Road Trip from Fargo: Omaha, NE

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A couple of years ago as Labor Day weekend approached, on a whim our family decided to take a mini vacation. Since we only had four days, we needed somewhere easily drivable, yet far enough away that felt like we actually went somewhere. My love for incredible zoos landed us on the decision to visit Omaha, Nebraska!

Road Trip to Omaha

Getting There

Fargo to Omaha is 420 miles, an easy drive straight south on I-29 (six hours if you don’t stop).

We broke the drive down into two days.

Leaving Thursday evening after work, we made it the 3.5 hours (243 miles) to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was a no-fuss stop, just a hotel to sleep for the night.

Day 1: On the Road, Sioux City, & Arrival in Omaha

Then after a quick breakfast, we hit the road.

Mid-morning of our first full day on the road, we arrived in Sioux City, Iowa.

The best place to stretch your legs is the Sargent Floyd River Museum (bonus: it’s free). Our kids loved the decommissioned ship they could run through and explore.

The museum is located along the beautiful riverfront and adjacent to Chris Larsen Park which has a nice playground and picnic shelter.

It’s also nearby the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (also free admission) which is full of exhibits, programs, and activities.

This makes for a nice mid-way lunch spot before heading the final 1.5 hours (97 miles) to Omaha.

We spent the late afternoon and evening taking a few easy strolls through neighborhoods and parks.

If you have some time to spend exploring the city, check out this list of free things to do in Omaha.

Day 2: Omaha Zoo

With three little kids (and a mom who loves animals), the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium was the highlight of our trip.

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And be prepared, it takes the whole day.

With good reason — the zoo is huge! It was aptly voted as America’s #1 zoo by USA Today.

One of the very first areas of the Omaha zoo we visited (and the place where we spent the most time) was the Bay Family Children’s Adventure Trails. Think McDonald’s Playland x 1,000 and all outdoors.

Eventually, we had to drag our kids away from all the climbing, bungees, and waterfall exploring so we could go see some animals.

The creatures to see are too many to list, but some of our favorite encounters included feeding giraffes, petting stingrays, and slowly creeping through darks caves to view bats and alligators.

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The zoo does such a great job of creating realistic habitats and truly immersing your family in the experience.

Click here for a full zoo map.

Know Before You Go:

  • You will spend most of the day walking, so definitely bring a stroller and wear tennis shoes.
  • Outside food and beverage is allowed inside the zoo, and I highly recommend bringing water bottles, snacks, and even packing a lunch. Food is available for purchase, but if it’s a busy weekend, food lines tend to be long. Plus it’s usually pretty hot, so a packed lunch and snacks makes for less meltdowns.
  • omahaMy tip: arrive right away at 9:00 a.m. when gates open. Doors close at 5:00 p.m. and with three young kids, it took us the entire day to get through the whole zoo.
  • Restrooms are plentiful and a nursing room is also available.

Plan some time to lay low in the evening (maybe order in a pizza and watch a movie), because you will be tired out!

Day 3: Air Museum & Old Market

My husband and son love airplanes, so we ventured a bit out of town to the Omaha to Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum.

The 30-minute drive to the museum in Ashland, NE wove us through cornfields and rolling hills. Then, in the midst of the expansive plains rose the large air museum.

More full-size airplanes than I could count filled the 300,000 square foot museum along with many interactive kid-friendly exhibits. Our kiddos even took a ride in a flight simulator.

If you have a space or aviation enthusiast, or just really curious kids, this museum is worth the quick drive.

On your return to Omaha in the afternoon, swing through the Wildlife Safari Park to view bears, wolves, elk, bison, and the eagle aviary.

We spent our Omaha evening meandering through the Old Market Entertainment District. Street musicians and artists, boutiques and galleries, and unique restaurants and pubs line the cobblestone streets.

The majority of downtown Omaha hotels are within walking distance of the Old Market and many even offer a shuttle.

Other Places to Check Out in Omaha:

have more time and looking for more fun? Check out these great Omaha attractions!

Omaha Children’s Museum

Durham Train Museum

Lauritzen Gardens

Last Day: Sioux Falls Stop

We had an entire day to drive the 420 miles from Omaha back to Fargo, so we planned to take a long break in Sioux Falls, SD around lunch.

Falls Park is a beautiful park to explore. Our kids loved climbing over rocks and getting up close to the quick moving water.

If you’ve only have three or fours days available for a quick trip, Omaha is a fun-filled destination. The zoo itself is worth the drive, plus the little extras along the way makes it feel like you had a full-scale vacation all fit into one extra long weekend.

Looking for more short trip ideas? See 5 Fun Weekend Trips From Fargo with Kids.
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Michaela Schell
Michaela, along with her husband Jarrod, raise their three young children in Fargo. Michaela grew up on a farm in Western North Dakota, where she developed the strong value of a good day of hard work. So now she rarely sits still. You will find her leading a large network marketing team with Rodan + Fields and running her own training and events company, which developed the Limitless Conference for small business owners. She also loves public speaking and jumps at the chance to share her journey and teach others. You could say she has a passion for growing things... businesses, plants, and people, and feels most blessed to be able to run her businesses from home while growing her family. Michaela hopes to inspire other moms to build businesses and be proud of their personal and professional lives. So often we as moms find ourselves being wrapped in guilt... guilt of working instead of being home with our kids, guilt of being home with our kids and not working, or guilt of being stressed and frazzled trying to do both. But, she believes there is no such thing as balance and if we love our kids and love our careers, both will turn out just fine.

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