I’m naturally drawn to the Midwest, and Nebraska is one of my favorite places to visit. If you’ve never been, expect stellar sunsets, magnificent landscapes, great beer, wide open spaces, and excellent food, to name a few. With each visit, I find more to be in awe over and hope you will, too. Here are 7 awesome things to do in Omaha, Nebraska, that I think you’re going to like.
1. Discover Old Market
In the heart of downtown Omaha is the Old Market. It is a treasure trove of art galleries, boutiques (fashion, jewelry, gifts, etc.), and cool restaurants. Old Market Passage is an adorable alleyway with three floors of local businesses. The thriving plants add a nice touch to the already beautiful alleyway. Stop in Trini’s for a delicious margarita, sip a tasty glass of vino at Howard Street Wine Merchant, stock up for the holidays at Tannenbaum Christmas Shop, or spruce up your wardrobe at Overland Sheepskin & Leather.
Omaha’s Old Market has live music, seasonal activities, and pop-ups from time to time. Check the Old Passage website to stay abreast of new events.
2. Explore Omaha Union Station
A treasure from 1931 in Omaha is the eloquent and stunning art-deco Union Station, one of the best art-deco examples in the Midwest and a National Historic Landmark. This Union Passenger Terminal’s Great Hall, with 60 foot ceilings, has decorative patterns on the ceiling and terrazzo floors, sparkly dangling chandeliers, and bronze statues to mimic those traveling through the station. It was incredible to see this beautiful building in person, and much more than I could have imagined.
Inside the terminal lies The Durham Museum, a fascinating two-story museum filled with exhibits and historic treasures, that is also a Smithsonian affiliate. I loved the Lewis and Clark gallery, paper currency and Federal coinage exhibits, and 1940s and 50s train cars where you can get up close and personal with them.
3. Bob the Bridge
Be in two states at once at the uber cool 3,000 foot Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge “Bob the Bridge” in Omaha. Standing in the marked area of the bridge allows you to have one foot in Omaha, Nebraska and one in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It is a great place to walk and enjoy the scenery of the city, Missouri River, and wonderful sunsets.
Bob has two twin towers and almost invisible cables, making it stunning in photos. Tag your photo with #ItHappensOnBob to share your Bob selfies.
4. Eat Delicious Food
You’ll find some darned tasty places to dine around Omaha, Nebraska. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the Midwestern states have been farm-to-table for decades, they aren’t new to the trend. The prices range from budget-friendly to high dollar, with many being much more expensive than I would expect in Nebraska, but they apparently have a market to support them.
On my visits, I’ve had scrumptious puffy tacos (Mexican) at Michael’s at the Market, palate-pleasing cupcakes and pastries from a shop in the Old Market, and freaking off-the-hook Chicken Fried Bacon at Twisted Fork. I’m serious, if you haven’t tried this amazing way to eat bacon, dipped with a side of creamy gravy, you are missing out. I could easily eat my way through this city and be one very happy camper.
Where should I pencil in to eat on my next visit?
5. Visit the Zoo
I was blown away by how awesome Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is; easily one of the best zoos I’ve visited in the world. This family-friendly spacious zoo offers a little of everything: exotic animals, a stellar aquarium, a train ride, Skyfari, Sue’s Carousel, and stingray feeding. There are several places to grab a bite or nibble, too.
Some of the animals you will see are white rhino, elephants, monkeys, gorillas, bongo, cheetah, and sea lions.
The Henry Doorly Zoo is accredited by the Assoc. of Zoos and Aquariums, a member of the World Assoc. of Zoos and Aquariums, and is committed to conservation and education. This year, the totally immersive zoo ranked third for best zoo in the country per the 2020 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice poll. Check the zoo’s website for special events like yoga in the aquarium, trivia night (21 and up), and seasonal events, to name a few.
My favorite parts were the two-level geodesic Desert Dome and Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium. The Desert Dome is home to animal and plant life representing deserts in the Southwest United States, Red Center of Australia, and South Africa. Its Eugene T. Mahoney Kingdoms of the Night is the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit. The zoo’s aquarium features a 70-foot shark tunnel, hundreds of exotic fish, sea turtles, and Antarctic penguins.
6. Sample Amazing Chocolates
The Chocolat Abeille shop at Old Market is on the level with fancy European shops, and every bit as tasty. This high-quality chocolatier makes aesthically pleasing truffles, creamy caramels, and gorgeous solid chocolate pieces. Trust me…they taste as good as they look.
Try flavored bites like saffron honey, passion fruit, Turkish coffee, and lavender. Don’t miss the high-heeled shoes made entirely of chocolate. What a genius creation and cool gift!
7. Visit the Lewis and Clark Center
Learn about the men and journey that would open up this great country through westward expansion at Omaha’s Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters and Visitor Center. Sitting on the banks of the Missouri River basin is the massive property that offers exhibits, hiking trails, live reenactments, and a great gift shop.
This informative center is one worth exploring, with helpful rangers offering their expertise and answers to any questions you might have. The full Lewis and Clark historic trail extends through 16 states and covers nearly 5,000 miles.
Where to Stay
To save a few bucks, I stayed across the bridge from Omaha in Council Bluffs. We are talking a five minute car ride at the most. My Red Roof Inn & Suites Omaha- Council Bluffs, Iowa budget-hotel property offered newer decorated rooms, a super comfortable bed, and utmost cleanliness. Parking, Wifi, and breakfast (hooray for the biscuits & gravy!) were included with my stay. There is also an indoor pool at this non-smoking property.
There are several great nearby casinos in Council Bluffs, something I was not aware of.
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