Spring is finally here!
When it comes to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, my family doesn’t need a reason to visit. It’s Saturday … let’s go to the zoo! The sky is blue … let’s go to the zoo!
But, if you’re looking for a reason (as if seeing the cute lion cubs for the millionth time wasn’t reason enough), April will not disappoint. Things are hopping at the zoo.
The big news is the opening of “Dinosaurs Alive! The Lost Valley.” The zoo will open the temporary exhibition April 12, and it’s huge. Literally. Come face-to-face with 15 life-like animatronic dinosaurs. The outdoor, full-scale exhibit will feature interactive activities for youngsters - hopefully, your kids won’t be terrified by it all (and it’s possible mine will be).
The dinos will be by “Expedition Madagascar” and the Simmons Aviary. Admission is an additional $3 for zoo members and $4 for non-members. It closes Oct. 13.
But wait! There’s more (I told you it was a hopping place).
The zoo also hosts Teddy Bear Weekend April 6 and 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Have your youngsters bring their favorite stuffed animal to go through a checkup including X-rays, heartbeat, ear and eye exams and if needed, a trip to the Emergency Room. There will be music and activity stations. It’s all free with admission.
Later this month, the zoo celebrates Earth Day with “Party for the Planet” April 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be family fun activities, and it’s all free with admission.
Here are some additional ideas on free or discounted things to do this month with your family:
- “Lilly’s Plastic Purple Purse” – The Rose, 2001 Farnam St., opened this cute show (great for kids ages 4 and up) on March 29. You can catch it through April 14. Performances are Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m., and Sundays at 2 and 4:30 p.m., with two.extra performances on Saturdays, April 6 and 13, at 7 p.m. No performance on Easter Sunday, March 31. Tickets are $18. You can snag discount ticket vouchers at all area Hy-Vee stores for $14. Reservations are required. Call (402) 345-4849 or purchase online at rosetheater.org.
- Free Family Fest – Get excited about baseball season with the Omaha Storm Chasers on April 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The free event features the Centris Family Fun Zone, petting zoo, and some free food and drinks (as well as discounts). It’s all at Werner Park.
- Free art classes by Arts for All, Inc. – Head to Von Maur Court at Westroads Mall on April 6 and 7 for mini-lessons in by Arts for All. Twelve stations - ranging from ballet to guitar - will be set up from noon to 2 p.m. to give attendees a taste of what the nonprofit offers. It’s a free event and open to all ages (kiddos should be with a parent, though). If this event piques your child’s interest in a new medium, check out the affordable art classes offered at www.artsforallinc.com.
- Nebraska Science Festival 2013 – The inaugural family-friendly event celebrating science and technology is April 12 and 13 at several Omaha venues, including the zoo, Lauritzen Gardens and City Sprouts Community Garden. Visit http://www.nescifest.com/schedule/ for a schedule and details. Admission to many events are free with a SciFest ticket, which is free! Just download tickets at http://www.nescifest.com/Images/NE_SciFest-tickets.pdf.
- Saturday Surprise! – Saturday Surprise! is a regular free program offered at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St., during which visitors take a peek in the galleries for inspiration, then do a simple art-making activity with a surprise theme. It’s held on select Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon and admission for everyone is free. Children’s book illustrator Dan Yaccarino will be at the April 13 event, making it extra special!
- Lowe’s Build and Grow – If you haven’t checked out a workshop at Lowe’s with your kids, you’re missing out. On April 13 at 10 a.m., your child can build and decorate a planter. It’s absolutely free (and your first visit, your kid gets an apron and safety goggles - so cute!), but you have to register online at http://www.lowesbuildandgrow.com. Word of warning: These workshops are popular, and at least at our nearest store, there’s a long line to collect your kit and building tools. I bring a 3 year old, and that’s about the youngest I’d recommend unless yours is incredibly adept with a hammer and nails.
- Earth Day Omaha – This event grows every year. On April 20, head to Elmwood Park and plan on spending some time in the great outdoors. It’s all free (except for the food). The kids love dancing to the live music and watching the demonstrations, though my oldest may now be old enough to do some of the children’s activities. Bring some lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy your day. Bonus: It’s right by a playground.
- Birdtastic! – Hummel Park, 3033 Hummel Park Road, is going to the birds April 27. Free bird-related activities will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon, including building a birdhouse and learning to identify birds.
- Omaha Play Street/YMCA Healthy Kids Day – On April 28, the whole family can enjoy a mix of field day and a carnival. Head to Stinson Park at Aksarben Village for games, raffles, healthy snacks and more. It’s all free from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Get there early: The first 200 kids receive a free bike helmet.