Things to do in Omaha with kids? Really? You bet! If you are looking for family fun in Omaha, there are a number of choices for Omaha kid attractions for all ages and interests.
The Omaha Zoo is at the top of most family’s lists for what to do in Omaha with kids for good reason. It is really and truly amazing.
Once you cross the zoo off your list of things to do in Omaha with toddlers or kids, this Midwestern anchor city still has a lot to offer families. It has some great outdoor adventures as well as a great children’s museum, an extensive urban green space at the heart of downtown and a quaint historic market, just to name a few!
Things to do in Omaha with Kids
The Omaha Zoo
We are blessed to be frequent travelers, and so we have been spoiled in visiting many amazing zoos. The Omaha Zoo sits right up near the top of our list of bucket list zoos to visit.
The animals habitats at the Omaha Zoo are really first rate. They were very natural and realistic. Many of them were cleverly designed to look barrier free, even though the animals were contained. For example, in the desert dome habitat we saw wallabies walking around above us on sandstone cliffs. I am sure that they had no way to get down to us, but it gave the illusion that we were sharing the space with them.
The biggest strength of the Omaha Zoo and the thing that makes it stand out are its many design elements that seek to bring you closer to the animals. The design of the habitats seek to facilitate interaction with the animals in unique ways. The kids could prairie dog tunnels next to actual prairie dogs and climb in the trees next to monkeys!
The Omaha Zoo offers a few other huge bonuses for those visiting Omaha with kids. The Adventure Park is a spectacular kids play space unlike any other that we have ever seen. It really would have been worth the Omaha Zoo admission just to come here.
The Omaha Zoo has a neat train experience that circles the zoo giving you a break from walking and unique views of the animals. There is also an amazing splash pad for hot days that I can guarantee your kids will NEVER want to leave.
Omaha Zoo admission is not super cheap, but on par with other large zoos that we have visited. The zoo offers a high level of kid friendliness so we felt that the admission fees were a completely worthy splurge.
The Lee G Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari
The Wildlife Safari Park was high on our list of things to do in Omaha with kids. We had a ton of fun here and stayed a lot longer than we had expected to. The park is located just west of Omaha. It was easy to find, right off the interstate. It was close to Eugene T. Mahoney State Park and the SAC Air Museum.
The park offers 4 miles of paved roadways through a variety of habitats.
We drove through an elk meadow, a forest with deer, a pelican/wetland habitat, a crane habitat and a plains habitat with buffalo. In addition to the drive through habitats, there are a number of animals that you can access via short walking paths. These included an eagle aviary, a wolf habitat, a bear habitat and a petting zoo with goats and chickens.
At the visitor center, you can also see prairie dogs as well as hawks and other birds of prey. There is a playground, a small snack counter and some bronze buffalo statues that make a neat photo opportunity.
The wildlife safari gave us opportunities for a number of close up animal experiences. The experience opened the door for some great learning opportunities with the animals in their natural environments. Being able to tour from the car made the excursion easier as we had our cooler, snacks and stuff with us. It minimized the amount of walking on little legs that were tired from the zoo the day before. This is one of the best family activities in Omaha. It is an easy option for anyone looking for things to do in Omaha with toddlers!
TIP: We visited during the week and the park was nearly deserted. There were very few other cars, so we were able to drive through and stop wherever we wanted without feeling rushed by cars from behind. I am sure that weekends are busier. I don’t know if we would have enjoyed the experience the same way if we visited on a weekend.
Other Suggestions for Things to do in Omaha With Kids
Here are a few activities that we didn’t make it to on this trip but would like to hit next time we visit Omaha.
Childrens Museum Omaha: This is a top rate children’s museum with a number of unique exhibits. The museum has a “town” exhibit where the kids can pretend in various businesses, a carousel and train, a water table as well as special , rotating exhibits. Lots of Omaha family fun to be found here!
Lauritzen Gardens: This garden is a great place for the whole family to get some fresh air! Highlights for kids include the children’s garden and model railroad garden.
Kenefick Park: If your kids love trains, this is an easy side trip (especially if you are already visiting Lauritzen Gardens). Kenefick parks has two real trains and the kids will love to explore. The short trail to the trains leaves from the Lauritzen Gardens parking lot.
Durham Museum Omaha Nebraska: This is a hands on history museum housed in an old art deco train station in downtown Omaha. The museum has lots of hands on exhibits for kids that will help you all learn about the history of the region. Kids can explore tipis, 1800’s workers cottages, a 1940’s streetcar, a 1900’s era grocery store replica and train cars.
Where to Stay in Omaha with Kids
Omaha is a major city with all of the standard hotel chains, and you can easily book a nice hotel room in Omaha. I wanted to share with you some unique ideas for where to stay in Omaha with kids that are a little different than a standard hotel.
The West Omaha KOA: Our kids were keen on a camping adventure, but I wasn’t keen on hauling all of our camping gear with and setting up a tent. The cabin that we stayed in at the West Omaha KOA was a great compromise!
The cabin was simple but clean, and the price was very reasonable. We had a nice swing on the front porch as well as a picnic table and a fire pit (the kids loved making smores). The bathrooms were just around the corner (they do offer more elaborate cabins with bathrooms).
The kids enjoyed the jumping pillow, playground and mini zip line and had lots of space to run around. We ordered pizza made onsite for dinner one night and it was good, cheap and delivered to our cabin. This was a great option for those visiting Omaha with kids.
Mahoney State Park Lodge and Cabins: This state park offers campsites, cabins and lodge rooms. The cabins have a small kitchen and decks that overlook the park. The big bonus of staying here is proximity to the state park’s amazing water park!
Holiday Inn Omaha Downtown Airport: We love Holiday Inn as a brand offering a whole host of family friendly amenities in a clean, predictable kind of way. This Holiday Inn looks to be no exception and is conveniently located right at the heart of downtown Omaha, near many attractions. The thing that looks amazing about this place is the little pint sized water park. It is maybe a little boring for older kids, but it looks like it is just the right size for those with littles (without being overwhelming for parents – we need a little downtime, too!)
Storybook Cottage/Vacation Rental Near Omaha: This house has all of the comforts of home and it is located within 5 miles of the Omaha zoo. The house has three bedrooms (great for a large family). This is a great option for those looking for a little more space to spread out than the standard hotel room offers.
Where to Eat in Omaha with Kids
Spaghetti Works Omaha: We had planned to eat here on the night we arrived but we were just too tired from driving. This downtown Omaha favorite serves up basic Italian fare in a fun environment. It is located near the Old Market and Heartland Park. As a bonus, if you go on a Monday your kids will eat free!
Alpine Inn: Amazing fried chicken and raccoon viewing from the deck. Your kids will love this long time local favorite.
Hollywood Candy, Old Market: This old fashioned candy store in the Old Market is PERFECT bribe material for good behavior.
Twisted Fork Bar and Grill, Old Market: The Twisted Fork Bar and Grill was recommended as a great place to eat in Omaha with kids and the menu looks just about as kid friendly as it gets! Upscaled versions of comfort food favorites are sure to please little and big mouth alike.
Kitchen Table: The Kitchen Table offers a rotating menu of home cooked, locally sourced food. As a bonus, you can combine a visit here with nearby Coneflower Creamery (listed below).
Coneflower Creamery: OMG, this place sounds AMAZING! I am going to have to plan another trip to Omaha just to go here. Small batch, made from scratch EVERYTHING (ice cream, waffle cones, sprinkles, etc). Unique flavors and good old standards. Something for every one.
Dante Pizzeria Blackstone: Pizza is usually a winner with our kids. This restaurant serves up amazing Neopolitan/rustic style pizzas and Italian entrees made largely from local ingredients and cheap wine. As a bonus, it is reported that they have blackboards for the kids to draw on while they are waiting…
Zio’s Pizzeria: This kid friendly local favorite is sure to be a hit with your kids as they get to play with dough while they are waiting for food. The menu features New York style pizza and family style meal deals to feed hungry mouths for not much money.