Home of the original Reuben sandwich and Top 40 hits radio format, Omaha, Nebraska, is famous for its pioneering spirit and adventurous attitude. With a bevy of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, old meets new in an attractive mix of cultural heritage and contemporary architecture. Find out our top picks for the family-friendly attractions you don’t want to miss on your next Omaha visit and swing by our Omaha events calendar for today’s happenings.

photo: Larry Koester via flickr

Omaha Zoo
Explore 160 acres of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium on foot, via the Omaha Zoo Railroad or Skyfari. Children of all ages enjoy the prairie dog feeding and goat training sessions on the Bay Family’s Children’s Adventure Trails. The Desert Dome, which is the largest indoor desert in the world, is an immersive experience for plant and reptile lovers. This is one of the Omaha attractions you should allocate an entire day to.

3701 S. 10th St.
Omaha, NE
Online: omahazoo.com

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park
The state park is the ideal kid-friendly Omaha destination. There’s something to do for everyone in the family. In fact, you could even make a reservation and stay at the Peter Kiewit Lodge inside the park if you want to make it the base for your vacation adventure, staycation, or long weekend. Everyone’s favorite is the Go Apes ropes course that takes about three hours to navigate and combines zip lines with fixed rope bridges. Younger kids adore the Arts and Crafts Center at the Owen Marina as well as the Venture Climb inside the Activity Center.

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28500 West Park Hwy.
Ashland, NE
Online: outdoornebraska.gov/mahoney

Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Safari
If you prefer to enjoy a view of local wildlife from the comfort of your car, the Wildlife Safari Park off the I-80 is a must-see. Encounter bison, wolves, deer, and elk. Of course, you don’t have to stay in your car. Venture into the eagle aviary to catch a glimpse of the majestic bald eagle. Every child’s favorite is Prairie Dog Town, which lets youngsters see the little animals frolic, eat, and call to one another.

16406 N. 292nd St.
Ashland, NE
Online: wildlifesafaripark.com

Omaha Children’s Museum
If you’re looking for hands-on Omaha attractions that get kids involved in exploration, then the Children’s Museum is the right destination. Closed on Mondays, it’s open the other days of the week. Permanent exhibits include the Imagination Playground and the Tinker Lab. Another favorite is the Splish Splash Garden. This is an excellent adventure for younger children.

500 South 20th St.
Omaha, NE
Online: ocm.org

photo: Phil Martinez via flickr

Durham Museum
For the fan of trains and railroad-related history, it’s fair to say that the Durham Museum is the ultimate destination. There’s the Union Station’s main waiting room recreation that amazes with Art Deco architecture and charm. A model train diorama with push-button functions for visitors is a favorite. Kids play at The Platform, which is a STEAM center with plenty of hands-on activities.

801 S. 10th St.
Omaha, NE
Online: durhammuseum.org

Joslyn Museum
Families with older children have an opportunity to soak in artworks from around the world at the art museum. Its displays range from ancient art over European styles to American Indian and Latin American works. If your youngster is a fan of sculptures, don’t miss out on the sculpture gardens. Besides that, there are temporary exhibitions that change frequently and introduce additional works of art to the visitor.

2200 Dodge St.
Omaha, NE
Online: joslyn.org

Fontenelle Forest
The conservation facility and private nature center is a kid-friendly Omaha favorite. It’s an excellent opportunity for a family hike. During the winter, you can rent snowshoes to enjoy some of the trails. In the spring, borrow binoculars for a better view of the birds at the wetlands. Acorn Acres is the famous one-acre nature playscape that is perfect for little ones with plenty of energy to burn off. There are also digital displays that let kids explore the area with touch screens.

1111 Bellevue Blvd. N.,
Bellevue NE
Online: fontenelleforest.org

Lauritzen Gardens Omaha’s Botanical Center
Something always blooming at this urban oasis. Well-behaved dogs are welcomed on certain afternoons during the Leashes at Lauritzen events. If you’re planning ahead, consider attending one of the many themed family events. Examples include garden yoga or the learning events for families with children younger than six years of age. Of course, you might just stop by for a leisurely stroll among the garden beds.

100 Bancroft St.
Omaha, NE
Online: lauritzengardens.org

Zorinsky Lake and Recreation Area
Just south of West Center Road, this lake is a day-use area where soccer, football, baseball, biking, and hiking take place on 255 acres. When you’re looking for things to do in Omaha that include fishing, camping, and water sports, this is your destination. Catfish, bluegill, and walleye are yours for the taking. The largemouth bass is another favorite. A notable honey hole is near the boat dock.

15600 F St.
Omaha, NE
Online: recreation.gov

Old Market
Round out your trip with a visit to Omaha’s Entertainment District. In addition to established stores, you might see sidewalk performers and street vendors. They add plenty of charm to the Old-World atmosphere of this venue. Explore unique shops, introduce the kids to French cuisine, or reward them with a fresh slice of tasty pizza. This is a great opportunity just to hang out as a family, and go for a stroll that drinks in the location’s atmosphere.

1000 Howard St.
Omaha, NE
Online: oldmarket.com

If you’re looking for events and activities, don’t miss our local Omaha, NE events calendar, which has everything from story times to seasonal activities like apple picking, pumpkin patches and Christmas tree farms.

—Kate Loweth