After the success of the 2011 Staycations series, a group of bloggers have teamed up again to bring you more great budget-friendly, family fun ideas for this summer! Just like last year at this time, gas prices still seem to be rather high (over $4/gallon in some places). So, once again, many families will be looking for ways to save money on vacations or may even find themselves staying closer to home this summer. I covered Omaha in the Staycation series last year & am thrilled to do it again!
If you didn’t know from reading Mom Endeavors previously or from all my college football posts (Go Big Red!), Mr.“Mr. Mom Endeavors” and I are college sweethearts–we met at the University of Nebraska.
Special Summer Events
- Omaha Summer Arts Festival: June 8th – 10th in downtown Omaha (from 10th to 15th on Farnam Street). This annual event features artists from around the United States, restaurants from around Omaha, a festival and live concerts!
- 88th Annual Santa Lucia Festival: June 7th – 10th. The free celebration features Italian food, rides and a parade!
- NCAA Men’s College World Series Opening Celebration Day – The free Opening Celebration Day includes team autograph sessions, team batting practice, Opening Ceremonies and fireworks.
- USA Olympic Swim Trials: June 25th -July 2nd. This is by no means free and not even close to the most budget-friendly option. But, I HAD to mention it! Mr. Mom Endeavors and I had the pleasure of attending in 2008 and it was AWESOME!! We ended up going on a fabulous night and got to see SO many great names in swimming–Amanda Beard, Dara Torres, Natalie Coughlin, Aaron Piersol, Ryan Lochte, and of course, Michael Phelps. It was extra exciting as we watched Michael Phelps set a new world record, Aaron Piersol tie a world record, and Dara Torres become the oldest woman to qualify for an Olympic swimming competition! I was on swim team for years growing up, so was really excited to go. So, if you’re looking for something unique to do & love the Olympics, I highly recommend splurging a bit on this!!
- Omaha Jazz & Blues Festival: July 13th & 14th at the Omaha Riverfront. This weekend long event features jazz and blues artists from around the United States and features food, fun and entertainment for the whole family!
- Railroad Days: July 14th & 15th. For just $15, families can hop on a trolley that takes them to railroad themed attractions like the Durham Museum, the UP Railroad Museum, and the Historic General Dodge House.
- Playing With Fire: another jazz and blues festival held on July 28th at the Lewis & Clark Landing.
- The Maha Music Festival: Omaha’s indie rock festival held on August 11th at Aksarben Village, featuring a variety of alternative rock & indie bands like Garbage and Desaparecidos!
- Riverfront Wine Festival: August 24th & 25th on the Omaha Riverfront. This event includes fabulous wines and beers, along with excellent food in a beautiful setting.
Favorite Places & Special Exhibits:
The Durham Museum – The newest exhibit is “Mindbender Mansion”, running from May 26th to September 2nd. Mindbender Mansion is an eclectic place full of brainteasers and interactive challenges guaranteed to test the brain power and problem solving skills of even the most experienced puzzlers.
The Joslyn Museum – Omaha’s fabulous Art Museum! The Joslyn has free admission every Saturday from 10 am – noon!
The Omaha Children’s Museum – we took Big Brother there for the first time last fall and he loved it! A definite must-do with kids!
For added fun there, from May 26th to September 9th, the Omaha Children’s Museum hosts The Wonderful Wizard of Oz! In this exhibit, you’ll get to follow the yellow brick road to 10,000 square feet of Oz fun including the glimmering Emerald City, Tornado Twister, Glinda’s Bubble Magic, a Fantastical Farm and much more!!
This is our personal Omaha favorite–WELL worth the cost of admission! It is consistently rated one of the top zoos in the country. And, from my personal zoo-going experience, it’s on par with the World Famous San Diego Zoo (and some special things–like the aquarium, rainforest, and desert dome, actually beat out San Diego). Yes, it’s really THAT good!! 🙂
For some added zoo fun this summer, you can check out Moo at the Zoo. It’s a fun-filled country and agriculture themed event on June 30 and July 1, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Get up close and personal with different species of dairy cows, join in the watermelon and pie eating contests, plus enjoy games, live music and much more. This event is free to members or with the cost of general admission.
If it’s not too hot nor humid out, 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!
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!
There are many things to enjoy in the downtown Omaha area as well (in addition to some of the special events listed above). You can find a lot of great things (& great food) to check out in the Old Market. And, while you’re 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!
This year, the Omaha Downtown Improvement District (DID) has kicked off a whole season of summer events & free activities! Activities will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m., Mondays-Thursdays during the months of May, June, August and September at 14th & Farnam Streets. Click here for more information & a downloadable calendar.
There are quite numerous 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.
General Omaha Information:
The Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau website is www.visitomaha.com. You can download an Omaha Visitors Guide and map here. Plus, the site is smart phone enabled, so if you just check it out from your phone, a mobile app will appear complete with restaurants, hotels, and special offers.
And, speaking of special offers, if you’d like to score some discounts to some of the places listed (and many more), here’s a chance to WIN IT!!!
GIVEAWAY Has Ended
Congratulations to lucky comments #2, #5, & #9!!! Cat, Cody, & Jen–hope you enjoy some fun in Omaha! 🙂
To Enter: Closed!
1. Just leave a comment telling me your favorite place(s) in Omaha (or what you are most excited to see if you’ll be visiting)!
Get extra entries (leave a separate comment for each)
2. Share about this giveaway on the social media channel of your choice, then leave a link to your “share” in the comments.
3. Follow @Momendeavors on Twitter.
4. Follow @VisitOmaha on Twitter.
(up to 4 entries per person): Giveaway will end on June 11th at 10pm PST. Winner with a valid entry will be selected at random using random.org and be notified via email (winner will also be posted on this post). They will have 48 hours to claim their prize before a new winner is selected. Open to U.S. Residents, 18 years and older.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the coupon book for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own.