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Active Omaha: #2

Here we go with the 2nd edition of my ACTIVE OMAHA blog series. I will be highlighting a number of free (or at least low budget) Omaha outing options in this series. Unfortunately, the zoo, of course is not free – but read on, I think you’ll find that it’s absolutely worth the cost of admission!

#2: Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

3701 S 10th St (near I-80 & 13th St)

If you haven’t been to the zoo for a few years (or never? Oh, tell me it’s not true!)...I’m here to tell you that it’s worth going! We used to go pretty frequently when our kids were little, but with the zoo expansion that came with the dismantling of Rosenblatt Stadium, we hardly recognized it!

(Anyone recognize the gorilla wearing a white hat? :)…that photo might have been a couple years ago, LOL!)

If you’re not convinced, then you should know that in 2014, CNN travel ranked Omaha’s Henry Doorly as the best in the world. (Yep...the world! According to CNN Travel, you can go to San Diego to see the world’s 2nd best zoo, or all the way to SPAIN to see the world’s 3rd best zoo....or you can zip over to 13th Street right here in Omaha to see the very best in the world!). Ok, so USA Today might have ranked our zoo 2nd, but they still said that the Lied Jungle is the best zoo exhibit in the country. It is pretty amazing!

The Henry Doorly Zoo is 160 acres big with walking paths snaking up and down and round and round, so no shortage of walking opportunities. Pushing a stroller? Well, unless you cheat with the elevator (in the Gorilla Valley area, but you didn’t hear it from me), you can just call it your cardio workout for the day (some of those hills are steep!).

Here’s few tips:

(1) Park at the north entrance, everyone from out of town parks at the main entrance (but beware that the north entrance might be closed in the off season);

(2) Bring a picnic! Why pay a fortune for mostly unhealthy “concession stand” food, when you can enjoy healthier options for a lot less from your own kitchen;

(3) If you’re not making a day of it, consider going mid to late afternoon. An insider tip is that the buildings are open for an extra hour past closing time, and it can be practically like having the place all to yourself!

(4) If you’re going on a hot day, bring swimsuits and towels for the kids, they added this cool water/splash park area for them, called “Alaskan Adventure”! (NOTE: this is only open on the weekends after Sept 2, so hurry if you want to take advantage of this on a less-busy weekday);

(5) If you don’t get this outing in before the onset of winter, don’t despair, the zoo is a fabulous destination even in on the most blustery winter day. There’s hours worth of amazing indoor attractions, most of which are clustered near the main entrance of the zoo. Again, if you go after 2 pm to avoid the school field trip groups, you might practically have it to yourself!

The zoo is constantly changing and updating – we need to get there again soon ourselves, sounds like there is a pretty fabulous new sea lion exhibit opening this fall. Can’t wait!