Situated at the intersection of Interstate 80 and the Missouri River, the city of Omaha offers a surprisingly broad array of great attractions for families–and for Midwestern families, a vacation destination within driving distance of home. We’ve already covered Omaha’s world-class zoo, two of its museums, and the Holiday Inn Downtown. For more of a taste of where to eat in Omaha, read on:
The Amazing Pizza Machine:
If you’re on the road and you need dinner and a place for the kids to stretch their legs for a while, try the Amazing Pizza Machine, a buffet, arcade, and fun-plex located in the southwest part of the metro area. Featuring an extensive buffet of pizza (the standard flavors as well as more creative types), salads, soups, desserts, baked potatoes, taco bar, pasta bar, and a nightly special, even the pickiest eaters will find something to their liking. The dining area was sparkling clean when we visited.
Every person who enters is required to purchase a buffet (prices here), but the Amazing Pizza Machine offers a number of dine-and-play packages. You can also buy a more extensive package for the kids while you sit in the relative quiet and peace of the dining area, which is at the far end of the building from the games and rides and has TVs everywhere.
The play area is expansive and varied, with all the usual things you’d expect to see at an arcade. When we were there, we only found one that was out of order. There are many different play packages, including one for unlimited games and rides (rides are Go Karts, bumper cars, a mini roller coaster that’s more intense than it looks, and Frog jumper). We found that for our family, with kids who aren’t used to amusement park rides, a ride or two apiece was plenty. Note: laser tag is available, but purchased separately from all packages.
Of particular note is the area for little ones, with a climbing structure and arcade games aimed at the younger set. Prices and crowding are lower during the week. However, that’s not always a good thing; Go Karts and bumper cars, for instance, are more fun with a crowd.
A partial list of other things to do in the Omaha area:
- Enjoy the beauty of nature with a stroll through Lauritzen Gardens.
- Attend an art program or explore the fabulous (free) art collection housed in the Joslyn Art Museum.
- Take in a minor league baseball game with the Omaha Storm Chasers, affiliated with the Kansas City Royals.
- Take a walk over the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge and stand in two states (Iowa and Nebraska) at once.
- Take a gondola ride around the fountain at Heartland of America Park.
- Stay and/or play at the Coco Key Water Resort
- Shop or dine in the Old Market district near the river.
A handful of shout-outs to places we stopped to eat:
- The Ethnic Sandwich Shop: Housed in a red barn in a nondescript neighborhood, with outdoor seating only. If you want to picnic, this is your source. Serves hot and cold 8-inch subs, primarily Italian. We can recommend the Capone, the meatball sub, the Reba’s Boy, pasta salad and tossed salad. Bonus: the brownies and cookies! Location: 1438 S. 13th.
- Dolci: Vanilla soft-serve ice cream with mix-ins, plus Italian desserts from napoleons to canoli. Bonus: adjacent to a candy store! Location: 1003 Howard St.
- Cupcake Omaha: Cupcakes. Big cupcakes. Big, filled cupcakes. Need I say more? Location: 501 S. 11th.
- Old Spaghetti Works: Pasta and fabulous, quirky decor (think carousel horses hanging from the ceiling and a salad bar housed in the bed of an antique truck). Most entrees come with salad bar, which is fairly basic but very fresh and very good. On a Monday night, our kids ate free. Location: 502 S. 11th street.
Whatever you do, make sure to download the Omaha Savings app, which is a streamlined, easy to use visual list of discounts usable at many of Omaha’s headline attractions.
Our family enjoyed the Amazing Pizza Machine as guests of Visit Omaha, in exchange for an honest review. Photo credit: Flickr Commons.