as the Tinker Factory to work with real tools. There is usually one or two special exhibits at the museum.
9. The Durham Museum
Address: 801 S. 10th St., Omaha
My kids still refer to The Durham Museum as “The Train Museum.” It’s way more than trains, but definitely, they are a highlight there as you can walk through old train cars and watch a humongous model train roam. The museum showcases Omaha history in exhibits as well as traveling special exhibits. In the past, they’ve have exhibits ranging from Muppets to dinosaurs to guitars.
Don’t miss visiting the old-fashioned soda fountain. If you don’t like root beer floats, treat yourself to a sundae. The Durham Museum houses the city’s largest indoor live Christmas tree each year, and has a full season’s worth of holiday activities during “Christmas at Union Station.”
10. Lewis & Clark Trail Headquarters
Address: 601 Riverfront Drive, Omaha
At the foot of the Omaha side of the pedestrian bridge is the Midwest headquarters of the Lewis & Clark Trail, a national historic trail managed by the National Parks Service that meanders 3,700 miles through 11 states. It’s small, but filled with neat things for kids to touch and try on. The displays are based on some of the discoveries Lewis & Clark noted throughout their journey – biology, indigenous cultures, etc.
Nearby museums and educational adventures near Omaha
- Union Pacific Railroad Museum, 200 Pearl St., Council Bluffs, Iowa (FREE ADMISSION)
- Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, 28210 W. Park Highway, Ashland, Neb.
- Schramm Park Education Center, 21502 NE-31, Gretna, Neb.
- Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, 201 S. Seventh St., Fort Calhoun, Neb. (Tip: Best time to go is during the Living History Weekends)
Parks and Playgrounds
I’ve already gushed about the great playgrounds at Gene Leahy Mall and Lewis & Clark Landing in downtown Omaha. But, those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Omaha parks!
11. Lake Cunningham
Address: 8993-8965 State St., Omaha
Lake Cunningham is starting to be a weekend destination for locals in the northwestern corner of the city. I’ve gone glamping there, and I’ve also tried standup paddleboarding on the lake. You can boat on the lake (no-wake) and bike the paved trail around it, as well. In the summer, there are occasionally concerts held by the RV/tent camping area.
12. Elmwood Park
Address: 802 S. 60th St.
Elmwood Park’s playground was recently updated, with some nice climbing areas added to it. Elmwood is one of my favorite parks because of the open space and the trails surrounding it. Take a short walk through the woods to imagine a little escape from the city. And if you’re so inclined, there is a fitness area right next to the playground where you can sneak in some weight-bearing exercises while the kids play (I’m never so inclined).
13. Memorial Park
Address: 6005 Underwood Ave., Omaha
Most of the city knows Memorial Park for one huge event held each summer – the city’s free Fourth of July concert and fireworks show. But, there are other reasons to go to the park the rest of the year! Kids like the sand playground and trails that wind through the trees on the west end of the park. And in the winter, it’s a popular sledding area.
14. Hummel Park
Address: 3033 Hummel Park Road, Omaha
This is my family’s favorite city park for hiking! It also has the best special events and summer camp. The playground consists of rather large metal slides. They look cool, and my kids love them, but if you’re a nervous parent, I’d stay clear until your kids are steady climbers.
15. Zorinsky Lake Park
Address: 3808 S. 156th St.
Zorinsky Lake Park is my absolute favorite park to run the trails, and they’re good for bike rides, too. The trail to the west of 168th Street is so wooded, you’ll feel removed from the city. The main playground near the boat ramp is huge and a hit with kids. The city also runs an excellent summer camp here.
16. Standing Bear Lake
Address: 6404 N. 132nd St.
I like Standing Bear Lake for the lovely trail, and it recently opened a new playground with a Native American theme (without sand!). There’s also a pretty cool floating bridge to cross.
17. Chalco Hills Recreation Area
Address: Entrance is at 154th Street and Giles Road, Omaha
Chalco is another great park for family bike rides and picnics, and it also happens to be our dog’s favorite park. There’s a leash-free area for dogs on the northeast side of the park. Fishing is popular here.
18. Benson Park & Spray Ground
Address: 7002 Military Ave., Omaha
Benson Park’s playground is outstanding – and a no-sand playground to boot. It’s great in all seasons, but especially fun in the summer when the popular splash pad is open. The small lake is nice for a stroll and fishing is allowed.
More great parks near Omaha
- Belles’ Play Garden at River’s Edge Park, 4250 River’s Edge Parkway next to River’s Edge Pavillion
- Dream Playground at Lake Manawa State Park, 93 Dreamland Road, Council Bluffs, Iowa
- Mahoney State Park, 28500 W. Park Highway, Ashland, Neb. (Tip: It has a great indoor climbing wall and activity center, plus an epic outdoor aquatic center)
- Schramm Park, 21502 W. Highway 31, Gretna, Neb. (Tip: Take a short hike to the suspension bridge and dig for fossils at the geological dig site)
- Platte River State Park, 14421 346th St., Louisville, Neb. (Tip: Kids love the splash park here, as well as the little waterfall that’s a short hike within the park)
- Louisville State Recreation Area, 15810 Highway 50, Louisville, Neb. (Tip: This is the park to go to play in a sandy lake, plus they have an awesome inflatable, floating obstacle course on the lake!)
Interactive experiences and Omaha entertainment centers
19. The Amazing Pizza Machine
Address: 13955 S. Plaza, Omaha
Name something kids like, and you’ll find it at the Amazing Pizza Machine. Pizza? Of course. Arcade games? Yes. Go carts and spinning rides? Yes. And a lot more.
You may also like:
- Dave & Buster’s, 2502 S. 133rd Plaza, Omaha
20. The Fat Putter
Address: 111 N. 10th St, Omaha, Neb.
Putt putt was reinvented with The Fat Putter. The new indoor miniature golf center has four different courses, each with a unique theme, Instagram-worthy photo opps, and holes with challenging games-within-the-game.
You might also like:
- Prehistoric Putt, 11134 Q St., Omaha
- Putting Plus, 9216 Maple St., Omaha
- Boudler Creek Amusement Park, 14208 S St., Omaha
21. The Makery
Address: 12100 W. Center Road, suite 1101, Omaha
Let your inner-artist out at The Makery. My daughter loves to go with me to The Makery to paint gifts for family members, like hanging door signs.
You may also like:
- That Pottery Place, 7828 Dodge St., Omaha
- It’s Yours Pottery, 2518 S. 132nd Court, Omaha
- Creative Culture, 1410 Howard St., Omaha (Tip: This is the place with the giant milkshakes)
22. Infinite Loop Virtual Reality
Address: 9825 Giles Road, suite C & D, La Vista, Neb.
Virtual reality is definitely popular with tweens and older kids, and a great place to try it out is Infinite Loop VR. There are a ton of games to choose from, and as a parent, you can just sit back on one of the couches and laugh at how ridiculous they all look playing them.
23. Felius Cat Cafe
Address: 522 S. 24th St., Omaha
Yes there is a cat cafe in Omaha, and yes, you need to go (assuming you like cats). You order your coffee or hot cocoa separately at Felius, and then pay for the amount of time you want to sit in the room, booping and playing with the cats. It’s a relaxing place…again, assuming you like cats.
Tip: While they do accept drop-ins, I recommend making a reservation if you don’t want to chance a long wait. It’s a small room with a limited amount of people allowed in at a time.
24. Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure
Address: 15364 Weir St., Omaha
Urban Air Adventure is the place I take my kids when they have A LOT of energy to spare. The ninja course and trampolines are a good starting spot for them to start running wild. There’s also a ropes course, indoor climbing area, and a large kid’s play area with slides and tunnels to crawl through. It’s a popular spot for birthday parties, too.
You may also like:
- Sky Zone Trampoline Park, 4215 S. 133rd St., Omaha
- Altitude Trampoline Park, 5575 N. 90th St., Omaha
25. Spielbound Board Game Cafe
Address: 3229 Harney St., Omaha
Combine a coffee shop and bar with a huge collection of games and you get Spielbound. For a small fee, you can spend a whole day with your family playing nearly any board game, card game, or strategy game you can imagine. Spielbound is essentially a game library, and lingering and browsing through the games is totally fine there.
26. Hollywood Candy
Address: 1209 Jackson St., Omaha, Neb.
While, technically, it’s a candy store, it’s so much more than that. Memorabilia is scattered throughout, and as you walk through the many, many aisles of Hollywood Candy, you’ll stumble across surprises. There’s the old-school pinball machines, a small movie theater, ice cream parlor, and more.
More fun indoor entertainment centers near Omaha
- The MARK, 20902 Cumberland Drive, Elkhorn, Neb.
- Medieval Putt, 20915 Cumberland Drive, Elkhorn, Neb.
- Pirate Putt, 1718 Madison Ave., Council Bluffs, Iowa
- The Hub, 7 S. Fourth St., Council Bluffs, Iowa
Exploring arts and culture in Omaha with kids
27. Joslyn Art Museum
Address: 2200 Dodge St., Omaha
I’ve taken my kids to the Joslyn Art Museum dozens of times, and they’ve enjoyed some of their favorite summer camps there. Unfortunately, we’ve had to wait to revisit the museum since it’s temporarily closed for remodeling and expansion until 2024.
You may also like:
- Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th St., Omaha
- KANEKO, 1111 Jones St., Omaha
- The Union for Contemporary Art, 2423 N. 24th St., Omaha,
- Hot Shops Art Center, 1301 Nicholas St., Omaha
- Culxr House, 3014 N. 24th St., Omaha (Tip: Attend one of their Art Battles)
28. Omaha Performing Arts
Address: Shows typically at the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St., Omaha, as well as the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St., Omaha.
You might know O-Pa for all the great Broadway musicals they bring to Omaha, and your older kids may have gone with you to a few of those. However, O-Pa presents a whole lot more than Broadway! Check out their season lineup, since there’s usually a few shows that are ideal for families. They’ll range from plays and musicals, to acrobatics and dance and even some amazing National Geographic speakers.
29. Omaha Symphony
Address: Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St., Omaha
The perfect introduction to classical music is the Omaha Symphony’s Family Series. They’re shorter shows with catchy tunes and a totally kid-friendly atmosphere. When my kids were younger, I loved taking them to the Halloween Spooktacular each October. Before the shows, there are lobby activities and an instrument petting zoo, too.
Now that my kids are a little older, I’d like to take them to one of the movie series, where they play the score live while the movie is being screened.
30. The Rose Theater
Address: 2001 Farnam St., Omaha
Omaha has an impressive community theater scene, and there’s one that’s always a guaranteed hit with kids: The Rose. It’s best to get a season subscription because you get so many tickets to their shows, plus discounts on their big musicals at Christmas and in the summer.
Omaha’s best seasonal activities for kids
Each season in Omaha has its high points. Spring has St. Patrick’s Day and fabulous live performances. Summer bursts with concerts, festivals, and fireworks. Fall is the prime season for farms, pumpkin patches, haunted houses and apple picking.
And what is there to do in the winter? There’s snowshoeing, sledding, the Holiday Lights Festival, and indoor water parks.
- Fun things to do in Omaha in the spring
- Fun things to do in Omaha in the summer
- Fun things to do in Omaha in the fall
- Fun things to do in Omaha in the winter
Food and dining with kids
One of the top questions I get is which restaurants are great for kids. The easy answer is that most Omaha restaurants are fine to take kids to…assuming they’re well-behaved and aren’t picky eaters. But, kids are kids, so here are the restaurants I recommend where you’ll never feel weird having a little one in tow:
Old Market and downtown Omaha restaurants
- CTRL Coffee & Cereal Bar, 1016 S. 10th St., Suite 100, Omaha. Play old school Nintendo and Sega games while you chomp on custom cereal creations.
- The Brunch Box, 1308 Jackson St., Omaha. Your food is delivered by robot to your table.
- Upstream Brewing Co., 514 S. 11th St., Omaha. Family-friendly brewery with pizza and other kid menu items. Sometimes, there’s even roving entertainment like a magician.
- Zio’s Pizzeria, 1109 Howard St., Omaha. New York-style pizza is always a hit, and while it bakes, they’ll give your kiddo a ball of dough to play with.
- Blatt Beer + Table, 610 N. 12th St., Omaha. My kids’ favorite restaurant, they always get the chicken tenders and beg for pretzel bites for an appetizer.
You want to explore outside of downtown Omaha and find a restaurant for your family in a different part of town? Well, what are you hungry for?
From the bustling energy of family-friendly eateries to the tranquil pathways of our lush parks, there’s something special waiting to be discovered in Omaha. Remember, the beauty of exploring all the delightful things to do in Omaha with kids lies not just in the destinations themselves, but in the memories you create along the way. I hope this guide serves as a cherished companion in your journey to craft unforgettable family moments.