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20 things we can finally do as coronavirus restrictions ease
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20 things we can finally do as coronavirus restrictions ease

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Soaring Wings Vineyard and Brewing (copy)

Live music will return to Soaring Wings Winery on June 5.

“The coronavirus certainly has robbed us of the joys of summer,” a caller to The World-Herald lamented. “I need ideas for fun things to do.”

Strike up the band! New options for June are just ahead with the loosening of coronavirus restrictions across most of Nebraska and Iowa.

Here are 20 Things We (finally!) Can Do — while keeping social distancing and other public health guidelines top of mind.

Enjoy wine, music and the great outdoors

James Arthur Vineyards

James Arthur Vineyards starts its Movie & Wine Series on June 5.

Slattery Vintage Estates in rural Cass County between Nehawka and Weeping Water is open on weekends with performers and pizza. Bottled wine, beer and pre-poured sangria are being offered. The Tasting Room will be closed. Seating is outdoors and limited at 6 feet apart. You need a mask to visit restrooms. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 1 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Soaring Wings Winery near Springfield has been open for takeout, but it’s slowly returning to more extensive operations. Guests now can sit outside and enjoy food, wine and beer. Live music will return June 5 with a 7 p.m. performance by Private Stock. Winery hours are noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

James Arthur Vineyards in Raymond near Lincoln reopened in mid-May. Tastings are allowed Monday through Friday, and people get a glass of wine as a substitute on weekends. Musicians will perform Saturdays from 6 to 9 p.m. The Movie & Wine series begins June 5 with one of these John Hughes films: “The Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “Uncle Buck.” The film that gets the most votes on the James Arthur Facebook page will be shown. Tickets for music and films are available on the vineyard’s website. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Friday, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Get some exercise alone, with a pal or with your dog

Check out an air show (copy)

Get some exercise chasing your radio-controlled airplane at Standing Bear Lake Park.

Members of the Omahawks, a radio-controlled airplane club, frequently congregate at Standing Bear Lake Park with their mini flying machines. You don’t have to be a member; guest pilots and onlookers are welcome. Their hangout, Hawks Field, has a 500-by-40-foot runway for maximum takeoff. The park also has picnic tables and, of course, a lake. You’ll find more info on the hobby on the group’s website.

Come Monday, you can play disk golf for hours at Seymour Smith Park near 68th and Harrison Streets. The park’s 18-hole course will be open from dawn to dusk each day.

Dogs may have gotten more walks during the pandemic than ever before, but that doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate a trip to the dog park. And their humans also will get a change of scenery. Dewey Dog Park, at 550 Turner Park Blvd., is open from dawn to dusk each day. It has agility obstacles and water features, plus shaded seating for exhausted dog owners.

Go to the drive-in for a movie or concert

Marcus Twin Creek Cinema, 3909 Raynor Parkway in Bellevue, is showing films in its parking lot. The same double-feature runs from Wednesday through Sunday each week at $20 per car. “Grease” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” are currently showing. Concessions are available online until 30 minutes after the second feature begins. Organizers recommend portable radios to save car batteries. Advance tickets — available on the theater website — are required.

If you crave live music, go to Falconwood Park at 905 Allied Road in Bellevue for weekend concerts. The next performer is Lemon Fresh Day, a local cover band that plays selections from nearly every genre of popular music. You can order food by phone. Cars must have six people or fewer. The park owner also plans to announce a series of drive-in movies later this summer.

Visit a widely known attraction

Lauritzen Gardens

Laurtizen Gardens will reopen Monday. Visitors must buy or reserve tickets ahead of time online.

• The Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum was the area’s first major attraction to welcome back visitors. The timing couldn’t have been better with NASA and SpaceX’s mission to the International Space Station in the news. Saturday’s planned launch, coupled with a look at the museum’s pristine collection, is the stuff that fuels dreams for youngsters interested in space and aviation. Admission is $13 for adults, $11 for seniors and military with ID; $6 for children ages 4 to 12; free for members and children ages 3 and younger. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Masks for visitors and staff are required. Find other safety guidelines and details about the collection at sacmuseum.org.

• Simmons Safari Park opened the last weekend of March for drive-thru only tours and drew record crowds. The Wildlife Safari Park’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and only the drive-thru experience is being offered at this time. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for children ages 3 to 11; $7 for seniors ages 65 and older; free for children ages 2 and younger. Discounts are offered for active military personnel and their children.

• Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Omaha’s most popular tourist attraction reopens Monday with a maximum of 3,000 visitors on the grounds at any one time. Everyone must arrive with a reservation made in advance at omahazoo.com/hours-and-admission. Time slots are available every half-hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. Staff will be outfitted with PPE. Face masks are not required for visitors, although zoo officials encourage their use. The indoor exhibits and children’s activity areas will be closed. But guests will be able to enjoy the outdoor exhibits in a one-way walk covering 1.8 miles through the zoo. Tickets are discounted $20.95 for guests ages 12 and older, $13.95 for children ages 3 to 11, and $19.95 for seniors ages 65 and older.

• Lauritzen Gardens is reopening Monday, too. Visitors will have access to the grounds from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and entry will be by timed ticket for members and the general public. Visitors must go to lauritzengardens.org to purchase or reserve tickets in advance; sales will not be handled on the premises. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for members and children younger than 3. A pollinator scavenger hunt is free and designed for all ages.

• Fontenelle Forest’s buildings may be closed or have limited capacity, but its 19 miles of trails are open. Visit fontenelleforest.org to purchase a day pass or an annual membership with an option for key fob access to trails before and after normal business hours. Admission is $11 for adults, $8 for children ages 2 to 17, and free to members and children younger than 2.

Get to know Omaha history

Old Market (copy)

The Old Market in Omaha is among the destinations for tours offered by Nebraska Tour Co.

The Nebraska Tour Co. has several guided tours of the city on its website. Participants can walk, bike or drive. Each has a curated itinerary featuring historic landmarks, art installations and hidden gems. Options include Downtown Omaha Landmarks Tours, the Omaha History Tour and the Omaha Art Tour. Each is $10 per group per day, and you can go at your own pace. The company also has dining tours and Old Market tours for groups and individuals, with stringent safety guidelines. You can learn more at nebraskatourcompany.com.

Explore a cemetery

Prospect Hill Cemetery Omaha(2) (copy)

A number of Omaha's founding fathers are buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery.

There may be no better way to learn a city’s history than walking through its cemeteries. Make it a solitary pursuit or a family activity, but no matter what, it’s peaceful and allows social distancing. Two must-sees:

Prospect Hill Cemetery, 3202 Parker St. This is the place to go if you want to see the graves of Omaha’s founders and Nebraska luminaries from the early days. Pioneers buried here bear names you should recognize from Omaha streets and neighborhoods, such as Redick, Reed, Hanscom and Millard. That’s just the beginning. Searching for local luminaries can be an educational treasure hunt for kids.

Forest Lawn Cemetery, 7907 Mormon Bridge Road. You could spend all day walking through this sprawling and pristine cemetery that’s the final resting place for many notable people. Those buried here include World-Herald publisher Henry Doorly (yes, the zoo Doorly); World-Herald founder and U.S. Sen. Gilbert Hitchcock; Civil War photographer David Knox; pioneer banker Herman Kountze (a Lutheran church downtown bears his name); Howard Buffett, father of Warren; U.S. Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige; and Todd Storz, who is credited with creating the Top 40 radio format and was the grandson of brewer Robert Storz. Descendants of these people still live among us.

Take a hike, stay the night, cook over an open flame

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is keeping its cabins, lodges and group activity shelters closed through at least June 15. But state parks and recreation areas are open for day use, including designated swimming, fishing, hiking, biking and wildlife viewing. Tent and RV camping with advance reservation are available too. For a full list and permits, visit outdoornebraska.org/parksfaqs.

Camp Fontanelle near the village of Fontanelle has a brand new Family Escapes series that begins June 12. Registration is open for day and overnight experiences for six family groups at a time. Each family will have an assigned restroom, a designated area for their belongings and even a personal campfire ring. The deadline to make reservations is June 22. Learn more at campfontanelle.com.

Go out for eats and drinks

It’s been a long, dry spell for those who are highly social and love gathering with friends. Happy hour goes live again Monday when bars and lounges can reopen under the same rules that apply to restaurants — including operating at 50% capacity, with parties spaced out by at least 6 feet. Darts, pool and arcade games will have to wait. But open taps and tabs in Nebraska and Iowa are still welcome news for many. So here’s to drinking a cold, craft beer in a glass instead of a plastic cup and having wait staff serve food orders to your table again.

Take a day trip

Bakers Candies

Bakers Candies in Greenwood, Nebraska's largest candy store.

• U.S. Highway 6 between Omaha and Lincoln has a number of points of interest: Linoma Beach with its historic lighthouse; Ashland with its quaint shops, new Glacial Till Cider House & Tasting Room (try the poached pear) and Parker’s Smokehouse, where BBQ is king. Not-to-be-missed in Greenwood: Bakers Candies, Nebraska’s largest candy store. If you like to camp, check out the small campgrounds along the way.

Go on a picnic

Omaha’s city parks are a good option for a spur-of-the-moment picnic. Memorial or Elmwood Parks have wide open spaces, or pick a less-popular destination like Seymour Smith, Hanscom or Pipal Park. Pack your own food (hello, PBJ) or order takeout to bring along. Think sandwiches, burgers, wraps, tacos, fried chicken — or anything else that requires minimal utensils and condiments. Don’t forget drinks, napkins, a trash bag, hand sanitizer, masks (if they make you feel safer) and a blanket to sit on. You can even bring along some pillows to make it feel a little more fancy! If you’re looking for something to entertain you after you’re done eating, bring along some games. Just avoid things like flying discs and soccer balls since you can’t always control where they go. Play a board game, charades, “I Spy” or even Heads Up!, which you can download and play straight from your phone.

World-Herald staff writer Ashlee Coffey contributed to this roundup.


Our best staff photos of May 2020

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Features/Special Sections Editor

Chris is features and special sections editor for The World-Herald. She also is editor of the WH's magazines and books. She writes on lifestyle topics and invites story ideas. Instagram @chrischristen;Twitter @cchristenOWH. Phone: 402-444-1094.

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