Go-karts hug the twists and turns of a 1/4-mile track. Six batting cages hurl baseballs and softballs at speeds between 50 mph and 80 mph. An 18-hole miniature golf course coaxes putted balls down greens ranging from 75- to 185-feet in length. Elsewhere, water balloons fired from a launcher soak opponents stationed at battle zones. For 20 years, Papio Fun Park has enraptured families with abundant outdoor and indoor activities and games.
The indoor facility hosts trampoline-hopping players at Spaceball or Jumpshot, while an arcade brims with quarter-operated air hockey, pool tables, and laundry machines disguised as video games.
When it opened in the late 1970s, Fun-Plex enticed patrons with a single go-kart track. Since then, the park has accumulated a wealth of attractions, including a tilt-a-whirl, bumper boats, and Nebraska's only roller coaster. Kiddie Land accommodates youngsters with a mini coaster and express train; Wet & Wild Water Park soaks visitors with a lazy river, kiddie pool, and two five-story water slides every summer from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.
After toweling off, guests can take to the 18-hole miniature-golf course to putt past water hazards, sand traps, and gophers on vacation. Visitors craving indoor fun can try their hand at pinball or Pac-Man in the arcade or wander through a haunted house during the Halloween season. When it's time to reenergize, patrons can choose from four restaurants with food ranging from carnival snacks to pizza and breadsticks.
In addition to its 32 action-packed lanes, Mockingbird Lanes offers amenities for the entire family, including a newly renovated full-service lounge and snack bar, billiards, a large game room, and bumper lanes to accommodate little ones or the clumsy at heart. Pull yourself up by your bowling shoestraps ($2 rental value) and refine your strike skills during three fun rounds ($2.75–$3.60 per round). Each of the alley's long, lean, and athletic lanes comes with automatic scoring, so disbelieving opponents won't mis-mark your 7-12 split.
Though its name implies a focus on inflatable attractions, the all-ages indoor playground at Pump It Up of Omaha also gets kids active on an 18-foot rock-climbing wall and a theatrically lit karaoke and dance stage. These attractions stand among a sea of air-filled slides and climbing structures, some designed by members of the management team. The Slippery Slope challenges climbers to run up an inflatable slide, collecting velcro flags as they race to the top; bounce castles propel jumpers into the air; and the Chaos obstacle course lets racers run side-by-side or practice shaking hands while walking. The playground also holds special programs such as day camps for young and medium-young children, private birthday parties, and field trips. Many of Pump It Up's staffers are university students working toward education degrees; they often organize contests and games, and supervise visitors while playing on the same level as their smaller guests.
Scandia Family Fun Center flings open the doors to youthful fantasy in a lush space that has continued to blossom since opening day in 1988. Much of the management has been on staff for more than 15 years, evincing a love of fun that is reflected in the manicured grounds and impressive wealth of games. Juniper and magnolia trees shade shingled cottages and castles rise from mossy rocks on the two 18-hole mini-golf courses. The sounds of splashing and laughter indicate both the birth of another pirate and a direct hit from a Blaster boat's front-mounted water cannon, backdropped by go-karts rumbling on the Li’l Indy Raceway and bats cracking in the batting cages. Inside, the arcade illustrates the evolution of gaming with more than 150 machines. A limited-edition Tron pinball machine crowns the collection of vintage games, and modern play is represented with multiplayer dance simulators, Quadair hockey tables, and cinematic experiences such as Terminator: Salvation, which screens on a 100-inch monitor. Visitors who left their pizza-flavor chew toys at home can check out Scandia's Viking Pizza.
During BounceU's parties, kids bound through inflatable play structures—and occasionally glow in the dark. At the center's Cosmic bounce parties, the main lights are replaced by special-effects lighting, which coaxes light from glow-in-the-dark accessories. The center's new location, in operation since May 2013, complements its shindigs with open-play sessions and more structured classes, appropriate for kids aged 2 and older.
The shifting seasons bring beauty and bounty to Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard, from the baby buds and bursting petals of spring to the branches heavy with peaches, apricots, cherries, and apples during summer and autumn. In 1994, the Ditmars family laid 300 trees into the ground as a family project, but slowly expanded their hobby into a full-time orchard, now cultivating almost 4,000 trees.
In the summer, fat juicy strawberries nestle in rows ready to be picked, and in fall, fields overflow with acres of bulbous orange pumpkins ready to become jack-o’-lanterns or a horseman’s fancy new hat. Amid fiery foliage and crisp autumn air, families adventure through the onsite corn maze and attend fun fall festivals that feature face painting and hayrides. Kids can clamber over tractor tires and whoosh down slides in the orchard’s large playground. Guests reenergize at the country kitchen, where lunch selections include apple cider, frozen fruit pies, and fresh-made chicken-salad sandwiches, as well as native Iowa wines available by the bottle or glass.