Omaha Summer Arts Festival plus more than 40 fun things to do this weekend

Posted on Jun 9, 2016

Looking for something fun to do in Omaha this weekend? Check out these family-friendly suggestions:

1. Omaha Summer Arts Festival. The 42nd annual Omaha Summer Arts Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Downtown Omaha. The festival will feature 135 visual artists, a stage full of multicultural musical performances and a hands-on Children’s Fair (Saturday and Sunday only). Additionally, TasteFest will offer a large variety of food vendors, including Mexican, Greek, barbecue and traditional festival fare, including hamburgers, hot dogs and funnel cakes. The Summer Arts Festival is a free event and will take place south of the Gene Leahy Mall from 10th to 15th streets on Farnam Street. More.

2. Nebraska High School Theatre Awards Showcase. Omaha Performing Arts will present an annual awards showcase Thursday at the Holland Performing Arts Center to recognize the outstanding achievements of high school musical theatre productions and students. Modeled after the Tony Awards, the ceremony will feature performances by the top seven schools and students. Cost is $ 10. Orpheum Theater is located at 409 S. 16th St. More. 

3. Art in the Afternoon at Fat Brain Toys. Come to Fat Brain Toys Thursday from 2 to 3 p.m. for Art in the Afternoon, which will include modeling, molding and sculpting. Kids will be able to take home their own owl sculpture. Young children can enjoy modeling manipulatives such as Play-Doh and molding sand. Fat Brain Toys is located at 16909 Burke St., Ste. 131, in Omaha. The event is free. More.

4. Glenn Miller Festival. Come to Clarinda, Iowa, the Birthplace of Glenn Miller, this weekend to celebrate the music and memory of the great American bandleader, trombonist, composer and arranger. Visitors will hear bands from around the world, topped off by the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra. People can visit the Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum and the Birthplace Home, stage shows, picnics, dances and historical displays. The majority of concerts and programs will take place at the Clarinda High School, 100 N Cardinal Dr. Lunch will be available for purchase at the high school on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. More.

5. Blair’s Gateway to the West Days. The four-day festival will take place Thursday through Sunday and will include Taste of Blair, a parade, craft fair, carnival and much more. For more information, click here.

6. Kids Funfare at Regency Court Shop-ping Center. The event, which will offer fun activities for kids at no charge, will take place every Thursday in June and July from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. to celebrate summer. Regency Court has partnered with the Omaha Children’s Museum and Wildlife Encounters to create entertainment for young children. Local merchants, including Pottery Barn Kids, Learning Express Toys and Garbos, will also offer fun activities for families to enjoy. More. 

7. Springfield Days. The two-day festival will include a parade, vendors, games, fireworks, a parade and more. The parade will take place Saturday at 4 p.m. on Main Street in Springfield, Nebraska. More.

8. Nebraska Children’s Home Society’s Sand in the City at Baxter Arena. Kick off summer at the 13th annual NCHS’s Sand in the City Friday through Sunday! See Omaha transformed into a beach by more than 400 tons of sand. Watch corporate teams compete to build their best 15-ton sand sculpture. Bring the family to view the sculptures, vote for your favorite, eat great food and enjoy local entertainment. Families and children can enjoy the Kid Zone, gigantic sand box, bounce houses, face painting and more. For a schedule of events, click here. The Baxter Arena is located at 2425 67th St. in Omaha. There is free admission, but donations will be appreciated.

9. Let’s go fly a kite. The Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum is offering a member recruitment day. From 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, the Museum will offer $ 2 off every admission ticket as a way to inform guests about the benefits of becoming a member. Additionally, Midwest Winds Kite Fliers will be on site to teach how to build and fly a kite. Kite materials are free and the Midwest Winds Kite Fliers will demonstrate stunts and teach kids how to fly their newly constructed kites. The Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum is located at 28210 West Park Highway in Ashland, Nebraska. More.

10. Investigate Second Saturday: Ladybugs. Come to the science lab in Morrill Hall at the University of Nebraska State Museum Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon to investigate a variety of science and natural history topics through hands-on activities and exploration. Cost is regular museum admission. The University of Nebraska State Museum is located at 645 North 14th St. in Lincoln. More.

11. Dancing with the Omaha Stars. Dancing with the Omaha Stars returns to the Ralston Arena Saturday as 22 local dance with professional dancers from Omaha Ballroom. Proceeds will benefit Angels Among Us and The Sunshine Kids. The Ralston Arena is located at 7300 Q St. For more information, including cost, click here.

12. Lewis and Clark Speaker Series. Renae M. Hunt will give a free youth program from 11 a.m. to noon, and an all-ages program from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday about “Lewis and Clark: What Was Their Value Worth? Seaman, York, Sacagawea and Pomp Stories” The Corps of Discovery was a fascinating group of individuals, but there were four members of the corps that were “valuable” but not paid. Hunt will discuss these four members and tell stories of their adventures. She will also dispel a few myths about these members. Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters is located at 601 Riverfront Drive in Omaha. More.

13. QuickStrike II Sneaker Expo. QuickStrike II is the premier Nebraska event for sneaker connoisseurs to buy, sell and trade some of the most sought after footwear on the market. The expo will take place Saturday at the Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St., from 1 to 6 p.m. Cost is $ 10. More.

14. “County Fair” at Risen Son Christian Village. Risen Son Christian Village is hosting a free “County Fair” on Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. Guests can enjoy homemade ice-cream, carnival games and prizes, bounce house, face painting, horses, an antique car show and live entertainment from the Risen Son Quartet and Michael Rehling. Risen Son Christian Village is located at 3000 Risen Son Blvd. in Council Bluffs, Iowa. More.

15. Get fit as a family. Family Fitness in the Park will take place from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at at Hanscom Park, 3212 Woolworth Ave. in Omaha. The free event, which will take place every Saturday through Aug. 27, will include fun fitness activities for all ages. More. 

16. KickstART Saturday at the Joslyn Museum. Saturday’s program topic will be “Drawing Stories: Picture Book Art of Marla Frazee” and will include a 3-D art-making activity celebrating author and illustrator Marla Frazee’s book, “Roller Coaster.” Kids can also dance, sing and join in the fun with a performance by The String Beans. The event is free and takes places from 10 a.m. to noon. More.

17. Family Education Program at Heron Haven. On Saturday, celebrate water and Heron Haven’s wetlands from 10 to 11 a.m. Guests can try their hands at demonstration fly-fishing with a member of Trout Unlimited. Wear mud shoes and go “Dipping in the Wetlands for Macroinvertebrates” to learn all about the tiny creatures. A Wetland’s Scavenger Hunt will also take place Saturday. The program will take place rain or shine and is open to anyone at no charge. Heron Haven Wetland Nature Center is located at 11809 Old Maple Road in Omaha. More. 

18. Small Guy Promotions Community Expo. The goal of the Small Guy Promotions Community Expo is to assist small businesses, charitable organizations and individuals around the Omaha area with additional marketing avenues in order to familiarize their groups with the local community, while providing something for families to attend. The Sunday event will include free admission to the public and free raffles. After the expo, stick around for a free live music performance by Syd Matson at 7 p.m. The expo will take place at SumTur Amphitheater, 11691 S 108th St. in Papillion. More.

19. Teach children about art at the ARTrepreneur Showcase. The Creative Genius Brings presents ARTrepreneur, a creative platform for all artist that are involved in media, photography, graphic design, painting, drawing, dancing, fashion, music and any other branch of art. Parents are encouraged to bring children to this all-ages event to teach them about the culture in the Omaha metro area community and to encourage them to pursue art. The ARTrepreneur Showcase will take place Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. at the Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St. More.

20. See Vikings, trolls and Scandinavians at the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival. The seventh annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival will be held Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Elmwood Park Pavilion and Grounds, 802 S. 60th St., just south of the University of Nebraska campus. Through the fun of Midsummer activities, the festival celebrates the culture and contributions of Scandinavians to the Midwest. This family-friendly festival is free and open to the general public. Scandinavian Midsummer Festival is a free event. To view a schedule of events, click here.

21. PinPoint Member Appreciation Day at Fun Plex. Come to Funplex Sunday for the 2016 Summer PinPoint Member Appreciation Day. All PinPoint members receive one free admission when they purchase one (limit one per valid PinPoint card). The offer is valid for general all-day admission. Normal price is $ 25.95 plus tax. More.

22. Hitchcock Nature Center’s KinderNature program. Come create constellations and discover the zoo in the sky during the KinderNature program, “Spacious Skies.” The fun will take place Sunday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. The program is designed for children ages 3 to 5, accompanied by an adult. The unique program is full of hands-on learning and outdoor activities that encourage curious minds to explore and engage with the natural world. Cost is $ 5 per child. For more information, call 712-545-3283. Hitchcock Nature Center is located at 27792 Ski Hill Loop in Honey Creek, Iowa. More.

23. Go on a walk or run with your family. Several walks and runs take place this weekend, including the Strider Cup race Saturday at The Railyard, 350 N 7th St. in Lincoln; the Hunger Run at Zorinsky Lake, 3808 S 156th St. in Omaha; Munroe-Meyer Guild’s 48th annual Garden Walk will take place Sunday at seven different gardens in Papillion, Nebraska. Click here to view the locations. 

24. Summer Camps at Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum. The Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum offers several summer camps to interest and educate youth in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. There are several new camps (one-day, three-day, five-day or overnight) for this June and July. For additional information and pricing, click here. The Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum is located at 28210 West Park Highway in Ashland, Nebraska.

25. Omaha Children’s Museum: Pirates and Mermaids: Voyage to Creature Cove. The exhibit, sponsored by Mutual of Omaha and Baxter Suburu, runs through Sept. 4. To allow visitors more chances to explore the exhibit, for the first time ever the museum will be open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting June 6. Pirates and Mermaids is an interactive environment for large motor play for young children, featuring a 40-foot wooden pirate ship where children can walk the plank into a ball pit sea and climb nets for lookout points. Among the biggest attractions are the five large animatronic prehistoric creatures throughout the exhibit, including a massive megalodon and octopus. Children will explore natural history through hands-on activities with authentic fossils related to the creatures. Members get in free. Adults and children are $ 12. More.

26. Storytelling Exhibition at Kaneko. The Storytelling Exhibition will be held Friday and run through Aug. 27. Kaneko will explore the creative process of storytelling and how design informs both the content and context in which stories are conveyed. Gallery hours during the storytelling season will be Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Storytelling Exhibition is a free event. Kaneko is at 1111 Jones St. More.

27. Free lunch for kids during the summer. This summer, children 18 and younger can visit sites throughout the Omaha area to receive access to free lunches. No paperwork or questions will be asked. Some sites also offer free meals for parents who accompany their children. The programs runs daily through July 31. More.

28. Visit a waterpark or splashpad. What better way to beat the summer heat than with water? The City of Omaha Parks and Recreation has several spraygrounds for families to enjoy. Click here to see a complete list. There are several other local splashpads and spraygrounds, including Eagle Ridge Splash Pad and Schwer Park Splash Pad in Papillion, SprayGround at Shadow Lake Towne Center and Sandy’s Splish-Splash Garden at the Omaha Children’s Museum.

29. Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at the Rose Theater. Come see this beloved Disney favorite come to life. The show runs June 3 through June 26. This weekend’s shows are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The show is two hours with an intermission, so it’s best for ages 5 and older. More.

30. The Summer of Invention at Do Space. Throughout the summer, Do Space will have invention-themed activities for people of all ages. The series launches Saturday with a kickoff party from noon to 4 p.m. Everyone is invited to preview the summer youth programming, try their hand at the Great Prototype Challenge and gather for a virtual Q&A with Omaha-born Harvard Researcher Jason Eastman, whose job involves discovering new planets. Other June activities include Littles Lab: Summer of Invention series Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.; Big Littles Lab – How to Invent on Sundays and Wednesdays at 1 p.m.; Junior Makers: Marvelous Moving Machines Tuesdays at 1 p.m.; and Teen Hackers: Edible Engineering Thursdays at 1 p.m. Do Space is located at 7205 Dodge St. in Omaha. More.

31. Yoga Rocks the Park. Yoga Rocks the Park is an eight-week yoga festival, held Sunday afternoons in Turner Park. The community event features a weekly, all-levels 60-minute yoga class, led by highly regarded yoga instructors, live music or DJ, community artist and Qi-Gong in Turner Park. Parents are invited to bring their little yogis for Camp YRP, a kid’s yoga class designed specifically for ages 4-10. The event is free. Turner Park at Midtown Crossing is located at 31st Avenue and Farnam Street in Omaha. For a list of events, click here.

32. See an outdoor movie. Bring a lawn chair and/or blanket, bug spray and campfire fare and enjoy an outdoor movie with Movie Nights at Camp Fontanelle. Friday night’s movie starts at 9:10 p.m. No movies will be shown if the weather is rainy. For more information, click here. SumTur Amphitheater’s Starlight Movie Series is back on Fridays. While there will be no movie this Friday, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will be shown Wednesday, June 15 at 9:15 p.m. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. The event is free. More. “Flix at the Chef” will take place this Saturday at 8 p.m. Come and enjoy a free outdoor movie behind the Dairy Chef, located at 611 Gateway Road in Elkhorn. Guests are welcome to bring blankets or chairs to sit on. Free popcorn will be provided, but guests can also bring their own food and beverages. Alcohol, tents, tarps, stakes and open flames are not allowed. Food, drinks and ice cream will also be sold at the Dairy Chef. Saturday’s movie is “Angels in the Outfield.” Free movies will also take place on July 9 (“Zootopia”), Aug. 13 (“Inside Out”), Sept. 10 (“Jungle Book”) and Oct. 1 (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”). More.

33. Go to a concert. Saturdays @ Stinson takes place every Saturday at Stinson Park at Aksarben Village. The concerts are family-friendly and include food and drink vendors, face painting, balloon artists — and kids can play in the fountain and on the playground equipment. More. The Vibes at Village Pointe returns Saturday at CHI Health Amphitheater with the Jason Early Band, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Patrons are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. The concerts will take place Saturdays through Aug. 20. More. Enjoy music with the family at the Friday Night Concert Series at Rockbrook Village. The series kicks off Friday from 7 to 8 p.m. and runs through Aug. 26. Friday’s concert will feature Robert Glaser & Urban Delight. Bring a lawn chair and enjoy a delightful evening for the whole family. More. The free Bridge Beats Summer Concert Series will start Friday at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Plaza, 705 Riverfront Dr. The concerts will feature local talent under the new shade structure, food trucks and interactive chalk drawings throughout the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Plaza. This summer’s concert schedule continues every other Friday night through Aug. 19. Concerts are scheduled from 6 to 9:30 p.m. More. Bellevue Music in the Parks starts this Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. and runs through Thursday, July 7. Concerts will take place at Washington Park, 20th and Franklin streets in Bellevue, Nebraska. The concerts are free. More. The First National Bank Music & Mozzarella concert series is back. Concerts are Thursdays in June. Kids bands from Lincoln and beyond come to perform at Lincoln Children’s Museum, located at 1420 P St. in Lincoln. The concert takes place on the Museum plaza, just east of the building. Admission to the concert is free. The KFRX pre-concert show begins at 5 p.m., and the band takes the stage at 6 p.m. Thursday’s band is Mighty Magic Pants. More. Summer Concert Series: Dance With Mother Goose. The Omaha Chamber Music Society presents music for woodwind quintet and harp; traditional dance forms join Ravel’s much loved Mother Goose Suite this Sunday. Cost is $ 20 for general admission. Special student and subscription prices available. The concert will take place at First Central Congregational Church, located at 421 South 36th St. in Omaha. More.

34. Celebrate summer reading at the Omaha Public Library. The library recently kicked off its annual Summer Reading Program, which runs through Aug. 1. Last year, more than 24,000 people participated in the program and logged more than 200,000 hours of reading. Register for the program at an upcoming OPL event, or at any of OPL’s 12 locations. Kids, teens and adults can earn prizes by reading and/or listening to books for 10 hours. Audio CDs, eBooks and Playaways count for SRP as well. Log the time for books you read/listen to online to receive/be eligible to win prizes. Additionally, take a peek at the library’s full summer lineup of events and fun here.

35. Odyssey’s SHIPWRECK! Pirates and Treasure. Come to The Durham Museum to view the new exhibit, Odyssey’s SHIPWRECK! Pirates and Treasure. The exhibit features Odyssey Marine Exploration’s world-class archaeological work in the deep ocean. Visitors will go on a voyage through more than 2,000 years of seafaring history and view over 500 authentic shipwreck artifacts. The exhibit goes through Sunday, Aug. 28. Cost is $ 11 for adults, $ 8 for senior citizens (ages 62+), $ 7 for children (ages 3-12) and FREE for members. More.

36. Steamship Bertrand at The Durham Museum. In partnership with the Desoto National Wildlife Refuge, and as a companion exhibition to “Odyssey’s SHIPWRECK! Pirates and Treasure,” The Durham Museum presents the story of the steamship Bertrand that sank in the Missouri River on April 1, 1865. Though no one was injured, almost the entire cargo was lost. More than 100 years later, the objects were recovered through underwater salvage and several will be on loan to The Durham to highlight the Omaha area’s own shipwreck story. More.

37. Go to a farmers market. Several area farmers markets are now open for the season. To see a full list, click here. 

38. Exhibits at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum. Two new exhibits are currently open, including “Beauty in Flight” and “Caproni & World Pioneers of Aviation.” “Beauty in Flight” features 21 prints by photographer Abby Jensen from Steamboat Springs, Colo. “Caproni & World Pioneers of Aviation” features iconic aircraft produced by innovators following the successful controlled flight by the Wright brothers. These flying machines and nine others will be on display through July 7. Exhibits are included with general admission – $ 12 for adult; $ 11 for seniors and military; and $ 6 for children 4 and older. More.

39. Public Sightseeing Cruise. Come aboard the River City Star on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 1 p.m. for a one-hour sightseeing cruise will travel along the Missouri River while soaking up the scenery at a relaxing, rhythmic pace. The captain will provide historic commentary on the unique sights and sounds of the Missouri River. Cruise highlights include the Omaha Riverfront, Freedom Park Naval Yard and cruising under the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Participants can enjoy hot foods and beverages available for purchase onboard. Cost is $ 15. The cruises occur every Saturday and Sunday until Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. More.

40. Go fishing, boating and hunting: The DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri Valley, Iowa, is open for the season. Get more information at

41. The King is Dead! The Regicide of Charles I at The Durham Museum. In 17th-century England, even being a king could be a dangerous job — sometimes you could even lose your head! “The King is Dead” explores the reign of England’s King Charles I and the story behind his eventual trial and execution for high treason. Cost is $ 11 for adults, $ 8 for senior citizens (ages 62+), $ 7 for children (ages 3-12) and FREE for members. More. 

42. Weekend Wildlife Films at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. On Saturday and Sunday, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, located at 1434 316th Lane in Missouri Valley, Iowa, will show a free wildlife film — “Creatures of the Sun.” Follow the painted turtle across the four seasons – through hibernation, mating, birth and death. The 30-minute film is family-friendly. The movie starts at 1:30 p.m. both days. More.

43. Go ice skating with your kids. The Ralston Arena offers public ice skating for $ 5, with free ice skate rental. More. The Motto McLean Ice Arena (inside Hitchcock Park at 45th and Q Streets) offers Family Skate time Sunday from 4 to 6:15 p.m. More.

44. See an indoor movie with your kids. Aksarben Cinema, at 2110 S. 67th St., has plenty of family-friendly movies showing every weekend. Plus, visit every Tuesday for $ 6 movies all day. Additionally – from June 10 to June 15, buy a large soft drink and receive a free 46-ounce junior popcorn (one free junior popcorn per large soft drink purchased). The Kid’s Dream Summer Film Series at Marcus Theaters (Village Pointe and Twin Creek) takes place every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. through Aug. 17. Cost is $ 3. Concession specials include $ 2.75 popcorn and fountain drinks. To get two free tickets to your choice of this year’s titles, just visit a participating agent at American Family Insurance or click here. This Sunday, Monday and Wednesday’s movie title is “Norm of the North.”

45. Do some crafts. Several area stores are hosting craft time for children this weekend. At Michaels, the KIDS CLUB will be creating a “You’re My Hero” card Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. The cost for that is $ 2. Kids can create a “Blast Off! Rocket Ship” at Lakeshore Learning Store from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

46. Social Play Group. Snyder Charleson Therapy Services, located at 8031 West Center Road, Suite 300, is hosting social play groups every Monday and Thursday. The play group sessions are 60 minutes long and take place at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. All groups are run by speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists. Group time will focus on sensory integration, communication and social skills through structured play-based activities. Social play groups are targeted toward children 2 to 6 years old. Groups will consist of two to four children depending on their age, skill level and areas of need. To schedule an appointment, call 402-763-4408 or email

47. Do something you’ve never done before: Check out 40 off-the-beaten-path things to do in Omaha if you’re looking for something new to keep you busy this weekend.

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