Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Railroad Days: Lauritzen Gardens [Part 1 of 5]

Lauritzen Gardens

• North of I-80: 100 Bancroft St in Omaha, Nebraska
www.omahabotanicalgardens.org
• 402-346-4002
• Open daily 9 a.m to 5 p.m. except for some holidays
• Admission varies by season
November to March: Adults: $6, Children (ages 6 to 12): $3, Members and those under the age of 6 are free.
April to October: Adults:$7, Children (ages 6 to 12): $3, Members and those under the age of 6 are free.
• Free parking (upper & lower lots)
• Restrooms available in the Visitor Center
• Most areas are stroller-accessible.

Lauritzen Gardens was our first stop on Saturday. Railroad Days runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and we should have arrived as early as possible. However, we were driving in from out of town and hadn’t stayed overnight, so we got a late start.

We arrived at Lauritzen Gardens around 10:30 a.m. The upper parking lot was already packed, but there was still plenty of room in the lower lot. The lower lot is quite a walk from the main entrance. (We used the provided shuttle service on the way up but walked the winding path on the way back down to our vehicle.)

Be prepared at Lauritzen Gardens to do a lot of walking. We went through only a small portion of the 100-acre site. In essence, it is a botanical garden. For Railroad Days, however, they had added many activities for families and children. This year, there were Mini Train Rides on a scaled-down version of a Union Pacific train. There was an area where kids could make their own train engineer’s hats, make train pictures using their thumb and finger-prints and markers, and make train necklaces using dyed dry pasta pieces. Union Pacific posters and memorabilia from the heyday of railroads was on display. There was a storyteller and musician, singers, and model trains all over the place.

They had food available right outside the Visitor Center for this event, but we did not try any. The restrooms were also located in the Visitors Center, so use them before you get too far.

We did all the children’s activities before walking what we were told by a volunteer would be a “two minute” walk to the KidStructure. I think she meant to say two MILE walk (that’s what it felt like) on the main access road. It was beautiful as we passed many labeled flowers and plants – some that we even recognized from our own or friends’ gardens.
We passed a model railroad garden – including buildings, tressels and bridges constructed of natural materials. We didn’t count them, but we were told that there were seven G-scale model train lines running.

 The roads were asphalt and definitely stroller-friendly. Some areas were handicap-accessible on one end, but not on the other. In some cases, you would have to double-back unless you were willing to do some stair-hiking.

On the way back, we took a winding route through some of the rose gardens. I think it was a bit shorter. There were lots of hills, so wear your walking shoes!

The KidStructures featured a huge “honeycomb” display, a building to showcase “spacial” changes to kids, a corn-growing explanation, cows, marbles, and a few buildings that despite the adult misgivings, the kids climbed up. There was also a mini “Mount Fuji” for the kids to climb.

We covered only a small portion of the gardens and left around 1:30 p.m. as we wanted to get to the other locations as part of Railroad Days as well. This was definitely the best of the five locations and one we could have spent the whole day at. Well-worth a visit if you are in the area, even with the steep admission prices.

This post was submitted by a guest author. You can see more at Learning As I Go.

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