It feels to us like summer just started. But alas, the Fourth of July has come and gone, and the Back to School Blowout Sales are alerting us to the fact that this happy season is about to come to a close.
Take advantage of the few weeks we have before pumpkin spice lattes start showing up everywhere, and engage in the fun, warm-weather activities Omaha has to offer. From festivals and grilling parties to outdoor adventures, there are so many things to do around town while the sun is still high. We’ve gathered up some of our favorites here, so without further ado, here’s our Omaha end-of-summer bucket list. Have fun out there!
Hit Up a Festival
Photo courtesy of Nebraska Balloon & Wine Festival
There’s always something to celebrate in Omaha — and we certainly know how to throw a good party! Summer is brimming with fun festivals, and yes, there is still time to join in the fun. Peruse our complete list of summer festivals in Omaha. Some of these have come and gone (you’ll just have to catch ‘em next year), but we’re still looking forward to a handful! Don’t miss favorites like the Nebraska Balloon & Wine Festival (August 11-12), the Sweet Corn Festival (August 12-13), and the Great Nebraska Beer Fest (August 26).
There’s no better way to cool off in the summer than by making a splash! Make it a point this season to adventure to a new swimming spot while the sun is still hot. We’ve rounded up our favorite public pools, rivers, lakes, water parks and more for your convenience, so what are you waiting for? Jump on in! The water’s great.
Get Ice Cream
You’re going to need a sweet treat to reward yourself after all that adventuring, and there’s no doubt that ice cream is the universal favorite when it comes to summer desserts. Next time you and your family are screaming for a scoop, shake or a sundae, check out our list of the top ice cream shops in Omaha and Council Bluffs. These spots are sure to satisfy even the most stubborn sweet tooth!
Host a Party
When fall comes around, everyone’s schedule seems to fill quickly with soccer games, holiday trips, events and more. Summer seems to be more easygoing in general, so now is the time to consider throwing a bash at your Omaha home! Whether it’s a cocktail party with the girls, a formal brunch, or a cookout with the whole family, we’ve got 19 summery recipes from local Nebraska bloggers to help you plan the menu.
Photo courtesy of Standing Bear Lake
Before we know it, we’ll be seeing snow. And we all know that when that happens, cozying up on the couch will become very tempting. Until the weather turns frightful, we’re making sure to get outside as much as we possibly can.
Perhaps venture out to Standing Bear Lake on a sunny day. While you can’t stay overnight, you can get your kicks in during the day by fishing, boating, stand-up paddleboarding, picnicking, hiking and biking.
Or paddle across Zorinsky Lake! Zorinsky Lake Park is one of the area’s most popular recreational areas, boasting a 225-acre lake surrounded by 770 acres of public access land. Here you’ll find everything from soccer fields to playgrounds to fishing docks, all just west of Omaha.
Go on a Roadtrip
It’s not too late to plan a trip this summer. When you’re feeling an escape ASAP (or just looking to save a bit of travel dough), a road trip can be the best option. Not only will you save some money on pricey plane tickets, you’ll also have access to a number of attractions along the way. Plus, we think being in the car with a few close friends or a loved one is half the fun. To give you a head start, we’ve gathered up our six favorite road trip destinations within easy reach of Omaha, and we’ve even included a full itinerary for each destination. So, pack up your bags and hit the road — adventure awaits!
Set up a Picnic at Heartland of America Park
Photo courtesy of VisitOmaha.com
This centrally located, urban park is a popular destination for leisurely summer afternoons and nights. The Heartland of America Fountain puts on a 320-foot water jet and light show periodically, and visitors can snag a ride on the gondola. There are also several dog-friendly outdoor areas, so we recommend bringing your four legged friend and a loved one to set up a romantic picnic and enjoy views of the colorful fountain — it’s the perfect summer activity.
Take a Twilight Stroll through the Lauritzen Gardens
Escape to an urban oasis at the Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s botanical center. During the summer months (until September 5), the venue stays open later on Mondays and Tuesdays to allow for a romantic, twilight walks through the park’s many gardens. What a wonderful way to end a long, summer day!
Go Shopping at a Farmers’ Market
There’s no doubt about it — meals just taste so much better when prepared with fresh ingredients purchased at your local farmers market. But even if you’re not going to stock up on groceries for the entire week, meandering around the nearest market is one of our favorite summer activities. You’ll find fresh produce, warm pastries, colorful flowers, artisan-crafted trinkets, and even live music and food trucks! Shop local before the season ends this September using our complete guide to farmers’ markets in the Omaha area.
Monkey Around at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
If you’ve been hankering to hang out with the animals at the Omaha zoo, now is the time. Take advantage of the kids being out of school and try to hit the zoo on a weekday. The crowds will be a bit thinner, and you’ll have even more opportunities to see your favorite exhibits up close. Meander through the African Grasslands and the Hubbard Gorilla Valley in the morning, and then retreat inside for an educational IMAX movie for a break in the afternoon. In June, 2017, the zoo welcomed a new sea lion pup to the mix, so make sure to stop by and see him before he grows up!
Enjoy the Rest of the Season!
And try not to be too sad when it’s over. After all, fall in Omaha is pretty great, too!
What are your favorite things to do in Omaha during the summertime? Let us know in the comments.