If you’re reading this, it’s because you are from or are visiting Omaha. That means you probably have spent a day trekking the 160 acres of outdoor exhibits and 6 acres of indoor exploration at the Henry Doorly Zoo. There are infinite reasons to waste a day wandering the wild with your friends and family, and most of us have managed this with a kid on one hip and a bag of tricks and snacks to keep little kids fed and ready to walk. But what if you don’t want to lug the extra 25 pounds of picnic? Where is a family to find sustenance? We’ve got you covered.
Let’s take a look at some of the dining options the zoo has to offer.
A few things to note before you plan your visit:
Members receive a 5% discount on dining and concessions.
Ordering kiosks are fairly new to the zoo experience and can make the process significantly smoother … for the tech-literate. For those who find using technology confusing, those with communication barriers, or those with questions that aren’t easily answered in the FAQ section of the menu, staff is available at each concession window to be of assistance.
Bring sunblock. Even if you put some on before you leave home. Even if you have a base tan. Even if you never burn. The zoo, in case you didn’t know, is approximately 350 miles closer to the sun than anywhere else in Omaha.
Durham Tree Top Café
Nebraska weather can promise to be only one thing, and that is unpredictable. When planning your day, be sure to scout for indoor areas to take a break from the heat or escape a sudden storm. The Durham Tree Top Café is an excellent option, specifically for its indoor view. While the menu and service at Tree Top are reminiscent of a college cafeteria, it’s the view that you’re there to enjoy over your BBQ beef sandwich and fries. Other options include fish tacos, an assortment of soups and salads, burgers and hot dogs, and a dessert menu featuring pies, cookies, rice crispy treats, and brownies.
A large window overlooks the Lied Jungle, and diners can enjoy an immersive experience while still separated from the humidity (and signature aroma) of the rainforest exhibit.
Omaha Steaks Patio and Grill
Burgers and hot dogs from Omaha Steaks with a wide-open patio to people watch and eat in peace.
Glacier Bay Landing
Near the North Gate
The outdoor concession option at Glacier Bay features 10 service windows, although you’ll never find it staffed to that extreme. Dining options include crab-cake sliders, Alaskan cod sandwiches, garlic parmesan fries, and a cheeseburger. A sweet shop with three service windows offers edible cookie dough, loaded sundaes, and icy treats and beverages.
The public plaza throughout Glacier Bay Landing and Fisherman’s Landing at Stinson Pier offer seating for more than 400 with seven fixed shade covers and table umbrellas throughout for protection from the sun.
Fisherman’s Landing is available for the public to rent, with access to an open kitchen for private catering and seating for 240.
A children’s play area is located nearby, making this a must-visit zoo destination for families with children who need a little extra action. Two slides, a climbing wall, interactive elements, and a soft-landing zone are just a few of the attractions kids can’t seem to get enough of.
Sea Turtle Café
While the menu is focused, the covered dining area is the perfect meeting place for larger groups. Pizza, hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, and a few frozen treats are available, and the docile critters who wander the area looking for a dropped potato chip are fun for littles to look at.
A fairly new offering at the zoo, Plaza Café offers much of the same basic fare as the Sea Turtle Café. Just outside the desert dome, the area offers a brief break after a long trek, or a place to fuel up before your visit really gets going.
A personal favorite not only for the indoor (air conditioned) dining area, but for the spiced sweet potato fries my kids can’t get enough of, Tusker Grill is an oasis in the African Grasslands. Grab a giant pretzel or cookie to share. Don’t be a hero, there’s no way you’re going to eat these bad boys by yourself.
Late Nights at the Zoo
While the zoo is the perfect place for a day of family fun in the sun, when the day is done, it’s an adults-only adventure after hours. Late Nights at the Zoo is a 21-and-over event most Thursdays through the summer. Explore the zoo, enjoy local food trucks, and sip and stroll from 7 to 10:30pm. There are several Late Nights at the Zoo this season, so be sure to register and save your spot:
- June 8 and 29
- July 6, 13, 20 and 27
- Aug. 3, 10, 17 and 27.
The Henry Doorly Zoo is located at 3701 S. 10th St.