This past week as our family gathered at our house for Justin’s mom’s birthday, I was reflecting on a memorable trip we took to celebrate her special day last year.

We had planned a full weekend of fun in Omaha for the 11 of us (Justin has two sisters and between the three families, there are four young and energetic kids to entertain!).  Of the thousands of things we could do in Omaha, at the top of our list was the Henry Doorly Zoo.  Even though our own local community has a great zoo that we are lucky to have close by and visit often, most people that have been will tell you that Omaha’s is a zoo experience like no other.

The morning we had planned to visit, it was already blazing hot outside by the time the zoo opened at 9 a.m.  With four kids in tow, we knew we were going to need plenty of sunscreen, snacks, and water, so we were ready with supplies!  When asked what she was most excited about doing on the trip, Cora had responded that besides playing with her cousins, it was getting to see a giraffe at the zoo.  About ten minutes after entering the zoo, she got her wish in the African Grasslands exhibit: 

Checking that sight off the list took some pressure off us parents, but there was no way we were going to coast the rest of the zoo trip – we had a lot more ground to cover!  So we decided to see how much we could take in from a bird’s-eye view.  Justin and I took Cora on the Skyfari, which is the zoo’s open-air chairlift that travels across the zoo, allowing us to see the expanse of the exhibits from above.  We were able to capture awesome views of the elephant habitat, to glide over the lagoon watching the pelicans frolic, and to enjoy a distant view of the lions, plus much more.   It was a relaxing and inexpensive way to see the highlights of the park and beat the heat.  And fortunately, though some of us (me) are uneasy about heights, it was also quite safe.

As I mentioned, there was a lot to see, but as I also mentioned, it was hot!  Our next move was to work our way over to the zoo’s Alaskan Adventure splash park.  I can’t say enough about what a saving grace a water feature is when you’re out and about with small kids.  And this one really delivers.  We had planned ahead by bringing the kids extra clothes so they could get right down to business getting wet.  The exhibit has lots of different sprays and fountains to keep the kids busy, set around sculptures representing the different kinds of Alaskan animals the zoo doesn’t currently have.  I remember that day there were kids, and parents, of all ages enjoying themselves with the cool refreshment of the splash park. 

We knew we wouldn’t be able to see in one day all the amazing sights the zoo has to offer.  After filling our tummies with a picnic lunch, we packed up and headed out, back to our spacious VRBO for afternoon naps.   I like to think the kids dreamed of lions, tigers, and bears (in a good way) that weekend.  We are looking forward to going back in years to come to experience more of this fantastic zoo!   

Cora and Grandma reflect on the trip to the zoo