Embrace the chill with these family activities
Nebraska may not have the large-scale urban attractions popular in many states, but those of us who live here know that it has its own unique culture and natural beauty. Depending on where you live, though, it can be difficult to come up with new activities to do as a family—especially once it gets cold and outdoor activities during winter in Nebraska seem more like a test of endurance than a fun afternoon. If you’re running short on ideas this year, we’ve come up with a few places you and your family can go together in each of the cities we serve throughout Nebraska.
Omaha Children’s Museum
Museums are a great way to provide a fun activity that’ll keep your kids learning and entertained despite how cold it is outside. Omaha Children’s Museum has many interactive exhibits that emphasize science and art by encouraging kids to investigate, create, and imagine. There’s such a wide variety of exhibits that your kids will all find something they love. The museum regularly has special programs that you can check out, like the current dinosaur exhibit that features animatronic dinosaurs and a digging area; it’ll be open until April 11, 2020.
Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo
When you’re planning family activities for winter in Nebraska, the zoo probably doesn’t make your list. Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo, however, has 7 acres of indoor exhibits that are located close together, so there’s plenty for you to see even if you avoid the outdoor exhibits. The zoo also features an Imax theater and an aquarium, which is entirely indoors. Since there are fewer people visiting the zoo during winter in Nebraska (and other states), you won’t have to fight with crowds to get a glimpse of the most popular animals.
Hastings Community Theatre
If you’re looking for a relaxed but entertaining evening out with the family, Hastings Community Theatre performs plays and musicals that the whole family will enjoy. The theater is performing The Savannah Sipping Society in February, which is a comedy about a group of women who meet during happy hour and help each other gather the courage to kickstart their lives. It has a PG rating, but if you’re concerned you can research it in advance to decide if it will be a good fit for younger children.
Pastime Lanes Family Fun Center
If you’re looking for hours of active family fun, Pastime Lanes Family Fun Center is a great place to go! They have bowling lanes and an arcade, so there’s plenty for your family to do. A little bit of friendly competition is a great way to have fun and bond as a family, and bowling helps build your little ones’ hand-eye coordination. There are even youth leagues the kids can get involved in if they really enjoy the game.
From late February to early April, about 80% of the world’s population of sandhill cranes, which totals more than 600,000 birds, stop in the Platte River valley on their yearly migration route. Their migration has been called one of North America’s two greatest natural wildlife phenomena, and Grand Island is one of the best places to see it. You and your kids will love the experience of getting to see these beautiful birds, which stand 3- to 4-feet tall. Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center offers tours to see the cranes up close as well as driving maps so you can see the cranes from the warmth of your car. When the migration isn’t happening, the center has a bison herd, walking trails, and an art gallery for your family to enjoy.
The Happy Brush
This is a great art studio where you and your kids can paint anything you’d like. The Happy Brush offers blank canvases, ceramics, wood, and seasonal pieces that you can paint and decorate. If you’re artistic, you can use the time to create a beautiful decoration for your home while your kids have fun making their own masterpieces, or you can all work together to create something. It makes for an interactive family activity that gets everyone involved instead of glued to the TV.
Wild Bill’s Fun Center
Wild Bill’s Fun Center has a host of activities you can do as a family—so many, in fact, that you’d never be able to do them all in a single visit! There’s bowling, laser tag, and an arcade that features virtual reality games (available specific hours Friday to Sunday). The center has special deals every day of the week, such as unlimited laser tag for $14 per person on Tuesdays. With so many games and activities available, the center will provide you with many evenings of active family fun.
North Platte Community Playhouse
This is an old palace-style theater that shows both movies and live events. They show a mix of movies that have been out for several years as well as relatively new releases; in January, for example, they’ll be showing The Lion King remake. Movies are $5 for adults and $3 for children who are 12 years old and younger. It’s a great chance to see a movie on the big screen and have the movie-going experience without the cost of going to see a new release. The Playhouse will also begin showing the musical Matilda in mid-February; if your kids love musicals, they’re sure to love Matilda and its young, lovable main character. Whether you go to see a play or a movie, it’s a great chance to get out of the house and spend time with the family.
Whether you’d prefer to get your kids’ energy out at a lively arcade, sneak in a little extra learning at a museum, or simply relax together at a theater, Nebraska has plenty of options for you. At the end of the day, what matters during winter in Nebraska is that you spend time together as a family, building deeper ties of love and trust with your kids.