It’s that time of year again. The sun’s shining, school is out and the kids have a long stretch of summer days ahead of them. As a Papillion, NE orthodontist and dad, Dr. Hawley knows how exciting and tiring it can be to keep the kids entertained all summer. As always, the Hawley Orthodontics team is here to help with our annual round-up of fun, affordable and free activities for kids in Omaha to enjoy in summer 2021:
Papillon Days is back for 2021 and will run from Thursday, June 17 through Sunday, June 20. Not only is this one of our personal favorite Papillion kids’ activities with days of fun events, it was also recently named one of “America’s Top 10 Small Festivals” by Reader’s Digest!
The theme for the 74th year of the family-friendly celebration is “Honoring Our Journey, Celebration Our Wings.” There will be a carnival, parade, Market in the Park, live entertainment, fireworks, helicopter rides and more! Check out the schedule here.
2) Farmers Markets
There are so many amazing farmers’ markets in Omaha and the surrounding area. Round up the kids and enjoy some fresh air while you stock up on local produce and treats. Some markets even offer online ordering for pick-up. Be sure to check out each market’s COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions before attending. Here are a few of our recommendations:
- Papillon Farmers Market – The 2021 Papillion Farmers Market will be held on Wednesdays through September 29 from 5 to 8pm at City Park (Lincoln Street and Washington Street, Papillon, NE). As an added bonus, the Papillion Public Library will be on hand at the market offering a weekly craft for kids!
- Bellevue Farmers Market – The Bellevue Farmers Market is held rain or shine on Saturdays through September 25 from 8am to noon at Washington Park (20th Street and Franklin Street, Bellevue, NE).
- Omaha Farmers Market – The Omaha Farmers Market offers the Saturday Market on Saturdays through October 9 from 8am to 12:30pm in the Old Market (1011 Jackson Street, Omaha, NE), the Sunday Aksarben Market on Sundays through October 10 from 9am to 1pm in Parking Lot 26 at Baxter Arena (2425 S. 67th Street, Omaha, NE) and the Night Market at Midtown Crossing in Turner Park (31st Avenue and Farnam Street, Omaha, NE), which is open from 6 to 10pm on Fridays, July 16, July 30, August 13, August 27 and September 10.
3) Free Outdoor Movies
Another of our beloved, free Omaha kids’ activities for summer are outdoor movies. There’s something special about watching a movie under the stars. While the Starlight Movie Series at SumTur Amphitheater in Papillion is yet to be announced for 2021, here are two series that are launching soon:
- Monday Night Movies at Midtown Crossing – This free Omaha outdoor movie series takes place in Turner Park at Midtown Crossing (3110 Farnam Street, Omaha, NE), giving families plenty of room to spread out and socially distance. The kid-friendly, dog-friendly events will be held on Mondays, June 7 (Mean Girls – PG-13), June 14 (Guardians of the Galaxy – PG-13), June 21 (Raya and the Last Dragon – PG), and June 28 (Jumanji – PG) with the park opening for seating at 5pm and movies starting at dusk. Bring your own blankets and chairs. Concessions will be available for purchase on-site.
- Free Friday Movie Nights at Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard – On Fridays from June 11 through August 27, family-friendly movies will play at Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard (19475 225th Street, Council Bluffs, IA). The films start at dusk and refreshments will be available for purchase. Bring your own blankets and chairs. Stay tuned for the schedule and details on Ditmars’ Facebook page. Up first on June 11 will be Grease.
4) Gretna Days
Gretna Days 2021 will be held from July 29 through August 1 with all sorts of fun activities for kids, teens and adults in Gretna, NE. Events will include the Gretna Days Carnival, a free fireworks show on July 30, a craft show, a car show, a community picnic, inner tube races, and more! See the full schedule of events here.
The Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch (11001 South 48th Street, Papillon, NE) is a go-to for fun things to do with kids in Omaha. Pick your own fruits and veggies (strawberry season is slated to start in early June, sweet corn season should kick-off around July 4 and red raspberry season will run until the first frost in fall) or send the kids off to the Kids Play areas where admission is just $3. The farm also hosts a number of events, including the Omaha Potter Faire on June 5 and 6 and the Midwest Pirate Fest on August 28 and 29.
6) Omaha Area Spraygrounds and Splash Pads
Cool off in one of Omaha’s spraygrounds or splash pads. The spraygrounds in Omaha are open through Labor Day from 9am to 8pm daily. The Papillion splash pads are also open through Labor Day, however, see below for each location’s hours:
- Benson Park Sprayground -7002 Military Ave., Omaha, NE
- Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Sprayground – 705 Riverfront Dr., Omaha, NE
- Fontenelle Sprayground – 4405 Fontenelle Blvd., Omaha, NE
- Kountze Sprayground – 1920 Pinkney St., Omaha, NE
- Levi Carter Park Sprayground – 809 Carter Lake Shore Dr., Omaha, NE
- Miller Sprayground – 2707 Redick Ave., Omaha, NE
- Morton Park Sprayground – 5724 S. 41st St., Omaha, NE
- Orchard Park Sprayground – 6502 Hartman Ave., Omaha, NE
- Upland Sprayground – 3104 Jefferson St., Omaha, NE
- Seymour Smith Park All Play Park – 6802 Harrison St., Omaha, NE
- Westwood Heights Sprayground – 12334 Seldin Dr., Omaha, NE
- Eagle Ridge Splash Pad – Two Blocks East of 66th Street and Ashwood Ave, Papillon, NE (open 10am to 7pm)
- Schwer Park Splash Pad – 800 West Centennial Rd, Papillon, NE (open noon to 7pm)
- First Street Plaza Splash Pad – First and Washington St., Papillion, NE (open 9am to 10pm)
7) Free Outdoor Storytime
Looking for a socially-distanced, outdoor storytime in the Omaha area? The local public libraries have you covered. Sump Memorial Library (222 N. Jefferson Street, Papillon, NE) offers a free family storytime for tots ages birth through 5 and their caregivers. The events are held on the library’s lawn, weather permitting, on Wednesdays in June and July from 10 to 10:30am.
The Bellevue Public Library will also host interactive, free, outdoor storytimes in Washington Park (20th and Franklin Streets in Olde Towne Bellevue) on Tuesdays and Thursdays through June 29 from 10 to 11am. Registration is required. In case of inclement weather, storytime will be held on Zoom.
Bridge Beats has always been one of the most popular things to do with kids in Omaha during the summer. Unfortunately, the event won’t be held in 2021 because of construction on the riverfront. The good news is, Omaha Parks & Recreation will be putting on a new free concert series called Live on the Lake.
The family-friendly events will take place at Zorinsky Lake (156th and F Streets, Omaha, NE) on Fridays, July 9-30 from 6 to 9pm. Live on the Lake will feature live local Omaha bands, food trucks and giveaways. The line-up includes:
- July 9 – Lemon Fresh Day
- July 16 – High Heel
- July 23 – Stan and the Chain Gang
- July 30 – Taxi Driver
9) Family Adventure Days at Fontenelle Forest
Fontenelle Forest will be hosting a variety of Family Adventure Days in summer 2021. Engage in a fun activity and then take a guided hike led by a naturalist. Social distancing guidelines will be followed and masks will be required when attendees can’t keep a 6-foot distance. Registration is limited, so sign-up early! The cost is $10 for members ages 8-12; $20 for members ages 13 and up; $15 for non-members ages 8-12; and $25 for non-members ages 13 and up.
Here are some of the upcoming events:
- Archery and Hiking at Camp Wa-Kon-Da (402 Forest Drive, Bellevue, NE) – Saturday, June 5 from 1 to 4pm
- Games, Family Relay Race and Hiking at Neale Woods (14323 Edith Marie Ave, Omaha, NE) – Saturday, June 19 from 1 to 4pm
- Archery and Hiking at Camp Wa-Kon-Da (402 Forest Drive, Bellevue, NE) – Saturday, July 17 from 1 to 4pm
- Archery and Hiking at Camp Wa-Kon-Da (402 Forest Drive, Bellevue, NE) – Saturday, August 7 from 1 to 4pm
- Games, Family Relay Race and Hiking at Neale Woods (14323 Edith Marie Ave, Omaha, NE) – Saturday, August 21 from 1 to 4pm
Can’t make one of the Family Adventure Days? There are plenty of other fun, outdoor activities for kids all summer. Check out the schedule for details. Additionally, in partnership with the 2021 Blue Star Museum Program, Fontenelle Forest is offering all active military and up to five family members free daily admission to the forest through September 6!
10) Relax at an Omaha Beach
And last, but not least, for our summer 2021 activities for kids in Omaha is spending the day at one of the local beaches. There are lakes and rivers a short drive away, including the Hawley family’s favorite, Louisville Lake. Oh My! Omaha has a comprehensive list of some other family-friendly, sandy beaches near Omaha.
There you have it, 10 ideas for affordable and fun activities to do with kids in Omaha for summer 2021. If you’d like to add getting a healthy, beautiful smile to the list, schedule a complimentary consultation at Hawley Orthodontics for your child or yourself!