There Are Really Cool Things to Do in Omaha With Kids

by Nikki M. Mascali
Originally Published: 
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If you’re planning your next family-friendly vacation, Omaha, Nebraska, might not be on your radar. But this culturally diverse, historic and energetic city definitely should be because there are lots of things to do in Omaha with kids. Still need some convincing? Read on for lots of ideas on things to do with kids in Omaha.

Kids Attractions in Omaha

The Omaha Children’s Museum will occupy your kids and their imagination for hours. That’s because there’s tons of interactive and educational exhibits, a gigantic ball machine, splash pad and more.

Art Works in the Joslyn Art Museum has 1,500-square-feet of interactive space for your wild bunch to get hands-on with some priceless pieces they’ll see in the galleries. The best part? Admission to both is free, but special exhibits may have a fee. This is a great thing to do in Omaha with kids.

Have a budding thespian in the family? Once a vaudeville venue, The Rose Theater now provides only kid-friendly performances. Plus, a soundproof restless room lets them get the wiggles (or screams) out while you still watch the show via live video feed.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a must-visit for your family. It has a renowned conservation program and some of the largest exhibits and indoor rainforests and deserts in North America. Get really wild and book a Sleeping Bag Safari to experience the zoo after-hours. Prices for that are reasonable, but kids must be 4 or older. You need to book at least three weeks in advance.

The Durham Museum is a great place to sneak in some education on your family-friendly vacation in Omaha. Housed in Union Station, a gorgeous Art Deco former train terminal, the museum celebrates the history and culture of this part of the country. If all the learning makes everyone hungry, go back in time for a kid-friendly snack at the station’s original soda fountain. In addition, you can grab nostalgic treats at the candy shop.

Best Restaurants in Omaha for Kids

Omaha has an interesting foodie history: it’s where the TV dinner, Reuben sandwich and butter brickle ice cream were invented. Though you may not be able to find the first one on any menus, the latter two are celebrated at some of the best restaurants in Omaha for kids.

Gerda’s German Restaurant is said to have one of the best Reubens in town and serves the famed sandwich at lunch on fresh-baked pumpernickel bread. For picky eaters, the kids’ menu includes a sloppy Joe, hamburger, grilled cheese and German mac-n-cheese. Reservations are required for parties of four or more.

While its scoops change with the seasons, artisanal ice cream shop Coneflower Creamery’s homage to butter brickle is a year-round staple. If you or the kids don’t dig the toffee-flavored treat, there are plenty of other homemade flavors to try. Plus, there’s vegan options, too.

If you’re not afraid of sauce-covered kids, head to Hartland Bar-B-Que. They’ll eat for free with an adult dinner purchase, and everyone can dig into baby back ribs and smoked chicken, brisket and pork.

Dundee Dell is an 85-year-old neighborhood pub with lots of kid-friendly fare, but its fish and chips is “world famous.” There’s also a “Wall of Scotch.” In other words, mom can have that much-needed before-, during- or after-dinner sip.

Best Hotels in Omaha for Kids

The Hilton Garden Inn is centrally located downtown near lots of the best attractions for kids in Omaha. It has a pool, free Wi-Fi, laundry and valet service and a bar and restaurant. Its Family Fun package includes breakfast.

If you’re bravely traveling to Omaha with kids and pets, the boutique Magnolia Hotel downtown is pet-friendly. There’s a restaurant, bar with a three-and-a-half-hour happy hour and free homemade cookies at night.

If you want a more rustic stay, the Peter Klewit Lodge in Mahoney State Park has 40 rooms, many of which overlook the park or the Platte River. Each has heat and AC, wireless internet and a private bath.

Outdoor Activities in Omaha for Kids

Home to more than 80 miles of walking, biking and hiking trails, you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities in Omaha for kids. Fontenelle Forest has two large areas of woods, prairie and wetlands for hiking and animal encounters. The 103-acre TreeRush Adventures aerial park is slated to open in summer 2019. It’ll have a special section for kids ages 4-6 to have the same fun as the big kids, but just a few feet off the ground.

Take time to smell the flowers on your family vacation in Omaha at Lauritzen Gardens, a 100-acre botanical center. Among its many gardens is one just for kids and another with model trains running through the landscape. Occupy the family even more by printing out the scavenger hunt list of what to see, smell, hear and touch (but not take) before going.

If you want some fun in or near water with your family in Omaha, Tubing & Adventures is a one-stop shop for tubing, kayaks, fishing and camping on the Elkhorn River. Its partner The Neighborhood Offshore provides stand-up paddle board rentals and yoga.

Make a splash at Fun-Plex, Nebraska’s largest waterpark with dozens of waterslides, 18-hole mini golf, go-karts, cabana rentals and even an adults-only swim-up bar.

You and your family can swim, hike, bike, paddleboat, camp and more in Mahoney State Park. The park includes the Go Apes zip line course through the lush forest for ages 10 and up. Winter fun includes cross-country skiing, sledding and toboggan runs, ice skating and fishing.

Activities in Omaha With Kids

Only in Omaha can you go “Bobbing.” That’s standing in both Nebraska and Iowa at the same exact time on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge over the Missouri River.

Another thing to do in Omaha with kids is to visit the Old Market neighborhood downtown. Enjoy its historic brick-lined streets, art galleries, street performers and dozens of eateries and funky shops.

While in the neighborhood, check out the nightly light show at Heartland of America Park and Fountain. It’s really cool, but most importantly, the kids are sure to be wowed when one of the three fountains shoots water 320 feet in the air.

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