What to Expect on a Visit to the Omaha Zoo in 2020


We’re all trying to find safe ways to get out of the house and have a little fun. For our brood, a day-trip to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo was just what we needed. With masks and pre-printed tickets in hand, we took a road trip my son deemed “the best day of the pandemic!”

Here’s what you need to know about a trip to the Omaha Zoo in 2020.

  1. Buy Tickets Online Ahead of Time
    To limit the crowd size, the zoo is selling tickets with specific entry times. We bought tickets for a 10 a.m. entry, which was perfect for an 8 a.m. departure from the Des Moines area. If you really want to avoid crowds, I recommend going during the week. Another contributor also recently visited and was able to utilize her family membership to the Blank Park Zoo and get reciprocity pricing for her tickets to the Omaha Zoo. These tickets cannot be purchase ahead of time, but start at 10 a.m. at the ticket window. 
  2. Wear a Mask
    Masks are required in all buildings and are highly recommended throughout the entire zoo. We felt like the crowds were small enough we could take masks breaks when we were walking between exhibits.
  3. Know What’s Open & Closed
    One nice thing about going in the fall is the Alaskan Adventure splash park area is closed for the season, so you don’t have to console the kids who are missing out on this park favorite. The Bay Family Children’s Adventure Trails is also closed. The train is also currently closed. The carousel is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting, and seating may be limited due to social distancing. The Desert Dome, Kingdoms of the Night, the aquarium, and the upper-level of the Lied Jungle are all open. If you haven’t been to the Omaha zoo lately, the new outdoor sea lion exhibit opened in September and it’s sensational. The Asian Highlands is another outdoor exhibit that is worth the trip. My kids’ favorite was the gorilla exhibit, where two young gorillas were wrestling and playing on tire swings. Adorable! Be sure to check the zoo’s website before your trip for the most up-to-date information on what exhibits and amenities are open.
  4. Pack a Picnic Lunch 
    When we went, there was a snack bar open near the aquarium, but several eating areas and the Durham Treetop Restaurant were closed. We opted to bring our own lunch. If you use a stroller, you could tuck a small lunch cooler into the basket and find a picnic table for lunch. Our kids have outgrown strollers so we left a cooler in the car and we had a tailgate picnic. It was easy to get a stamp for re-entry after lunch.
  5. Bring Hand Sanitizer
    I was impressed with how many hand sanitizer stations were placed throughout the zoo, but there were still times when I was glad I had my own so I could give my kids a fresh squirt of hand-sanitizer after touching the glass in the aquarium or the buttons on the elevator. (It doesn’t matter how many times you say “don’t touch” they are going to touch something!)

After a summer without any vacations or summer camps, it was fun to hit the road and act like a tourist for a day. (And we were home by 6 p.m.)


If you aren’t ready for 4 to 6 hours in a public place but would still like to have a cool animal encounter, you can travel an extra 30 minutes into Nebraska and visit the Wildlife Safari Park.

The Wildlife Safari Park is a four-mile drive-through exhibit where you can see elk, bison, and a variety of birds from the safety of your vehicle. If you’d like to get out (face masks encouraged) and stretch your legs, you can follow a wooded path to see bears, wolves, owls and bald eagles.

What outings have been a hit with your family this year?

omaha zoo

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Content Coordinator Megan doesn’t really fall into any one mom category. With three kids from ages 5 to 12, she’s been a working mom and a stay-at-home mom. She’s breastfed and bottle-fed. She’s kept kids on strict sleeping schedules in their own beds and also embraced the benefits of co-sleeping. She’s a big believer in finding what works for you and your kiddo (and it’s often different for each kid). Megan is an Iowa native and lives in Ankeny with her husband Darren. They love to travel and are often planning their next road trip (even it’s a year away). They also enjoy entertaining and are famous among their friends for throwing big bashes to celebrate the Olympic Games. But her everyday life is mostly comprised of playdates, trips to the park, and trying to stay ahead of the never-ending laundry pile.    


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