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Taking Tweens to the Best Zoo in the U.S.

Planning any family travel near Omaha? See what happened when I took my tweens to the best zoo–the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

Taking Tweens to the Omaha Zoo

Omaha, Nebraska, is a long way from Washington, DC! But we had read that the Henry Doorly Zoo was the best in the country. Really?

I was skeptical. I grew up going to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and my favorite zoo had been the San Diego Zoo for all of my adult years.

So was it worth it, especially for my “big” kids, tweens ages 10-12? Here is what you need to know about this incredible zoo and aquarium!

Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha

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Where is the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium?

This amazing animal park is located in Omaha, Nebraska. As part of our three-week, 2500-mile road trip, we stayed across the river in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Then it was just a quick drive to the zoo and other Omaha attractions.

What makes the Omaha Zoo so special?

Where shall I start?! We walked through the Lied Jungle, the largest indoor rainforest in America. And then we went through the Desert Dome, the largest indoor desert! My girls hadn't been to Arizona to visit my mom yet, so they were really blown away by the exotic plants and animals.

We visited an African boardwalk and fed giraffes by hand. We walked all over the 7 acres of indoor exhibits. There was so much to do, we were there from opening to closing, and it still wasn't enough! The only area we skipped was the kids' play area and petting zoo.

Desert Habitat at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha Nebraska

We loved seeing elephants roaming in their natural habitat. The girls and I enjoyed the aviary, but my son wouldn't come in because he's been afraid of birds since getting spooked by a peacock as a toddler.

The orangutans were so much fun to watch! There was a very young one playing on a tire swing that I could have watched all day! Between the Hubbard Orangutan Forest and Hubbard Gorilla Valley, that was a lot of our afternoon.

And there's an Aquarium, too?

This is part of what really impressed me: The Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium is a full aquarium right inside the Zoo. As in, typically we would pay this much admission fee to go to a whole separate place! 

My son loved the 70-foot shark tunnel, and we spent quite a long time watching sea turtles and even penguins!

Of course, I didn't get any great photos inside the dark aquarium. You'll have to visit it yourself!

Petting goats at Omaha zoo

Ticket prices at Henry Doorly Zoo

Summer 2019 ticket prices for adults (age 12+) are $21.95 per person. Children ages 3 to 11 are $15.95. Seniors are $20.95, and kids 2 and under are FREE. Military families receive a discount of $1 per ticket.

Be aware that ticket prices may change and differ during special events, so check their website for the latest pricing. Group rates for the Omaha Zoo are available for groups 40 and larger. 

The Doorly Zoo offers rides for additional charges and do not run if there is rain, snow, ice or temperatures under 50 degrees. We enjoyed riding Skyfari, similar to a sky ride at a theme park, giving you a beautiful view. There is also a train, tram, and Carousel.


Henry Doorly Zoo Coupons and Discounts

When purchasing tickets online, you can upgrade to two-day admission paying only 50% for the second day, as long as they're used consecutively. 

The Omaha Zoo is a participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Reciprocity program. If you have a zoo membership to another AZA Zoo, admission is half-price.

Birdwatching at Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Consider Zoo Membership

If you are near Omaha and will be visiting the zoo more than once this year, save money by becoming a Zoo Member. A Household Membership covers two adults plus up to six children at the same address. Plus–there's a Military Family Membership that's less than $100!

Members get free admission to Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium for one year as well as free or reduced admission reciprocity to over 150 zoos and aquariums.

Members also get free admission to the Member Day event and discounted Zoo classes and events. There's also a 5% discount on concessions, the gift shop, rides, and the interactive Stingray Beach attraction.

Watching the elephants in Omaha

How to Get to the Zoo

The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquairum is located at 3701 S. 10th Street, in Omaha, Nebraska, just off I-80. Get detailed directions from the zoo website.

Parking is completely FREE. And we weren't sure why, but there was a miniature baseball stadium in the middle of the parking lot. It was pretty cool!


What Else to Know Before You Go to the Omaha Zoo

You are welcome to bring outside food and drinks into the Zoo, so plan to bring a bag or cooler. However, glass containers and alcohol are prohibited.

Strollers and wagons are available to rent, but you are encouraged to bring your own.

Because you may be traveling with your pet, a limited number of kennels are available inside Guest Services.

Since we were at the tail end of our three-week trip, we hadn't packed food to bring into the Zoo. Instead, we went down the street to the most amazing authentic Mexican restaurant. It reminded me of my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant when we lived in Los Angeles years ago!

Tiger at Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha

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