Exploring Omaha just got a little more fun for families thanks to a curious little blue troll. OMAI is the little sister of Omaha’s resident troll, OMAR, who lives beneath the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. If you start following in OMAI’s footsteps, not only are you going to visit some of the best attractions in Omaha, your kids will get to collect pins from each place for free! Keep reading to learn more about these trolls and how you can get started on this adventure in Omaha.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Visit Omaha. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
Does Omaha really have trolls?
Yes, Omaha has trolls. And no… trolls are fictional, you guys. However, you can actually find OMAR on the Omaha side of the pedestrian bridge in downtown Omaha and take a selfie with him. He’s easy to find: He’s big, he sits atop a large boulder, and he’s really really blue.
OMAI is a little more difficult to find, but she’s just as blue as her brother. Looking for OMAI is the whole point, and that’s where things get fun. If you find OMAI…or at least, find OMAI’s footprints, you can collect a souvenir button! It’s called OMAI’s Adventure, and families are invited to take part in her exploration of Omaha.
Why find OMAI in Omaha
I have two good reasons why you’ll want to look for OMAI:
- Your quest will take your family to fun places around the Omaha metro. It’s an easy-peasy family date waiting to happen.
- Your kid gets FREE souvenirs. Never underestimate the power of a colorful, collectible button. And not only do they get a button at each place, they can also go to the Omaha Visitors Center and get a FREE backpack, just like OMAI’s. It’s a great place to show off the buttons.
Address to know: Pick up the FREE backpack at the Omaha Visitors Center, 306 S. 10th St., Omaha.
Where are OMAI’s Adventures in Omaha?
My kids and I have only just started our hunt for OMAI’s footsteps, and it’s not as easy as it sounds. I mean, yeah, they’re big, blue footsteps so they do stand out. But, some of these attractions are large, and the footsteps aren’t necessarily right by the front door.
But that’s what makes it fun, I think.
- Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge/OMAR, 705 Riverfront Drive, Omaha, Neb.
- Boys Town, 14057 Flanagan Blvd., Boys Town, Neb. (Hint: Head to the Hall of History)
- Fontenelle Forest, 1111 Bellevue Blvd. N, Bellevue, Neb.
- Hot Shops Art Center, 1301 Nicholas St., Omaha, Neb.
- Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St., Omaha, Neb.
- Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St., Omaha, Neb.
- Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St., Omaha, Neb.
- Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, 28210 W. Park Highway, Ashland, Neb.
- The Amazing Pizza Machine, 13955 S Plaza, Omaha, Neb.
- The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St., Omaha, Neb.
On my hunt with the kids, it took us a full lap around Amazing Pizza Machine to find her footsteps. Truthfully, though, we just weren’t that observant the first time around. And, well, it’s the Amazing Pizza Machine, so there’s a lot to look at and a lot of reasons to stop and play.
After you find the footsteps, your next stop will be the front desk of the attraction. That’s where we’ve headed to ask about the buttons, at least. Just look for a friendly staff member nearby and ask about the OMAI button.
I thought we were going to combine two or more stops on each outing but it hasn’t worked out that way. My kids have wanted to stay and explore. And we’ve been to all of the stops before! There’s always something new to see in Omaha, though, so I recommend you assume your family will want to do more than just collect a button and go.
Tips for each of OMAI’s stops
Take it from me, there’s always something amazing to discover in Omaha. So, whether this is your first time visiting or you’re a lifelong resident like me, this OMAI adventure is a great opportunity to see the city in a brand new way.
Here are some of my favorite hidden gems to look for at (or nearby) each of the stops on this adventure:
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge/OMAR
- Walk across Bob (as the bridge is affectionately called) and look for the state line dividing Nebraska and Iowa. It’s pretty much mandatory that you take a photo there.
- Visit the Lewis & Clark National Park Headquarters, which is also along the Riverfront and near OMAR. It’s free, after all, and there are some fun, hands-on activities for kids.
- Look for an actual Academy Award statue on display in the Hall of History. Alas, we don’t get to hold Oscar and practice our acceptance speech.
- Make the short drive over to Boys Town’s Visitor Center and find the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps.
- Meet the friendly birds at the Raptor Woodland Refuge and cross the swing bridge. It’s located near Fontenelle Forest’s Visitor Center.
- Take a short trek along the boardwalk and you’ll find Acorn Acres, a fun natural playscape in the forest.
Hot Shops Art Center
- Wander through the halls and peek into rooms to see if any of the artists are at work. Everyone that I’ve met there has been super friendly and love to talk about what they’re working on.
- Seek out Crystal Forge, the glassblowing studio inside Hot Shops. On different visits, my kids have gotten to watch a demonstration and once were allowed to pick their favorite pretty glass scrap to take home.
- On a dreary day, nothing beats the conservatory at Lauritzen Gardens. The huge tropical plants and sound of running water is soothing. And now, there’s a cafe in it, so a trip can combine two of my favorite things: Coffee and pretty flowers.
- In the summer, don’t miss the awesome model train garden. It’s one of my kids’ favorite things to see at Lauritzen Gardens.
Omaha Children’s Museum
- Spend some time in the Tinker Factory inside the museum. Kids can use real, kid-sized tools to make things.
- Get a dose of nostalgia when you go upstairs and see Zooland, a collection of restored animals you once climbed on at Richman Gordman long ago. Kids love them just as much as you did.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
- There are some adorable babies to look for at the zoo! Visit the elephants to see three of them (and one more is on the way). There has also been a giraffe born recently.
- Share a ginormous pretzel or cookie at the concession stand located in African Grasslands.
Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum
- Check out the temporary exhibit, Above and Beyond. You’re going to want to try the bird flight simulator in the exhibit.
- The Children’s Learning Center is a fantastic space in the museum, and has a lot of interactive things for families.
The Amazing Pizza Machine
- This is one of the few places in the Omaha metro to race go-karts indoors. It’s super fun.
- They’ve got laser tag and, honestly, it’s a lot of fun to just remind your kids that you are the superior player.
The Durham Museum
- Many call this “the train museum” so if you have littles who love trains, take them here. You can walk through trains, see a huge model train exhibit, and so much more.
- The museum’s old-fashioned soda fountain is a must-visit for a treat. Root beer floats are popular, as well as malts.