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When the chance to try out the eagerly adventurous mini-van new to our clan for a multi-faceted Holiday this past labor day we took advantage of what lays within a days drive.  Not an ill word was given towards the city of Omaha within the young family circles we circulate. So a mini-van full of family, on-board movies about “monster trucks”, plenty of fishy crackers and three hours of corn fields led us to our weekend haven.

Not to forget the lunch in downtown St. Joesph on the way, a great little joint with a fork on the sign served great food and a classic atmosphere. As far as the downtown, it looked like it had personality once upon a time. Notable for birthing Jesse James and the Pony Express for those interested. 

So we stayed across the river from Omaha in Iowa with a not so great view of anything in particular and we ventured into the downtown. This was my first big surprise. The images of the old west spurred deep into my childhood brain and when I open my eyes I saw the old wide board walks, cobblestone streets, restaurants that spilled into the street, western saloon storefronts with awkwardly large overhangs that looked straight out of a movie about cowboys. Finally something unique, or historically preserved for that matter. There were tons of people walking around in generally good moods. The short walk from this area towards the great Missouri River takes you into a beautiful park with fountains and at least three wedding parties taking glossy photos. The war memorial statues were excellent and all of this was in a close knit area. This was a great place to visit. The architecture still revealed much of the towns historical glory and you felt as though you were part of the current revival of this bustling town. The one downer, just like every other city, feeble attempts at contemporary designed developments led to down right awful looking structures periodically and awkwardly placed on the outskirts of the character driven epicenter of action. You can’t escape it.

Omaha felt like a safe place, great things to see and do and even had an element of college town (which I like) with the young whipper-snappers parading about or the few pretending to be musicians when in reality they sounded like a neglected house pets. I have to admit I am a fan of Omaha.

All this to say without even mentioning the reason we came in the first place. The zoo was simply great. I felt like I was walking into the set of Planet of the Apes with all the classic architecture and space aged decor. That was an unexpected bonus. The exhibits were great, the food terrible, plenty to see and not too spread out. I was amazed with how many animals they actually had.  It was great for the kidderoonies and worth every penny to see. They have one of the largest indoor rain forests and a huge aquarium and they were both spectacular.

The powers that be pumped a ton of resources into making that zoo a premier attraction, and it is. You don’t have to drive all over town to see individual attractions and each venue can eat up a day on its own. All in all it was a great place to visit and I highly recommend the day trip from Kansas City.

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