As spring finally appears in the Midwest, many of us cannot wait to get our kids out of the house and into nature. Nebraska has many fun nature gems for kids to explore. Here are my top four favorite spots to take Henry for a hike.
4 Favorite spots to hike
Fontenelle Forest: My number one favorite spot in Omaha is Fontenelle Forest. I love it there for so many reasons. The programs available for kids and adults of all ages are amazing. We especially love mud-pies, which I’d describe as an open Montessori style learning environment for kids (and their parents) 0-6! If you haven’t been, check it out! If it’s a rainy day, you can play inside at habitat hollow or enjoy the different seasons outside on a hike while looking for wild turkeys and visiting the different birds of prey in the raptor refuge.There’s a 3 mile ADA accessible (stroller friendly) boardwalk that takes you in a big loop to look out over the Missouri River and a nice view of the downtown skyline. There are also miles and miles of dirt trails ranging from beginner to expert.
Neale Woods: Neale Woods, Fontenelle Forest’s counterpart to the north has breathtaking views of downtown and a more rugged feel to it. The trails are not quite as easy, but the untouched beauty of Neale Woods is worth the trip. You can also walk right alongside the Missouri River through the floodplain.
Some of the trails are bit on the more difficult side, but the untouched beauty of Neale Woods is worth the trip and there are plenty of level trails to explore. Part of the forest was cleared to make way for prairie restoration, which is a fun little bit of Midwest history for kids to see and learn about in person.
Hitchcock Nature Center: Another favorite is Hitchcock Nature Center. The visitors center has a fun kids’ corner with books and interactive exhibits. It’s also one of the top 20 bird watching spots in all of North America! It’s fun to walk up the observation tower when the birdwatchers are there keeping count. They’ll tell you about the dozens of different kinds of birds that have passed through on their migration that day. And the view is nothing short of spectacular. Hitchcock is at a particularly wonderful elevation to get a wide view for miles and miles. It is a bit of a windy drive, but there’s an adorable spot to grab lunch (Henry’s dinner) along the way!
Mahoney State Park: This park features so many amazing activities. But if you strip away the disc golf, fishing, basketball courts, sand volleyball, it’s actually a really awesome place to just walk around and be in nature. Because it’s right along the Platte River, it’s a great spot to watch for bald eagles and see their massive nests and other water-loving birds. Plus, the trails are easy enough for little hikers!
Bonus: you can also visit the Strategic Air and Space Museum or The Wildlife Safari Park (one of our favorite spots) before heading home!
I hope this post inspires you to try something new! What are your plans for this spring? I’d love to hear how your family celebrates Mother Nature!