?: james r. burnett / omaha world-herald
Let’s capture that feeling – the one that says, “Right now, all is right. There’s nowhere else we’d rather be, and nothing else we’d rather be doing.”
Have an experience you’ve never had before or visit an old favorite and discover it all over again. String together lots of vibrant moments and create some truly epic memories. That’s the power of play – and we put a premium on it here. The hardest part is narrowing down the options.
Yours to Discover (Again)
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
If you haven’t been to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium lately, prepare to be impressed. Constantly evolving, the zoo recently opened the second phase of its 8-acre, $22 million Asian Highlands exhibit and before that, Glacier Bay Landing, a new guest service area with a playground, concessions and shaded seating. Next up? New digs for the sea lions. State-of-the-art Owen Sea Lion Shores, set to open in 2020, will feature a 275-thousand-gallon pool, 40-foot-long underwater viewing window and natural boundaries.
As it continues to add and rejuvenate attractions, the zoo and its Wildlife Safari Park continue to pick up honors as well. The 2019 USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards named our marquee attraction the second “Best Zoo” in the country and its Lied Jungle® the “Best Zoo Exhibit.” Wildlife Safari Park was awarded “Best Wildlife Park” in America for the second year in a row.
Another one of our veteran attractions is marking 40 years of fun this year. Launched as a go-kart track in the late 70s, Fun-Plex has been expanding ever since. Just last year, the combo amusement and waterpark added Rockin’ Rapids, one of the largest and longest slides of its kind in the country.
Omaha Children’s Museum
Not afraid to push its boundaries, Omaha Children’s Museum is taking the concept of learning through play to a new level and (new world) with its proprietary Enchanted Kingdom exhibit. Step into a wonderland of literacy-enhancing activities and wildly-imaginative, animatronic inhabitants, including the book-loving dragon Thistle and her grandson, Peri; Sampson, the hard-working stone grinder (who’s made of stone); and a bold unicorn named Bentley. Enchanted Kingdom reigns at Omaha Children’s Museum until Sept. 1, 2019.
We were born along the Missouri River. Water has played an important part in our story – and recreational pursuits – ever since.
Driftwood Paddleboard Adventures offers weekend and weekday paddleboard excursions on Lake Zorinsky and Standing Bear Lake as well as SUP Yoga classes.
Enjoy the beauty and serenity of the Missouri River on the River City Star, a 1940’s era Paddlewheel-style riverboat. Book a public or private cruise.
If scuba diving is on your bucket list, let’s get going! DiVentures offers the entire range of scuba classes – from open water certification to professional level courses.
Take a Tour…
Nebraska Tour Company has an invitation for guests and residents alike – come discover Omaha past and present. The company’s array of tour experiences includes a slate of VIP Omaha Food & Drink tours (Sushi & Sake, Tequila & Taco, Gastropub & Brewery to name a few) and a full line-up of historical city and district tours.
“Our tour experiences share the story and identity of Omaha,” says co-owner Dakotah Smith. “We are showcasing what makes Omaha a vibrant and unique city that visitors would be encouraged to visit again and again.”
Another option to explore? Omaha Patio Ride. Tour Omaha’s downtown by pedal power on a “party bike” that can hold up to 16 passengers.
…Or Hit the Trail.
The “Western Iowa Wine Trail” that is:
- Breezy Hills Vineyard, Minden
- Prairie Crossing Vineyard & Winery, Treynor
- Sugar Clay Winery & Vineyard, Thurman
- Vine Street Cellars, Glenwood
- Bodega Victoriana, Glenwood
Spend a few hours driving from vineyard to vineyard, sipping and savoring. All of the wineries along the trail offer tastings of their award-winning wines from “cold climate” grape varieties and locally-produced fruits.
Your Pace or Mine?
If your idea of “focused play” is getting out there and pushing your limits, on your mark….
- Diva Dash & Lil Princess Fun Run, Aug. 17
- Fight for Air Corporate Cup, Sept. 8
- Omaha Marathon, Sept. 15
- Heartland Marathon, Sept. 22
- Superhero Heart Run, Sept. 22
- Nebraska Marathon, Sept. 29
- Omaha Turkey Trot 5K, Nov. 28
Not a runner? We can roll with that. Our full roster of sports and recreation programs includes Elkhorn Youth Sports Association and its Elkhorn Elite Girls Basketball program, the 2017 Nebraska youth basketball girls program of the year; Omaha Lacrosse Club, which encourages boys and girls to pick up their sticks and be part of a growing sports trend in the metro; and Big O Bocce, which hosts weekly summer and fall leagues in Turner Park.
This place is yours to discover, a region that excels at exceeding expectations.
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In this age of constant connection, we still value one of our most important connections of all – our connection to nature.
Our region is replete with dynamic state parks and outdoor recreation areas – none too far from home. Chart your course and then have at it: recreate, refill your bucket and repeat. On land or in the water. Spring to winter and seasons in-between.
Dwayne Hosey is a heavy-hitter in our community; a former major league baseball player who is developing and inspiring a new generation of MVPs – not with a strict target on winning but on playing with heart, honor and self-confidence.
Four Decades of Running Together Make Active Group of Senior Athletes Some of Midwest’s Most Supportive. You’ll know them if you see them: 13 men, mostly in their 70s, lapping Omaha’s Zorinsky Lake. They’re The Running Men, and their group has been on the road together for more than 40 years.