Staycation: Enjoying Omaha on a Budget

“Mr. Mom Endeavors” and I are college sweethearts–we met at the University of Nebraska (Go Big Red!)
He grew up in Omaha and his parents still live there. Although we live in the Phoenix area now, we’re rather familiar with (and quite fond of) the largest city in Nebraska! And, yes, there is A LOT more to do than just hang out in corn fields! 🙂
With the rising gas prices, many are looking for summer fun that’s affordable and maybe a little bit closer to home. So, whether you’re local to the Omaha area (or will be visiting sometime in the near future, like us), here’s a highlight of some of the great family-friendly things to check out:
If you don’t live in the Omaha area (or aren’t planning a trip in the near future), then check out the HUGE Staycation list with 85 cities featured!! 
STATE PARKS & RECREATION AREAS:
Summer is prime time to enjoy the many state parks and outdoor recreation facilities around Nebraska! Whether it’s hiking, camping, fishing, boating, or just a nice picnic, there are numerous possibilities–many of them FREE or very inexpensive!
In Omaha

Some of my husband’s favorites are Zorinsky Lake and Wehrspann Lake/Chalco Hills. Growing up, he spent many hours biking, fishing, and playing soccer in these areas. There are also playgrounds and now Zorinsky has an aquatics area!
Near Omaha: 
There are quite a few areas along the Platte River that are great for family fun. Some of our favorites are Platte River State Park and Mahoney State Park (both located between Lincoln & Omaha).
A little further…

If you’re looking for something a little farther from home, but still within a couple hours of Omaha, Ponca State Park and Indian Cave State Park are great options. These options take you closer to Nebraska City where you could also stop by and check out Arbor Day Farm, Lied Lodge, and/or Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Arboretum.
FREE ENTERTAINMENT:
There are numerous options for catching some FREE summer entertainment! At Aksarben Cinema and Great Escape Theater you can enjoy family movies free! If you’re looking for a more cultural, musical experience, then there is Jazz on the Green! A fantastic way to spend a summer evening!
My personal favorite though is Shakespeare on the Green, which is celebrating it’s 25th season!! It’s such a great atmosphere and even more amazing that it continues to be free!!
MUSEUMS, ZOOS, ETC: 
Fontanelle Forest (and Neal Woods) is great!! Big Brother loved it on our trip last fall! Science and nature together in one place, which is great for this biology-nerd family! 🙂

And, if you become a member of Fontanelle Forest or any one of 12 participating organizations, then you will get a Metro Arts Pass for special deals at all of the participating organizations. Some of the other great Metro Arts Pass organizations include the Omaha Children’s Museum, Durham Heritage Museum, and the Joslyn Art Museum which offers FREE admission on Saturday mornings!
Of all the activities in Omaha though, our absolute favorite place is the Henry Doorly Zoo!!

 

While it’s certainly not the most inexpensive, it is well-worth the price! Of all the zoos I’ve been to, I think Omaha’s Henry Doorly is second only to the World-Famous San Diego Zoo. With the indoor rainforest, aquarium, butterfly house, desert dome, and IMAX theater, it’s a MUST see!!
DOWNTOWN/RIVERFRONT
You can find a lot of great things to check out in the Old Market. For a great free thing, check out the Omaha Farmers Market. And, if you’re looking for a special treat or some yummy eats, stop by Ted & Wally’s for some premium homemade ice cream or Vincenzo’s Ristorante. 
Down in that general area, you can have some fun at Heartland of America Park, Lewis & Clark Landing, or take a stroll along Gene Leahy Mall and slide down the slides!

And, if you’re a sports fan (specifically a college sports fan), then Omaha is extra great in June as it’s home to the College World Series! You can often find very reasonably priced tickets to make it a great family fun event! 

What inexpensive/family-friendly places do YOU like to visit? 
If you have any favorite inexpensive Omaha/Lincoln-area places, please comment & let us know! 

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