As a Papillion orthodontist, Gretna resident and father of four daughters, Dr. Hawley has the inside line on all of the things to do with kids in the area. But while there are so many fun places in Omaha, we know the cost of keeping your family entertained all summer long can add up. To help fellow parents, the team at Hawley Orthodontics put together our annual round up of affordable and free kids’ activities in Omaha for summer 2023.
1.Papio Bay Aquatic Center – Papillion, NE – Woohoo! The acclaimed Papio Bay Aquatic Center is open for the 2023 season. The five-acre park has heated water throughout, certified lifeguards, two water slides, wading pools, diving boards, a zero-depth swimming pool, sand volleyball courts, a sand play area, concessions and more.
Residents and non-residents alike can buy a punch card or just drop-in for the day for a reasonable price. You can also save a dollar on admission with twilight prices, Monday through Friday after 5:30pm. If you’re in the market for Papillion swimming lessons, the Papio Bay Pool offers certified lessons for ages six months and up. Registration is currently open.
2. Kids Dream Summer Film Series – Twin Creek Cinema, Bellevue, NE; Majestic Cinema of Omaha and Village Pointe Cinema, Omaha, NE – Sometimes, you just need to beat the heat (or the rain), and the movie theater is a great place to do just that. On select days through August 5, Majestic Cinema and Village Pointe Cinema in Omaha and Twin Creek Cinema in Bellevue will host the Kids Dream Summer Family Film Series.
Catch family-friendly flicks for $3 and enjoy concession specials ($3 popcorns and $3 fountain drinks). Want free tickets to a show? Redeem vouchers courtesy of American Family Insurance here. And, new this year, you can purchase a Kids Dream Passport for $15 that lets the holder see each movie at any participating theater. Up next, from July 4-8, The Amazing Maurice will be playing. Check out the full schedule.
3. Summer Fun at the SumTur Amphitheater – Papillion, NE – The SumTur Amphitheater offers tons of affordable and free family activities in Papillion. Watch movies under the stars during the free Starlight Movie Series. Gates, activities and concessions open at 7pm and the movies start at dusk. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and watch Turning Red on Saturday, August 5.
On Saturday, July 1, Hook N Sync will present Mini Mardi Gras from 3 to 11pm. The music fest is free for all ages. And don’t forget to celebrate Independence Day with a free concert by USAF Heartland of America Band at 7pm on July 4. The fun continues throughout the rest of the summer with a variety of no-cost concerts. See the schedule here.
4. Hydrant Parties – Various Neighborhoods, Omaha, NE – If you’ve been searching for outdoor activities in Omaha that kids of all ages can get behind, look no further. Hydrant parties are the perfect way to cool off. Splash around every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through July 28. Take a look at the schedule to find a hydrant party in a neighborhood near you.
5. 4th of July Fireworks – Enjoy some Fourth of July Americana with festivities and fireworks in Omaha. Here are a few local events:
- Werner Park Independence Day Fireworks – Papillon, NE – If you’re a baseball fan, watch the Omaha Storm Chasers take on the Iowa Cubs on Monday, July 3 at 7:05pm. The game will include an Independence Day celebration followed by a post-game fireworks show. Tickets are still available here.
- Ralston Independence Day Parade & Fireworks – Ralston, NE – On Tuesday, July 4, the 63rd Ralston Independence Day Parade will kick off at 1pm. There will be activities, food, music and fun all day long. The festivities will be capped off with fireworks at the Ralston Arena starting at dusk.
- Independence Day Celebration with Omaha Symphony Concert – Omaha, NE – The Independence Day Celebration at Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha is a unique way to ring in the 4th of July. On Tuesday, July 4 at 8:30pm, the Omaha Symphony will put on a performance that culminates with a fireworks display set to live music. The event is free and open to the public.
6. Gretna Public Library Events – Gretna, NE – While the public library offers lots of free activities for kids in Gretna, there are several really fun ones coming up on Fridays in July. The events will be held from 6:30 to 7:30pm at the Gretna United Methodist Church.
On Friday, July 7, Fontenelle Forest and the Gretna Public Library will present “Raptor Recovery.” Meet three birds of prey and hear about how they were rehabilitated. On Friday, July 14, the Omaha Children’s Museum will put on “Molecular Mayhem,” while on Friday, July 21, Jester Puppets will present “Fairy Tales…Unhinged.”
7. Family-Friendly Events at City Park – Papillon, NE – City Park is a happening place in the summer with all sorts of free events in Papillion, including the Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays from 5 to 8pm through August 16. Kiddos will love seeing the colorful rows of local fruits and veggies and cool crafts.
The Parks and Recreation staff will host some special events in the park during the Farmers’ Market too. The Summer Bash will be held on Wednesday, July 12 and the Back to School Party will be held on Wednesday, August 9.
8. Live on the Lawn Summer Concert Series – Gene Leahy Mall and Zorinsky Lake, Omaha, NE – The Live on the Lawn Summer Concert Series is a free, family-friendly event. Presented by the Omaha Parks and Recreation department, the concerts are held on Fridays in July from 6-9pm. The first two concerts will be at the Gene Leahy Mall and the final two will be hosted at Zorinsky Lake. In addition to music from local bands, the Omaha events will also have food trucks and giveaways. See the schedule here.
9. Fontenelle Forest – Bellevue, NE – Fontenelle is a 1,400-acre forest brimming with family and kids’ activities in Bellevue. Get fresh air on a hiking trail, eat lunch at one of the picnic facilities, see the rescued birds at the Raptor Woodland Refuge or hit up the Habitat Hollow Indoor Play Area. Prefer something structured? There are events throughout the summer, including the Family Butterfly Walk on August 5. Daily admission is $11 per adult and $8 per child. Active military families get in free.
10. Papillion Splash Pads – Various Locations, Papillion, NE – The City of Papillion offers three free splash pads Memorial Day through Labor Day. The Eagle Ridge Splash Pad in the Eagle Ridge subdivision is open from 10am to 7pm, the Schwer Splash Pad on West Centennial Road is open from noon to 7pm and the First Street Plaza Splash Pad in downtown Papillion is open from 9am to 10pm.
11. Gretna Days – Various Locations, Gretna, NE – Gretna Days is one of the most anticipated summer events in Omaha. Started over 60 years ago, the annual celebration is jam packed with family activities. Gretna Days 2023 will be held Thursday, July 27 through Sunday, July 30.
See the full schedule of events here. Highlights include the Gretna Days Carnival, the Friday night fireworks show, a free night at the movies and a variety of rides, games and fun in Peterson Park.
12. Art JAM in the Park – The RiverFront, Omaha, NE – While the Joslyn Art Museum is closed for renovations, they’re bringing art to the community. Art JAM will be held on Thursdays in June and July at 10am and 11am at The RiverFront near 13th and Farnam. Professional art instructors will lead families in simple art activities under the canopies. The Omaha kids’ activity is free and open to all ages.
13. Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch – Papillion, NE – You can pick your own organic berries at Bellevue Berry Farm. Raspberry season begins in mid-July and the blackberries usually come in at the end of July. Stock up on the summer treats and don’t forget to visit the play and animal areas. The cost of berries rings in at $3.50 per pound and admission to the play areas is $4 per child.
14. Eugene T. Mahoney State Park – Ashland, NE – Mahoney State Park is one of the Hawley family’s favorite summer spots. The modern park, located just off of I-80 at exit 426, is great for camping and has an endless array of recreational opportunities year-round. However, Memorial Day through Labor Day is when it’s really fun. You can stop by the Owen Marina and venture around on paddle boats or splash about in the Family Aquatic Center, which has water slides, a wave pool, a lap pool and a concession stand.
15. Out & About Storytime – Various Locations, Omaha, NE – The Omaha Public Library hosts Out & About Storytime at different parks, gardens and venues around the city. Storytime is geared towards preschoolers, but all ages are welcome. The free outdoor events are held rain or shine and feature a story, creative music, movement and more. See the schedule for summer 2023.
We’re hosting our annual Patient Appreciation Party on August 12th from 9am – 11am at Papio Fun Park! Patients, friends and families are welcome to enjoy free fun, prizes, face painting, go-karts, mini golf, laser tag, Kona ice and more!
Is visiting an Omaha orthodontist also on your summer to-do list?
We hope we gave you plenty of ideas for fun things to do with kids in Omaha this summer.
If you’re also interested in braces or Invisalign for your child (or yourself!), book a free consultation at Hawley Orthodontics in Papillion. With modern treatment options, friendly vibes and a bright, comfortable office, we make the experience convenient and enjoyable from start to finish.