When we first got the invite to my husband’s cousin’s wedding in Omaha, Nebraska, my first thought was, “awesome, a new city to visit!” My next thought was, “oh wait, the baby is due 6 weeks before then.” I was determined to continue traveling even after our son was born, so we committed early on to going to the wedding. Fortunately, our little guy was measuring big so I was induced early. (Or unfortunately, since he actually WAS big and came out as a 9 lb 7 oz “chunker.” As the nurses called him.) I booked a flight on Southwest, knowing I could always change it later. But for some reason that extra week we had with our son made me feel better about the trip.
The city of Omaha totally surprised me in a good way. It wasn’t really on my radar until our cousin’s wife joined the family, and Nebraska probably would have been about #49 on the list of 50 U.S. states for me to visit. The people were super nice as you would expect from the midwest. Plus the Old Market area, where we stayed, had a fun vibe with a bunch of kid-friendly restaurants. There’s also so much to do in Omaha, whether you’re traveling with a baby or older kids.
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Getting to Omaha, Nebraska
The thought of flying both ways with a layover and almost 7 hours of travel time was a little terrifying for our first trip. Instead, we decided that I would fly out with our son (and my amazing sister-in-law, thank goodness!) and Frank would make the roadtrip both ways for us to drive back with him. Since it was our first time traveling that distance with our son, we clearly thought we needed enough stuff to fit a studio apartment, so I was glad to have the car full at the time. Our little guy did a great job on the flight. And despite the “before” photo on the left, I think he actually liked it.
The closest airport is the Epply Airfield and it’s only a few miles away from downtown Omaha. Many hotels in the area offer free shuttles given that it’s so close, and taxis or Ubers are also available to get downtown. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, Nebraska is a great middle of the country location to do a road trip and see several states along the way. (Regardless of where in the US you’re coming from.)
Where to Stay in Omaha
Embassy Suites by Hilton Omaha Downtown Old Market: Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of the Hilton brand hotels and especially Embassy Suites for families or groups. The rooms are usually about the same price as a typical hotel room and the separate sleeping and living area is ideal so you can have your own space while the baby is sleeping. Plus the included hot breakfast, nightly reception and indoor pool aren’t bad either! This hotel was in the perfect location, accessible to restaurants and shops in the old market area. Aside from going to the zoo we didn’t have to use the car once.
Where to Eat in Omaha’s Old Market Area
One of the great things about traveling with an infant is that you can still eat where you want without worrying about whether or not they’ll find something they like on the menu. That said, all of the restaurants we ate in Omaha, Nebraska were kid-friendly and great for kids of all ages.
Breakfast at Wheatfields Express Restaurant & Bakery
Although our hotel offered breakfast, we decided to eat breakfast out one morning at one of the local restaurants. Wheatfields Express Restaurant & Bakery was recommend to us by family and I’m so glad we tried it. We snagged a seat outside before the hot midwest sun set in. Â We split the berries & brÃ»lÃ©e waffle and eggs benedict. Â Our breakfast was the best combo of sweet and savory and the coffee was so good too. Â
- Location: 1202 Howard Street, Omaha, NE 68102
- Website: https://www.wheatfieldscatering.com
Tip:Â Wheatfields gets super crowded so they have a “no stroller” rule. Â You can still bring a stroller in. They just ask that you fold it up and leave it near the entrance of the restaurant versus bringing to your table.Â
Plank Seafood was so good that we went there for happy hour twice during our three night stay. While I was a little apprehensive about a seafood restaurant far from the ocean in the midwest, everything there was super fresh.Â (And I can’t argue with a restaurant that has the mantra “eat well and travel often!”) Despite catering to the happy hour crowd, Plank Seafood was totally baby and kid friendly.
Plank seafood in Omaha offers a good selection of oysters that changed daily. I definitely recommend the chowder fries, hushpuppies and fish tacos as well. If you’re looking for a great cocktail, try one of Plank’s signature spiked lemonades. Mine was perfect mixed and surprisingly wasn’t as sweet as I thought It’d be. (Although to be honest, it was my first real cocktail after giving birth, so I think anything would have tasted good at that point!)
- Location: 1205 Howard Street, Omaha, NE 68102
- Website: https://plankseafood.com
Jams American Grill
Jams American Grill has more of a sports bar vibe so I’d definitely recommend going earlier for dinner or for lunch with kids. The food and beer menus were both huge, so there’s something for everyone. There was also a big outdoor seating area with a covered patio that was perfect for us to get away from all the loudness inside.
- Location: 1101 Harney Street, Omaha, NE 68102 (there are multiple locations; this is the one in Old Market)
- Website: https://www.jamseats.com
Upstream Brewing Company
Upstream Brewing Company– The rehearsal dinner for the wedding we were attending was held at Upstream Brewery, and it was the perfect spot for a large gathering. We didn’t eat from the standard menu but the hors d’oeuvres were all SO good. Their beer is brewed on-site and they have a large variety to suite almost any beer drinker. (It also didn’t hurt that our little babe slept through the entire thing so mommy and daddy could have some adult time!)
- Location: 514 South 11th Street, Omaha, NE 68102
- Website: https://www.upstreambrewing.com
Tip: The stairs at Upstream Brewing Company are a little tough to get up and down if you’re visiting with little ones. Since we had the stroller with us everywhere at that point, the staff pointed us to a hidden elevator that they were more than happy to let us use.
Ted & Wally’s Ultra-Premium Homemade Ice Cream
Ted & Wally’s is an old fashion ice cream shop with rave reviews that didn’t disappoint. Â They change their flavors daily and you can’t go wrong with any of them. Â The line moves quickly so if you’re visiting with a bunch of kiddos just make sure everyone is prepared to order before stepping up to the counter. Â As a bonus, the kitschy decor is almost as good as the ice cream, and our son loved looking up at all the colors.
- Location: 514 South 11th Street, Omaha, NE 68102
- Website: https://www.upstreambrewing.com
Things to Do in Omaha, Nebraska with Kids
There’s so much to do with kids in Omaha, Nebraska. While our son was just an infant and not able to enjoy everything, it was getting to explore new places and also see our cousin’s kids have a blast.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
It’s no surprise that the Omaha Zoo is ranked #2 in the country. I’ve always loved the zoo and couldn’t wait to check this one out. The Omaha Zoo is huge and is separated into several different ecosystems. (You could honestly spend the whole day there!) At 7 weeks old, our son didn’t make it that long but we did get to see plenty of tigers, monkeys, giraffes and elephants while we were there. Our son’s favorite was the aquarium with tons of colorful fish. When we were there they were working on a children’s adventure trail that’s now open and makes me want to go back when our son is older.
Tip: There are 2 nursing rooms available and several family restrooms. Check the FAQ on the zoo’s website for more info.
Walk Around Old Market
Old Market is only a few square blocks but its jam packed with cute shops, art galleries, live music, restaurants and bars. The cobblestones were a little rough on the stroller but they definitely added to the charm of the place and we made it work.
Attend the College World Series in June
TD Ameritrade Park is home to the College World Series. It happened to coincide with the wedding while we were there at the end of June. With our son being so young we didn’t go to the games. The other kids (and adults) in our family had a blast cheering on their favorite teams, though.
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
Did you know that you can be in two places at once in Omaha, Nebraska? Just walk across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge that connects Nebraska and Iowa. This bridge overlooks the Mississippi River and the background is beautiful and scenic. It’s definitely one of those touristy things to check off your list that doesn’t take any real effort.
The wedding itself took place on our third night in Omaha. It was beautiful and we had a great time, but of course we were exhausted from our first long distance trip with a newborn. Even so, I was thankful we made the trip and got to spend time with our extended family as well as our new little family of three.
Road Trip Home from Omaha with a Stop in South Bend
On the way home from Omaha, we made the decision to stop at Notre Dame in Indiana, which was almost exactly half way between Omaha and Pittsburgh. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn South Bend. The hotel rooms were spacious and both the breakfast and pool were great. (In fact, it was our son’s first time in a pool here and he loved it!) While you’re in South Bend, I definitely recommend walking around the Notre Dame campus, even if you only have an hour or so. The architecture and landscape are beautiful, and there’s an awesome bookstore on campus.
So How Was Our First Trip with a Baby?
This trip definitely opened my eyes to the sacrifices of traveling with a baby. Between the early yet sleepless nights, rushing through meals to nurse a “hangry” newborn, the unexplained crying from possible overstimulation and the stress of packing ALL of the stuff for that first trip, we certainly had our share of new experiences. The excitement on our son’s face though when he was in an airport for the first time or when he saw the animals at the zoo was so worth it. (It didn’t hurt that he did an amazing on both the flights and long drive!)
In the end, our first trip with a newborn made me so much more excited to travel more with our son in the future.
Related Post: How to Survive Long Car Rides with a Baby
The map above is in our son’s nursery to capture all of he places he’s been. You can see all the states we hit in our road trip from Nebraska back to Pennsylvania!
Will’s Trip Stats: Omaha, Nebraska & South Bend, Indiana// June 2017// 7 Weeks Old
Book Inspiration: Good Night Nebraska by Adam Gamble & Mark Jasper
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