We love exploring Omaha’s local restaurants and nightlife as much as anyone else in town, but in our opinion, spending quality time with the family just can’t be beat. And though there are definitely some places you should avoid taking kids in Omaha, there are also plenty of fun, family-friendly activities to enjoy. In fact, Forbes named Omaha one of the top 10 cities in America to raise a family!
We rounded up the top 20 things to do in Omaha with the whole family, ranging from amusement parks to interactive art exhibits, so grab the little ones and get ready for a day of fun! Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, there are so many things to enjoy on this list.
You can’t talk about kid-friendly activities in Omaha without mentioning Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. The huge facility is consistently ranked among the best zoos in the world and there’s no mystery as to why. The zoo is home to thousands of animals from around the globe, as well as 130 acres of exhibits and gardens (including seven acres of indoor exhibits). In fact, the museum is home to the world’s largest indoor desert (the Desert Dome) which spans more than 84,000 square feet! It’s easy to feel like you’ve escaped to another world. Browse through the exhibits here.
This one is a no-brainer. The Omaha Children’s Museum is a dream come true for little ones, featuring endless opportunities for fun, games and exploration. This nonprofit learning and exploration space has received a national award from the Association of Science and Technology Museums, likely due to its fantastic educational programs and vibrant interactive exhibits. There are several seasonal exhibits that rotate depending on holidays and interest, but the permanent installations include the Charlie Campbell Science Center, the Tinker Lab, Fantastic Future Me and more!
Visit a Family Fun Park
Laser tag, bumper boats, arcade games and so much more await you at Omaha’s family fun parks. Visiting one of these is a great way to engage in some friendly competition and let your inner child shine while spending some quality time with the family. Our favorites include Papio Fun Park, The Amazing Pizza Machine, and the Family Fun Center XL.
Photo courtesy of Fun-Plex
Fun-Plex is Nebraska’s largest waterpark, so when you’re looking to beat the heat, there’s no better option! Attractions include water rides, go-karts, a lazy river, a wave pool, a mini golf course and a swim-up bar (for the adults).
Puzzle rooms invite groups to work together, solve puzzles and hopefully escape within 60 minutes! The Escape Omaha limits group size to seven people in order to foster a collaborative atmosphere and ensure that everyone can work towards solving the mystery. It’s a great challenge for kids and adults alike, and the different room options ensure that you can try something new each time you visit. Do you think you’re up for the challenge?
Try to Get a Strike at a Local Bowling Alley
There’s nothing like engaging in a bit of friendly competition with the family, and bowling is something that people of all ages can enjoy! Sempeck’s is a local favorite among families, offering excellent bowling facilities alongside laser tag, an arcade and delicious food. If the Elkhorn area is more convenient for you, try The MARK instead — which includes opportunities for volleyball, bowling, arcade games, laser tag and more.
Omaha’s premier indoor bounce park boasts endless trampolines stretching from wall to wall — in other words, every child’s dream come true. Kids and adults alike can bounce to their heart’s content, compete in dodgeball and basketball games, and dive headfirst into the foam zone!
Crafting with kids is particularly fun when you don’t have to clean up any of the mess! Paint a customizable ceramic creation to take home at It’s Yours Pottery. The shop has all of the bowls, plates, mugs and fun shapes available. All you have to do is pick one and let your imagination run wild. The staff will then fire it for you so you can pick it up later.
Make sure to check out the other crafting options, which include clay hand building, canvas and wood painting, candle making, succulent planting, and so much more!
Photo courtesy of the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari
If you’re looking to experience Nebraska’s wild side, there’s no better place to explore than the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari. The park is located just 30 minutes outside of Omaha and houses more than 350 animals and 53 species from all over the world. You can see a selection of these species on a drive-through safari, during which you can roll your windows down, whip out the cameras, and feel like you’re in a different world! The kids will love the opportunity to see North American species in their native habitats.
The Durham Museum, built in what used to be Omaha’s Union Station, is now a local landmark and a fully functional museum featuring an abundance of interesting displays and exhibits. If your kids love trains, they will be particularly taken with the historical train display, which gives them the opportunity to walk through different models of train cars and watch model trains whip around on the tracks.
Art museums might not immediately strike parents as the most kid-friendly destination, but it’s a different story at the Joslyn Art Museum. In addition to its thousands of works of art from all over the world, the museum also boasts a family-friendly installation called ART WORKS — a 1,500-square-foot interactive space for visitors young and old to explore their artistic expression through hands-on activity stations. The museum aims to be as kid-friendly as possible, so there are also possibilities for family scavenger hunts, stroller tours and more. Bonus: admission to the museum is completely free!
Instill a love of reading into your child by visiting Omaha’s best local book shops! Let your kiddo pick out a book they love from the shelves and cozy up in the corner or head to a nearby park to read it together. From picture books to chapter books, there is an infinite number of stories just a page-turn away. All you have to do is find the right one!
Having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card! If you have a bookworm on your hands, take him or her to the nearest branch of the Omaha Public Library. The library hosts regular storytimes, singalongs and other fun events — and don’t worry, there are some for the parents, too!
The Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum is for anyone who has ever dreamed of being an astronaut. With exhibits on everything to do with space — including military operations, black holes, astronauts and veterans — there’s something inside to make everyone’s jaw drop.
Photo courtesy of Approach Climbing Gym
Rock climbing is a fun sport for people of all ages, challenging both the mind and the body! Kids seem to be especially good at it because of their fearlessness and flexibility — so don’t feel too bad if your kid scampers up the wall at twice your speed. You can try your hand at indoor rock climbing at Approach Climbing Gym, a full-service gym with more than 6,000 square feet of climbing wall area and over 150 different routes and problems.
Housed in a large, colorful space to spur creativity, The Makery offers opportunities to make fun, crafty, Pinterest-inspired projects for people of all ages and skill levels! The staff provides the materials, guidance and clean-up — all you have to do is pick a project and let the creativity flow!
When the Alamo Drafthouse opened its doors in Omaha a couple of years ago, we were over the moon about it. The theater goes above and beyond to offer movie-goers a unique, cinematic experience — offering themed events, singalongs, fun swag for purchase, and delicious food and drinks that are delivered to your table during the film.
Mint chocolate chip, strawberry, banana, butter brickle — we love it all. Next time you’re screaming for ice cream, treat the family to dessert at one of these incredible local shops in Omaha and Council Bluffs.
Explore the Outdoors
Regardless of season, Omaha makes it easy to explore the outdoors. When it’s warm outside, you can dive into a local pool, pitch a tent at a campsite within two hours of Omaha, or rent a bike and explore the city. During the wintertime, the city boasts a ton of great sledding hills, ice skating rinks and more. Check out our winter activities guide for the full scoop on outdoor fun during the colder months.
Photo courtesy of Fort Atkinson
Fort Atkinson was the first U.S. military post west of the Missouri River. Today, much of the historic outpost has been reconstructed and is open for visitors looking to get a little taste of American history! Bring the whole family to enjoy one of the living history demonstrations, which take place throughout the summer and fall and typically includes actors playing fur traders, coopers, blacksmiths, carpenters and more. You may even witness a cannon blast.
What are some of your favorite go-to activities when you’re hanging with the kids? Share your recommendations with us in the comments.