Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Activities for Kids in Omaha: Visiting the Omaha Children's Museum with Toddlers

Disclosure: I received free tickets for my family to visit the Omaha Children's Museum to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own and honest. 
Activities for Kids in Omaha: Visiting the Omaha Children's Museum with Toddlers

We haven't been on a vacation since before Grace was born. It's been WAY too long and I've been itching to get out of town. Mike wasn't too thrilled about taking the kids on a fancy vacation this year since we've been very focused on getting out of debt so I decided to check out kid friendly vacation spots near Kansas City. It didn't take more than a few minutes to decide that we needed to go to Omaha, Nebraska. Many of my friends have loved their visits and after reading about my friend Julie's experiences at the children's museum and Omaha zoo, my mind was made up! My parents were able to join us and we all made the short 3 hour drive to Omaha last Friday morning.

Our original plan was to visit the zoo Friday afternoon and head to the Children's Museum on Saturday. But we had a bit of a late start and didn't get into town until almost 2. With rain in the forecast for the rest of the day, we decided to head to the Children's Museum first and go to the zoo on Saturday (I'll post my review of the amazing zoo tomorrow!)

Since our kids have never been on a vacation before, they had no idea what to expect. They were sick of being in the car by the time we got into downtown Omaha. When we pulled into the Children's Museum parking lot, Grace excitedly said "Let's play there and see what happens!" After a quick stop by the front desk to get our stickers, we headed into the museum. Our first stop was the Charlie Campbell Science & Technology Center, or as our kids called it, the ball room. This area was impressive! Featuring "the museum's signature Super Gravitron, a massive ball machine with pneumatic, hydraulic and mechanical sections" this room could keep any kid entertained for hours. My kids aren't old enough to understand the truly amazing science behind this machine, but they loved throwing balls, pushing buttons and interacting with the various parts of the machine. 

Grace visited this area multiple times during our time at the museum and enjoyed showing us how each of the tubes and buttons worked.

Connor decided it was time to explore the rest of the museum and dragged us all over to the Imagination Playground. This playground features different interactive areas for kids to discover and was the hit of the day for our kids. Grace was immediately drawn to the Children's Hospital. She had the chance to use play medical equipment to take care of a baby doll and give it a check up. When I asked her what her favorite part of the museum was, she said it was taking care of the babies. She's always been fascinated with doctors so this was the perfect exhibit for her.

While Grace played doctor, Connor happily ran between two areas, the Little Market and the OCM Engine House No. 1. He has always loved playing kitchen, but I was surprised by how much he loved shopping in the mini grocery store. He enjoyed getting to pick out various foods and it gave us a fun way to work on his vocabulary. He was excited to pick out "apples" and "nut utter" (peanut butter). He loved pushing the cart around, "checking out", and putting his cart away. He did at least 10 different "shopping trips" and didn't want to leave. Grandma decided to get him a shopping cart for Christmas after seeing just how much he loved the one at the museum!

When he wasn't shopping, he was playing in the Engine House water area. This area was a hit for both kids and Connor ended up soaked because he was having so much fun pouring water. Grace loved putting the fires out in the house using the hose.

I wish we would have had more time to explore the rest of the exhibit areas in the Imagination Playground but the kids were having so much fun that they didn't want to move on. We did get them to check out the farmhouse area for a second and Grace had fun playing house.

While Connor continued to shop and explore the water table, Grace decided to head upstairs and found the musical stairs endlessly amusing. It's hard not to smile when each step makes a different instrumental sound.

She was so excited when she realized that there was a train and a carousel upstairs. Papa had to run back downstairs since he didn't have exact change to pay for tickets, so she not so patiently waited and was thrilled when she finally got to ride.

After her rides, we decided it was time to call it a day. We were all tired and needed some rest before our big trip to the zoo the next day. 

I cannot say enough great things about the Omaha Children's Museum. Both kids absolutely loved it and it was so much fun to watch them explore. If we lived in Omaha, we'd definitely be buying a season pass! It was getting chilly the day we visited so we didn't get the chance to explore outside, but I'm hoping we can go back in the spring to check out Sandy’s Splish-Splash Garden.

If you are planning a trip to Omaha with small kids, be sure to check out the Omaha Children's Museum. 

5 tips for visiting the Omaha Children's Museum with Toddlers

1. Make sure your kids are wearing comfortable clothes. They will be climbing, playing, and exploring so don't put them in anything you don't want getting wet or wrinkled.

2. Give yourself at least 3 hours to see the whole museum. For older kids you might need longer. There is so much to see and do that you don't want to rush through it! 

3. If you need to nurse, give a bottle, or simply have some calm time, make sure to visit the museum's family room. It offers high chairs, boosters, a nursing room, a microwave and a sink. If you have forgotten diapers, the front desk offers them in various sizes. 

4. Bring exact cash for the train and the carousel! You can purchase tickets downstairs, but when your kids are waiting (not so patiently) it will be easier if you have exact change to purchase at the kiosk. 

5. If you are potty training, the bathroom on the first floor next to the light piano has small potties with handles to flush (instead of the auto flush that can scare little ones,) 

For more information about the Omaha Children's Museum and to plan your visit, check out their website and Facebook page now! 

Disclosure: I received free tickets for my family to visit the Omaha Children's Museum to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own and honest. 

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