With a cadre of museums, outdoor attractions and a thriving urban scene, Omaha is a cultural oasis in the middle of the Great Plains. Youth groups will find plenty of entertainment and educational options in this Nebraska city, where natural wonders and man-made marvels stack up to form a memorable trip.
[ Fontenelle Forest Nature Center ]
South of the city in the Bellevue area, the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center gives young explorers 2,000 acres of wilderness to roam. Some 26 miles of paths and trails cut through forest, prairie, marshlands and wetlands. Park staff offer a number of opportunities to get up close and personal with the forest’s abundant wildlife, and an on-site observatory and weekly astronomy programs give groups an opportunity to peruse the night sky above Omaha’s city lights.
[ Henry Doorly Zoo ]
With a variety of innovative and immersive exhibits, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo has earned its reputation as one of the leading zoos in the country. The zoo features the world’s largest indoor desert, as well as the largest indoor nocturnal exhibit, which introduces visitors to the exotic creatures of night in an environment of near-total darkness. Other highlights include an equally impressive indoor rain-forest environment complete with free-flying birds, an aquarium, an orangutan forest, a gorilla valley, a bear canyon and a new aerial tram.
[ River City Star ]
This is not your average riverboat — in fact, the River City Star offers passengers three ways to play as they cruise up and down the Omaha stretch of the Missouri River. On the main deck, visitors cruise in historic, Victorian-era riverboat ambiance; youngsters can play at Kwackers on the middle deck or enjoy the adult-size sandbox at Rio Loco on the patio deck. The boat is also available for charter excursions; themes include a tropical party, a Hollywood soiree and a Missouri River pirate encounter.
[ Strategic Air and Space Museum ]
Thirty-four military aircraft and a collection of rockets, missiles and aerospace artifacts make the Strategic Air and Space Museum one of the most exciting attractions in Omaha. Visitors get a look at fierce and famous planes such as the B-52 bomber and the Russian MiG-21 and even craft used in space exploration. The museum staff offers a number of interactive experiences for youth groups, including simulator rides, overnight stays and “Top Gun” aviation weekends.